AceShowbiz - International TV star Padma Lakshmi would have kept her rape secret "buried" had U.S. President Donald Trump not questioned the legitimacy of a sexual assault allegation made against his Supreme Court nominee.
The model-turned-TV personality, 48, detailed her harrowing experience in a powerful essay for The New York Times in September, after psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of attacking her at a high school party in the 1980s.
In the candid op-ed, Padma revealed she was 19 when she was allegedly raped on New Year's Eve by a 23-year-old man she had been dating, but she hid the trauma for years as she tried to move on from the attack.
It was only after Trump attempted to dismiss Dr. Ford's claim by querying why she had not reported the incident to police that Padma felt it necessary to go public with her own rape story.
"I don't even know if I would have written that piece if President Trump hadn't tweeted that Friday night, 'If it was so bad... why didn't she report it? Why didn't her loving parents report it?' " Padma admitted on U.S. breakfast show "Today".
"Well, a lot of us (victims) don't report it. There's no upside to reporting it; there's no upside for Dr. Ford, clearly, but she's a hero to many of us."
The "Top Chef" host also explained why she didn't want to just post about her assault on social media as part of the #WhyIDidntReport movement, which emerged in response to the callous remarks made by Trump and a number of his fellow Republican Party politicians.
"It didn't feel right to me (just posting on social media)," she said. "I thought, 'What happened to me is really important and really painful and it deserves more than a hashtag.' "
But Padma almost changed her mind about sharing the experience so publicly, and it was only after a restless night contemplating her decision that she felt compelled to have her piece published.
"I was furiously writing it after my daughter Krishna went to bed that weekend," she recalled. "At one point I said, 'No, I'm not gonna do this,' and then I couldn't sleep, and I thought, 'How am I going to feel if he (Kavanaugh) gets confirmed and I didn't say something? I'm going to regret that for the rest of my life.' "
Kavanaugh's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was eventually confirmed, but Padma has no regrets about coming forward with her personal pain, after previously leaving it out of her 2016 autobiography "Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir".
"I think I did what many millions of women, and a lot of men, do - we just bury it. We just push it down so far deep inside and hope that it will be so buried that it didn't happen," she reflected. "We try to erase what happened to us, and the only way to truly erase that trauma is to confront it in whatever way is appropriate for that person."