Writer Patti Davis, the daughter of former president Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, has written an essay about being her experience of being sexually assaulted to illustrate why women like Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, don’t fully recall their traumatic memories.
In the opinion piece called “I was sexually assaulted. Here’s why I don’t remember many of the details,” published in the Washington Post on Friday, Davis reveals that she was assaulted — though many would describe what she experienced as rape — by a “prominent music executive” 40 years ago after writing a song that appeared on the 1975 album “One of These Nights,” by the Eagles.
Eager to kickstart a songwriting career, Davis says she met the executive in his office — an appointment she pointed out was “scheduled suspiciously late in the workday.” Davis can’t recall the content of the meeting, but details such as the man’s face, hair, clothing, and his offer to use cocaine stuck, as did a growing feeling of discomfort.
“What happened next, though, is indelible,” wrote Davis. “He crossed the room. There was a dark-green carpet, but his footsteps seemed loud, hard. He was against me, on top of me — so quickly — with his hands under my skirt and his mouth on mine, that I froze. I lay there as he pushed himself inside me. The leather couch stuck to my skin, made noises beneath me. His breath smelled like coffee and stale bread. He didn’t use a condom. I remember leaving afterward, driving home, the night around me glittered with streetlights and alive with people out at dinner or bars. I felt alone, ashamed and disgusted with myself. Why didn’t I get out of there? Why didn’t I push him off? Why did I freeze? I don’t remember what month it was. I don’t remember whether his assistant was still there when I arrived. I don’t remember whether we said anything to each other when I left his office.”
Davis didn’t confide in anyone, including her future husband, yoga instructor Paul Grilley, whom she wed in 1984. “It doesn’t surprise me one bit that for more than 30 years, Christine Blasey Ford didn’t talk about the assault she remembers, the one she accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of committing,” wrote Davis.
Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, has accused Kavanaugh, President Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault at a high school house party more than 30 years ago. According to Ford, Kavanaugh, in the presence of his friend Mark Judge, pinned her down on a bed, assaulted her, and tried to pull off her bathing suit, suppressing her screams with his hand.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford wrote in her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., which recently became public. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” She says she escaped the room when Judge jumped on the bed. Kavanaugh has denied the claims.
Ford has been accused of manufacturing the story to throw off Kavanaugh’s upcoming confirmation hearing; her professional credentials have been questioned; she’s been mocked by Donald Trump Jr., who compared Kavanaugh’s actions to a childhood crush; and has been called “mixed up” by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.
However, Davis attests that Ford’s recollection of events is typical of survivors. “It’s important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event,” wrote Davis. “Ford has been criticized for the things she doesn’t remember, like the address where she says the assault happened, or the time of year, or whose house it was. But her memory of the attack itself is vivid and detailed. His hand over her mouth, another young man piling on, her fear that maybe she’d die there, unable to breathe. That’s what happens: Your memory snaps photos of the details that will haunt you forever, that will change your life and live under your skin. It blacks out other parts of the story that really don’t matter much.”