“It’s important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event,” Patti Davis said Friday in an op-ed for the Washington Post in which she defends Christine Blasey Ford and comes forward with her own story of sexual assault. As more and more women are tweeting stories with the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport in the wake of the assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, the actress, author, and daughter of Nancy and Ronald Reagan sheds light on the gray area for each individual and how they choose to process sexual assault.
Based on the timeline Davis estimates in her op-ed, her assault happened sometime in the late 1970s, when she was called into the office of an unnamed, prominent music executive. She had hoped the meeting would be an opportunity to show him a cassette of her original songwriting, which she had hoped to turn into a career after writing a song for the Eagles. Instead, she explains in intimate detail the sexual assault she experienced that evening.
“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,” Davis wrote.
The guilt and emotional turmoil she went through both in the immediate aftermath of the trauma and for years after, she said, kept her from coming forward.
“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. I never told anyone for decades,” she wrote in the op-ed. “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.”
Specific details, she said, are the last thing on the mind of a victim of sexual assault.
“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,” Davis said. “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.”