Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s Daughter, Tells Her Story of Sexual Assault

Patti Davis, the author and daughter of President Ronald Reagan, came forward on Friday with an account about being sexually assaulted decades ago, adding her voice to those of women defending Christine Blasey Ford.

In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Ms. Davis said she was at a prominent music executive’s office about 40 years ago when he crossed the room and forced himself on top of her “so quickly” that she froze.

“I lay there as he pushed himself inside me,” Ms. Davis wrote. “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.”

Ms. Davis, 65, is a writer and speaker whose latest novel, “The Earth Breaks in Colors,” was published in 2015. Her opinion piece in The Post, which did not name an assailant, came five days after Dr. Blasey, 51, came forward as the woman who had accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court nominee, of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. Judge Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.

Since then, Dr. Blasey’s quiet life as a research psychologist in Northern California has been turned upside down as her story — which has delayed a Senate vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court — has been lauded by her supporters and picked apart by her critics.

Among her critics’ questions: Why did Dr. Blasey not report what happened immediately, and why can’t she recall certain details today — for example, the address of the home where she said the assault happened?

In her opinion piece, Ms. Davis gave her own answers to those types of inquiries.

“I don’t remember what month it was,” she said of her experience in the executive’s office. “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.”

She added that memories can work differently during a traumatic event: “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.”

Ms. Davis’s defense of Dr. Blasey came after some senators cast doubt on her allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and a member of the Judiciary Committee, suggested that Dr. Blasey was “mistaken” or “mixed up” in her recollections. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, called her accusations “a drive-by attack on the character of this judge,” referring to them as “false allegations.”

President Trump also questioned Dr. Blasey’s credibility on Friday, saying that if the attack “was as bad as she says,” it would have been reported to the authorities.

But Dr. Blasey’s supporters — including several senators — have argued in her defense. And many women, like Ms. Davis, have come forward with their own stories of abuse and assault. They include the author Caitlin Flanagan, a contributing writer with The Atlantic who spoke to “The Daily” this week about an attempted rape while she was in high school.

Some rallied around the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, which encouraged social media users to post their reasons for staying quiet after abuse or assault. On Twitter, women shared reasons that included feelings of shame or confusion, not wanting to disappoint family members and a fear of retribution from the assailant.

Others said that they had reported abuse, but nothing was done.

“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,” Ms. Davis wrote.

She added: “Perhaps the aging men who are poised to interrogate her, unless they hide behind surrogates, should pause for a moment and think about the courage it takes for a woman to say: Here is my memory. It has haunted me for decades. It changed my life. You need to know about it now because of what is at stake for this country.”

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