Patti Davis is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Earth Breaks in Colors ” and the daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Dear Professor Christine Blasey Ford,
Like millions of women, I watched you testify about the worst day of your life. Millions of us identified with your fear and wondered if we would be brave enough to wrestle ourselves past that grip of terror if we were in your shoes. Millions of us watched how you held onto the tears that wanted to come up; we know where that place is in the body — the place that pushes down on the rising tide of remembered pain. We know how hard that is. We’ve been holding onto our tears for a long time — some of us, like you, for decades.
I wonder how you feel now that Brett M. Kavanaugh’s hand — the one you say clamped down on your mouth when you were 15 — is now on the scales of justice. I wonder if you feel that everything you went through wasn’t worth it, that it accomplished nothing. I hope your family and friends are assuring you that you did make a difference in this country. You did move the needle, even though so many who politely listened to you decided to ignore your story. I want to add my voice and let you know that I speak for crowds of women who are only now feeling that they can speak out and reveal their own stories.
You spoke for all the women and girls who stood under scalding hot showers trying to scrub away the feel and smell of their rapist. Who shut their eyes against their tears and made up their minds to tell no one because silence was safer — and who would believe them anyway? You spoke for the mothers who are only now learning that their daughters were assaulted by a friend, a stranger, a family member. And for the daughters who are listening to their mothers tell them that a long time ago something terrible happened and they never said a word about it until now.
You spoke for fathers and brothers who wished they had known sooner and who don’t know what to do with the pain now that they do know.
You imprinted this country at a time when we are caught between the jagged edges of the past and the murky uncertainty of a future that those who only care about “winning” are trying to wrest from us.
Don’t believe Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) when he says this will “blow over.” It won’t. Women are not going to retreat again into silence and shame; it doesn’t work like that. That’s not who we are, and you helped us see that.
My father, Ronald Reagan, used to tell me a story about a very low, sad time in his life. It was just after he got divorced from Jane Wyman, and he felt as if he had failed. One night, he woke up from a sound sleep and sat straight up in bed. He said he felt hands gently holding his shoulders, and suddenly the most profound sense of peace came over him. He felt protected, loved. As a young child, when I first heard the story, I of course asked why he didn’t turn around and see who it was. He smiled and said, “I didn’t need to.”
My wish for you is that you feel hands on your shoulders, holding you steady and reminding you that millions of hands are stretched out to you in gratitude and in support. Our hope is that you know what a difference you made.