DENIAL: A Memoir of Terror ~ Jessica Stern

One of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder investigates her own unsolved adolescent sexual assault at the hands of a serial rapist, and, in so doing, examines the horrors of trauma and denial.

“I have been quiet, and I have listened all my life. But now, I will finally speak.”

Alone in an unlocked house in a safe neighborhood in the suburban town of Concord, MA, two obedient, good girls, Jessica Stern, 15, and her sister, 14, were raped on the night of October 1, 1973. When they reported the crime, the police were skeptical. Their father, away on business, did not return for three more days.

Following the example of her family, Stern—who lost her mother at the age of three—denied her pain and kept striving to achieve. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms. After her ordeal, she could not feel fear in normally frightening situations. Stern thought she’d disassociated from the trauma altogether, until a request took her back to that night more than 30 years earlier.

The world-class social scientist and expert on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder began her own investigation, with the help of a devoted police lieutenant, to find the truth about her rapist, the town of Concord, her own family, and her own mind. The result is DENIAL, a candid and deeply intimate look at a life, a trauma, and its aftermath.

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Jessica Stern’s DENIAL: A Memoir of Terror


One of the worlds foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder investigates her own unsolved adolescent sexual assault at the hands of a serial rapist, and in so doing, examines the horrors of trauma and denial.

Alone in an unlocked house in a safe neighborhood in the suburban town of Concord, Massachusetts, two good, obedient girls, Jessica Stern, fifteen, and her sister, fourteen, were raped on the night of October 1, 1973. The girls had just come back from ballet lessons and were doing their homework when a strange man armed with a gun entered their home. Afterward, when they reported the crime, the police were skeptical.

The rapist was never caught. For over thirty years, Stern denied the pain and the trauma of the assault. Following the example of her family, Stern—who lost her mother at the age of three, and whose father was a Holocaust survivor—focused on her work instead of her terror. She became a world-class expert on terrorism, a lauded academic and writer who interviewed terrorists around the globe. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms. After her ordeal she could not feel fear in normally frightening situations.

Stern believed shed disassociated from the trauma altogether, until a devoted police lieutenant reopened the sisters rape case and brought her back to that harrowing night more than three decades past. With the help of the lieutenant, Stern began her own investigation—bringing to bear all her skills as a researcher—to uncover the truth about the town of Concord, her family, and her own mind. The result is DENIAL, a candid, courageous, and ultimately hopeful look at a trauma and its aftermath.

http://www.jessicasternbooks.com

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