Read Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern Online


"I have listened and I have been quiet all my life. But now I will speak." 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. Alone in an unlocked house in a safe neighborhood in the sub "I have listened and I have been quiet all my life. But now I will speak." 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. 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 she'd 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. ...

Title : Denial: A Memoir of Terror
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061626654
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Denial: A Memoir of Terror Reviews

  • Catherine
    2019-06-24 22:53

    No other book I have read has so wholly and completely encapsulated what it is to suffer PTSD after being sexually assaulted. This book was a lifeline for me - it reassured me that I am not alone; it offered such compassionate understanding of what it is to navigate the world this way; it moved me deeply; it gave me hope. I've bought several copies in the past week to give to friends, to say - 'Here. This is what it's like inside my head. This is how I respond to the world. These are the things you probably can't imagine.' I am so deeply, deeply glad to have found this memoir. It's difficult - more difficult than it should be - to find books that communicate what it is to develop PTSD after sexual assault, or even texts that examine PTSD outside the framework of veterans returning from war. When I was diagnosed I was confused, since I hadn't fought in Vietnam. The author, too, was doubtful that her hyper-vigilance, her dissociation, her tiredness, her inability to feel things, her flashbacks, her dreams could be PTSD, because PTSD was surely the illness of the returning vet. Countless people have said to me, when I tell them of my illness, "But you never served in the military." I am grateful that this book serves as a corrective to that viewpoint, that it identifies the battles that anyone who's sexually assaulted must fight to understand the changes in their brain that stem from trauma, and their body's injured impulse to constant self-protection years after the fact. If you have been abused, assaulted, or raped, there are portions of this book that will be a hard read - the author's description of what happened to her is, as you would imagine, heart-rending. But you will also find kindness here, and understanding, and relief. And if you are someone who is related to, or friends with someone who has been assaulted, you will find in this book a wealth of information about what your loved one is likely going through. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  • Nancy
    2019-06-14 02:56

    I have been dreading writing this review for a couple of days. I didn't like the book. I was disappointed which says something for my own expectations rather than the author. Given the author's expertise and academic accomplishment, I expected to be "wowed" by her insight and experience. Instead I felt like I was reading a teenager's diary which would actually make a lot of sense, since she hasn't opened this compartment since the horrific experience when she was 15.What made it feel like a diary of a teenager was the constant exploration of personal interpretation, innuendo, and perception. Dr. Stern provides an inner dialogue of her journey from the moment the detective calls her to the publication of her book. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I simply thought it contained irrelevant information along with some golden nuggets. For instance, while talking with any number of people, the conversation is reported verbatim, which I liked. On the inside, the author is contemplating birds, surfaces, and discusses the way the person uses verb tense. Many of these inner dialogues come to naught. Additionally, the author suffers from disturbing thoughts and images, which I believe is not uncommon. What bothered me is the innuendo that her grandfather performed sexual acts upon her prior to her rape. Yet this is never explored nor addressed. Did he? Don't know. So was that tidbit relevant? I don't know. The reader seeks closure.What I liked about the book is that the author weaves the similarities of terror and the different ways of integrating the terror-inducing experiences through stories of her father's history during the Holocaust, soldiers who have suffered from PTSD, and people who have been traumatized by sexual acts. I very much enjoyed Dr. Stern's epilogue, where she uses her professional experience and knowledge to tie the above mentioned groups together. Dr. Stern is intelligent, articulate, and experienced. Her experiences were simply horrific. Writing a memoir, I believe, was very therapeutic for her. I also do not doubt that many people will find her journey interesting and helpful. For me, it was a solid 3 star experience.

  • Sher Fick
    2019-06-28 06:51

    I am on page 85. I. AM. NOT. ALONE. I have that feeling that this author has been inside my head for about 40 years. I never knew the effects were so patterned for so many survivors. I am so glad this book found me! Thanks GIGI!I finished the book this morning. I am so - celebrative - that Jessica Stern did this hard work and created this book. It couldn't have been easy and she shared that struggle, along with every un-politically correct thought she had as she did it. Her bravery in digging into her own past/trauma/loss/pain is undeniable.I want to carry this book around with me and upon greeting a new person, say: "um, my name is Sher, and if you want to get to know me - read this book first."In so many ways I know myself, and my similiarly damaged relatives so much better. My heart is softened to myself and others. I have said I had PTSD - but I knew only the very little bit about it . . . now I feel I have a grasp for WHY and HOW I became what I am.My favorite quote from the book, might be the fact that we can have "post traumatic growth" - that there is great hope for learning to cope with the triggers and effects. Understanding the issue is a huge step in this direction . . . I feel blessed to have read this book. We are very blessed to have such a brave soul on earth as Jessica Stern.

  • Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
    2019-06-26 06:49

    Jessica Stern was fifteen years old when she was raped. She and her fourteen-year old sister were alone at her step-mother's home in a safe neighborhood where rapes don't happen, doing their homework, when a gun-wielding skinny man with a strong cologne and concord accent walked in and raped them. When they however reported the crime, the police were skeptical.For the next more than thirty years, Jessica denied her pain. She became an expert on terrorism. However, she found herself incapable of feeling fear. Instead, she realized that she was hyper-vigilant when threatened. Eventually, she decides to learn more about her own unsolved rape and her rapist. What she comes to learn is not entirely to her satisfaction, but she ends up seeing her symptoms in some other people loosely connected to her rapist, and also in her own father. She learns to accept that she has been in denial for so long and that she indeed is still exhibiting symptoms of trauma.Denial is a very candid look at Jessica's life and her many trials. We learn what drove her to study terrorism, and why she felt compelled to talk to the "bad guys" terrorists and go to dangerous places in Iraq and Afghanistan; why she barely felt any fear in situations that would normally put most people into panic mode. We also see more of her childhood and how more incidents than the rape were responsible in some way for her trauma. Throughout the book, we see the experiences of several other people as well, through Jessica's eyes. We see how her father grew up as a Jewish during the rise of the Nazis, how he learned to bottle up the past and move forward, and how inadvertently Jessica learns the same tactics. We look at Jessica's rapist's life, not just as a violator, but as a human being who similarly went through several disappointments and tragic circumstances. We are also introduced to the rapist's friends and how they insist that the guy is actually very nice and wouldn't rape anyone. And yet, Jessica sees the cloud hanging around their words each time.Jessica could hardly remember much about the day she was raped. She had forgotten most of the details and continues to forget them even after reading the police reports on the rape, including her own statements. She is understandably angry that much of her life hinged on that one night. Her narration is occasionally venomous, as she contemplates potential scenarios with her rapist. She wants to kill him, and she doesn't mince words confessing that. But in the same vein, she admits her guilt at being plagued by such demonic thoughts.Would I ever heal? No, I would not. I would become someone else.Denial was a very powerful read for me. I struggled to connect during the first 50 pages with the narration but soon I warmed up to it and couldn't put the book down. Jessica introduces us to several stark characters - some endearing, some not, whose actions stay with me long after I closed the book. There is the grandfather who has naked showers with her, the research assistant who knows what Jessica is going through, since he has seen it in his own father, another victim of the same rapist who was ashamed of her own body for many years. Then there is Jessica's troubled childhood. Jessica often tries to postpone the inevitable - meeting with a friend of the rapist or with the police lieutenant who has been helping her get information. At these times, she starts worrying about mundane things and keeps repeating her actions. At other times, she gets increasingly rude even though she doesn't mean to.Some people's lives seem to flow in a narrative; mine had many stops and starts. That's what trauma does. It interrupts the plot. You can't process it because it doesn't fit with what came before or what comes afterward. A friend of mine, a soldier, put it this way. In most of our lives, most of the time, you have a sense of what is to come. There is a steady narrative, a feeling of "lights, camera, action" when big events are imminent. But trauma isn't like that. It just happens, and then life goes on. No one prepares you for it.Denial is more than a memoir of a woman who was raped more than thirty years ago. It talks about the pervasiveness of humiliation and shame - how one life touched by humiliation can pass it on to another life through any despicable manner. This sets in motion a vicious cycle. I wish Jessica had given her sister's side of affairs as well, considering the tragedy happened to both of them together, and also considering that he sister dealt with it differently. In so many ways, Denial is about her connection with several people having some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder - people she knows or people she contacted to learn more about her rapist; it is a confession of the trivial things that bother her when bigger things hardly cause a dent; it is about the trauma that haunted her all her life; it is also, in Jessica's words, a way "to speak out for those who cannot speak".

  • Sigrid Ellis
    2019-06-02 01:02

    It's not that I can really say that I liked this book. Or, rather, I did like it -- I liked the narrator, Jessica herself, who transmutes trauma and shame into a relentless search for painful, dangerous truth.I am put in mind of the idea from the Jewish faith, that good is show in works, not intentions. You have have right action without right thought, you can do good for bad reasons. The idea that, over time, right action leads to right thought. Fake it 'til you make it. Jessica went looking for the truth about her rapist for a host of muddy, unclear, shame-filled, rage-filled, violent, self-aggrandizing reasons. But she ended up with this book. This book which tells the truth about hating Victims because associating with weak people makes you weak. The truth about her grandfather and his molestation and abuse. The truth about her father's emotionally abusive ways, as he raised his children so that they, too, could survive a Holocaust. Raising children for a war he had been too young and helpless to fight, a war that shamed him to his core. In this book we see the truth about Jessica's mother's death, and the truth, all through out, that Jessica has PTSD -- which she finally, finally admits.Jessica Stern went looking for her rapist so that she would learn to feel even less than she did. But she ended up learning to see that her ability to feel nothing at all, which served her so very very well in her profession as an interviewer of terrorists and killers, had its downsides, too. As we leave the book, and leave Jessica, we don't know if she will learn how to STOP not-feeling. But I am really rooting for her.

  • Jennifer
    2019-06-19 04:10

    From My Blog...[return][return]Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern is a deeply personal, raw, and profound look at the effects trauma has on an individual, the lengths one's brain will go to, to protect itself, and the damages stemming from denial. As my reader's know, I am a fan of memoirs, it is one of my most favourite genres and I have read my fair share of memoirs and this is the first memoir that is so honestly fresh, raw and written in a flawed manner that one gets the impression the reader is personally hearing Jessica talk about her life.[return]In 1973 two sisters, 15-year-old Jessica and 14-year-old Sara were raped at gunpoint by an unknown assailant, the search for the rapist was dropped after 4 months. Each sister responded differently and Jessica believed it helped to make her focused and strong, skills that make her excel at her job investigating terrorists. Jessica learns many of her behaviours are most likely results of post-traumatic stress disorder, at the very least trauma. In 1996, Jessica was contacted by Lt. Macone to notify her he was reopening the case and could use her help if she was able. Stern writes about the process and her desire to interrogate her rapist, she wants to understand her rapist. In the process she learns the strong father she idolised was a terrorised child in Nazi Germany who has lived with his fears his whole life, even after escaping Germany.[return]The further she investigates the more she remembers and the more she learns about the processes of disassociation as well as how to begin to feel again. Denial is a work of love, healing, and tremendous strength and courage. Stern brings to the public what it is like first hand to be a victim and how one's life can be forever changed. The writing is at times cold and detached as one may expect and it is through Stern's honest account that her raw writing style makes Denial the most astonishingly profound memoir I have read to date. Without reservation I recommend Denial by Jessica Stern to any adult reader

  • Helen Epstein
    2019-06-03 06:48

    Denial is a difficult book, uncomfortable to read and even moreuncomfortable to review. It is a first-hand, detailed account by aHarvard expert on terrorism of her rape by a stranger when she was 15years old. Using police records and some of the same methodology sheused to interview international terrorists, Jessica Stern tries tounderstand the man who raped her in 1973, as well as the rape╒slong-term sequelae for herself. Her story is often vivid, surprisinglycandid and well- described but, at times, disjointed and unprocessed.The aftereffects of trauma inform both its content and style. Stern, like so many contemporary writers with an interesting idea for a book, may have been ill-served by her advisors and rushed to print before she had enough time to integrate her very difficult material. These days, memoirs are regarded less as literary creations than as "projects" with more attention paid to marketing potential than to the transformation of memories into writing. Copy-editors and fact-checkers are figures of the past; editors are too busy acquiring to read carefully and edit. One of the results is thatthe reader is left to connect the dots that elude the author.

  • Michelle
    2019-06-20 05:53

    In general, this book was interesting, but difficult to read. Full-length review:

  • Mely
    2019-06-22 01:59

    When she was fifteen, Stern and her fourteen-year-old sister were raped at gunpoint by a stranger who invaded her house; Stern responded with a kind of emotional freeze that allowed her, years later, to interview terrorists without turning a hair, and which she only even later realized was a result of PTSD. Stern traces the effects and responses to trauma to her family history: her father was a Holocaust survivor, her mother died at 28 of a cancer most likely caused by her father's "treatments" for childhood diseases, Stern was molested by her grandfather. This is really good on the personal memoir bits, but the policy bits crowded into the last few chapters are terrible. Stern consults Iraq War vets and only then is convinced she has PTSD; she cites Judith Herman's Trauma and Recovery in her notes, but apparently only came to it later (the timeline could use clarification here). Anyway, what really made me flinch was a line at the end of the book about society needing to support traumatized people by not encouraging their denial -- I will have to copy down the exact words, but basically it seemed to be arguing that denial as a response mechanism springs from the personal reaction of the traumatized person, rather than being a complex interaction between personal history and social norms. Stern's own history really seems to me to argue against this view -- sure, she "freezes" or denies her emotions, but this began and perhaps continued because of social as well as interpersonal pressures. For example, the cops were convinced she and her sister were lying about not knowing their attacker, and so never linked the case to over forty similar cases in the surrounding area. I'm not convinced they would have been nearly that skeptical with any other crime.

  • Fayette
    2019-06-15 01:42

    Superbly written. This is an extremely personal account of the author's rape and the denial and shame that followed. There are so many useful insights in this book that I often had to put it down just to process what I had just read. For me, this was a 5 star book.

  • Caitlin
    2019-06-16 00:48

    Although it is written in sparse readable prose and is highly intelligent and insightful, this is neither a pleasant nor a brutal read. Ms. Stern, an expert in terrorism, uncovers the source of her own terror - her childhood rape and its consequences. With the help of police, FBI contacts, and friends, Ms. Stern dares to delve into the life of her rapist - that unknown person who so affected her life. In doing so she is forced to consider how wide-ranging the after effects, how much of what she is good at and what she chooses to research is related to these effects, and ultimately to begin to confront her own anger and damage.The thing I liked most about this book was its rawness. Ms. Stern is at the very beginning of understanding and facing what happened and is unafraid to display the raw anger that churns inside of her. I respected her refusal to be a stereotypical victim - trembling and cowed, always broken never to be repaired. Instead she takes hold of the event and its inherent complications, learns as much as she can, and honestly displays her emotions - rage, sadness, fear, bewilderment, compassion, and more rage. So often women deny themselves the full range of emotions, squishing themselves into the accepted. Ms. Stern isn't interested in the acceptable.As Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." This is a terrible thing to face head on. All the happenings in our lives, even the most horrible, are still right there, just under the surface, waiting to re-emerge. Ms. Stern accomplishes this with grace and an eye toward facing it all down, no matter how frightening. There are places in this book that are strangely detached in that dissociative way so familiar to anyone who has experienced trauma. I can think of no better way to express the way PTSD moves through the brain and manifests itself to the external world. Even better is Ms. Stern's acknowledgment of this dissociative feeling and the way it made it possible for her to do the work she has done - interviewing thousands of terrorists in dangerous places all over the world to better understand what drives them. Her willingness to explore the ways she has coped and turned certain aspects of PTSD to her professional advantage is particularly insightful and brave. We should learn from bad things, but so often the positive learnings are never expressed.Altogether a remarkable book and worthwhile read.

  • Sandra Stiles
    2019-06-21 06:58

    In 1973 15 year old Jessica Stern and her 14 year old sister encounter a man in their step-mother's house. he is armed with a gun. He rapes them both threatening to kill them if they don't comply or if they say anthing. Fast forward several years and we find Jessica is now a successful expert on terrorists and terrorism. She finds that the things that should terrify her don't and simple things do. She makes a decision to find out why. It is during this exploration she goes back to the files on her rape. The case is re-opened and she faces many people she has trusted in her life to help her find the answers. She discovers things about her father that may explain why he did not return immediately from a trip to Europe after finding out about his daughters. He completed his business and then returned. For me this was a tough book to read. In her chapter called Denial she talks about being victimized over and over by those who are skeptical about events. I don't believe people willingly do this but it causes further damage none the less. The victim is then force to react in a way where they shut down emotions, pretend events never happened or they themselves re-victimize themselves by the choices they make. I think anyone who has ever suffered any type of trauma, whether it is the loss of a family member, a form of abuse or whatever should read this book. I thought of my cousins daughter who was involved in a terrible accident with her family. Her baby was killed, the oldest suffered permanent brain damage. Her husband wanted her to just wanted her to get over the accident and move on. They weren't his children. His ex-wife didn't understand "what the big-deal was the kid was dead just move on", yet told her what she would have done if her kids had been in the car and been injured. Her ex-husband stole money the community was raising for the oldest kids hospital bills. One person after another took the opportunity to kick her when she was down and then when she finally fell apart and became suicidal they said they couldn't understand what happened. We all find ways to deal with our trauma. Some of us try to handle it ourselves or seek counseling. Others take it out on themselves or those around. Maybe if this book had been around they would have handled things differently.

  • Greg
    2019-06-16 00:51

    Naomi Wolf has already called Denial "one of the most important books I have read in a decade," and it's easy to see why. At the age of 15, Jessica Stern (and her sister, 14) were raped in the safe suburban town of Concord, Massachusetts. Decades later, Stern embarks on the emotionally harrowing journey to uncover the truth about her rapist. Writing with deep honesty and unflinching prose, she discovers that her trauma--and the terror her rape invokes--is also enmeshed with the death of her young mother; her womanizing grandfather, a doctor who was indirectly involved in her mother's death; her twice-divorced father (who narrowly escaped the Holocaust as a child, and who, upon hearing of his daughters' rapes while on a business trip in Norway, did not return home for three days); and the shame and trauma of the people who knew her rapist--who themselves were victims of other crimes and abuses.The brilliant turn in Denial is that Stern, one of the world's foremost experts on terrorism, telescopes out from her own memories to reveal a critical link between sexual humiliation (and trauma at large) and the terror that is born out of such trauma. The violence of terrorism, she believes, grows from the seeds of shame and humiliation that are planted after an traumatic act; the individual undergoes "lasting, haunting changes in the body and the mind." (Stern herself has witnessed this, from her hundreds of interviews with terrorists.) While terrorists--or rapists--should never be shown sympathy or excused for their acts, Stern argues that it's critical to understand the psychological roots of their violence. Otherwise, in the long run, our own denial of these truths will "corrode integrity--both of individuals and of society."

  • Debby
    2019-06-19 03:53

    This was not an easy read. In fact at times it was down right uncomfortable. Not because of the subject matter per se but because of the format and manner of "story telling."Obviously this is a very personal story. It is a journey of self discovery by a courageous, intelligent and successful woman. Ms. Stern opens up her life for the reader to include views into her family history, family dynamics and of course a major event in her life, the rape. As would be true in any situation, even from my perspective as an assistant district attorney, it was uncomfortable to read the details of the rape; especially given the fact that Ms. Stern and her sister, the victims, were barely teenagers when it occurred received minimal support from law enforcement and family.When I first picked up the book to read, I assumed "the denial" dealt solely with the actual rape. But it was more than that. "Denial" is woven throughout to include almost everyone in the book, from Ms. Stern's grandmother, grandfather, father to doctors, law enforcement and those who knew the rapist. In other words, it was complex and full of many layers; everyone seemed to be in denial about something. I found that aspect thought-provoking and enlightening. How much denial do I have in my life and in my family?As I said in the beginning, what I found especially difficult about the book was the form. It is very raw without any type of emotional buffer. At times I felt like I was reading Ms. Stern's diary. I assume it was very cathartic for her but at times I was thinking "too much information", e.g., comparing her boyfriend's fingers to a penis.All the same, it was interesting and I appreciate Ms. Stern's search for self-discovery.

  • Roisin
    2019-06-12 07:04

    This book was uncomfortable to read; not because it was "raw" or "personal" or "deep" but rather because the narrative was disjointed, often featuring digressions into discussions of events and people that were not related or at least, their relationship to the story not made clear. The writing style was generally good, however the author used many unusual sentences (e.g. "I should tell you about this") to join the narrative together. This made it hard to understand why we were being taken in the direction we were and resulted in poor flow from one aspect of the story to the next.Another aspect of this memoir which I found uncomfortable also concerns the voice of the author. She comes across as a very unlikable, arrogant and judgmental and often I sensed an air of superiority in her words. This made it hard to connect with and empathise with her and her experiences. Overall, I felt there were interesting portions to the story, which were unfortunately outweighed by an unlikable voice, poor flow and a lack of coherency in what the author was trying to convey. Although I did not like these aspects of the story, it is interesting to note that the story is presented precisely in the form of how the author sees her rape has changed her (i.e., lack of coherency, dissociative). Brilliant in a way but difficult to read.

  • Charlie Bishop
    2019-05-30 02:55

    This is a powerful and important book. Stern is a Harvard PhD, an internationally recognized expert on terrorism and the minds and motives of terrorists, and the daughter of a distinguished professor who, as a boy, suffered various humiliations under the Nazis in his native Germany. Stern herself was raped at age fifteen, as was her fourteen year old sister. Her memoir is a harrowing investigation of her humiliation, terror, and denial. The book is centered on a three-fold quest, first to find her own motives for pursuing a study of the minds of terrorists(seemingly so obvious, but buried deeply in denial) toinvestigate the mind and motives of her rapist, whose identity she discovered only after he'd committed suicide, and thirdly to learn about her father, to penetrate his own "coldness" and denial. She concludes by talking to a veteran of the Iraq was whose head was nearly blown off. She, her father, the soldier, and perhaps her rapist as well, suffer from PTSD, she concludes, and denial in such cases can be debilitating and sometimes fatal.

  • Justine
    2019-06-16 23:02

    I was really disappointed in this book. I don't really know how to put what I am feeling about it into words. I think this book was too all over the place and it seems like the author still hasn't came to terms with what happened to her. Also I was confused because to me it seems like her grandfather molested her but she never really comes out and admits it, it is just assumed. And she keeps saying her sister got raped but I thought that she begged him not too and he didn't? I don't even know. I feel like so much could have been let out of the book because it didn't pertain to her actual story and it took away from the severity of the situation. Like what exactly is this book about? Her rape? Soldiers and their PTSD or terrorism? Who knows. I wish that the story was just about her rape and her trying to comes to terms with it and finding the perpetrator. I did enjoy that there was different accounts from some of the other victims. And that's about all I have to say. Not sure if I would recommend this read to anyone or not.

  • Cynthia
    2019-05-29 00:47

    The author and her sister were raped when they were 14 and 15, they lost their mother when they were toddlers, their father fled Nazi persecution, and they were left with their sadistic grandfather far too often. These are facts that led to their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Stern’s account is disgustingly accurate. She never blinks. Nothing and no one is spared. This makes her account the best I’ve read. Her career prior to writing this book was profiling terrorists, what they do, why and how. She’s looked at both the victims and the perpetrators. Her voice is so unnervingly private that she’s able to share each baby step of her healing. She also makes the point that PTSD is not something you fix. It’s something you work around or, even better, transcend. Transcend in the sense that you step into your spiritual self.

  • Renee
    2019-05-30 23:09

    The author is a terrorism expert, national security adviser, and lecturer at Harvard. She confronts a definitive episode of terror in her own early life and traces its grim, damaging ramifications. Having grown up in Concord, Mass., in 1973, Stern, then 15, and her sister, a year younger, were forcibly raped at gunpoint by an unknown intruder; when the police reopened the case in 2006, Stern was compelled to confront the devastating experience. I have no doubt that what the author went through during the attack was horrible, and that she is to be admired for having overcome this experience and succeed in her professional live, but regrettably, a terrible experience in itself doesn't necessarily make one a good writer. I could not warm up or connect to the author and found the book, at times, boring and one dimensional.

  • Voracious_reader
    2019-06-24 03:56

    Stern's book is a biography of sorts. It details her history as a victim of various types of sexual trauma and her ability to deny or disassociate from that trauma and work as an interviewer of terrorists around the world. I wouldn't say it was a fun read but it was an interesting one. I can't think of another book to which I would compare it. It was very straightforward about horrendous acts of abuse and rape suffered by the author, but, even in its straightforwardness, there is further demonstration of her PTSD and disassociation from the events themselves. In some ways, in order to have any sense of clarity one would have to have the ability to distance themselves from horrible events; she has the ability in spades. She does make clear, though, that even the ability to deny events is not without consequence. I actually would give it 3 1/2 stars if GoodReads would let me.

  • Suzie Flohr
    2019-06-18 03:07

    loved this book . Written by the victim herself. I highly recommend.

  • Sarah
    2019-06-14 03:43

    Denial: A Memoir of Terror is the true story of a rape victim who investigates her own case - experienced and written by terrorism expert and author Jessica Stern.After receiving an email from police lieutenant Paul Macone regarding Stern's unsolved rape case from years before, Stern dives headfirst into confronting her deepest fears and overcoming her trauma. In the process, she conducts intimate interviews with members of her family and victims of the same rapist.The first half of Denial is absolutely riveting. Stern's style is blunt and stunning, and no matter how rough and difficult the content itself is, the book is hard to put down. Although many of us like to skip introductions and prefaces at times, I highly recommend NOT doing so in Denial. The preface in this case will pull you in and engender genuine interest in Jessica's story.The second half of Denial is not as enjoyable as the first half because it becomes repetitive, especially concerning the monotonous interviews with the rape victims, which are all nearly identical. In addition, I expected more pieces relating directly to Jessica's expertise on terrorism as the book's synopsis indicates, however this is not present.Denial is a great story about Jessica Stern's healing process, and I would definitely recommend this book to people wanting more insight on post-traumatic stress disorder or to those who are trying to overcome their own traumatic experiences. Stern's strong voice is a beacon to victims of all crimes.Jessica Stern is also the author of The Ultimate Terrorists and Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill.For more reviews, visit

  • Trisha
    2019-05-29 03:06

    Reviewing a book about rape is difficult. Being raped is a woman's greatest fear and can be the source of a woman's greatest shame. How does a reader critically analyze a story so personal, so damaging, and so removed from her own life?This separation between myself and the author was consistently apparent, and not just regarding the rape. The relationships Stern had with her family horrified me. While Stern acknowledges her father, her grandmother, and her grandfather's flaws, she continually professes love and respect for them. I, on the other hand, found them deplorable and had difficulty relating to the woman who forgave them their transgressions and idiosyncrasies. While Stern expresses disgust at the abuse of others - and their acceptance of it - it's as if she barely recognizes the abuse inflicted on her by her own family. I will say, however, that this separation of reader and author/protagonist did not distract me from the story. Oddly enough, the absolute disparity between us is a large part of what kept me reading. I wanted to know her mind; try to puzzle out how she thought, how she justified and rationalized, how she coped.While I struggled a bit with the first half of the book - I think in part due to my distance from Stern - I flew through the second half of the book. Perhaps it just took some time for me to be comfortable with a narrator I could not relate to and with the subject matter which is so painful in so many ways. This is not an easy story to read. There is so much violence, so much terror, and so much of it is mishandled by those involved.

  • Julie
    2019-06-21 05:54

    Jessica Stern is an international expert on terrorism and academic who has written this book about he own ordeal. As a fifteen year old, she was home alone with her fourteen year old sister, when an armed man broke into their house and raped both girls.Thirty years later a local police officer reopens the case and Jessica starts her own investigation, eager to learn as much as she can about the rapist. Finding that the rapist killed himself after some years in prison, she interviews his friends and family to find out what they know.The astonishing part is that once the case is looked into, they are able to use his MO to link him to over forty similar rapes in a two year period. It is an interesting read as the author explores her feelings about this ordeal, especially as at the time, the police did not believe her story of a stranger breaking in. It seems that at the time in the seventies, rape was not taken seriously and the lack of computers allowed all these cases to be not connected until years later.It's a pretty grim read, and for all the analysing, I don't know if there are any answers that can solve the questions that are posed. Because the rapist is dead, Jessica Stern never gets to ask him why, and even if he was, I think it was a random attack. He just staked out homes he could access, watched girls and took advantage of their vulnerability.

  • Lori
    2019-06-06 01:42

    Although this was an incredibly harsh book to read, disturbing and I can't say, "Ya - I ENJOYED that book!" - it was phenomenally thought provoking. Although, yes, it is about this woman's rape and the police reopening the case to track down the rapist 30 years later, it is her exploration into the rapist's past and trying to figure out what caused him to be the way he was. She also explores trauma in a variety of forms and how it affects each person. This woman actually worked for National Defense and Homeland Security under the Clinton Administration and is an expert on terrorism having interviewed many terroists in Pakistan and other places in the Middle East. She also explores trauma experienced by soldiers of the Iraq war and though that is not a major part of the book, I feel it is important to understand the effects the war is having on people. She also explores the effects of trauma on her father (he was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany) and how that played a serious role in their family attitudes, how she was raised, and how she was expected to deal with problems. I don't regret reading this book and felt I learned something from it, but don't read it if you're simply trying to pick up a book to decompress at the end of the day - this won't do it for ya!

  • Joel
    2019-06-10 05:55

    I had dinner with Jessica Stern one night a few years ago. Cyril Taylor invited us to dinner with a Harvard professor and it turned out it was Jessica Stern. She's one of the countries foremost experts on terrorists and has published at least one book and several articles on the subject. Her approach was unusual - she went out and actually spent time interviewing them (in the same vein as Daniel Pearl was doing when he was caught and executed). When I asked about if she was fearful doing this type of work she said she had a preternatural calmness in the face of potential threat. In the course of our conversation as I tried to understand where that came from, she said it came from when she was a young teenager. She and her sister were at a relative's house doing homework, waiting for their babysitter to pick them up when a man broke in and raped them both at gun point. This book is her story of the rape and how it shaped her and her relationships and her work in her adult life. It is disturbing on the one hand, and hopeful on the other. Terrible acts of violence are committed upon people and still the resiliency of the human spirit compels them to live. Extremely well written.

  • Kristina
    2019-06-21 02:52

    Incredible book. This is a disturbing look inside of an individual that has suffered the unthinkable and lived with it for a lifetime. The violent rape of her and her little sister has haunted Jessica her entire life and left her with questions that she is determined to find out - despite the terror and fear that tries to keep her away. The words contained in this book truly open your eyes to a world that many of us have never experienced or even think about. Pain. Shame. Hurt. Embarrassment. Fear. Terror. It was particularly interesting to me how she shows time and again how trauma is a chain what happens to us as individuals will affect how we behave and treat others - with or without intention. You see this with her interview with her father and also with the stories told about the rapist. You see that the way we are treated - especially as children - mold our lives. Our experiences make us who we are and how we treat others has more effect than we might think. You find yourself looking into your own mind and questioning your own fears and hang-ups.A truly eye opening book that should be read by all.

  • Sabrina Rutter
    2019-05-29 22:45

    In this memoir Jessica Stern tells the reader how she and her younger sister were raped at gun point when they were teenagers. The police didn't take their claim very seriously and went as far to say that the girls were lying. Now more than several years later Jessica is contacted by police lieutenant Paul Macone telling her that he has opened the case once again and feels that he can solve it.Jessica suffers from Posttraumatic stress disorder due to the rape. This book really does give one a good idea what it must feel like to suffer from this disorder. The disorder makes it hard for Jessica while she is investigating her own rape, but she pushes herself on with the help of an old family friend.What bothered me with this book is that there was a lot of repeating when it came to what was in the police files. I have to admit that I wanted to skip around in this book, but didn't becuase then I couldn't add it to my list of books I read for this year. Am I dissapointed with the book? No. Jessica does have a way to bring one into very personal feelings so that you almost feel they are your own.

  • Rebecca Robichaud
    2019-06-01 05:50

    Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern details the author's journey of self-discovery via the investigation of the rape of the author and her sister in 1973 and a discovery of the man who perpetrated the crime against the two young teenage girls. Stern suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of her rape and earlier childhood abuse at the hands of her step-grandmother, and throughout finds it difficult to connect to and identify the emotions tied to her experiences that summer night.As the best friend of a rape survivor, I find this book compelling. Stern's honesty is breath-taking as she approaches her experiences in what can only be described as a "verbal-vomit" style of writing. While the proof I received is an uncorrected proof, I find no flaw in Stern's writing, and find that the style in which she approaches the memoir has a realism that borders on childlike. Stern pulls no punches and describes the circumstances of her self-discovery exactly how she feels and sees them. Five stars.

  • Kaz
    2019-06-07 02:03

    I received this book (ARC) from GoodReads giveaway.Stern's writing of her experiences gave me an impression of detachment and coldness sometimes. It amazed me somehow, but it was one of characteristics of PTSD, I guess. I didn't know anything about the symptoms of PTSD, so what she described of herself and others were interesting and very informative. I knew from the summary of book that she wrote about her rape, but it was more than that. She exposed not only the past of herself but also her family's: her father and her grandfather. She did research, faced to her findings, and wrote in a book to be read by public. It must required lots of courage and also supports and love of family. The story of Jack, her assistant, in chapter nine was really heavy and so was chapter twelve, a story of a soldier with PTSD. I was glad to read chapter thirteen, the scene of the author and her father, because it gave me more image of her as a daughter and as a woman other than a girl who was traumatized. (There was a grim episode of her childhood that mentioned in there though.)