“This book will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”Anne Panning, author of Dragonfly Notes: On Distance and Loss
Jessica Renee was 11 years old when her stepfather began routinely raping and sexually assaulting her. Only when she was 15 and her boyfriend asked the right questions did the truth come to light—a terrible truth that her mother chose not to believe. Backed by a church community that believed a woman’s duty was to support her husband above all else, Jessica’s mother and countless other family and friends turned against her, labeling her a sinner even as her rapist was convicted.
Throughout the long road to that conviction, Jessica often felt she didn’t have a voice, as she was continually questioned, criticized, and cast aside. She is ready to make her voice heard now and provide a guiding light for those who are still searching for hope.
In calling attention to sexual abuse happening at home, by a family member the victim loved and trusted, Jessica’s story is a powerful addition to the Me Too movement and a rallying cry for victims and allies to rise from the ashes of silence.
Now available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book through most indie bookstores and major distributors.
Please consider donating a copy of the book to a place in your community where a new reader can discover it — a library, little free library, school, community center, nonprofit organization, etc. Get in touch to let me know you’re interested, and, as a thank-you, I’ll mail you a bookplate sticker to include in your donated copy!
Read more about Jessica and her story on my blog.
What Readers Are Saying
“Valerie Dimino masterfully took on Jessica’s voice and shaped her story into the well crafted narrative. She treats the material with the utmost respect, sharing the horrific details of a childhood hijacked by repeated sexual abuse. The story was gripping but also sad that this was Jessica’s reality and unfortunately a reality shared by many others. I was disheartened to realize that this day in age, when the words trauma informed are hot buzzwords, they do not seem to apply to the court system when survivors of sexual trauma are doing their best to navigate the confusing system. Reading this book reminded me a lot of Chanel Miller’s Know My Name. There really seems to be little consideration for the victims in these situations, recounting their experiences in a court of law. Writing and reading books such as this hopefully will push for the change that needs to happen.”
“It’s hard to find words for all of the emotions I felt while reading Jessica’s story. I was truly immersed in the best (and worst) ways possible as I learned about her journey. This book is incredibly well-written. It’s eloquent, powerful and paints a vivid picture of what Jessica experienced. I was amazed by how much strength she summoned throughout the entire ordeal, and inspired that she not only lived to tell about it, but also made it her mission to help others who experienced similar trauma.”
“I was so enraged I wanted to throw the book across the room on multiple occasions. But I couldn’t stop reading. …The Man Behind the Curtain brings up questions about family and faith while illustrating the many ways victims are intimidated, silenced and ignored. Ultimately, it shows us the life-changing power of having the courage to persevere and fight for the truth.”
“I just finished reading this book from cover to cover. It was addictive and I didn’t want to put it down. Such a heartbreaking but fabulous read. I felt as though Jessica was personally talking to me.”
“…[T]here was much more to this story than the telling of a trauma. In insight after insight, self-discovery after self-discovery, Jessica is reclaiming herself. In doing so, she offers an example of how telling our story can bring healing.”
“This book will make you angry. And it should. A brutally honest depiction of the abuse that a young girl faced, and the heartbreaking account of those closest to her who refused to believe it. Riveting, eye-opening… and incredibly important. …You won’t be able to put this book down, and it will stay with you long after the last page. In fact, you’ll be unlikely to look at the world the same way again. A must read.”
“An incredible memoir for survivors of sexual assault and those who work to advocate for them in all fields. …Kudos to these authors and women for being vulnerable in order to help other survivors feel seen and listened to. It was done with great professionalism, advocacy, and respect for owning one’s story.”
“You know how fun it is to BUY books, but sometimes it takes a while to actually READ them? Anyway, I cracked it open with the intention of reading just a few pages, and then I couldn’t put it down for the next two days. Jessica’s story is terrible, but the way it is told and written is so, so well done and compelling. …The book gave me strong emotions akin to reading Know My Name by Chanel Miller. I have never felt more involved in a story than with these two books (for better or for worse because both books ‘messed me up’ for a while). This is admittedly a tough read from an emotional standpoint, but it is well worth the pain to read how Jessica persevered.”
“A true story of an absolute warrior captured so well by the author’s descriptive recount of almost a decade of unimaginable sexual trauma, neglect, and abandonment. I couldn’t put this book down.”