No one expected Jennifer Jeffries to survive the physical and emotional trauma she experienced: not the doctors, not the London serial killer who chose her for his seventh victim, not the New Scotland Yard detective who desperately needed her to testify against her attacker. No one expected this young Texan to overcome her fears; not her witness protection team nor the tough ex-special-forces sergeant in charge of them. And no one expected her character and courage to blossom. Not the defense barristers who sought to discredit her testimony and not even Jenny herself, who had to battle pain and panic to rediscover hope and love.
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Reader Discussion Questions from The Witness
1. Jenny was shocked to learn that witness protection was required to keep her safe. In what ways did this forced separation from her family make her recovery more difficult?
2. In 1998, few firearms officers were female. Was being isolated with male police officers a help or a hindrance to Jenny’s recovery? Would it have been easier or harder for her if her witness protection team had had officers from both sexes whose relationships became intimate during the assignment?
3. Jenny resisted the recommendations of the witness protection officer, yet his predictions were later proved correct. Where else did the author use foreshadowing to forecast future events?
4. Jenny’s witness protection officers were not trained to identify psychological trauma. In what ways did her trauma become evident to them? How did they react?
5. Jenny’s physical healing preceded her psychological healing, but she had scars from both. How did her external scars reflect or contradict what she was feeling inside?
6. Trauma can affect individuals physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. What steps did Jenny take to address these issues?
7. Support from others is an important ingredient in recovery. What measures did others take on Jenny’s behalf?
8. Jenny was terribly afraid of giving testimony. Were her fears justified? Was she adequately prepared for her courtroom experience?
9. For months Jenny had longed to go home to her family. What, then, made going home so hard for her when the time finally came?
10. After her experience with her attacker, Jenny was surprised that she was attracted to any man. Were you surprised? What characteristics attracted her to Colin? Why was she more drawn to him than to Sergeant Casey?
11. Jenny’s relationship with Sergeant Casey was complex. How would you describe it? Would you call it friendship? Was he right to abstain from pursuing a serious relationship with her?
12. Sometimes Jenny’s hurdles seemed insurmountable to her. What was the most difficult hurdle she had to overcome in her initial stay in the hospital? During her early days in witness protection? Following the courthouse attack? While testifying in multiple trials? When she realized she wanted a personal relationship with Colin?
13. Jenny suffered from the trauma of violence, but trauma can result from many circumstances. If you have suffered any kind of trauma in your life, what aspects of her recovery gave you hope?
14. Jenny made lists to help her make sense of her feelings. Do you think a similar approach would help you? How did her sense of humor mark progress in her recovery?
15. No relationship is without its problems. What challenges lie ahead for Jenny and Colin? Were her parents correct to want her to come home?