Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up
By Tiffany Bluhm (Brazos Press)
Some say silence is golden. Author Tiffany Bluhm believes it can be poisonous.
Based on personal experience and extensive research, Bluhm not only looks specifically at issues of sexual abuse and harassment in a variety of settings, but also explores the power dynamics that cause women to remain silent about unjust treatment. She writes from a Christian perspective and deals with issues specific to churches, as well as examining more general matters of workplace inequity and injustice.
Bluhm addresses a wide range of subjects—perhaps too wide. She quite rightly identifies techniques predators use to groom subjects they plan to abuse, but readers easily could conclude every compliment in a workplace or house of worship should be viewed with suspicion. She properly makes the connection between broadly defined sexual harassment and criminal sexual abuse and assault. Certainly, one can lead to the other, and she performs an important service by connecting those dots. However, a reader could incorrectly draw the conclusion that one inevitably results in the other—or see them as morally equivalent in every respect. It’s an important distinction. Persistent perpetrators of sexual harassment should be fired. Perpetrators of sexual abuse and assault should be prosecuted.
Prey Tell might have been more effective by being more narrowly and precisely focused—either workplace sexual harassment or clergy sexual misconduct, for instance. The sections where she examines the misuse of Scripture by religious leaders to justify sexual abuse particularly are powerful and pertinent.
Minor reservations aside, Bluhm offers an important message. Prey Tell issues a strong and clear call to break the silence surrounding injustice against women and the abuse of power.
Ken Camp, managing editor