Sunday, April 13, 2014

REVIEW: "I Didn't Know" by Yvette Allen-Tatum (Write Now Lit)

I Didn't Know" is for more than just an audience of one. If you look to your left, look to your right, or directly in the mirror, you will see or know someone who has been sexually abused... even if you look in the mirror, and the person is YOU! More than the tragedy of sexual abuse is the tragedy of the silence of sexual abuse. It must be talked about. Our stories have to be shared; someone's life is literally depending upon YOU to BREAK THE IGNORANCE OF SILENCE! "I Didn't Know" brings to the forefront the many hidden faces of child sexual abuse. The author, Yvette L. Allen-Tatum, shares not only her story, but the compelling testimonies of others--everyone from the actual victim, to the offender, to those who standby by in disbelief and allow these heinous crimes against our children to continue. Our voices have to be heard, our children must be free or freed to tell the TRUTH: that someone touched them. Who can they run to? Will it be you?

Paperback: 110 pages
Publisher: Kingdom Publishing Group, Inc. (March 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0988312670
ISBN-13: 978-0988312678

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Yvette Allen-Tatum
Author, teacher, conference host, public speaker, encourager, motivator, ordained & licensed minister of The Gospel, radical for Christ, undercover comedian and the list goes on...

Yvette is a graduate of Grace Christian College where she earned her Masters of Divinity and a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. She is also a graduate of University of Richmond, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Concentration in Finance and a Minor in Leadership Studies. In addition, she has 30 plus years of experience in income tax preparation and bookkeeping.

As the Founder of Surrounded by Faith Ministries, Yvette has had the opportunity to touch and transform the lives of many women with the Word of God. This mighty woman of God has a prophetic teaching anointing which has enabled her to cross many boundaries. As such, the call of God on her life has broadened from transforming the lives of women to transforming LIVES with the Word of God. While she still holds a passion to train and equip women in the life study and application of the Bible, her ultimate goal is to strengthen families. To do so her platform is geared to men, women and children.


I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review, which follows:

There are few ways to rile my ire faster than to harm a child.  In fact, that is the most expedient way to rile my ire...especially if that harm comes through sexual means.  Unfortunately, as the news tells us every day, sexual abuse is rampant in our society...even targeted at children less than a year old (if you don't believe me, ask the 9 month old little girl who died after her mother "gave her" to her boyfriend for the night).  I've seen many posts lately about "rape culture", and few of these dealing with the fact that grown men and women are not the only targets.  Our precious ones, the "Dibbuns" (to borrow a term for young ones from Brian Jacques), are also targets.  If only we talked about it more...

Allen-Tatum has here a non-fiction work that shines a light on one of the aspects of our society that we want most to hide - sexual abuse aimed at minors....heck, sexual abuse in general.  As a survivor of multiple instances of sexual abuse herself, Allen-Tatum speaks from harrowing experience about a subject that we want to pretend is relegated to Law and Order shows.  Powerful language is used to talk about a powerful subject.  Definitions are given that ensure one cannot walk away from the book saying "I didn't know...", or pretending sexual abuse is not running disturbingly rampant in our world.  Real-world research and stories highlight this disturbing occurrence in this tool intended to educate people in order to protect them.  Scripture is used to highlight God's healing power in the midst of the sh** storm of this life.

Despite the subject matter being something that I wholeheartedly agree needs to be discussed more in the name of prevention, the format of the book left something to be desired.  I kept wanting to pull out my red editing pen to fix poorly constructed sentences, organizations of chapters that were confusing, and formatting errors in the printing of the book.  

Because the formatting problems with the book overshadowed the valuable material contained within, 

On an ascending scale of 1 to 5, I give this book a 3.

The Good
Let's just get this out of the way - I have several close friends who have been sexually assaulted.  I've wept with and over friends who have told me their devastating stories of abuse.  This is a problem running rampant within our society, a rape culture that is highly sexist.  If I ever find out that my son has sexually assaulted someone, I'll turn him in myself.  

Allen-Tatum has here created a work that seeks to shed light on myths and truths about sexual assault in its various forms.  She desperately wants to fulfill God's all on her life to minister to those in need, and the issue it appears she has been called to is educating the world about sexual assault.  What is sexual assault?  What are its various forms?  Who is responsible?  Why isn't it usually reported?  What are the ramifications on both the victims and survivors of sexual assault?

This is a non-fiction book.  It's a quick and easy read filled with difficult things.  Allen-Tatum defines many terms that society probably wishes were left ambiguous.  She describes her real-world experience with being a survivor of sexual abuse, as well as the stories of several others.  She uses scholarly research, Scripture references (to the protestant Christian Bible), and a tone that one of my friends would call a "come to Jesus" tone that makes readers sit up and pay attention.  

It is hard.  

It calls us to realize hard things...such as that ignoring the issue revictimizes the victims of sexual assault, such as that children are sometimes not even safe with their own family members, such as that forgiveness is about setting the victim free.

It is something we need to talk about more, especially if we want to see more of the abuse that happens actually freaking reported (can you tell the lack of reporting is a personal hot button of mine?) so that more can be done to protect those who are targeted.  

It is something that teenagers should read, so they are equipped to talk about the topic intelligently instead of regurgitating questionable ideas found in sound lyrics.  

It highlights the importance of talking about this with our young children so they know how to report if - God forbit - it ever happens to them.  

The Bugly (bad/ugly)
While I appreciated the content of this book, I did not appreciate how it was written.  There are problems with how the chapters are organized (I'm sure there is a method to the madness, but I couldn't find it), poorly constructed sentences that are unnecessarily repetitive in all the wrong ways, fragmented sentences, random inclusions of information, Random Capitalizations of Words that Should Not Be Capitalized, Scripture passages yanked completely out of context (as a seminary educated person as well, I'm touchy on this topic), and citations at the end that are just plain not done properly.

I understand that Allen-Tatum is a very well educated, well qualified woman to speak on the subject.  That much is obvious.  I do not understand how this work got past an editor in this shape (if it hasn't been through a professional editor, it needs to be).  In honesty it feels like a stream-of-consciousness work that was cleaned up only a little bit.  Were this a person, it would be a highly attractive person, but with disheveled hair, wrinkled and mismatching clothes, and perhaps a hole in a shoe in the wrong place.  

For the sake of spreading this message in as effective a way as possible, I want to see this run through an editor so the glaring problems with grammar, sentence and paragraph formation, organization, etc do not detract from the quality of the content.  The content is superb...the presentation is terrible.

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