Breaking the Silence by Sarah Beaulieu

Sarah Beaulieu’s book Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace is essential reading for a hallmark moment in American history whose ultimate effects are far from a final tally. . Beaulieu makes it clear from the outset of the book that her interest and passion for the subject hails from a deeply personal space within but, to her credit, there’s no sense of settling scores accompanying her observations. Beaulieu is an example of a survivor of sexual violence who, instead of feeling embittered by the experience or rendered unyielding with rage, has instead turned her attentions towards focusing on restorative action that heals and allows individuals to move on with their lives. Breaking the Silence Habit provides readers with directions and signposts towards facilitating that process. 

There’s a great deal of logic in her presentation of the issue. Beaulieu leads with a section devoted to heightening our understanding of the issue at hand before launching us into the mechanics of how to handle a frank and productive discussion of thorny subjects such as sexual harassment in the workplace and violence in general. She segues from there into a section dealing with how you structure such dialogues to achieve the healthiest ends and ends the book with a thoughtful examination of how to implement best the lessons learned into daily practice. 

The book brims with obvious merits; the thoughtfulness it shows in dealing with the issue, the insightful manner it adopts by not focusing on blame but rather reconciliation, and so forth, but readers are forgiven for wondering if there’s more. This is such a complex topic that it veers close to defying logic to believe you can address it, even piecemeal, within a little over two hundred pages. Beaulieu, nonetheless, attempts just that. One cannot help but feel she gives other factors like societal pressures on men and women alike shorter shrift than they deserve.


It doesn’t compromise, however, the book’s abiding value for readers. Beaulieu gives the issue a considered unpacking for readers and never glosses over any difficulties. Her tone is encouraging rather than scolding throughout the text and the clear investment she has in aiding others shines through on every page of Breaking the Silence Habit. It is clear she ascribes to the idea that our secrets make us sicker and the book’s core agenda, laying things bare and making sure people hear your experiences and truth, is an irrefutable strength of the text. 

Sarah Beaulieu’s Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace is essential reading for men and women alike in our current landscape. It remains to be seen if the effects of the #MeToo movement are transitory or lasting, but heeding the advice and guidance of books such as this strengthens the notion our society is making real and lasting strides forward rather than the movement being some passing fad that ultimately leaves no real effect on the issue. She is a fine writer who makes her points in intelligent and elegant fashion.

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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