After reading the first Fifty Shades of Grey I was left feeling uneasy. I had been hearing people rave about this book and how they would like a real life Christian Grey, but whilst I was reading it I recognised all the personality traits that my domestic abuser had. When comparing Christian Grey to any domestic abuse/violence warning sign check list it becomes more apparent. So I thought it was worthwhile to go through the list warning sign at a time and illustrate where Christian is behaving in this manner. Hopefully after reading this it will help diminish the "fantasy" of a "dream man" Christian Grey. Yes, these men are easy to fall for as they are often "charm" personified but behind this charm front lies a very dangerous and disturbed personality.Domestic Abuse Warning Signs
Christian shows his jealousy right from the very beginning when there is tension with Paul in the hardware store. More apparently with his jealousy of her friend Jose. Ana could have handled Jose's approaches on her own but Christian turns up out the blue and steps in, making the whole situation blow completely out of proportion. Ana herself is aware of the jealous nature as she teases Christian with an image of a hunky masseur, which she knows will wind him up. Also on the plane journey she wonders why she is the only person both times with an empty seat next to her. Could Christian have bought the seat so that no one sat next to her? The answer to this is almost certainly yes, he had the money and being a jealous type he wouldn't have wanted to risk having a man sit next to her incase they started up a conversation.Constantly checking up on partner - stalking
This is apparent right from the word go when Christian appears at Ana's work place, He then "turns up" on her night out, and knows where she lives. It appears he has put a tracking device on her phone - are we to accept that this is "normal" behaviour...I mean really ....... this is so typical of the abusive personality. He needs to know her whereabouts at all times, which is why he is constantly offering her lifts from his driver, buying her a laptop and mobile so he can keep in touch with her, He even follows her to her mother's house when she has clearly gone away to get a break from the intensity of it all. He knows no meaning of the phrase "personal space".
Christian is undoubtedly a control freak, Ana even labels him with this herself. His control of her is of utmost importance to him which is why the signing of the contract is so important to him, even though he knows its not legally binding he wants to know that he has won all control. He makes the smallest personal decisions for her by ordering her drink, food in restaurants, buying her clothes and wanting her to wear only what he tells her to in his company. He wants to tell her what to eat and how regularly and he wants a personal trainer for her. He does all this excusing it as his concern for her welfare when it is just about pure power. He even wants her to work for him, but luckily for her she has not succumbed to this.
With the onset of their relationship you can see the isolation from Ana's friends and family starting to happen. Christian is not trying to get to know her best friend Kate, probably because he knows that she can see straight through him and thinks he is bad news. Ana in turn has stopped confiding as much in Kate, and you can see that this relationship is not as close as it was. Ana was prevented to have any alone time with her mum and family when Christian just "turned up" on her break there. Christian is also trying to drive a wedge between Ana and Jose after exaggerating the incident that Jose has already apologised for.
Abusers do not like their partners to be in other peoples company without them and will often just turn up or make it difficult and cause arguments when they want to go out on their own. Eventually their partner will stop making arrangements to go out as they cannot stand the arguing that takes place if they make their own arrangements. The abuser will always insinuate that their partners friends are trying to cause trouble between them.
You will often here people who have been in abusive relationships refer to their partners as like "Prince Charming" to begin with. Christian is full of charm and it is this that wins Ana round and keeps her interest in between the wierdness of the whole contract issue. He builds her up to be special as he keeps referring to things they are doing together as the "first time" for him. This type of phrase is reminiscent of the popular abuser lines "I've never loved anyone as much", "you are the only person for me" etc etc...they use these lines to draw their victims in quickly so they can start their torture. If they weren't charming aswell they would never get passed the first date!!
All abusers as mentioned in the charm characteristics like to "hook" their partners quickly and Christian is no different when you consider how quickly he moves from the initial interview to talking about signing a contract, throughout their early relationship there is always an underlying pressure for her to commit.
This is apparent throughout the whole of Christian's contract. He is also very manipulative in the way he drops in references to his older woman and previous subs, so Ana begins to think that she is to blame if she cannot do the things he asks of her.
Abusers do not accept responsibility for any negative situation or problem. They always holds the victim responsible for their own sense of well being , as Christian does. If he does not like something Ana says or does he always says he will punish her.
Christian sees preferences for something that differs from his own as a criticism of his taste....and this is a very common characteristic in abusive personalities. If Ana acts differently to how he thinks in his head she should he then gets angry or sulks.
Playful use of force in sex
This needs no explanation as its the essence of the book, but needless to say one of the key warning signs of a potentially dangerous relationship is when the man carries out violent acts during sex. Where they want the woman to be helpless, or show no interest to whether the woman actually wants sex, how many times in the book do we hear Christian stating "I'm going to take you know"?!! They also uses sulking, manipulation and anger to get their own way sexually.
Rigid Gender roles
Male abusers like Christian see women as inferior and expect them to obey and serve them, they have an all round negative attitude towards women.
Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde
It is important to note that abusers are often viewed as charming, well respected people to the outside world. Within their relationships they can be charming and nice and seemingly "gentle" one minute to then completely change into a monster the next, Ana often talks about a sudden change in Christian's moods, and I have a feeling that this will become clearer in the next two books.
History of abuse
Often Abusers will have a history of abusing other women eg: Christian's previous "subs", and will also have suffered some kind of abuse themselves, as briefly touched on in Christian's childhood.
Apart from the sexual dark fantasies, this has been subtle so far in the book but it is there. Notably when Ana teases him via email Christian says that if she did that again he would "put her in a crate". This causes uneasiness in Ana and he later passes this off as a "joke". What is is though is a threat that adds to the undermining of Ana, with comments like this she feels fearful of what he is capable, and Christian wants her in a place where she is scared of him so that she will do as she is told.
Abusers will say cruel hurtful things to their partners and degrading remarks to continually undermine their partners confidence and this is something that gets worse over time so I think it will be interesting to see how this transpires in books 2 and 3.
Finally Ana's own behaviour is so reminiscent of a victim of domestic abuse:
- feeling confused about the relationship and his behaviour
- constantly trying to work Christian out
- uncontrollably crying, feeling emotional all the time
- not telling her friends everything for fear of them telling her she is being stupid etc.
- walking on eggshells with Christian as she does not know how he will react to things eg: being scared to tell him abut Jose's show
- feeling inadequate, feeling that she will not be able to please him in the way he wants and ignoring her own feelings and needs
- feeling insecure - she is even starting to get jealous of previous relationships
- becoming withdrawn and a shadow of her former self, which is why her friends and family are starting to ask what is wrong.
All of these signs are just in book 1 so I dread to think how many more will seem familiar in the rest of the trilogy.
This book highlights the real need to spread the warning signs of domestic abuse as I am pretty sure that the majority of women picking up on the signs of a dangerous man in this character are women who have been unlucky enough to be the 1 in 4 of us that suffers from a domestic abusive relationship.
We shouldn't be glossing over domestic abuse in novels like this and calling it "erotic fiction", "mummy porn" we should be analysing it and passing on these clear warnings through education to teenage girls We need to lso they do not suffer under the hands of a controlling man. Frighteningly 2 women a week die from domestic abuse...its time we made everyone aware!!!!