I would love to be writing this with an observation that the number of women killed in domestic abuse murders had dropped but sadly this isn’t the case.
I would love to be able to say that women now seem to have a greater understanding of what makes a domestic abuse perpetrator, but alarmingly the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy has damaged the ability of women and girls seeing this by romanticising all the traits that we should be warned about.
I would love to say that the media and the courts treat domestic abuse victims fairly and understand the complex nature of this hideous crime…unfortunately the disgusting treatment of witness Nigella demonstrate how more than often it’s the victim that is put on trial rather than the abuser.2013 has demonstrated how much things need to change.
2013 has shown me from a domestic abuse awareness campaigners perspective that there is a huge need for education from a very early age in schools to prevent teens suffering in abusive relationships. We need to teach early to prevent the ingrained opinions that somehow domestic abuse is a “private matter” or that the victim must have done something or said something to make the abuser act that way. We need to act early so that young impressionable girls who may be reading books like 50 shades don’t think that having a powerful, controlling man who tells them what to wear, what to eat, demands to know everyone they talk to, monitors their emails etc is in any way “romantic” or “sexy”. They need to be made aware that this is domestic abuse – and in real life relationships like this kill 2 women per week in the UK.2013 has had its ups and downs as a campaigner.
At the beginning of the year I had what I thought was an invincible team of women around me all campaigning for the same cause. My low point this year was when I was let down badly by one person I had trusted to be part of the group and had agreed to her joining as admin on a twitter account I had been working on. This individual developed a campaign of hatred against another DV campaigner and lost sight of the cause that we had believed she was fighting for aswell (which was to unite as survivors and raise awareness of the abhorrent crime of domestic abuse). Her focus on attacking the other campaigner was relentless and she soon turned onto me and another member of the group when we refused to join in the attack. I had made it clear from the onset that my focus was to raise awareness not to attack others. In her eyes it was not acceptable for us to refuse to join in with her campaign of attack and therefore she made up allegations that we were some sort of “security threat” to her and were passing information to the “enemy”. Her unfound allegations and ability to manipulate meant that two of us could no longer continue working on the account that we had put a lot of hard work and effort into. It is very revealing that as soon as we were off the account she added her full real name to the account as “co-runner” and location to her own twitter (hardly the actions of someone who is security conscious).
Raising awareness of the abuse in 50 shades is hugely important to us, we have been tweeting since the books were published and we wanted to continue our work so we set up @50shadesisabuse which is purely focused on domestic abuse and raising awareness of the unhealthy relationship portrayed in the book. I am proud to say that this account will never use bullying tactics to bring down other domestic abuse campaigners even if they are raising awareness in a way that we don’t choose to. The other member who runs this account is a fantastic person – she’s a domestic abuse survivor, who has endured her own real life Christian Grey, like I did. I trust her whole heartedly to continue the hard work in the same vein as we started in the original account. If you aren’t a follower already please follow us on @50shadesisabuse and retweet to help promote awareness.
I am pleased and very proud to say that the other women in the group we have for DV Campaigners have continued to keep their focus on raising awareness of domestic abuse. They’re tireless in their campaigns dedicating hours of their own time with the aim of preventing other women suffering as we did at the hands of an abuser. This amazing group of women keep me motivated and I would like to thank them for that. I’m sure that their good work will continue into 2014 and beyond….and slowly but surely we will make a difference.
I would love to be writing this with an observation that the number of women killed in domestic abuse murders had dropped but sadly this isn’t the case.
Dear E L James.
I am writing an open letter to you – although I doubt if you will ever read it as your attitude towards domestic abuse issues seems to be to put your fingers in your ears and hope that we go away….well we won’t.
I am a domestic abuse survivor, although I have been called a lot of other things since campaigning to raise awareness of twitter. I am one of the people who “freaks you out” by saying that your Fifty Shades trilogy is about domestic abuse. I have no financial gain to be made by saying this, I have no hidden agenda…I say they are about domestic abuse because quite simply … they are!
According to you people who point out the domestic abuse are “trivialising the issues and are doing women who actually go through it a huge disservice”. I take great offence to this comment. A lot of the women speaking out about domestic abuse ARE the women who have been through it – and we are hardly going to trivialise our own experiences are we?!
I and many others who have sent you polite tweets about our links of our domestic abuse experiences to you have been completely ignore by you and then blocked. To then have you address the issue with that ignorant statement is beyond hurtful to DV survivors. If you actually took the time to listen to all our experiences then I have no doubt you would see the similarities yourself, but you choose to ignore.
To be clear, we are not attacking the BDSM lifestyle, in fact I’ve had good chats with practitioners in this lifestyle who agree that the relationship you portray is indeed abuse. Taking a virgin and pretty much “grooming” her into what you want is far from a consensual BDSM relationship and more about coercive control.
The reason I bought your books in the first place is because I was hoping for a “erotic love story”, as this is the way the books are marketed. Only a few pages in I realised that this was not going to be the case. The only way I can describe it is that it was like reading about my own abusive relationship that I had escaped from several years ago. What you portray is NOT love, it is a living hell. I existed when I was in that relationship (just)…I would not call it living, let alone loving.
I continued reading the books because when I read about my own abuse and saw it romanticised in this way I felt compelled to speak up and warn others, and I would never speak out about something I was not knowledgeable in. I was also kind of hoping that Ana may have realised that she was a soul draining, abusive relationship by book 3 but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Instead you decided to write the most unrealistic ending ever for this type of relationship…a happy one. This then magnified the dangerous message these books give.
No domestic abuse relationship ends happily. The abusers behaviour gets worse over time never better. Abusers do not change suddenly and start putting their partners feelings before there own. There ultimate goal is to have complete control over their partner to get them to do exactly what they want, and when the emotional abuse stops working….have no doubt that they physical abuse will come into play.
The grim reality is – with relationships like the one you described in Fifty Shades, 2 women per week die in the UK:
Now I’m all for literary freedom, but I do think that authors should take responsibility for the words they write and the way their books are marketed. For example: when you read about a murder – its marketed as a murder mystery, when you read about something horrifying – its marketed as a horror, when you read about a domestic abuse relationship it should under no circumstances be marketed as a “love story”.
Every day on twitter I see women and teenage girls tweeting their love for Christian Grey, expressing how they want a real life Christian Grey. Are we to suppose that all these women/girls actually want an abuser in their lives? ….No - your books have blinded them to the warning signs and characteristics of an abuser which Womens Aid, Refuge and other DV charities have worked so hard to make people aware of.
Whether you want to hear it or not domestic abuse has some shocking and terrifying statistics: 1 in 4 women currently have experience of it. I can categorically say having had my own “Christian Grey” experience that it was the worst time of my life, one that was hard to get out of, and one that I would not wish upon anyone. There are no good memories from that relationship as like Ana, I was manipulated the whole way through it.
By ignoring our experiences and not even acknowledging the abuse in your books, you are preventing thousands of women from knowing the truth about domestic abuse.
These women may go into relationships thinking that a man who tries to control them is “sexy” - its not, its abuse.
They may think that if their partner stalks them, or read their emails, follow them on their lunch break etc that it’s a sign of undying love, or harmless protection - its not, its abuse.
Their “Christian Grey” type may present them with an “us against the world “ ideology and they may find it flattering that he wants them to be with him all the time - ts not, its abuse.
The women already in this abusive relationships may stay longer because your book has convinced them that if they only love him enough they will “heal” him, and he will change - he won’t, the abuse will increase.
When you are controlled by a partner it is completely draining, they take away your independence, they are awkward, angry, sulky or moody when you want to see your friends until in the end its easier not to. An abusers aim is to have ultimate control and they will use a series of different tactics to try and get it.
As the Author of this trilogy of domestic abuse, I hold you responsible for the damaging effect your words are having. You have the ability to raise awareness of the domestic abuse within your books that real life domestic abuse survivors are recognising. Please stop marketing the books as a “love story” this is so dangerous. As a woman you should want to empower other women so that they don’t become the 1 in 4 that suffers this terrible crime.
As domestic abuse survivors we already are aware of what domestic abuse is, and some of us following our experiences have learnt the warning signs to prevent it ever happening again. Some unfortunately do not learn this and they are then at risk of suffering again. Fans of Fifty Shades are at risk, they don’t see the signs and you have the power to change this. Your fans made you rich, now its time to enrich them with awareness. Knowledge is empowering and by making everyone aware of domestic abuse signs we can work to ending this dreadful, damaging crime.
We will continue to campaign, but I hope that you do the right thing for your fans.
Domestic Abuse Aware
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:
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!!!!
Well after all the hype surrounding this book, I decided to read this book and am just about half way through. What I have found so far is ringing every alarm bell...even reading the synopsis on the back of the book was worrying. From what I have read I can categorically say to that Christian Grey is real, his characteristics can be found in most domestic abusive men....as 1 in 4 women who have suffered an abusive relationship will tell you.
So far I have read how Christian :
All of these characteristics can be found in any article writing about the signs to look out for in domestic abusive men and relationships. Unfortunately the amount of women who are swooning over this person have all been swept up in the "charm" that he also demonstrates, which is the same charm that most of the women who found themselves in domestic relationships fell for.
I am going to continue to read the books because I am interested to see how it turns out , but so far all the signs are there. Women may thinkong they want their own Christian Grey in real life ....but believe me there are no happy endings with this type of controlling man, however exciting they seem initially.