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:
- 2 women who perhaps had no prior knowledge of domestic abuse.
- 2 women who maybe didn’t see the warning signs quick enough
- or when they finally did were too deep into the control to see a way out,
- 2 women who maybe read your book and thought that this kind of controlling behaviour from your partner was somehow acceptable, romantic and he was just their “silly, control freak “.
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