50 Shades of Abuse

The hugely popular books 50 Shades of Grey and the sequals Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed were huge international best sellers with over 70 million copies sold worldwide, and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, surpassing even the Harry Potter series. Most people recognize that it is a very poorly written book, sales were largely based on  soft-core descriptions of BDSM.

In one humorous review of the writing, Joe Veix described use of Argh in the sex scenes. On a more serious note, there have been criticisms of the book from the BDSM community who decry the demonization of people in the lifestyle as somehow being ‘broken‘,  as well as the lack of consent in many of the scenes.

Now, a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health analyzes the novels using the CDC’s definitions of intimate partners violence.

Reporting in the Journal of Women’s Health, Amy Bonomi and co-authors conclude that emotional and sexual abuse is pervasive in the novel, with the main female character, Anastasia, suffering harm as a result.

About 25 percent of women are victims of violence by intimate partners.

The researchers conducted a systematic analysis of the novel to clarify patterns consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitions of intimate partner violence and associated reactions known to occur in abused women….

Anastasia suffers reactions consistent with those of abused women. She feels a constant sense of threat and loss of self-identity, changes her behaviors to keep peace in the relationship such as withholding information about her whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger, and becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abusive patterns.

In my opinion, the emotional abuse Christian piled on Anastasia was worse than the physical aspects of the relationship. My personal advice (based upon my personal experience, as well as that of friends) to anyone, male or female, if you ever meet anyone as controlling as Christian Grey, don’t try to change him or her, it won’t work. Just run, as fast and as far as you can.

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