My Dear Daughter (and all other women too):
Please do not fall in love with Christian Grey, or anyone like him.
I’m all for empathy, and compassion. I really am. I believe people deserve second chances. I believe that bad things happen to good people, and that we don’t have any real control over some things. The thing is, my beautiful, sweet, darling girl, that there is no past so troubled; no history so convoluted; no dysfunction so incredible that it can explain, or excuse exerting oneself over another. There is no explanation that will ever make me understand or forgive a man (or woman) who abuses you.
It is not an expression of love when a man says:
“Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone–remember?'”
This is, in fact, a direct threat. It doesn’t mean that he loves you so much that he would never let you get away. What it means is he is controlling. It means that he is a stalker, and stalkers are abusers. We’re not talking harmless high school drive-bys with your friends. We’re talking about tracking cell phones in Alaska, and having no where to run. Why else would you be running, if not to get away from someone who was trying to do you harm?
It’s one thing to hide it from me, even though I truly hope that you will trust me enough to tell me, but if you can’t tell anyone, you should really consider whether it’s because they won’t understand, or because you’re afraid they’d be right. That goes for anything that happens in any relationship. If you actually feel confident in your decisions, you won’t need validation, and it won’t matter what anyone says. You shouldn’t do things you aren’t proud of doing, or at least things that make you feel ashamed.
“What can I do to make you understand I will not run? What can I say?”He gazes at me, revealing his fear and anguish again. He swallows. “There is one thing you can do.”“What?” I snap.“Marry me,” he whispers.”
You should not agree to marry a man just to prove that you aren’t going to leave him, especially if he’s worried you’re going to leave after having beaten you/threatened you/yelled at you/ manipulated you. Marriage isn’t an endeavor to prove your love. Marriage is an agreement to join paths; to be partners; to grow up together. If a person is worried about your loyalty, marriage will not convince them. It will only serve to entrap you into an abusive relationship that will be even more difficult to escape.
This should not be your lover’s response, let alone your husband’s, to the announcement that you are pregnant.
“‘Christ Ana!’ He bangs his fist on the table. Making me jump, and stands so abruptly. he almost knocks the dining chair over. ‘You have one thing, one thing to remember, Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid!'”
Even if you forgot about birth control, your husband/lover/wife should never EVER call you stupid, yell at you, or frighten you. In fact, you shouldn’t be worried about making him mad all the time. He should respect you, and be concerned for your well-being. He should not manipulate you, isolate you, and he should certainly not touch you without permission, in ways you do not want to be touched. He should not leave bruises on your body to prevent you from being able to expose any part of your skin. He should not impose himself on your career. He should not infringe upon your healthy relationships with your friends. He should not hurt you, and no matter how many times he apologizes for having done so, you should not tolerate a repeat offense.
I can tell you that love is not about fear. Not in the way the relationship in this horrific excuse for writing is trying to convince you of. Questioning a relationship for reasons like these:
“Because I can’t touch you, because I’m too frightened to show you any affection in case you flinch or tell me off or worse – beat me?”
are serious indicators that you are not being loved the way you deserve.
Most importantly, my darling daughter, you have a right to consent to sex. No one…and I mean NO ONE has the right to force sex on you. The moment you say “No”, anyone who loves you will stop until you tell them otherwise. This:
“‘No,’ I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. ‘If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you.”
is rape, plain and simple. For no other reason, other than the fact that he is a rapist, you should stay away from men like Christian Grey. You do not need to save anyone from his past. After sex you should never feel like:
“a receptacle – an empty vessel to be filled at his whim. […] an overwhelming urge to cry, a sad and lonely melancholy grips and tightens round my heart. Dashing back to my bedroom, I close the door and lean against it trying to rationalize my feelings. I can’t. Sliding to the floor, I put my head in my hands as my tears begin to flow.”
This is how a victim of rape feels. This is how a victim of abuse feels. It is not how you should feel after you’ve been intimate with anyone.
There is a variety of erotic practice called BDSM. Some say it stands for Bondage Discipline
Sadism & Masochism. Others say it’s Bondage, Dominance, Submission and Masochism. Either way, it is a practice that is entirely based upon a system of consent, open communication, and AGREED upon exchange of power where both parties are empowered. BDSM is not synonymous for abuse, nor is it an excuse for objectification. It is something that should be enjoyed by everyone involved, and not forced upon another person. Anyone who claims BDSM, and tries to hurt you is misappropriating the terminology as an excuse to be abusive. Needing to control another person’s entire life is not love.
I know you’re only a little girl right now, and I’m hopeful that this movie will be long forgotten by the time you’re old enough to watch it. I know that it’s supposed to be a fantasy, and there are those who will argue that it shouldn’t be taken seriously, and as a book that might hold true, because books have a higher barrier of entry than movies. It’s one thing to read about something. Seeing it played out on a screen makes it harder to separate the fantastic from the realistic. Kind of like the way I’ve spent my entire life hearing the stations of the cross, reading the Passion scenes in the Bible, or hearing them discussed from a pulpit, and then just barely being able to tolerate the brutality of it on screen in the movie The Passion of the Christ. The point is that there are people who might watch this movie and think that it’s a love story; a romance; because love is enough to change the battered puppy into a loving husband and father. It isn’t. It isn’t a love story. It’s a story of abuse. It isn’t about how love changed a man, because that’s not how it works. Love may be a catalyst, but real change doesn’t happen overnight. Real change, like the one this novel attempts to depict, takes LOTS of time.
There’s also an entire world of women who were once the five year-old daughters of mothers like me who are paying money to see this movie right now. I see them talking about it on social media, and my heart hurts for them; for their mothers. I’m writing this to them, as much as I am to you–probably more so.
If, however, you stumble across it some late night browsing Netflix, or it comes on some movie channel, I truly hope you will see it for the sad cry for help that it is. I hope that you, too, mourn for the author’s horrible controlling experiences that lead to writing such a story, and that you are able to see through it all and see the truth. I admit. I read the books. Twice. I enjoyed them too. That is, until I asked myself how I would feel if that college aged virgin was my daughter, or if it had been successful if it was 50 Shades of Brown. It was instant shame. Instant sadness, because it means that somewhere inside myself I didn’t recognize my own value. I pray that you do not devalue yourself this way. I hope that there is no expensive enough car to sway your decisions, and that no man would dare to treat you like a toy. If he does, I’m only a phone call away, and Daddy will happy to teach him what pain really feels like.
Now, if you do happen to fall in love with a man who sends up any of these red flags, step back. Give him time to get help. Give him time to heal. This may mean saying goodbye, and it may mean forever, and it will likely be painful, for both of you. Remember that anyone who loves you will want to make sure they are healthy enough to know they don’t want to hurt you. They will want to be healthy enough to deserve you. There is no pain worse than losing yourself to another person. You are amazing. You are wonderful. You are valuable. The person who you should be with will know this. The person who is meant for you will not want to get in the way of your emotional health. That person will nourish your soul, and your body…not hurt it. And frankly, if your choice is between being alone and being abused, I’d rather see you with a black cat than a black eye.
So please, dear daughter (and all other women too), don’t fall in love with Christian Grey, or anyone like him. You are worth so much more than abuse.
With all my Love,
P.S. Click here to read more warning signs of abusive relationships
If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship please get help. Click here for information on how.