I married Christian Grey

// 10 December 2012

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Natalie Collins set up Spark and is an independent consultant working to prevent and respond to violence against women and enable others to do the same. She is also the creator of DAY, an innovative youth domestic abuse education programme. She speaks and trains on understanding and ending domestic abuse nationally and internationally.

fifty shades of grey.jpgThis post mentions domestic and sexual abuse.

I feel it’s time to tell the world. I married a Christian Grey.

I met him when I was 17, at a party. He gave me all those “Mr Grey” looks. He paused regularly during the conversations we had and left me wondering what he really meant. He always had that smile, the one like he was laughing at me… I got all those fluttery bits in my stomach and every time I looked at him I felt my heartbeat in my mouth.

He was the most beautiful man I had ever met and it was the first time I had ever felt such deep desire for anybody.

Maybe at this point I should say I also was a virgin. Not only was I a virgin, I was a virgin who didn’t believe in sex before marriage. I was Ana Steele, but younger, and more na├»ve.

As the party went on, his secret smile created such a fluttering within (perhaps it was the whisperings of my inner goddess), but I also felt I needed to avoid his intense, dark gaze. I felt just like Ana, I needed to “get away from him.”

I left the party and imagined I’d never see him again. I dreamed of him, but within a week, I had got him out of my mind and was getting on with my life.

Until he asked my friend for my number. (This was before everyone had mobile phones, or I’m pretty sure he would have just found me by using tracking software on his computer). I was utterly shocked! What would a beautiful Adonis like him want with me? I was just a silly little girl!

We met and walked for hours. It was. Oh. So. Romantic.

And then…he kissed me. It was beautiful and lovely and everything was perfect, and yet I felt I needed to get away as quickly as possible. But my subconscious was telling me, “Don’t let him go!”

So our relationship began. He wanted to know everything about me. He took up every second of my day and submerged himself in me. Just like Mr Grey he whisked me away from my friends and wanted to be my whole world. He told me of the abuse he had suffered as a child! The poor man, broken and abused, and he needed me!

“What?!” I hear you ask. Where is the sex? Where is the contract? Where is the Medulla Oblongata?

I’m about to get to that…

Just like Christian Grey, he began pushing me to do what he wanted sexually. I continually resisted, and yet he pushed and pushed until I gave in.

Then, when I totally belonged to him, he sat me down, just as Christian did to Ana and told me he was too bad for me, that he would hurt me and destroy me and that I should stay away from him.

“Why?” I cried, “Why would you do this to me?”

“I’m too dangerous,” he murmured, “Just stop seeing me.”

I cried some more and told him I couldn’t. I loved him. And he relented and said that it was my choice. If I wanted to stay with him, I could. But whatever he did afterwards was because I had made that choice. Oh my. My very own Mr Grey!

And my Mr Grey held me to that.

When he forced me to kiss another guy, he held me to it.

When he tried to force me to have an abortion, he held me to it.

When his desire to have younger, teenage victims led to him becoming a registered sex offender, he held me to it.

When he abused me sexually in every way possible, he held me to it.

When he raped me when I was 6 months pregnant and my baby was born three months premature, he held me to it.

Honestly, Christian Grey is not the ideal man. He’s an abuser and he will destroy every woman he meets. My ex-husband was one of the Christian Greys of this world and he broke me, body and soul. I believed my love could change him. I believed his childhood had damaged him and I could fix him, but it is not childhood trauma that causes men to abuse. Abuse is a choice.

To the organisations, individuals and media outlets defending Fifty Shades as consensual BDSM, this is not a consensual relationship. It is domestic abuse. When you defend this book, you become abuse apologists.

To those of you with a Christian Grey, who are loving him into changing; it won’t work.

To those of you desiring a Christian Grey, he is abusive; if you meet a man like him, run away as fast as you can.

To those of you who have escaped a Christian Grey, I applaud you for your bravery.

Read more at 50 Shades is Domestic Abuse and on twitter @50shadesabuse.

Photo of the three Fifty Shades books in a pile by ellebnere, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

Comments From You

Mr. Rude Word // Posted 10 December 2012 at 6:26 pm

I don’t consider it helpful at all to compare a character ( written as a fantasy figure by a woman for women ) in a work of fiction with the very real issue of domestic abuse ( aswell as the rape, abortion, sexual abuse, etc. mentioned ) especially when the style of prose adopted by the writer of the article seems to ape the Mills & Boon style of E.L.James herself.

A very odd & troubling piece of writing that seems worryingly ambivalent about the abuses it purports to highlight.

Laura // Posted 11 December 2012 at 9:56 am

I think it is helpful. Millions of women have picked up, read and potentially become aroused to a book with a central character that a domestic abuse expert believes matches the profile of an abuser, a central character that has been held up as exciting and sexually attractive. Obviously not all readers will buy into or be affected by this, but the books add to a cultural landscape in which the lines between romance and abuse, consent and non-consent are highly blurred, and I think it’s useful to analyse the books’ content in this context (which Natalie does in more detail on her website).

I like her aping of E. L. James’ appalling writing style, which was clearly intentional.

sianmarie // Posted 12 December 2012 at 9:10 am

thank you for writing this Natalie.

Adam // Posted 13 December 2012 at 11:25 pm

Natalie – Thank you for writing this and sharing your experience.

Mr. Rude Word – Articles such as this are hugely helpful. Laura has already explained why. What I think is unhelpful is commenting on an article such as this in a way that undermines and invalidates someone’s real, lived experience of abuse. There’s almost a shaming, silencing quality to your comment – as if you would prefer that people do not step forward and attempt to use their own experience to help other people understand that “Christian Grey is not the ideal man. He’s an abuser and he will destroy every woman he meets”. You may personally have not found it helpful (although you don’t explain why not); many other people might do, and that help might involve enabling people to recognise signs of abuse in current or future partners.

The only clue you give as to why you didn’t find it helpful relates to the ‘style of prose’, although I’m not clear what point you are trying to make by drawing attention to this. In any case, trying to make a point about the content of an article by policing ‘tone’ and ‘style’ is a surefire way of making no point at all.

> “worryingly ambivalent about the abuses it purports to highlight”

‘Ambivalent’? ‘Purports’? Why all these snarky sideswipes? The article is explicitly clear about different types of abuse. And where’s the ambivalence in these quotes?

– “He’s an abuser and he will destroy every woman he meets.”

– “It is domestic abuse. When you defend this book, you become abuse apologists.”

– “he is abusive; if you meet a man like him, run away as fast as you can.”

And all of those things bear repeating time and time again.

TamekaM // Posted 18 December 2012 at 8:34 pm

This was a very powerful piece. Some may argue as did one poster about the comparison of a fictional character and a real-life person who did some horrible things, but there were things in this post that may be helpful to someone reading it who just may be in a situation with a volatile person. Please visit Venus Blogs as they also feature content that tackles difficult subjects: http://venusblogs.com/my-legitimate-rape/

shatterboxx // Posted 28 December 2012 at 12:42 pm

I think it’s a very helpful piece. I myself have been troubled by the story of 50 Shades of Grey and how it has become so popular as I was in a similar situation myself. No abuse but I only gave consent to his needs because I was young, miserable and desperately insecure. I wish more women would see that this so-called love story isn’t healthy. Ana spends much of the story miserable and confused and she only goes along with what he wants to make him happy – there’s no discussion of what she wants at all.

Dirty Little Secret // Posted 5 April 2013 at 2:47 pm

Thank you for writing this piece, Natalie. I didn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, because I flicked through it in the shop and every page I landed on came across as domestic abuse rather than BDSM. Your description of “my Christian Grey” almost exactly matches my own experience. My Christian Grey then stalked and harassed me for two years after I left him, until I finally had the courage to speak up and he was arrested. It may sound romantic to start with, but if a man tells you he’s dangerous, believe him and get out.

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