An Open Letter to Anyone Planning to Watch “50 Shades of Grey” This Weekend {written by a survivor of sexual abuse}

An open letter to anyone planning on watching 50 Shades of Grey this weekend,

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To be completely honest, I’m worried for the release of this movie.
I am worried for the fact that this movie glamorizes aggressive sexual encounters, submissive women, and depicts pain, domination, and animalistic confrontations as intimate and desirable.

There is nothing intimate about being held down as a man forces himself upon you.
 There is nothing desirable about having something done to you against your will.

I am not worried for the women going out for a fun girl’s night and planning to return to their loving husbands at home with the kids.
I’m not worried about the single women excited to watch a few steamy sex scenes while also understanding that this is not a realistic portrayal of love, intimacy, or emotion.

I am worried for the women with skewed perceptions of their own self-worth.
The women who might be tricked into believing this is the love in which they should seek.
I am worried for the victims of sexual, physical, or domestic abuse who watch Hollywood actors depict their nightmares as something they should have enjoyed.
I am worried for the men who might think this is the way women should be treated.

I understand that there is a level of superficiality to this movie that must be taken into account.
First of all, it’s a movie.
I can think of many sleepless nights as a child that I used to remind myself this as I thought about the monsters that might be living under my bed or in my closet after watching them on a screen.
“It’s just a movie,” I would whisper as my eyes squeezed tightly and I tried to fall asleep.

But the monsters in this particular movie found a way to climb out of the television and into my physical world.

I was molested for the first 6 years of my life.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I opened up about what happened to me when I was younger, but I remember truly believing in the past that every reference, allusion, or insinuation regarding sexual abuse was directed toward me.
I also remember spending countless hours convincing myself that everything that happened to me was my fault.
I can’t help but think about the millions of women sitting in the audience of the movie wondering if maybe they asked for the fate they were so unfairly handed.
I can’t help but wonder if movies glamorizing sexual assault will tell women what was done to them was okay.

Justified. Warranted. Desirable.

When it comes down to it, the point I am trying to make is not really even about this movie at all.
Hell, I can’t even say that I won’t see it at some point. I believe one must maintain a certain level of detachment when it comes to media, movies, and sources of entertainment. If we took every single Hollywood innuendo or reference literally, we would never be able to enjoy another source of entertainment again. As I watched my newsfeed overflow with statuses about the upcoming movie release, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to speak up about something so much more important than picking a stance regarding whether one should see this movie or not.

The first being this:

There is nothing glamorous about abuse of any kind.

There is nothing appealing about 50 shades of black eyes from being hit in the face, or 50 shades of excuses justifying the abusive behavior of someone else.
Just because Hollywood tells us something should be desired, does not mean that we must accept that as the definition of the love we should seek.
If it does not feel right, it probably isn’t right.

Supporting a movie displaying BDSM fetishes and intense sexual scenes does not instantly denote the support of abuse; however, one must know the difference in order to find the line and pick a side.
There are many blurred lines when it comes to abuse of any kind, and there will be reasons justifying this abuse found in the media long after this movie is forgotten.
The problem is not this movie.
The problem is our lack of calling out the actual problem.
Wasting time discussing the reasons people should not see this movie would only further bury the true problem at hand.

Choosing to talk about it is the answer.

If you are a survivor of abuse, you are not alone and you are not at fault. This movie knows nothing about your story and does not discredit anything you’ve gone through.
If you really want to make a difference, take a stance on abuse.
Choose to support the survivors and declare a no tolerance policy for the perpetrators.
Choosing not to watch this movie as an attempt to support the end to abuse is comparable to choosing not to shop at a grocery store because you know women have been raped in the store’s bathroom;
it doesn’t help put an end to the problem.

Choosing to see this movie or not does not make a difference;
choosing to take an active stance regarding abuse will.

The second message is this:

Love doesn’t hurt. Love Heals.

Love doesn’t tie you down and leave you wondering, love sets you free and leaves you flying.
Love does not force you to do something you don’t want to do, love helps you slowly take the steps toward becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Love does not tell you how it’s going to be, love shows you the beauty you’ve always hoped to feel.
Love is not only there to kiss you goodnight, love is still there to hug you good morning.
Love is not aggressive, self-fulfilling, or one sided; love is the collision of two beings, creating a force of unity to be reckoned with.

Love does not tear you down; love lifts you up.

I cannot stress this enough.

Know your worth, and please believe me when I tell you that you are worthy of real, true, pure love. Spending a couple of hours watching a trashy romance movie will not change your opinion on this if you hold steadfast to what you know to be true. There is nothing wrong with escaping reality to watch a movie as long as you understand in your heart that the movie must end.

We will never really know what happens to Anastasia and Mr. Grey.
We will never know the pain and suffering they experience long after the credits roll and the camera man yells, “cut!”

But we can choose to return to a life that not only looks good on the outside,
but feels good on the inside, as well.

We can choose to return to someone who loves us, cherishes us, and accepts us exactly as we are.
We can willingly fall into the arms of someone who does not need to hold us down to feel powerful.

We can hold the hand of someone who knows that true love is the most powerful force of all.

Enjoy your weekend and spend it as you wish, but please remember to hold onto two facts that remain whether you decide to see the movie or not:

There is nothing glamorous about abuse of any kind,

and

love does not hurt, love heals.

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5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Anyone Planning to Watch “50 Shades of Grey” This Weekend {written by a survivor of sexual abuse}

  1. The aspect of this movie and BDSM however can also psychologically act as a therapy, whereas the victim of abuse can indeed face their past fears and abuse in a controlled environment with someone they trust. Where I am entirely against abuse which is undesired. I do support the awareness of this movie, the books and the community when represented in a trusting environment. To go from a victim to an empowered individual who can use a “safe” word, and actively be able to say No when they feel uncomfortable or have a partner who does not push the issue.
    Also being a victim of unwanted advances, physical abuse, and rape. I have found these avenues to be very empowering to have control over a past traumatization. Although my education in the psychology of this area is limited to a college course and personal experiences… (None of which can allow me to relate to molestation and I see much differently and having a mother who was molested, she has a very similar stance and does not feel comfortable in many sexual situations which is much the opposite for me) I firmly believe there is a time and place and the benefit I personally feel, is only obtained in a controlled and open environment. I feel it can be extremely intimate to have someone who can respect boundaries but also allow a trusting environment to grow with someone and understand their past as well as allow them to see an avenue to face their fear face on, if it is their desire. Which for me… It was never the other individual pushing the issue, but I, who wanted to participate.
    I firmly support that the importance is communication and openness of the subject to differentiate the abuse, pleasure and pain.

    1. I love you, Sundae. I appreciate your thoughts and comment so much. I can see where you are coming from and understand the stance you take in regards to finding open environments in which healing and processing can occur.
      I also know that even with all sex removed from the book/movie, the abuse still remains. I’m all about women finding pleasure, whether it be by themselves or with a partner, and I think that human sexual expression is a beautiful, incredible thing. The unconventional sex in this movie is the least of my worries.
      A review I read about the premier discussed Mr. Grey making Anna sign an allowance of domestic abuse disguised as a sex contract. He controlled where she went, how she communicated with him, and became outraged when she planned to visit her mother for the weekend. The domestic abuse dressed up as a “crazy in love” suit and tie gives the impression that this type of encounter is not only warranted, it’s desirable.
      The emotional and domestic abuse outweigh the sexual aggression by a landslide.
      I guess my main concern is the idea implanted that this back and forth roller coaster romance is something women (or men, for that matter) should be willing to put up with. That we should take these feelings as love, need, and something worth fighting for. I didn’t want to make this article about the movie itself, because there will be many media depictions okaying abuse long after this movie is forgotten. My main concern was conveying the importance of a healthy, open, connected relationship where both individuals are concensual about all of the terms. I think discussions like these and perspectives such as yours or mine are the true answer in understanding some of the deep hurt that occurs with abuse, as well as giving survivors the chance to talk, process, and connect with one another. I love you to pieces.

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