As I read through Fifty Shades of Grey, it keeps nagging at me that Christian Grey seems like such familiar character– it’s clear that E L James drew some heavy inspiration from somewhere. At first I was thinking of course it had to be Twilight, considering how much else of the book was shamelessly ripped off of Stephanie Meyer’s vampire-castrating trilogy, but then I decided that Grey had surpassed even Edward in the realm of abusive boyfriends. And then it hit me. Christian Grey is so familiar because I’ve read all about him in those pamphlets they hand out at hospitals; you know, the ones that tell you what traits to look for if you think your partner might be an abusive nut job that you need to get the hell away from.
The following warning signs are taken from the Women’s Center of Northern Western University’s website. Let’s see how many dangerous traits everyone’s favorite sex god can claim!
1. Past abuse: The book states several times that Christian has at least 15 previous abuse victims.
2. Threats of violence or abuse: This is a favorite for our Mr. Grey. After all, how many times has he expressed the desire to “spank” Ana, or “give her a good hiding?” Not only with his hand, but with various objects.
3. Use of force during an argument: Grey frequently grabs Ana by the arm and drags her. In book two she became angry at him and did not want to accompany him back home; he picked her up over his shoulder and carried her against her will, which was not only degrading but entirely out of line–and abusive.
4. Jealousy: Christian Grey has been jealous from the moment he met Ana. Whenever Ana is around other men, he becomes cold to not only the fellow in question, but to Ana herself. He has exhibited this behavior in front of Ana’s friend Jose, the brother of Ana’s boss, the brother of Katie’s room mate, and Ana’s new boss in book two. During a masquerade ball in book two, he tells Ana he would never allow another man to dance with her, as if he had any choice in the matter. Grey proudly admits his jealousy, and often tells Ana that she better keep it in mind, as if it is her problem and her responsibility to make sure he does not become jealous. He also claims that his jealousy is a result of his affection for her, which is another sign of abuse.
5. Controlling behavior: It’s difficult to list all of the ways in which Christian Grey is a controlling prick, because that’s pretty much what the whole book is about. However, here are a few biggies: he dictates what Ana wears, he forced her to sell her car which she loved, he wants a say in who she associates with, he forces lavish gifts that she does not want upon her, he stalks her, he wants to control when/what she eats, he wanted her to come work for him and when she didn’t he bought the company she was currently working for, he forces her to go and stay where she does not want to, he orders for her at restaurants without consulting her and he constantly gives her commands in a manner that I would not use to speak to my dog, as I feel it is too degrading for any living creature.
6. Quick involvement: Grey wanted a decision from Ana shortly after informing her that he was a psychopath that likes to hit women.
7. Unrealistic expectations: Grey expected Ana to change her entire life to be with him. This meant eating when and what she was told, wearing what he provided for her and accepting ridiculous gifts that made her uncomfortable. Not only that, but he asked her to surrender her dignity as a human being by taking orders from him, not making eye contact with him calling him “sir” and allowing him to abuse her– all without telling anyone about their relationship.
8. Isolation: Grey keeps Ana from socializing with her male friends with his jealous rages. Not only that, but he thwarts any attempts by her to socialize with anyone other than him. He shows up at bars when she is with friends, and when she flew to visit her mother he showed up there as well–all without invitation.
9. Blames others for their feelings: As previously mentioned, Grey makes his jealousy Ana’s problem. She makes him feel jealous, she needs to control her actions so he doesn’t act jealous– because surely that is not his fault and he cannot control himself. Grey also blames his perversions and abusive tendencies on his painful past. He was the son of a crack whore and was abused by her– he was also the victim of rape when he was a teenager (though he doesn’t see it that way). It’s horrible what was done to Grey, but he needs to get the fuck over it and own his own actions rather than try to play the pity card.
10. Hypersensitivity: It takes almost nothing to invoke Grey’s anger. Seemingly innocent comments or jokes from Ana make his eyes blaze and his palms “twitchy” (twitchy palm is the adorable euphemism Grey uses for when he feels like abusing his girlfriend). He became angry (as well as aroused) during a dinner with his parents when Ana closed her thighs to keep him from fondling her under the table. He became angry when Ana announced plans to visit her family. He also became angry at an auction when Ana chose to spend $24,000 of her own money to donate to charity and purchase a vacation in Aspen. Hypersensitive rapist? Yes, I think so.
11. “Playful” use of force during sex: Well, take out the “playful” part and you’ve just described Christian and Ana’s entire relationship!
12. Rigid sex roles: These certainly exist in regards to the fact that Christian Grey is clearly “the boss” of Ana and their relationship. He also makes references to being emasculated whenever Ana wants to pay for a meal.
13. Jekyll and Hyde personality: Grey’s violent mood swings certainly qualify him to be compared to Jekyll and his evil alter-ego, Hyde– indeed, at one point Ana herself makes that very comparison. Grey can go from relaxed and easy going to angry and tense literally a second, and often Ana’s only indication to warn her is the tone of his voice or the look in his eye.
(the following section of warning signs come from helpguide.org)
14. Your partner views you as property: The whole basis of Grey and Ana’s relationship is that she “belongs” to him– he has stated this several times. He treats her as an object rather than a person by controlling her and giving absolutely no consideration to what she may want, have to say or think on any matter.
15. You feel afraid of your partner: Ana’s fear of Grey starts with severe intimidation and progresses steadily into true fear. She recognizes that he is unpredictable and messed up and she worries that he will hurt her physically. She also fears his unpredictable mood swings.
16. Blames violent actions on the victim: Grey and Ana’s relationship briefly ends when Grey beats Ana with a belt and she is appalled by the pleasure he takes from her being in so much excruciating pain. Later on, he becomes angry at her because she did not use a safe word. He then blames the entire breakup on her, saying that it could have been avoided if she had behaved better– he then tells her that his trust has been lost because of her actions.
17. Your partner destroys your belongings: Grey didn’t destroy any of Ana’s possessions, but I am counting this one, as he had his assistant sell her car and then did not give her the money made by the sell. Essentially, he stole her car.
18. Your partner constantly checks up on you: This is a big one. When Grey is not with Ana, he expects constant texts, e-mails or phone calls. When he sends Ana a message or calls her and it is not returned, he becomes livid with her.
Okay kids, that’s all for now. Tune in next time for another red flag sent up by our favorite psychopath, this one so big that it gets its very own post! Can you guess what it is?