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Fifty Shades Darker: Alluding to Sexual Abuse?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

Ever since the sequel to the humorous and titillating Fifty Shades of Grey premiered on February 10, there has been quite a buzz generated around the idea that Christian Grey is an abusive partner. I have seen many posts surfacing on Facebook, Twitter and Redditt juggling around the idea that Mr. Grey is not just a troubled young entrepreneur but instead, someone who enjoys the idea of abusing an innocent and naive young woman. I am here to set these rumors straight.


When a book to movie conversion occurs, there are many vital factors and aspects that go missing. It is hard to convey exactly what characters are thinking and feeling on screen, whereas in a novel there is the ability and freedom to write the inner thoughts and worries of the protagonist. The movie fails to relay to the audience the inner dialogue that is constantly going on in Anastasia’s mind, which involves her considering the situation, falling in love with Christian and her innermost sensual desires (which are not so innocent or naive). It is shown in the novels the growth of their friendship and relationship and how the two are slowly falling in love, despite their absurd situation and sexual agreement. 

It is clearly portrayed in the Fifty Shades trilogy that Anastasia Steele is a consenting, capable adult and in fact, goads Christian on in certain situations. If someone is pleased by the idea of being whipped or tied up in the bedroom, it doesn’t mean they are being abused or they even agree with the fact. Ana and Christian are explicitly involved in a contract that Anastasia signed on her own time and due to her own desire and curiosity. Never once in the movies did Christian continue any of his actions if Anastasia did not feel comfortable and I believe that the films make this very obvious. In Fifty Shades Darker, it is shown that Christian is afflicted by his past and the problems and troubles that he faced, which caused him to become a sadist.

Despite this somewhat messed up way of getting off, Christian is in no way abusive or goes beyond his bounds. Instead, he is someone who is dealing with his inner demons by living a secret second life where he relieves his frustration through acts that may seem strange and foreign, but that are fun and enjoyable to others. Let’s not lie to ourselves, every girl has thought about being tied up by someone as attractive as Jamie Dornan. Just because what you like in the bedroom is a little weird or kinky does not mean you need to be judged and scrutinized.

One of the main points of these books is to show Grey’s transformation from troubled to understood. Allusion to abuse may be something that some individuals took away from the first movie, but in Fifty Shades Darker this idea is put to rest. These two consenting adults who are involved in a relationship with one another communicate and live a healthy, yet somewhat confusing and abnormal lifestyle and are simply two humans in love. I believe that in no way are the Fifty Shade movies and books hinting that abuse is acceptable or even that degrading women is, but they are telling the story of a billionaire man with a secret life wherein he takes out his troubles through acts of “exercise” with consenting females. 


Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4

I am a writing and rhetoric major at the University of Central Florida and I really love tacos and pugs (the dog breed). I am a writer for Her Campus UCF and have been writing since I was eight years old :). My great grandfather won the Pulitzer Prize so I have some big shoes to fill.
UCF Contributor