I am a domestic abuse survivor. Let me share with you what it was like.
First off, my ex orchestrated the most massive lie I've ever seen, and convinced my entire family (including extended and grandparents) that he was the opposite of what he turned out to be. He was a narcissist, abusive, manipulative, and controlling. All of which he hid before we got married.
He was laid off the week of our wedding, and ended up taking a job on the other end of the country about six months later. At first, I thought part of what was going on was the stress of a man not having a job and being able to support his family. I was ignored, and increasingly felt like I was just there for him to have sex with. And when we did have sex, he didn't give a rat's ass about whether or not I enjoyed it or whether I even finished. It was all about him, and once he had what he wanted he was done.
I was wrong about things getting better when he had a job. When he landed the new job, things got worse. He began controlling every penny I was allowed to spend, making me account for it, chewing me out when I spent more than $20 on groceries for three weeks. On Long Island! He also refused to put me on any of his accounts, refused to open a new checking account in the state we lived in, and lied to me over and over and over about where he was and what he was doing.
Once my parents left, he arranged things where I had no vehicle. He threatened to kill my cat. He almost broke my arm the same day he threatened to kill my cat, and that's when I called the cops. I left for a week, then went back and tried one more time to make things work. During that week apart we were supposed to move from on-site housing at his job to our own apartment.
He made the move by himself. When my parents arrived on Long Island to talk to him, it is only by the grace of God that my dad didn't kill him on the spot. And my dad told my ex that to his face! In the process of taking our things out of storage, my ex had shown so little regard for the things that were important to me that I kept finding my treasures broken and shattered in the boxes.
When I found a pen box with my favorite Ernest Hemingway quote on it, that my parents had given me as encouragement to keep writing, shattered beyond repair, I lost it. Had a total breakdown in my mom's arms. Which set her to crying, which set my dad to crying. I can count on one hand the times I've seen my dad cry, and that day was one of them.
Things got worse. My ex kept cancelling the Internet installation. He continued to leave me without a vehicle. My parents bought me a $400 Android phone for two reasons. One, because he refused to install Internet. Two, so they could file a theft report if and when he took the phone away from me. I had the county domestic violence hotline on speed dial in my phone.
My sister came up to see me a week after my parents left. My ex showed his worst side yet, scared my sister spitless, scared me spitless, and I shut down. I couldn't think to save my life. She called our mom sobbing saying if she didn't get me out of there he was going to kill me. And she was right.
So we packed my treasures up while he was at work, put them in storage so he couldn't destroy them, my sister called her BFF and had her find us a hotel by LaGuardia, and my sister got me the heck out of there. When I called to tell him where his car was, I ended up hanging up on him because he was yelling and screaming at me and telling me to get my ass back up there.
That man left soul deep scars on me. It's been five years since I left him, and four since I've had to hear his voice. I still start to panic when I see someone who looks like him, or hear someone who sounds like him. I know it's not him, because he's still in New York. But it doesn't stop the panic. I've cut all ties online with his family and friends, and if any of them ever try to contact me I'll probably file a police report.
My cat had nightmares because of him, and it was two years after leaving before she'd let strangers so much as see her. I had nightmares for months after leaving, even though I was safe at home with my parents and 1400 miles away from my ex. I'd wake up terrified he was coming for me. I have no desire to have any kind of relationship with a man. I don't want one getting that close to me again.
My issue with Fifty Shades of Grey is not the BDSM portrayed in them (badly portrayed, the BDSM community has been quite vocal in their disagreement with how the lifestyle is portrayed in these books). My issue is with Christian Grey and the message Ms. James is sending women. She's telling women that it's okay for men like Grey to treat you like shit, to isolate you and manipulate you and control you. Why? Because they say they love you, and when they apologize everything is hunky-dory again. Even though the behavior never changes. Ms. James has bought the lie, and she's told millions of women it's okay to buy the lie.
IT IS NEVER OKAY!!!! NEVER!! Women are to be cherished and protected. Not abused and isolated.
When you're with a man like Christian Grey, you begin to doubt yourself. You begin to wonder if you're imagining things to be worse than they are. You start living your life in a way to minimize setting him off. You feel like you're going crazy. Even your family has a hard time believing everything that's going on. Mine did, until they saw it with their own eyes.
Men like Grey have destroyed millions of women and left us with scars no one can see. And it's these invisible ones that hurt the most and take the longest to heal. My scars are deep, and they still hurt. They will likely hurt for the rest of my life.