50 Shades of Flashbacks
If one of our friends became involved with a man like Christian Grey:-
We would be warning her.
We would be telling her how it ends.
We'd encourage her to store a bag at ours for when she plucked up the courage to go.
We would, I hope, reassure that we would still be there for her no matter how many times she tried and failed to get out.
After the romance, isolation and emotional violence, when it got to the actual abuse, imprisonment, torture, we would think about calling 999 and hope that we lived in an area where the police adopts a 'victimless prosecution' approach, i.e. the state taking responsibility for prosecuting for real crime, grievous or actual bodily harm, regardless of the victim's willingness to testify.
The younger generation of girls, now in their late teens, have grown up reading books like Jacqueline Wilson's excellent 'Lola Rose' where the eponymous heroine was a child witness of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse has not been solved but at least it is now named. It has taken thousands of individual women with the courage to speak out and male supporters to insist that violence and abuse is not a necessary part of their masculinity.
Just watching the trailer of 50 shades fills me with dread. I can still feel my ex-boyfriend's hands tighten round my throat, slowly depriving my brain with oxygen, the prelude to the first of many rapes and beatings. This is one in four of us, as women, at some point in our lives. I am not sure that banning the Stockholm Syndrome celebrating trash that is 50 shades would help but we need an urgent conversation about what this story would really look like.
In the words of Minerva Mirabel "Until the nail is hit, it does not believe in the hammer". How do we stop our sisters thinking this is a cool and edgy film and book, while wishing in our heart of hearts they never end up with a Mr Grey in real life?