Advocate: “Fifty Shades of Grey promotes domestic violence”

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NAPLES, Fla.- Even before ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ opens in theaters Friday, the film is already taking heat. The movie, based on EL James’s best-selling novel centers around Christian Grey, a powerful CEO, and Anastasia Steele, a younger college student.

Some domestic violence advocates say the two characters are the definitions of abuser and victim.

“For women who really experience these dynamics, this is not romantic to them at all,” Jaime Crossan-Debres said.

Crossan-Debres is an outreach manager for the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples.

She says anyone who chooses to see the movie should go in with a critical eye.

“What we know about some of the dynamics in this book with the isolation, with the threats of stalking, with the coercion, with the pushing people’s boundaries,” she said.

“What we know is when that occurs in real relationships, is that people die.”

Crossan-Debres said the book and movie provide a role of fantasy, “but it definitely does not speak to the hundreds of victims that we see who find themselves in that real life situation.”

Ruth Glenn, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence released a statement saying it part, “The concern I have from the trailer is more about the manipulation and the coercion to do these things. Some people have that lifestyle and agree to it, and some people have been coerced into it,” says Glenn. “If there’s a lack of consent, then we’ve crossed that line into violence against women.

“It’s a little concerning that the movie is being accepted like the book is,” adds Glenn. “If we don’t have the discussion about what it means in the context of domestic violence, then we’re kind of saying that it is OK.” She says she’s more concerned about the younger audience of women interpreting the message as a love story, rather than as violence. “These subtle messages are sometimes more harmful,” Glen said.

It’s a feeling people from all over the country are sharing online.  Some domestic violence advocates want people to boycott the movie all together using a petition that had 74,256.

Another campaign launched by women, uses #50dollarsnot50shades to encourage people to donate 50 dollars or the cost of a night at the theater to an abuse shelter instead of seeing the movie.

But for the millions of people estimated to see it on the big screen, domestic violence advocates hope it starts a conversation about what a healthy relationship should look like.

“What we don’t want to see is young people using a piece of fiction or fantasy as a guideline for what they think real relationships should look like, because what we know is if Christian and Anastasia were real people in real life, she would be a victim.”

The Shelter for Women and Children operates a 60-bed emergency shelter; four transitional living cottages with the capacity to house 24 participants; provides outreach services, training and education throughout Collier County Florida with offices in Naples and Immokalee.

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