50 Shades of Grey romanticizes a nightmare of violence and abuse that many only wish they could escape.
Even some in favor of consentual BDSM practices are remarking that
50 Shades depicts rape, manipulation, control and violent abuse.
Why then, is it so powerfully appealing to the masses?
BDSM includes a number of violent sexual activities that play on the desire to control or be controlled, releasing a sense of power. BDSM is commonly practiced through bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism. It is depicted in violent pornography.
As was the case for Christian Grey (50 Shades of Grey), a curiosity for or attraction to sexual violence and abuse can be a sign of past trauma. It is not uncommon for a trauma survivor to turn to violent porn to reenact the trauma that happened to them. According to our sex therapist, “they do that because they are unconsciously trying to desensitize themselves to the sexual violence that happened to them in hopes the pain will go away or they watch hoping for a different ending than the one they experienced. Unfortunately, it can dull the pain momentarily, but it causes more problems in the long run. It does even more damage than what was done to them initially. Watching [this kind of] porn is an attempt to cope with the trauma, so in a sense it is a coping skill – but it is an ineffective and ultimately more damaging coping skill.”
“Part of healing for a trauma survivor is learning new ways of coping that are redemptive and empowering. I would strongly encourage you to see someone who can help you begin to heal from what has happened to you. Having someone who can walk alongside you is really invaluable.”
It is not uncommon for a trauma survivor to turn to violent porn or violent sexual practices in an attempt to desensitize themselves to the violence they suffered, hoping for a different ending than they one they experienced.
In other cases, violent porn may be attractive to those who are no longer turned on by regular porn and are looking for a higher high and/or greater rush. The novelty of their “usual” no longer provides the same fix as they have become desensitized to it. They begin to look for new fantasies to find the high they are looking for. Oftentimes, individuals are swept away into dark places they never intended to explore in search of this satisfaction.
How does someone get to this point?
It is important to realize that our actions originate in our mind, in the things we visualize, think and fantasize about. Where do we get these ideas? From what we look at, read, hear and experience. Fantasy can be both positive and negative; for example, dreaming about your future marriage can lead to hope and courage to persevere in uncomfortable seasons. In the same way, enacting violent or immoral acts in your mind will feed your desire which, if left unchecked, will be reproduced in your actions.
While our society is up in arms both vouching for and protesting against the publicism of stories like 50 Shades, it is more important than ever to guard our hearts and minds, to be well informed and convinced of our standards for life and godliness. For more information on 50 Shades of Grey including talking points for discussion and how to be a voice for sexual and domestic abuse victims, click here.