Quote of the week 7: Why we accept unhealthy relationships…

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With it just having been Valentine’s Day and the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, I felt this was the quote of the week that needed to be reflected on. It is the line that apparently made Emma Watson agree to play the film version of Sam, and it is a simple little gem given from a teacher to his pupil when he asks why people end up in relationships with people who treat them poorly.

I don’t want to spoil the book or film for you if you haven’t read/seen Perks of Being A Wallflower. But let’s just say that in one scene, the main character Charlie witnesses a smart girl being slapped across the face during an argument about something by a boy she is dating. She continues to go out with the boy, and it is this incident that Charlie recounts to his teacher. In explanation says “Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve“.

And I would have to agree.

People I know who have read the book Fifty Shades of Grey told me it was a terrible book (as in badly written – so bad, they couldn’t understand how it had gotten published) so I never bothered reading it. There are many things that I don’t have patience for in life, and a poorly written book is one of them. I had heard it was a love story and the characters enjoyed BDSM. Not personally my thing, but I don’t have a problem with what other people choose to do in their bedrooms so long as it’s not harming anyone or each other. I giggled at people’s obsession with the ‘sexy’ Christian Grey, until an episode of Room 101 where Paloma Faith tried to put the series in there, and began to read out excerpts from the book (the clip of which, curiously enough, seems to have been taken off YouTube).

That’s when I began to start being concerned. The ideas of contracts and finding out where someone lived, buying the place they worked had me concerned. This is not love. This is control. This is Abuse. And although not necessarily physically violent, would come under the Police in Scotland’s definition of domestic violence.

And this is the type of person that so many women are swooning about?

I think we all deserve more. And it worries me that as we’ve had talk shows promoting the film and having a giggle at the BDSM side of things, no one has been having the discussion on the boundaries side of things. That concerns me greatly, particularly as this film has been classified as a 15 which means young women can go see this movie, and 16-18 year old women count for 5% of domestic violence reports, and Police Scotland say there is a huge problem with this age group underreporting incidents. I don’t personally want to go see this film, but I don’t believe in censorship – my hope is that we can watch and read things and critically reflect on their content. My fear is that the way this film is being discussed no one in the mainstream media is asking the right questions, and that could mean that people think that it’s ok to act as Christian Grey does if you’re rich and good looking.

We deserve to be loved for the people we are, to have boundaries and autonomy. There are several questions we should ask ourselves and when we reflect on our relationships.

Does he/she…

  • text and call you all the time? (Do they get angry if you don’t answer straight away?)
  • send you or your friends threatening text messages?
  • want you to spend ALL your time together?
  • get jealous when you chat to friends and other boys/girls?
  • discourage you from seeing your family or friends?
  • make you wear clothes he/she likes?
  • tell you that no one else will love you like they do?
  • pressure you to take the relationship further?
  • try to humiliate you when you fall out?
  • say they would KILL themselves if you left him/her?
  • get violent with you?
  • try to make you feel that it’s your fault that they got violent with you?
  • deliberately destroy your treasured possessions?
  • threaten to publish explicit photos of you on social network sites?

There is no reason why our boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives should do any of those things. And if you reading that are thinking ‘I’m in an unhealthy relationship’ and not sure how to get out of it, there IS help out there with organisations that know how to keep you protected from your partner like Refuge, ManKind and Scottish Women’s Aid. I have found myself in this situation sadly, and it took me a while to get out of the relationship, and coloured many relationships after – both with me treating my own partners badly because I thought it was ‘normal’, and letting myself be treated poorly as well. I’ve also had concerns about people I love also being in abusive relationships and them just not realising it. I want them to know what love really and truly is, so they don’t accept the treatment they are being given that they may believe is ‘love’ that they deserve.

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