The way we don’t see it: fantasizing abusive relationships

By Kelly Bush
February 23, 2018


Some of the most popular films for romance-enthusiasts are actually exemplary instances of dating violence.

Look at movies such as “The Notebook” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Notebook” premiered in the summer of 2004. Photo from Flickr: Hui-Chun Chen.

“The Notebook” is considered one of the most romantic films of all time; however, Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton have one of the most abusive and destructive relationships in pop culture.

In “The Notebook,” Calhoun gets his first date by threatening to kill himself. After Hamilton turns down his proposed-date, he says, “Alright, well, you leave me no other choice then,” and proceeds to release one hand, thus dangling himself from the ferris wheel.

That is the first sign.

Through the whole relationship, they emotionally abused each other. Yes, there was love, but there were more arguments, degrading behavior and neglect.

Hamilton constantly pushed Calhoun during arguments and he said derogatory words to her. They could never agree to anything. These little fights were all signs of abuse.

So before we say we love “The Notebook,” we need to look at the characters and what they did not see in each other: abusive behavior.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is another film with an abusive relationship that viewers do not acknowledge.

In “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Christian Grey is very aggressive. He does not have a personality where he can explain things. The only thing he attempts to explain is the way he wants to have sexual intercourse with Ana Steele.

This is not a way two people in a relationship should interact with each other.

He is the aggressor and she has to do whatever he says. Grey enforces control over Steel throughout the film, and worst of all, the film does more than paint it as part of his personality, the film depicts this control as a sign of his affection.

Grey even provides Steele with a non-disclosure agreement so she is not allowed to discuss their relationship with any outsiders, further isolating her.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is littered with signs of dating violence, yet we still glorify these films.

As you are watching these films and others, I encourage you to look out for these signs of dating violence and try to look at the movies differently.

Do you:

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you cannot do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you are the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:

  • isolate you from your loved ones?
  • humiliate you?
  • yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you are embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for their own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

If more information is needed, contact the National Domestic Violence hotline.

Kelly Bush

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