Advocate speaks out about potential harm of '50 Shades of Grey'

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SALT LAKE CITY — An advocate who works to help survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence is saying the movie "50 Shades of Grey" portrays an unhealthy relationship.

"It's unusual that kink culture has become so mainstream," said Deborah Dilley, MA, Outreach & Operations Coordinator, Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Dilley has read the book "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James, and she watched the movie Thursday.

"I was really struck by the fact that all you saw was the abusive part of that relationship," Dilley said.

The movie reportedly raked in $8.6 million from on opening night, which makes it the second highest grossing, late-night debut of an R-rated movie to date, just behind "The Hangover," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

From feminists to moralists and others in between, the movie has received reviews that include: "Highly unsatisfying," "Laughable," and one review noted the actors did the best they could despite being "Stuck with the worst lines."

The review America is missing is that regular people are talking about the content of a sub-culture.

"Fifty Shades of Grey" portrays the intense relationship between a powerful young billionaire and a timid young woman who are engaged in a sexual "bondage" and "dominance" culture.

"This particular version of it (the movie) is not really true to BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism) relationships," said Dilley. "Because it doesn't really follow the rules that are clearly defined in BDSM relationships."

Those rules include safe words and boundaries, Dilley said.

Even more dangerous than the misrepresentation of those types of relationships, said Dilley, is the impact the movie can have on people living in abusive relationships or survivors of sexual assault or abuse.

"In many ways, I thought I was watching a domestic violence training film," explained Dilley, "showing the cycle of violence and how it gets prepetrated within a relationship."

Dilley said she left a domestic violence situation eight years ago.

"Elements of control and intimidation," Dilley said. "He never physically hit me, but it was this isolation from my family and friends."

In 2013, Utah's Domestic and Sexual Violence report showed that from 2000-2011, domestic violence-related homicides accounted for an average of 41.7% of all adult homicides.

"What you're going to see is not a complicated situation of miscommunication gone wrong," said Dilley. "But an actual very violent interaction."

Despite Dilley's review, she said people should still have an open mind. She said for those who choose to see the film, it would be an educational opportunity. Dilley said knowing signs of abuse can stop potential violence before it's too late.

"The title is very appropriate," said Dilley. "Relationships are not black and white. "There really are lots of shades of gray to them."

Instead of watching the film, some groups are asking people to donate to agencies that help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

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