Friday, 22 February 2013

Response from Twitter...

Those of you who read the last blog will know that I was waiting for a response from Twitter as to why they state in their rules that threatening violence won't be tolerated, yet refused to act against a user who violence.

Here's their reponse:

While we understand your frustration and the severity of your issue, we have found that the reported account is currently not in violation of the Twitter Rules ( at this time.
We have a policy against violent threats, but the content of this account lacks the specificity to meet the criteria of an actionable threat. While we cannot suspend or remove content for violation of this rule, it may be important to address the actual threat rather than the online posting alone.
We strongly encourage you to contact your local authorities to assess the validity of the threat. By contacting and working with your local authorities, you may be able to defuse the threat and address the root of the issue. Websites such as Twitter do not have the ability to investigate and assess a threat or apprehend and prosecute individuals.
If contacted by law enforcement directly, we can work with them and provide the necessary information for their investigation of your issue. You can point local law enforcement to our Law Enforcement Guidelines here:
Keep in mind that removing the Tweet or other content makes it difficult for the threats to be investigated by law enforcement. Seeking suspension or removal of Tweets also may have the effect of encouraging the abusive behavior.
If you are dealing with a potential legal issue, please contact a lawyer. Twitter cannot provide legal advice. It is also a good idea to contact a trusted individual such as a friend or family member for support and advice. If you don’t have someone to talk to about what is happening online, there are many online resources that can help.
Twitter Trust & Safety
There are quite a few issues I have with this reponse. 
 Firstly, what kind of abusive message does Twitter consider to meet the criteria of an actionable threat?
Secondly, I wasn't asking Twitter to apprehend or prosecute an individual.  I was asking them, as the provider of the platform this abusive person used to post such vile things, to consider suspending their account, or issuing them with a warning that such behaviour won't be tolerated.
Thirdly, is it me, or is this response basically suggesting that standing up to abuse will encourage it further?  Because I know from experience that that's the case at times, but I certainly don't think it's a good enough reason not to stand up to it.
Basically, I remain pretty appalled with Twitter.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Just what IS acceptable online behaviour?

So here's a piece of information that will shock precisely nobody who has ever read this blog:  I don't like 50 shades of Grey.  In fact, I will actually use the word hate to describe my feelings for it.  It'll probably shock precisely nobody to discover that I'm quite vocal about my feelings, either.  And I'm aware that being a mouthy sod can get you into trouble.  BUT...

I like big buts and I cannot lie...
...The one thing I try very hard to avoid, is falling into nastiness.  I don't argue pointlessly, unless I'm especially drunk or blinded by rage.  What I NEVER do, is threaten people.  Because let me say this loud and clear: I might not be perfect - far from it - but I cannot abide bullying.  I'm not a bully (in spite of the fact that people with no back-up to their arguments sometimes like to throw the comment out in the hope it'll detract from their own unnecessary nastiness) and I dislike anyone who is.
So... When I argue that 50 Shades not only normalises, but romanticises abuse, I do so passionately, but ultimately fairly.  I use facts wherever possible (quotes from the books and facts about different forms of abuse etc), I've never been blocked by EL James for being rude or impolite (she blocked me for asking her if she'd consider donating to an abuse charity, but that's another subject...) and I try very hard not to resort to swearing.  At least not too often...
Unfortunately, however, the same can't be said for some of the 50 Shades fans I've come into contact with. 
I can't even begin to tell you how WRONG this mug is...
You see, some (NOT ALL) of the people who agree with the message on that mug above, take their passion for the books a little too far.  Maybe they just love Mr Grey so much, they're blinded.  Or maybe they're just idiots.  You decide.  Here is a selection of some of the things I've had said to me on Twitter since I got involved in raising awareness of the abuse glorified in these books:
"If your ex was really like Christian Grey, you're obviously just not good enough for him.  LOL."
"Fuck off, you pathetic bitch.  You don't even understand BDSM!"
(DISCLAIMER: I have NEVER suggested that BDSM is abuse, but thanks for your ignorance!)
"LOL, pathetic.  Someone needs Mr Grey's twitching palm to sort her the fuck out."
Depressingly, not one of those tweets (and there were many more like them) was even attempting to start a discussion.  Not one was particularly civil.  But none frightened me.  None really upset me for long.
Then along came someone a little different.  Someone who took her obsession with being right about these books too far.  Someone who, in a worryingly common incident these days, decided that offensive language and threats of violence were the way forwards.
When a friend, @sageling, tweeted back to her, trying to defend the viewpoint that the books glamorise abuse, she told him to stop talking like that "for your own safety."  Thus implying that if he didn't stop, something bad would happen.
When she believed he'd misquoted or misunderstood her, she replied: "Stop twisting my words or I'll twist your neck." 
Later, when I - calmly and rationally - explained that when you've experienced abuse, you see it where perhaps others can't, she told me: "Like I give a flying fuck what you've experienced.  Hit the bricks, bitch."
But they've done nothing to deserve it!
Now, I like to think I can let a lot go over my head.  But in my eyes, this was threatening behaviour, pure and simple.  Threats of violence shouldn't simply be ignored, as far as I'm concerned.  So I - and others - reported this particular person to Twitter.
This whole thing happened at least a month ago.  This morning, I finally had a reply.  And it said:
"While we understand your frustration, the reported behaviour is not in violation of the Twitter Rules... As a policy, we do not mediate content and we do not intervene in disputes between users. This means that users are allowed to post potentially inflammatory content, provided that they do not violate the Twitter Rules."
All of which is rather interesting, seeing as the Twitter rules state:
"Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others."

"Stop twisting my words or I'll twist your neck."
"For your own safety... Stop talking about this."
Call me mad, but... Am I alone in seeing a specific threat of violence, there?!
I would possibly expect such a "oh please don't get me involved, I'm not bothered" reaction from a small Internet group or forum.  Usually in those situations, those moderating the site aren't paid to do so and often cliques form.  Nobody wants to the bad guy when you're talking about a small, tightly knit Internet community. 
But Twitter isn't a small, tightly knit Internet community.  Yes, there are Twitter-cliques.  Yes, there are people who've formed close friendships through the network.  But Twitter is a site with millions of users.  Twitter makes millions.  Its 2012 projection was a whopping $260million.
Before I go on, let me explain that I am aware that having so many users makes it almost impossible to moderate what happens on a site like Twitter.  But that's why the system for reporting users exists.  When someone feels that they're being abused, bullied or threatened, there has to be a way for that person to access support.  To be on the receiving end of nastiness is bad enough, but to be told that no rules have been broken (in spite of the blatant breaking of the "no threatening violence" rule) simply makes the person receiving such vile tweets feel as though nobody is on their side.
I'm a big girl.  The Internet has dealt me far worse before and I'm sure it'll continue to do so. But what if I wasn't a 30yr old, who can probably push aside this sort of thing without too much worry?  What if I were a 12 year old girl, taking those threats seriously?  The emotional effect it could have on a younger, less savvy user, doesn't bear thinking about.
Yes, you can click the "block" button.  Lord knows, I've been pretty "block-happy" of late.  But the "hit the bricks, bitch" tweet actually managed to get through to me after I had blocked this particular user.  And, although it wasn't the case in this incident, who's to say the user wouldn't get their friends involved?  Again, imagine I was a younger, more naive Twitter member, who was inundated with this sort of nastiness?!  And all we get from Twitter as a response is: "Well, I'm sure it must be frustrating."
In case you think I'm overreacting, let me throw an additional detail into the mix...
I mentioned that another Twitter user, by the name of @Sageling, had been on the receiving end of threats from this person.  He also reported her.
Why?  Because he was deemed to be "sending unsolicited messages" via the site.  What was he doing?  He was using the #50shadesisabuse hashtag to try to explain his views on the books.  People were arguing with him (in some cases, violently) and he was politely replying.
So, casually threatening to twist someone's neck because you disagree with their opinion is completely acceptable to Twitter.  To raise awareness of domestic abuse - calmly and rationally - is not.
I'm all for free speech.  I think it's important for us all to have a platform from which to have our views heard.  But when you are the organisation providing that platform, it's my belief that you have a duty of care to those who use it.  And frankly, total inaction when it comes to bullying and harassment shows a lack of care on Twitter's part.
Where do we draw the line?  Is bullying really any less vicious or affecting just because it comes from behind a screen?  I know from personal experience that that's not the case. 
The Internet is a wonderful thing, which is available almost anywhere these days.  But in some ways, when it comes to cyber bullying, that's a bad thing.  When you're bullied at school, or in the work place, home becomes your sanctuary.  You return to your safe place and you can finally try to put any nasty words or horrible actions out of your mind. 
With Internet bullying, the abuse is happening anywhere.  Your safe place disappears, because the Internet is in your home.  The Internet is in your bedroom.  Your personal space is invaded.  That makes cyber bullying just as dangerous as any other kind.
I run a group on Facebook.  I have a zero tolerance approach to bullying.  If I spot one user abusing another, they get a warning.  If they re-offend, they're banned.  Simple as that.
If we start from grass roots - the Facebook groups, the small Internet forums - then perhaps the larger social networking sites might follow.  Threatening violence is never acceptable.
I have replied to Twitter's email.
I await their response.

Monday, 4 February 2013

I Love You, BUT...

So last night, the ever-brilliant Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout - if you don't follow her on Twitter, WHY NOT?!) set a challenge to blog writers.  To show the fans of 50 Shades of Grey (and of course, EL James herself) that it's possible to do so, we are to talk about something we love, but which we know is problematic.  I.E. Something we think is great, but which we realise others could easily look at and say "WTF?!" about, much like many of us cannot fathom the appeal of a man like Christian Grey.  So in the interest of fair debate, I thought about whether there's anything I really love, that might be off-putting to others.  And I realised at first that my tastes are... Well, all a bit vanilla.

In fact, I struggled to think of anything I really love that could genuinely be problematic for others.  Taste in film, music and books will always differ from person to person, after all.  But my love of Blur, for example, shouldn't really cause offence to anyone.  And focusing on bands, my love of the Manic Street Preachers simply couldn't offend, right?!
Well, maybe wrong.  Because as a Manics fan, I categorise myself as a "Richey girl."  And that, for some, has connotations.
For those not acquainted with the band, let me give you a quick music history lesson...
The Manic Street Preachers are a rock band from Wales.  They burst onto the music scene in the early 90's, clad in white jeans, frilly blouses with spray-painted slogans on, leopard print coats and feather boas.  They wore eyeliner.  They sang about politics and they said they wanted to sell sixteen million copies of their debut double album and then split up in a blaze of glory.  They were like nothing else happening at the time and you either loved or hated them.
One of the members of the band, Richey Edwards (second from the left in the above picture) admitted that he couldn't really play his guitar and was often unplugged ,or at least had his amp turned down low on stage.  He was, however an incredibly gifted lyricist, tackling subjects as diverse as early 90's pop culture and the holocaust with equal poetry.  he was also the band's mouthpiece; doing more interviews than anyone else, preaching the Manics' own gospel and personally contacting journalists to ensure the band got the press attention he believed they deserved.  
His was also, however, deeply troubled.  A virgin until 21, he was - in spite of his eye-catching dress and tenacity when it came to band promotion - deeply insecure and shy.  Crippling depression led to self-harm and an addiction to alcohol.  As the band gained fame and success, Richey's demons took him to the brink.  Borderline anorexia, alcoholism and depression led him to be admitted to The Priory clinic in 1994.  The band's album from the same year, The Holy Bible, contained lyrics that now seem to provide a worrying glimpse into an increasingly fragile mind.  In their last concert of the year, the band smashed all of their equipment and Richey, looking frighteningly gaunt, smashed himself in the forehead with his broken guitar, over and over whilst staring vacantly into space, before leaving the stage for the final time.
On February 1st 1995, Richey was due to fly to the USA with the Manics' lead singer, James Dean Bradfield for a promotional tour.  They stayed at The Embassy Hotel in London the night before, sleeping in adjoining rooms.  When Richey failed to meet his bandmate in reception on the morning of February 1st, James headed up to his room.  Richey was gone.  He had left behind a box, containing letters and gifts for a girl known only as "Jo."  A toll receipt found in his flat in Cardiff proved that he had headed back there from London, but there was no sign of him.  Two weeks later, his car was found at a service station close to the Severn Bridge.  The battery was flat and there was evidence that it had been lived in.  Despite extensive appeals, "sightings" and police searches, Richey Edwards was never found.  In November 2008, his family took the decision to declare him legally "presumed dead" and the police "missing" file was officially closed.
The last known picture of Richey Edwards.

So why could being a self-confessed "Richey-phile" be problematic?  Surely he's just a troubled rock star, with a mysterious disappearance that still leads to the odd "sighting" in all corners of the globe?  Well yes.  And no...
Manics fans are notoriously precious about "their" band and speaking as one, I know that to speak ill of Richey is, to some, almost blasphemous.  I have, for years, referred to Richey Edwards as something of a hero of mine and I shall explain why later, but this blog is meant to be about admitting that you like something that could be problematic, so let's tackle that part first and hope not to incur the wrath of my fellow fans.
Although writers such as Caitlin Moran described Richey as "a cause celebre among depressives, alcoholics, anorexics and self-mutilators, because he was the first person in the public eye to talk openly about these subjects; not with swaggering bravado and a subtext of "look how tortured and cool I am", but with humility, sense and, often, bleak humour," there were - and are - many detractors.  And with some reason.
Richey was notorious for wanting to make a "statement."  He once gave an interview to teen magazine Smash Hits, in which he told the young readership: "Don't do it, kids.  Don't get past 13."  In the early days of the band, when then NME journalist Steve Lamacq asked Richey whether people would believe that the band were "for real," Richey took out a razor blade and carved "4 REAL" into his arm.  He then posed for photos of the wounds, which inevitably ended up in newspapers and magazines, gaining him enormous notoriety.  The injury required more than a dozen stitches, but Richey didn't seem particularly bothered about whether his actions might influence some of the band's young fans.
Indeed,the band's followers, whether "inspired" by Richey, or simply because he, as a rock star, had made them feel better about what they were already doing, began appearing at gigs with self-imposed scars adorning their bodies.  A so-called "Cult of Richey" formed, with fans copying Richey's look; daubing on the eyeliner and making homemade t-shirts to wear to concerts.  These obsessive fans began referring to Richey as their idol; suggesting that only he understood them. They viewed him as "purity itself" thanks to his outspoken pro-feminist views and vulnerability. Anorexia being a predominantly female illness, girls began being drawn to Richey as they felt he shared their pains.  Seeing him as something of a tortured poet, these followers wouldn't hear a word against Richey or his behaviour.
Richey with "4 REAL" scars on display.
Although it would be unfair to suggest that Richey actively encouraged this entourage of copycat self-harmers and adoring fans, it would be deeply naive to suggest that he was unaware of it, or that he actively discouraged them, either.  In fact, Richey developed a rather unnerving habit of slashing open his chest at gigs (so much so that a fan once presented him with a knife before a concert and told him "look at me when you do it") and of taking advantage of these girls, by using them as his groupies.
The Manics have long attracted a band of fans who feel that they are, for many reasons "outsiders" and therefore, Richey's groupies were frequently wide-eyed, adoring girls, sometimes suffering from their own depression, which made them doubly vulnerable. 
Whilst on tour in Bangkok, it's no secret that Richey used the services of a prostitute, despite having earlier written the song Little Baby Nothing as a feminist rant against those who do.
By the time the Manics recorded what is still considered by many to be their masterpiece, 1994's The Holy Bible, Richey had almost entirely gone off the rails.  He was, by this point, drinking a bottle of vodka a day and scouring the post-gig autograph hunters for a fan to sleep with.  He'd give interviews to the press, describing sex as being something he didn't even enjoy ("nature's lukewarm pleasure") and which made him feel used.  His slide deeper into depression led him to confess to not wanting to go on stage.  In November of 1994, Richey purchased a meat cleaver, supposedly so that he could cut his own fingers off, in order to have an excuse not play guitar at concerts anymore.  In early December, the band's European tour was curtailed early, after bassist Nicky wire discovered his childhood best friend sitting outside the band's hotel, hitting his head against the wall, over and over, until blood streamed down his face. 
On The Holy Bible, the lyrics sometimes make for uncomfortable listening.  From lines on self-harm, to anorexia, the album isn't exactly the kind of music you'd play in the background at a dinner party.  Richey was, by this point, steering the band to a dark place.  Musically and in his own personal life.
The "Richey-phile" stereotype is of a person who loves Richey so unquestionably, that they refute any question of his glorifying self-abuse by cutting himself so publicly.  They will not tolerate talk of Richey's vulnerable groupies and the troubling "cult" that he passively allowed to grow up around him.
I am not one of those "Richey-philes."  I can fully accept that my love of this deeply troubled man, could be considered unacceptable by some.  That he could be viewed as a very bad role model.  I'm  inclined to agree to a point.
Richey remains a man I admire in many ways.   I welcome debate on his behaviour and I'm not blind to his faults, but those who say "oh God, he was a selfish, attention-seeking drama queen who obviously killed himself, thus causing his family and friends unimaginable pain," will not change my mind.
I do hate him for having better eye make up than I ever have, though.
So why do I love him?  To answer that, we have to go back to that Caitlin Moran quote from earlier.  Because for all his flawed behaviour, Richey really was the first celebrity (or one of them) to openly talk about depression and self-harm in an honest, humble manner.  He may have cut himself on stage, but he didn't attempt to make light of it in the press.  He talked about self-harm as his only release for the pain he felt internally:"I'm not a person who can scream and shout so this is my only outlet."  And whether he meant to influence an entire sub-culture of fans or not, his honesty did help countless youngsters who were dealing with the same issues and who felt incredibly alone.  The dangerous hero-worship that followed is not something to admire Richey for, but then I disagree with anyone who suggests he created it through his own actions - at least not willingly.  Upon being handed the knife I mentioned earlier, by the fan who asked him to look at her whilst he cut himself, Richey was said by his fellow bandmates to be appalled and felt his depression was being trivialised and turned into something he felt deeply uncomfortable about.  Whilst his ego was stroked by his army of fans, Richey was not about to willingly become their God.  He spoke often of simply wanting to "get better."  His searing honesty about depression, alcohol abuse and self-harm encouraged others to open up about their own problems - indeed, weekly music magazines at the time received endless letters from teenagers who had previously thought they were alone in dealing with their issues.  Who said that if someone as well known and successful as Richey could suffer, then clearly anyone could, but if he was battling his demons, they'd find the strength to do so, too.
Also, I am a writer.  I struggle for pretty metaphors and flowery language at times, but to Richey, it came as naturally as the changes in the season (see what I mean about the metaphors?!).  That he could turn a subject as horrific as the ravages of anorexia into deeply moving poetry ("I want to walk in the snow and not leave a footprint") is a sign of his enormous intellect - for Richey is acknowledged by all to have been a man of huge academic intelligence, if not emotional.  People criticise Sylvia Plath's poetry for being "too depressing" (and unsurprisingly, Richey was a big fan), but I have always loved her rawness and her refusal to sugar-coat issues.  Richey was similarly passionate and direct in his words.  "If you stand up like a nail, then you will be knocked down. I've been too honest with myself, I should have lied like everybody else" (from "Faster") remains one of my favourite lyrics of all time.  They're raw.  They're not trying to say "oh yeah, I'm fine, tra la la," they're admitting to some pretty intense stuff going on in the writer's head.  To me, that ability to put something horrendous into such beautiful prose, is worthy of tremendous admiration.
Richey was a man with deep, deep flaws.  But he didn't hide from them.  He spoke out about them and he challenged people's perceptions in many ways.  He used his position as joint lyricist within the band to write songs that tackled subjects that would have other bands running scared and in doing so, he helped cement the Manic Street Preachers' position as one of the most important bands of the late 20th century. To this day, in spite of the fact that Manics have continued for 18 years without him and have released other material, with some excellent lyrics (I have a Manics tattoo with the words "This world will not impose its will, I will not give up and I will not give in" on my back, as the lyrics genuinely helped me move on from my abusive relationship), it is to Richey's words that generation after generation of teens head when looking for someone they can identify with. Why? Because nobody has articulated the pain of depression, the agony of self-harm or the feeling of helplessness better in lyric form than Richey James Edwards. I was one of those teens. I sought comfort in knowing I wasn't alone. And I can't forget that. I thank Richey for his words.
I'm not going to suggest that Richey's use of vulnerable young fans as groupies is okay.  It wasn't and he should have known better.  But I'm also not going to presume any knowledge as to what was going through his mind back then, because a) I wasn't there and b) Richey was going through such an intense depression and struggling with such addiction that I'm not sure even he knew what was going through his mind, let alone a fan, writing about it 18+ years later.  So I don't excuse his behaviour outright and I fully accept criticism of it, because I can see that there's a big problem with a celebrity sleeping with troubled young fans on a regular basis, but neither can I out and out condemn him, because there is no question of him ever using force or deliberately harming anyone other than himself.  I am able to separate the reality of his questionable behaviour off-stage from the equal reality of his incredible gift as a writer, his awareness-raising on the subject of depression and his part in ensuring the success of my favourite band of all time.  I do not blindly hero-worship Richey Edwards and I understand and listen to the opinions of those who criticise him.
I will, though, remain a fan.



Saturday, 2 February 2013

Need more evidence that 50 Shades is about an abusive relationship?!

Okay everyone, so I currently look a bit like this:

But with frizzier hair.  You get the idea.
And why do I look so frustrated?  Because in the last 24 hours, I've had literally dozens of Fifty Shades fans contact me to tell me, amongst other things, that I:
  • Am "retarded" for seeing abuse in the books.
  • That EL James is on the side of abuse victims and I'm "trivialising" the subject.
  • That I haven't experienced abuse if my ex was anything like Christian Grey.
  • That I deserve physical violence for speaking out against the books.  And yes, that last person got her ass reported to Twitter.
Now okay, I realise that if I "refuse to shut up about it," as one person charmingly put it, then I'm bound to get some comeback from the people who think Christian Grey is like, OMG, the sexiest EVER!!!!1!!one!!! And I'm prepared for that.  I'm prepared to have strangers tell me they disagree with my opinion, because that's life.  I mean really, if I thought the world was a place where everyone agrees all the time and we're all the best of friends, I'd be as ridiculously naive as Anastasia Steele herself.
I searched Google for pictures of "Anastasia Steele" or "Inner Goddess" but the results annoyed me so much, I needed to put a picture of my dog here to calm me down, instead.  You're welcome.
But the one thing I will not ever tolerate is people who, without any knowledge to back up their claim, contact me in shouty capitals saying: "THERE IS NO ABUSE IN THIS BOOK."  So I'm writing this blog as a final word on the subject and I'm having to drag out yet more evidence, because apparently, my TWO previous attempts to explain just why the books do glorify abuse just don't provide enough already.
If you click here you will find a checklist of signs of abuse.  I've included a link, because I didn't want to be accused of making any of this up.  And if you've yet to shred, burn or wipe your backside on your copy of Fifty Shades, then you can also check what I'm about to say with that as well.
I  intend to make my way through this checklist and use evidence from the book to support my belief that the relationship portrayed in 50 Fifty Shades of Grey and the two subsequent sequels IS an abusive one.  And I can't quite believe I'm still having to go to these lengths, but hey. People apparently aren't seeing it for themselves.
So here we go.  These are some common indicators of abuse...
What the website says: The person who abuses may question the partner about social contact, makes accusations of flirting, or can be jealous of time spent with family, friends or children. He or she may call the partner frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He or she may refuse to let the partner work or engage in behaviours such as checking car mileage, asking friends to watch the partner, or asking the children to report.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian hates the fact that Ana is still friends with Jose, who he knows has feelings for her and who once tried it on with her.  In spite of the fact that Ana says she has forgiven Jose and that they're just friends, Christian is firmly against her seeing him and when they visit his photographic show at the art gallery in book two, Christian makes a point of buying every single picture of Ana.  When she goes for a drink with Jose, Christian describes himself as "palm-twitchingly mad," meaning he wants to hit her as punishment, rather than purely as a sexual thing.  He also calls, texts and emails her constantly, even when she's at work.  He travels hundreds of miles to show up unexpectedly when Ana asks for some space to visit her mother.  He buys the company she works for and he has her frequently followed by his security, claiming it's for her own protection.
Controlling Behaviour
What the website says: The person who abuses may say that he or she is merely concerned for the partner's safety or need to use time well. He or she will be angry if the partner is late returning from an errand, will question the partner closely. He or she may not let the partner make personal decisions about the house, clothing, going to religious services or out with friends. He or she may keep all the money or even make the partner ask permission to leave the house.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian gets mad if Ana doesn't reply to his messages almost instantly.  He bombards her with questions as to where she is and who she's with.  He orders her food for her in restaurants and buys her a whole new wardrobe so that he can have control over what she wears.  When she goes out in an outfit he disapproves of, he sulks and gets angry.  When she sunbathes topless, he bruises her body so that she can't do it again.  He buys the company she works for so that he can have control over her whilst she's there, too.  Ana feels that she has to ask his permission to ride a jet ski on honeymoon.  He actually tells her he needs total control and blames his abusive childhood for this.  Ana refers to "his demands, his need to control, his scary vices."
Exert: “You sound like a control freak." The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.

"Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele," he says without a trace of humour in his smile.” 
Is he making you aroused yet?  Christian Grey, that is, not the cat.  Although the cat would probably make a better partner, all things considered...
Quick Involvement
What the website says: Many abused persons dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. The abuser comes on like a whirl-wind "you are the only person I could ever talk to", "I've never felt loved like this by anyone". He or she needs someone desperately and will pressure the partner to commit.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian and Ana are married within three months of meeting.  It only takes a month or so before Christian is begging her to move in with him, telling her he has never met anyone like her and she's the only woman he could ever love.
Unrealistic Expectations
What the website says: The person who abuses is very dependent on the partner to meet all of his or her needs. He or she expects the partner to be the perfect mate, parent, lover, and friend. He or she will say things like "if you love me, I am all you need—you are all I need".
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian's control is centred around making Ana the perfect partner for him, regardless of his claims to love her as she is.  He knows she is inexperienced sexually and that she's too wilful to be a good submissive (he even goes as far as to admit that to her), but he continues manipulating and coercing her into agreeing to his needs anyway.  He tells her "I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me in all things" and "I want your world to begin and end with me,"  thus perpetuating the notion that anything else in her life should be secondary and is therefore unimportant.  These aren't realistic expectations, but Ana feels compelled to try to meet them.
I'm pretty sure her backstage dressing room demands are less ridiculous than Christian Grey's relationship ones.
Blames Others For Own Problems
What the website says: The person who abuses takes no responsibility for things that go wrong in his or her life. The abused person is somehow at fault even if not present, like a problem at work.
The evidence in 50 shades: Christian explains his entire personality as being a result of his abusive childhood, conveniently forgetting that as an adult, he has a choice about how he behaves.  If I sound angry, it's because I AM, seeing as my own emotionally abusive ex blamed his childhood for the atrocious way he treated me.  Oh and he also said things like "you make me feel violent, Emma."  But I digress...  Christian also tells Ana that her "stubbornness" is responsible for his "twitching palm."  He refers to his mother as "the crack whore" and makes no real effort to take ownership of his own behaviour.
What the website says: The person who abuses is easily insulted. He or she claims hurt feelings or takes any set-back as a personal attack. He or she will rant about the injustice of things that are really just a part of living, like working overtime or getting a parking ticket.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Again, this is one I find hard, because my ex was prone to this.  Anyway, when Ana leaves Christian at the end of book 1, Christian reacts in the 2nd as though his entire world had been destroyed, in spite of the fact he'd only known her for a few weeks and she'd proved herself an unsuitable match for him. “I've never felt the way I felt when you left, Anastasia. I would move heaven and earth to avoid feeling like that again.”   Any tiny sign that Ana might have left, or might not succumb to his needs is met with an over dramatic response - sign of huge emotional immaturity on Grey's part.
Pictured: Christian Grey.
Cruelty to Animals or Children
What the website says: This person may be brutal to animals and insensitive to their pain or suffering. He or she may expect children to be capable of doing things far beyond their ability or may tease children until they cry. He or she may not want to eat at the table with children, or expect children to stay in their rooms all evening.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Okay, I'll admit defeat on this one.  I see no evidence of Christian Grey being cruel towards animals or children.  But then my ex wasn't either and that doesn't make him any less of an abusive bastard.  That said, the whole, sucking his son's fingers and suggesting his unborn daughter loves sex already thing at the end of the book is bloody disturbing.
"Playful" Use of Force in Sex
What the website says: This person may throw and hold the partner down during sex. He or she will be unconcerned about whether the partner wants sex and use sulking, anger, or guilt to manipulate the partner into compliance. He or she may begin sexual activity while the partner is still asleep, or demand sex even though the partner is tired or sick.
The evidence in 50 shades: We've all read it; we all know Christian's into BDSM.  That in itself isn't a problem, because BDSM in itself isn't abuse and to suggest as much is deeply offensive to anyone who practises it.  However, Ana is manipulated into agreeing to a sexual lifestyle she knows precisely nothing about and which she says - many times - she feels uncomfortable about.  She tells him: "I just want you, Christian.  Not all the add-ons," but he insists "they're part of who I am."  In spite of this enormous gulf between what they're looking for sexually, Christian doesn't give up.  Instead, he employs subtle mind games and manipulation to get what he wants, playing on the "fifty shades of fucked up" element of his nature and insisting he NEEDS her to agree to his sexual demands.  When Ana is confused about her relationship with Christian (I forget whether this happens in the 1st or 2nd book) and wants to talk, Christian begins trying to encourage her to have sex rather than talk about it.  When she protests that she doesn't want sex right now, he ignores her and continues until she is forced to "give in."  He also gets her drunk so that she agrees to his demands.  Coercion like that is only a step away from rape and I see no reason to romanticise it.  Then of course, there's the end of the first book, in which Christian beats Ana in an act I see as domestic abuse, not BDSM.  No, Ana doesn't use her safeword.  But that's because she can't, what with being in agony.  She's in tears and crying out in pain, but Christian doesn't stop.  Later, in the 3rd book of the series, Christian deliberately puts handcuffs too tightly around her wrists and ankles in order to leave "deep, red welts" on her body and he also deliberately bruises her chest in order to "punish" her for sunbathing topless.  Ana hasn't consented to having her body marked in such a way.  This is NOT BDSM. THIS IS DOMESTIC ABUSE.
Currently the only thing getting me through this blog.
Verbal Abuse
What the website says: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, the person who abuses degrades the partner, swears at the partner, and minimises the partner's accomplishments. He or she may say the partner is stupid, and unable to function alone. This will often take place in conjunction with sleep deprivation, where the abuser wakes the partner in the night to verbally assault or interrogate.
Evidence in 50 Shades: I constantly hear women telling me that Christian Grey is "a sweetheart," because he's "so complimentary" to Ana.  In actual fact, many of Grey's so called "compliments" are loaded with sarcasm or alternative meaning.  I know this from experience, so please don't tell me how very wrong I am - even if EL James never intended to write the character this way, that's what she has done.  He's a classic headworker; saying things intended to get into her brain and make her doubt herself.  He tells her she's very confident "except for when you blush, which is often," thus making her question the way she portrays herself to others.  Also, even the things he says that are supposedly nice are written as though he says them in a nasty manner.  Have a look at the book and count how many times he smiles menacingly, or whispers in a threatening manner.  I guarantee you'll be surprised at how frequently it happens.  The sleep deprivation thing does happen too, if you think about it, considering Christian has conveniently timed night-terrors (usually whenever Ana is doubting their relationship and he needs to manipulate her into staying with him).  If you're still thinking "Christian Grey is adorable and never verbally abusive, this is his reaction to finding out that Ana is pregnant:

“Christ, Ana!” He bangs his fist on the table, making me jump, and stands so abruptly he almost knocks the dining chair over. “You have one thing, one thing to remember. Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid?"
Oh he's so lovely.
Rigid Sex Roles
What the website says: The person who abuses expects to be served, expects the partner to stay home, and demands that the partner obey without question. The abuser will see the victim as inferior, stupid, and unable to be a whole person without the relationship.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian wants Ana not to work.  He arrogantly tells her she doesn't need to work, because he's rich.  He's also quite the misogynist, claiming that Ana needs his constant protection and frequently inferring that women are the weaker sex.  Early on in the first book, he mentions checking in on his company "to keep the wives in their place."
I'm starting to doubt that there's enough wine in the WORLD to get me through this...
Jekyll & Hyde
What the website says: Many people are confused by their partner's sudden changes in mood—one minute nice, and the next minute explosive. Such mood swings are typical of people who abuse their partners, and are related to other characteristics such as hypersensitivity.
Evidence in 50 Shades: This one should be pretty bloody obvious, even to the fans of the books.  Christian's notorious Jekyll & Hyde behaviour is referenced by Ana throughout. She says of him: "This man, whom I once thought of as a romantic hero, a brave shining white knight—or the dark knight, as he said... He’s not a hero; he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark."  But without fail, always within a few pages of these moments in which Ana despairs at Christian's unreasonable demands or unacceptable behaviour, he does or says something to make her coo over him again and she's back to thinking of him as perfect.  Jekyll & Hyde.  Just like my abusive ex.  Although of course, according to EL James, pointing out all of this abuse is "doing a huge disservice to the women who actually go through it."  So I'm talking out of my arse, right?  NO.
Past Abuse
What the website says: The person who abuses may admit to hitting partners in the past, but they made him or her do it. He or she may have prior arrests or convictions for assault. The partner may hear of this abusiveness from relatives or ex-partners.
Evidence in 50 Shades: Okay, we know Christian is into "kinky fuckery" and he has hit all of his past partners.  In a normal, healthy BDSM relationship, that's fine, but considering this isn't a normal BDSM relationship and Christian is a lousy Dom (ask anyone from the BDSM community and they'll tell you), I do wonder whether he has crossed the line with others.  Take Leila, for example.  We're meant to believe she's as messed up as she is because she's just SO in love with Christian and he did nothing to her?  I'm not buying it.  Also, on a slightly different note, abuse in a person's past is sometimes more likely to make them abusive towards others.  It was the case for my ex.  It's the case for Christian, too.
Hook me up.  If this man is considered a romantic hero, I need to be drunk for the rest of my life.
Threats of Violence
What the website says: This would include any threat of physical force meant to control the partner, such as "I'll kill you" or "I'll break your neck". Most people do not threaten their partners, but a person who abuses will try to excuse it by saying "everyone talks that way in anger".
Evidence in 50 Shades: Christian refers to his "twitching palm" whenever Ana "disobeys" him.  We're supposed to see it as sexy and erotic, but seeing as Ana never signed a contract, tying herself to a BDSM relationship because she expressly said she couldn't and seeing as these comments come outside of the bedroom and relate to Ana doing things such as going for a drink with a friend, or wearing an outfit Christian disapproves of, I think we can call them what they are: THREATS OF PHYSICAL ASSAULT.  Christian also admits on more than one occasion that his wanting to hit Ana is borne out of a need to punish her ("if you disobey, I will punish you and it will hurt"), rather than sexual desire.
Breaking or Striking Objects
What the website says: This behaviour is used as a punishment (i.e., breaking loved possessions) but it is mostly used to terrorise the partner into submission. The person who abuses may beat on a table or throw objects around or near the partner.
Evidence in 50 Shades: We've already seen the excerpt in which Christian discovers Ana is pregnant and bangs his fist against the table so hard, he nearly knocks his chair over in his rage.  Christian is obsessed with controlling things (situations and people), but has very little self-control, as is evidenced at the end of the first book.  As an aside, I find this aspect of Christian's personality horribly triggering, as my ex threw things across the room more than once, telling me I MADE him do it, by "getting too close" to him and "making me feel violent."  But far be it for me to use my real life experiences in comparison with 50 Shades.  I'd hate to "freak out" EL James.
Any Force During An Argument
What the website says: The person who abuses may hold the partner down, physically restrain the partner from leaving the room, push, or shove. Or the abuser may hold the partner against the wall and say "you are going to listen to me".
Evidence in 50 Shades: Christian tends to use more manipulation in arguments than physical force, but he does grab her arm "menacingly" several times and makes threats (for example, at his parents' house, he threatens to take her to the boat house and beat her because he's angry with her) and he tells her before they're even an established couple: "If you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you just pulled."

Not gonna lie, this is pretty much me, right now, realising women STILL think this man is someone to aspire to.
So there we have it.  An official page, with actual signs of abuse - a checklist that those trained in the subject look out for - and the evidence from the books themselves that prove that CHRISTIAN GREY IS AN ABUSER.
I'll just go and sober up now.  And await the tide of ignorance that will inevitably bring comments telling me I'm wrong.  And to those women who believe Christian Grey really IS a wonderful man, someone to aspire to... Imagine you have a daughter.  Imagine she gets with someone who treats her the way I've documented in this blog.  Tell me then that you wouldn't think it was abuse.  Because any mother worth her salt would be doing anything she could to protect her child from a bastard like that.  No woman deserves abuse.  And no book should be romanticising it, either.