I am an ex-Christian Brother of Ireland, ex-priest, survivor of sexual abuse, and advocate for thousands of sexual abuse victims for over a decade. Recently, I saw the movie, "50 Shades of Grey," but not for reasons one might suspect. I saw the movie because a preview I read mentioned that the title character was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I was not interested in being titillated with images of intimate sexuality, nudity, or pornography. I was most intrigued by how the film would depict the life of a childhood sexual abuse victim, and I was not disappointed.
The movie I saw on opening night in a packed New York City theater was not about sex, despite all one might read about "50 Shades of Grey". The fifty shades of Christian Grey were unfortunate shadows hovering over a young, handsome man who seemingly had never received any counseling, psychotherapy or sympathy for the sexual violation of his innocence as a boy. The movie was about the “break” in the psyche of Christian which led him to fear intimacy, vulnerability, passion, and friendship. Christian needed an intervention by a compassionate advocate to help him understand how his life had ironically cycled out of control despite his efforts to control everything and everyone.
"50 Shades of Grey" is not a movie about kinky sex. There is hardly anything sexual about the movie. It is about abuse of power and its aftermath. Christian, a wealthy, handsome young man at the peak of his manhood is incapable of developing an intimate and meaningful relationship with a beautiful young woman who tries everything (including becoming somewhat of a sex slave) to get to Christian's soul. What she did not realize was that her boyfriend’s soul had been murdered as a child and, as a result, he could not emote as most normal human beings can.
I haven’t read a single review, summary, or article that warns prospective viewers that "50 Shades of Grey" might be triggering to those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse. Nor have I read a single article deciphering the reasons why Christian had 50 shadows hanging over him. In fact, the titillation factor seems to have taken over for the millions who have read the book and seen the movie, but as far as I am concerned, there was nothing titillating about the movie. There was sadness, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in the film, at least that’s how it struck me. I felt sympathy for both characters because the female could not get through to the male to prove her genuine love, and the male was incapable of being loved through no fault of his own.