Clearly, Fifty Shades' mastermind E.L. James is not an expert on dominance and submission. Yet her books and now the movie based on the books glamorize that lifestyle to millions across the globe.
I first encountered the BDSM lifestyle when I received a request from my escort agency to fill a call for a dominatrix role. The phone girl didn't have anyone to fill this request and asked if I would do it.
At this point in my life, I had been sex trafficked, beaten profusely by my pimp, and finally left him for good. My pimp would beat me and then force me to have sex with him. I never enjoyed the pain—rather I was completely freaked out, afraid, and emotionally and physically hurt. This behavior never turned me on; I was completely disgusted by it.
I was pretty bitter from the abuse that I experienced from my sex trafficker and in revenge mode on men. Greedy and hungry to finally be in control, I was curious and wanted to see what this BDSM lifestyle was all about, so I decided to take the call and try my hand at being the dominant. I demanded money and did what was expected of me, channeling "Fallen," my sex industry name and call girl persona.
What a twist of fate and irony—the severely abused now becoming an abuser and getting paid to do it.
Many of my clients were obsessed with me and continued to call, because in their minds, a fantasy love/relationship had started. As this progressed, I got to know many of them and asked why they enjoyed BDSM. The answers varied: as "a way to let off steam"and "to let go of control."
Some described mother-to-son abusive relationships, physical and sexual relationships with other men, and a handful of important CEOs explained the need to surrender the control they had over others running their stressful companies.
With many of my clients, the more they practiced BDSM, the more intensity they wanted. And like a drug, they were never satisfied—they always wanted a more severe beating. Once they tried one thing, they wanted to explore another. That's where it got really scary for me. What if they end up getting really hurt?
In all of my experience over the years with these men, one thing stands true: Underlying their desire to be dominated was a deep-seated hunger and need for love. Many times their sexual desires stemmed from childhood abuse. They wanted to be cared for, watched for, disciplined and admired. Just like a child.
I believe these men were looking for love through BDSM, and missing the mark—and this is why it never satisfied. Real Love doesn't dominate. Love doesn't push. Love's intent isn't to create pain. Love's intent is to create a relationship of peace, safety and security, emotionally and relationally when it comes to intimacy. We know from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
When you cross the line and hurt someone emotionally and physically, it throws unknowns into the picture: a loss of security, a loss of trust, a loss of honor, a loss of commitment. Broken vows. If you are willing to hurt me physically and emotionally, what else are you willing to do to me? And if I ask you to stop—will you?
BDSM blurs these lines of love. It turns them upside down, and it teaches what we thought was love to become boring and old fashioned, while what we once thought was abuse is sold off as exciting and erotic. These thought processes in the wrong hands can lead us down treacherous roads of accepting abuse as the norm. Normalizing abuse is not the answer to our pain, and it eventually leads to a darker road of more severe abuses.
Spoiler alert: In Fifty Shades Of Grey, Christian Grey was a scared and lonely child who witnessed the murder of his sex-trafficked mother at the hands of her pimp. At 15, he was sexually abused by a woman who taught him the BDSM lifestyle, redirecting his drinking habits and anger issues from his childhood. He eventually becomes a dominant, finds a female whom he dominates, humiliates, and by the end of the three books, he marries her, has children with her, and together they live happily ever after.
But the roots of his childhood abuse are not dealt with; instead they are excused as the reason for his dominance.
Can someone find true love and happiness while participating in this lifestyle? According to E.L. James they can. But as she's admitted, she is no BDSM expert, and this story was written as fiction, not truth.
Realistically—are there happy endings? From my personal experience, no. Should you read the books and go and see the movie? Will it enrich your life if you do?
I am not here to tell you what to do, only to give you the truth that I experienced and to remind you that while Fifty Shades glamorizes BDSM, this story is 100 percent fiction. Fifty Shades of Grey didn't enrich my life; it only revealed a very broken society desperate for answers and relief from pain deep inside their souls.
Annie Lobert is a former high-class escort, a sex trafficking survivor, wife to Oz Fox of Stryper, and the author of Fallen (February 2015).