When Valentine’s Day becomes Fifty Shades of Abuse ….

Part of the Sophie Merlo series 'Lifting the Veil on Domestic Abuse'
Part of the Sophie Merlo series ‘Lifting the Veil on Domestic Violence’

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow …. bring on the flowers, chocolates, bubbly and romantic dates with your partner ….. ! Getting cosy, schmoozy and lovey-dovey with your partner … on the ultimate, most romantic day of the year? Of course! 14th February spells romance with a capital R!

But hold on …….. that’s not strictly the case for the many female victims of domestic violence in the UK for whom Valentine’s Day 2015 spells trouble. These women are deeply worried that Valentine’s Day will bring them a lot more than just roses and chocolates. It’s well known that incidences of domestic abuse rise considerably at this, supposedly romantic, time of the year.

For women stuck in relationships with abusive partners, the film ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is a sickening glamorisation and over-romanticisation of violence and abusive relationships. Activists at the recently launched ‘Fifty Shades’ – re-named by activists as ‘Fifty Shades of Abuse’ – declared that the film is effectively telling survivors that ‘what happened to you is really just ‘romance’ and that it gives the dangerous impression that ‘unwanted control, manipulation and stalking are forms of Love’.

Bristol Woman wants every woman in Bristol to be mindful this Valentine’s Eve of those women who are or may become victims of abusive partners. To mark our concern, we felt we would like to showcase some of the excellent photography of Bristol woman photographer Sophie Merlo from her recent photographic series ‘Lifting the Veil on Domestic Violence’.

Sophie told us:

‘I wanted to create some hard-hitting (excuse the pun) photos to highlight the issue of domestic violence. I thought the juxtaposition of a battered woman and a traditional wedding scene would create a suitable shock factor to get my message across. I thought abuse displayed within wedding photos would highlight the ludicrousness of the idea that physical abuse is love to those victims (or friends/relatives) who trivialise or normalise the behaviour and/or defend the abuser’.

Part of the Sophie Merlo photographic series ‘Lifting the Veil on Domestic Violence’

Finally, Bristol Woman’s very own Sian Webb has written an un-Valentine poem for this Valentine’s Eve. Again, a poignant reminder to us all to remember that Valentine’s Day is far from the romantic love-fest that it is made out to be. Here it is …..

Domestic Violence is NOT okay
For women across the world, it can happen on any day
Share this instead of Fifty Shades of Grey
And rise for revolution on Valentine’s Day

Let’s all rise – and mark Valentine’s Day by sharing the concept that domestic violence is NOT okay on any day of the year, and not least on Valentine’s Day. Please also share this post to spread the word.

Bernie Ritchie, Bristol Woman, Editor-in-Chief (2015)


Photo: Sophie Merlo,

Model: Candi Raid and Alex Craig

Make up artist: Tasnim Choudhury

2 thoughts on “When Valentine’s Day becomes Fifty Shades of Abuse ….”

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