The Discussing Hufflepuff: Stop Romanticising Abusive Relationships

No your eyes are not deceiving you, this is an actual Discussing Hufflepuff! One of my blogging goals this year was to post one every month. Of course I failed badly because the previous one was posted in January. 

Today’s topic is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while now, because it’s something that is very important to me. I’ve noticed for a while now that abusive relationships are often not described as abusive, by both the characters and the fans. Worse, they’re being romanticised.

I’m all for abusive relationships being portrayed in fiction. Hell, I encourage it. Because if one thing the romanticisation of abusive relationship does, it’s showing that a lot of people don’t recognise the signs, and fiction can help with that. But instead, fiction often romanticises abusive relationships, and this is very troubling. If we don’t realise that a ship in a book or tv show is abusive, how will we realise that our own relationship might be abusive? How will we realise that these abusive relationships are not something to strive for, but something we need to run away from as fast as we can? 

Writers need to stop romanticising abusive relationships, but maybe they don’t realise that the relationship they’re writing is abusive, because just like fans, they don’t recognise the signs either. So how can we stop the romanticisation of abusive relationships? By calling the writers out (gently, because like I said they might not realise it either) and helping them realise that as writers they have the tool to help their viewers and readers realise they themselves are in an abusive relationship or that someone close to them is, so they can get the hell out. That as writers they can help people in abusive relationship find the courage to break it off, to seek help. And most importantly, that if people continue to see abusive relationships portrayed as normal or even ‘romantic’ in fiction, they will believe that it is normal and romantic.

It doesn’t matter if the characters love each other. If they hurt the other (or each other), physically or mentally, it’s abusive. It’s not romantic when someone is overbearingly ‘protective’ to the point that they decide for you who you can and can’t see, that they decide your every move for you. It’s not romantic when someone keeps pursuing you, even though they say no. No means no. If they truly loved them, they would keep away. At this point it’s just unhealthy. If they make you feel like shit about yourself, even if ‘they don’t mean it’, get the hell out.

This topic is very important to me, because know the signs, but many people out there don’t. And how can they? No one teaches them, the media shows them that these type of relationships are ‘normal’ and ‘true love’. Please help me put a stop to the romanticisation of abusive relationships. It literally makes a difference between life or death.

Usually I have a question to ask you guys, but this time I can’t think of anything, so let me know what you think of this topic in the comments!

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38 thoughts on “The Discussing Hufflepuff: Stop Romanticising Abusive Relationships

  1. I totally agree with everything you’ve said here! I’ve noticed this in a few books recently, where at first I’m like ‘aww, that’s cute that he’s so protective’, and then when you really think about it, you suddenly realise ‘hang on, that’s not OK’. I think it really is a problem that these kinds of relationships are basically being normalised in fiction to the point where you don’t immediately recognise them, so I think it’s great that you’re talking about this issue. Great post! :)

  2. Great post, Michelle! And so very true, too. each and every sentence resonates with me.

    Many books are definitely guilty of this, and sometimes I wonder if it’s not necessarily that the authors don’t realise — it’s that the author is following a certain trend. For example, back when Twilight’s popularity was at its peak, dark, broody, possessive love interests became even bigger of a thing than it was. Persistence is painted as ‘hard work’ instead of, well, pushiness. It almost feels like everybody loves it, so I can’t really fault authors for wanting in on that train, although I don’t think it’s a good, healthy reason for portraying an abusive relationship as romantic and desirable. Still, it happens. :/

    • Thanks! :) Oh that’s definitely a possibility too! I hadn’t thought of that yet. Yep, Twilight definitely set the trend for that one :/ If only it raised awareness instead *sigh* Yeah the mindset of the readers probably needs to change too. If authors do realise that the relationships they’re writing are abusive, they might be scared of losing an audience (that would be so messed up omg).

  3. I struggle a lot with this same issue in books. I often find myself falling head over heels in love with a character, only to later realize that they are emotionally abusive and controlling or something of the like. Like with Twilight, both Edward and Jacob are horrible. The Host might be even worse because the guy that Wanda ends up loving already tried to kill her and basically strangled her – but it gets better… Or does it?

    This is a very relevant issue, especially with all the hype around ACOTAR. I don’t know if you’ve read both ACOTAR and ACOMAF, but Tamlin is a serious issue for me – and it escalates in the sequel. But, these books do something others really don’t – it actually focuses on it. It shows the character realizing what is going on, fighting to get out of it, and struggling to deal with the aftermath. I can’t stand people saying that there is a love triangle, because there really is not. Feyre realizes what is happening and confronts it. Another book that showcases an abusive relationship in an unromanticized way is Dreamland by Sarah Dessen.

    I seem to have listed more examples than give an actual response, oops 😁 but I really love this post. Good job 💞

    • Yes exactly! Thankfully I’m starting to recognise the signs a lot quicker, but still :/ Ugh yeah when it comes to Team Edward and Team Jacob I’m Team Bella Needs A Healthy Relationship With Neither of These Boys. I’ve read The Host, but that was so long ago that I don’t really remember it. I do remember that she ended up with the guy, but I had completely forgotten about him strangling and trying to kill her.

      I’ve only read ACOTAR, I was immediately put off by both Tamlin and Rhysand. I’ve read quite a few reviews of ACOMAF so I know what happens, and I’m so happy that Sarah addressed Tamlin’s abuse. I’m just not okay with Rhysand drugging Feyre in ACOTAR and touching and kissing her without her consent, even if he did it to help/save her :/ As the writer Sarah could’ve thought of another way for Rhysand to help her.

      I’ll definitely look into Dreamland! I’ve heard so much praise for Sarah Dessen’s writing so I’m happy to hear that she wrote a book with an abusive relationship that isn’t romanticised! Definitely checking out her books now :0

      Haha that’s okay, I love your comment! 💕

      • Oh no! You have to read ACOMAF! Rhys is everything 💞 Plus, he actually did do it with her consent – he gave her the wine, told her what it was, and she agreed to drink it. I only picked up on that this second time when I read it. BUT RHYSAND IS MY BABY AND OH MY GOODNESS! 😱😱😱 ACOMAF changes the entire perspective of ACOTAR, trust me.

        Dreamland is amazing <3 and so is Just Listen. Those are my two favorites.

      • Ooh I had either missed that or forgotten about that! Thanks for pointing that out, I feel a lot better about it now! :) I’m still not sure if I want to read it though, the books are just not up my alley and I’m not really a fan of Sarah’s writing anymore 🙈 Even without the issues I had with ACOTAR, I still found it really boring :/ Maybe one day I’ll pick it up though :) I’ll definitely pick up Dreamland and Just listen!

      • Just trust me when I say A Court of Mist and Fury is everything ACOTAR is not 💞 it’s so amazing.

        And yay!! I can’t wait to see what you think about them 😍

  4. YES YES YES. I thought this particularly whilst I was reading A Court of Thorns and Roses… Like, all of the romance just seemed horribly possessive and gross. It wasn’t okay, for me. And I see a lot of people really shipping relationships that seem pretty abusive to me, and forgetting any issues with the book. I don’t know, I think that it can be difficult to portray something as bad without seeming like you’re telling the reader, but — if books have to include abusive relationships, I wish they would make readers more aware. *nods*

    • YES! This post was partly inspired by ACOTAR, even though I read that last year with ACOMAF coming out my loathing for the book resurfaced. Sadly I’ve read quite a few more books (and seen tv shows) that also romanticise abusive relationships.
      Yeah it is definitely difficult, but I think they could have the character realise that they’re in an unhealthy relationship, or have someone else point it out to them.

  5. 100% agree with this. It’s why I have such issue with Twilight and its emanation Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t like the writing on either, but I could forgive that as a stylistic variation if it wasn’t for the abusive relationships being romanticized. When your 50 something jazzercise instructor says she wants a Christian Grey and the other ladies in the class agree with her, that’s a problem. Maybe a little less so since she’s married to a (hopefully) not Christian Grey, but the idea of it is pervasive and troubling. People think this is normal.

    I try very hard to portray healthy relationships, and if I’m called out on some problematic aspect, I consider it thoroughly

    • Yes same. I haven’t read Fifty Shades, but I’ve read plenty of reviews and posts on it to know how disturbing it is. It’s so worrisome that there are teenage girls out there hoping they’ll meet their Edward Cullen one day and older women waiting for their Christian Grey. They deserve so much better and shouldn’t want to be in relationships with men like that.

      • It seems like you’ve seen beyond it though so hooray! It is sad but true thought that many other girls and women aren’t doing the same. What bothers me is when you point out all the issues with both Twilight and FSOG, people still see it as romantic. In a way these narratives are more of a symptom than the disease itself. They didn’t come out of a vacuum; they sprung out of that kind of thought being pervasive in our society :\

      • You could have all the words in a thousand tongues and it still wouldn’t matter. On my more optimistic days, I believe you should still say them, but on my lesser ones, I struggle to find a reason to bother. Blogging does help, because at least I have the words out just in case I need them.

  6. Preach it, girl! This is actually my main problem with so many YA books because I feel like they tend to do this. Like I’m sorry but Fourtris is the most unhealthy ship ever and I refuse to ship them.

  7. So glad someone finally points that out! So many girls in YA-fiction are so helpless and their only remedy is a hot, rich guy telling them how to live! Ergh!

    • Thank you Marie! ❤ I’ve been dying to write this post, because it’s been bothering me for so long now. It’s ridiculous how many books I’ve read or tv shows I’ve seen where this happens. Yes exactly. Abusive relationships shouldn’t be shoved under a rug, because they do happen and writing them could help people recognise them, but they should not be romanticised.

      • I get it, it’s so annoying and I don’t get WHY this still happens. There should be more awareness about it all, and it really happens in real life, if they’re not depicted in the right way, well then it doesn’t really help :/

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