In the study published in the Journal of Women's Health, researcher Amy Bonomi and co-authors concluded that emotional and sexual abuse is pervasive in the novel, with the main female character, Anastasia, suffering harm as a result.

"This book is perpetuating dangerous abuse standards and yet it's being cast as this romantic, erotic book for women," said Bonomi, lead author of the study.

"The erotic content could have been accomplished without the theme of abuse," she said.
Bonomi, currently an associate professor at Ohio State University, will soon become professor and chairperson of Michigan State University's Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

The researchers conducted a systematic analysis of the novel to clarify patterns consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitions of intimate partner violence and associated reactions known to occur in abused women.

Anastasia suffers reactions consistent with those of abused women, researchers said. She feels a constant sense of threat and loss of self-identity, changes her behaviours to keep peace in the relationship such as withholding information about her whereabouts to avoid Christian's anger, and becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviours become mechanized in response to Christian's abusive patterns, they said.

Written by EL James and published in 2011, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has sold more than 70 million copies. A movie based on the novel is also in the works.