Abusive Relationships in YA Fiction

Self-explanatory, really. I've noticed this trend in YA fiction, and this list will hopefully put them all in one place. Please DO NOT include books that feature healthy, consensual BDSM relationships or books meant for an adult audience. Otherwise, feel free to add.
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104 books · 114 voters · list created January 10th, 2013 by Marci (votes) .
40 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


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Comments Showing 1-43 of 43 (43 new)

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message 1: by Gab (new)

Gab Kuddos on making this list. I've noticed and been alarmed about this trend too, and I've been hoping to figure out why it's been developing.


message 2: by Ailis (new)

Ailis I think some of these are more about abusive relationships and the effects they can have on people, rather than encouraging them as some of the others do.


message 3: by Marci (new)

Marci Ailis wrote: "I think some of these are more about abusive relationships and the effects they can have on people, rather than encouraging them as some of the others do."

I agree. I think that some of them portray an abusive relationship without being consciously aware of it, and the others ARE consciously aware of it.


message 4: by Gab (new)

Gab Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."

There's a line between BDSM and abuse. This video's a good way to explain it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o92hv7...


message 5: by Gab (new)

Gab Savannah wrote: "Yes, I understand there is a line. But the book does not demonstrate any abuse."

I haven't read the book completely (I'm too young according to parents and not quite comfortable with the idea of reading erotica) but from all the reviews I've gotten from people, sometimes Anastasia is repressed when she tries to voice her opinion about not liking some aspects of what's going on, and sometimes she doesn't know what she's getting into until she's smack in the middle of a BDSM session (which is a big no-no).


Therealbadkitty Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."

Regardless it doesn't belong on this list, since it isn't YA.


message 7: by Holly (new)

Holly Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."

No, it's still an abusive relationship.


message 8: by Holly (new)

Holly Savannah wrote: "Yes, I understand there is a line. But the book does not demonstrate any abuse."

Yes, it does demonstrate abuse. BDSM is about safe, sane, consensual. Ana has her consent ignored or overridden numerous times and, at another point, Christian says that an orgasm counts as consent which it does not.


message 9: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."


um no. it is abusive as shit, emotionally and physically because Ana frequently is pressured into sex under the threat of losing him. He also won't take no for an answer a lot of the time. Christian is also a stalker, emotionally manipulative, callous and conceited.


message 10: by Shelby (new)

Shelby Vicino *CONTAINS SPOILERS*
I read Nineteen Minutes for school when I was 17. I don't remember the details, but I really enjoyed it. There is an abusive relationship, but it isn't romanticized like it is in Twilight or Fifty Shades. It's from the point of view of the girl being abused and from what I remember it seemed very realistic and scary to me when I read it about 4 years ago. Also, the abuser dies in the end. Karmaaaaa.


message 11: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Gab wrote: "Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."

There's a line between BDSM and abuse. This video's a good way to explain it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o92h..."

There is bdsm AND abuse in that book. However, they're not YA books; they are clearly aimed towards adults. I am wondering if they are on here because they began as Twilight fanfiction.


message 12: by Thibaut (new)

Thibaut Nicodème Savannah wrote: "Yes, I understand there is a line. But the book does not demonstrate any abuse."

It demonstrates emotional abuse and manipulation. Ana is forced by Christian at every turn, either through intimidation, outright physical force, or misinformation. Look at how he handles her transition into BDSM — he informs her as little as possible, and his contract is worded in the most unclear way possible (and of course the contract has no legal weight but that's besides the point).

Abuse is not necessarily physical.

Although, in the particular case of 50 Shades, Ana's consent to the BDSM is dubious at best and you could claim that the abuse *is* also physical, but that's a whole different debate.


message 13: by Teddy (new)

Teddy FINALLY, a list that acknowledges how messed up some of these books are. (Although I myself would not have put City of Bones on that list.)


message 14: by Videogames (new)

Videogames I've waited for this list for ages, finally! Although, I'm not sure why City of Bones is on that list? I've read it myself but I didn't notice anything? If someone wants to fill me in on what I seem to have miss, feel free.


message 15: by Teddy (new)

Teddy @Videogames I didn't notice anything off in City of Bones, and I've read it 2 or 3 times. But maybe if I read it again...


message 16: by Jillian (new)

Jillian Wow, pretty much all my best friends favorite books are here & now I'm worried about her.


message 17: by Gab (new)

Gab City of Bones was fine in my opinion. Some of the characters are shaken and worrying in the latter books, but that can be associated to factors outside of their romantic relationships (Sebastian and Clary for example, Jace's general self-loathing, perhaps some Simon/Clary at the start of the series if you're really at it...)


message 18: by Emalen (new)

Emalen The main theme in Bitter End is about this girl dealing with an abusive relationship. To me it seems a bit redundant to put it on this list. Everything else here I agree with except for City of Bones. I've read through that several times and nothing really raised any red flags for me.


message 19: by Therealbadkitty (new)

Therealbadkitty I don't think any of the Fifty Shades books belong on here because they totally disregard what the creator of the list had said. It is NOT YA. City of Bones also doesn't belong, sure Jace is kind of a dick but there is no abusive relationship between him and Clary.


message 20: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Emalen wrote: "The main theme in Bitter End is about this girl dealing with an abusive relationship. To me it seems a bit redundant to put it on this list. Everything else here I agree with except for City of Bon..."

Some people need this list not because the books in question romanticize abuse, but because they could be triggered by reading the books.


message 21: by Fabiemg (new)

Fabiemg I read City of Bones, I didn't like it, but I didn't think there was an abusive relationship between the two main characters. Can someone tell me why they think there was? genuinely curious. And pls no spoilers to the next books! I might read the second one.


message 22: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Fabiemg wrote: "I read City of Bones, I didn't like it, but I didn't think there was an abusive relationship between the two main characters. Can someone tell me why they think there was? genuinely curious. And pl..."

The Mortal Instruments is one of my favourite series (I've read it multiple times), and I didn't see any abusive relationship problems at all with the main characters. Maybe they're talking about Clary's parents' realationship?


message 23: by Alex (last edited Aug 31, 2013 10:32PM) (new)

Alex Harrison CoB doesn't belong on this list tbh..half the book they weren't even in a 'romantic'relationship and while Jace sometimes was snarky he def. wasn't abusive verbally or physically, I think that's kinda of reaching.


message 24: by Rachel (last edited Sep 01, 2013 02:37AM) (new)

Rachel Eliason Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."

Fifty Shades of Gray is to BDSM what Pink Flamingo lawn ornaments are to fashion...

But it's not YA so shouldn't be on this list.


message 25: by Gab (new)

Gab Elizabeth wrote: "Fabiemg wrote: "I read City of Bones, I didn't like it, but I didn't think there was an abusive relationship between the two main characters. Can someone tell me why they think there was? genuinely..."

Oh yes! I think that you may be right on that account. But the question still is, does it still belong on this list? From Book One it's clean cut that Valentine is not a good person- unlike Twilight in which these abusive relationships pass as love.


message 26: by Vale (new)

Vale Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."

Everyone in the BDSM community is appalled at how the lifestyle is misrepresented in these books, there's nothing safe, sane or consensual about them.


message 27: by Ben (new)

Ben Gaffney Quite a bit of these books I do not find abusive relationships, and should not be on this list IMO. However I like the idea behind the list, just don't agree with the execution of the list.


message 28: by Latitude (new)

Latitude City of Bones is probably referring to [big spoiler warning] Clary's parents' relationship. While it's not necessarily romanticized or anything, that's not a requirement of this list.


message 29: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Eliason Ben wrote: "Quite a bit of these books I do not find abusive relationships, and should not be on this list IMO. However I like the idea behind the list, just don't agree with the execution of the list."


Perhaps instead of a listopia list this should be a discussion thread somewhere. What would make it more valuable would be to hear people's opinion about the behaviors that make these books abusive.


message 30: by Ben (new)

Ben Gaffney Yeah


message 31: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Eliason Stephen Covey's first habit of effective people is be proactive.

This would work better as a discussion thread so we can hear why people think a book deserves to be on the list. Here is my discussion thread:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...


message 32: by Marci (new)

Marci I am the creator of this list, and I'm trying to get the books that don't really qualify for the list off the list. I'm not a librarian, so I went to the librarians and asked them to do it. The Fifty Shades trilogy, while abusive, is not YA; City of Bones doesn't really have any abusive relationships with the possible exception of the one between (spoiler alert) Jocelyn and Valentine, but it isn't the focal point of the book, is long over by the time the book begins, and the full extent of Valentine's abuse isn't even fully expanded upon until City of Glass.

It didn't occur to me to put a trigger warning, but I'll fix that shortly.

I was trying to put both books that romanticize abuse and ones that didn't romanticize abuse into one place. I noticed a trend and wanted to accumulate the books I thought qualified into one place, for reference or compare-and-contrast or whatever.


message 33: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Marci wrote: "I am the creator of this list, and I'm trying to get the books that don't really qualify for the list off the list. I'm not a librarian, so I went to the librarians and asked them to do it. The Fif..."

Thanks for making the list! It certainly will let us all have some great discussions. :)


message 34: by Callie (new)

Callie Summerlin Elizabeth wrote: "FINALLY, a list that acknowledges how messed up some of these books are. (Although I myself would not have put City of Bones on that list.)"

It's definitely an abusive relationship. I couldn't even finish the first book; Jace is manipulative, hostile, and an outright bully. He insults Clary at every turn, insists that she's a "mundie," and makes her feel worthless. He is more powerful than her, and he knows and uses it to control her. It was sickening.

Also, some of the books like Nineteen Minutes don't really belong on the list. They deal with domestic abuse, but it is deliberately put there. That's one of the main conflicts of the book. Unlike books like Twilight or City of Bones, where the abuse is seen as a healthy, ideal "romance."


message 35: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Smith I would like to point out that a few of these books are meant to address abusive relationships as a subject matter.


message 36: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Eliason Elizabeth wrote: "I would like to point out that a few of these books are meant to address abusive relationships as a subject matter."

I think that's the problem right there. It's one thing to write a book that deals with the issue of abusive relationships seriously. It's another to write a book where the leading man is a controlling, manipulative jerk and this is treated as normal or even desirable behavior.


message 37: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Elizabeth wrote: "I would like to point out that a few of these books are meant to address abusive relationships as a subject matter."

Isn't that the whole point of the title? That it's a list for abusive relationships in YA, whether the relationship is meant to be romanticized or not?


message 38: by Kelsea (new)

Kelsea This is an honest list. There's a difference between being protective and being obsessive (Twilight).


message 39: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Lovebooks wrote: "Gab wrote: "Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."

There's a line between BDSM and abuse. This video's a good way to explain it: http://www.youtube.com/w..."


I'm not saying it's NOT a love story... but it's definitely abuse and it definitely features abuse. Christian very clearly violates Ana's consent and the limits that she agreed to. In the Twilight series (the series that the fanfiction 50 Shades was based on before the author changed all the names and got 50 Shades published) Edward also abuses Bella on several occasions. (Remember when he disabled her car so she couldn't see Jacob? That is abuse.)


message 40: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Nichols Which of these novels does not glamorize the abuse or make the abuser out to be some attractive hero?


message 41: by Amuet (new)

Amuet Great list. Kudos to the creator for making it.


message 42: by Jemma (new)

Jemma Ross How are half of these abusive relationship books? WTH


~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ Teresa wrote: "Savannah wrote: "Fifty Shades of grey is not an abusive relationship. It's BDSM."


um no. it is abusive as shit, emotionally and physically because Ana frequently is pressured into sex under the t..."


I agree with you it is abusive. It is disgusting.


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