23/08/2012 17:50 BST | Updated 23/08/2012 19:51 BST

50 Shades Of Grey: Women's Refuge Worker Calls On People To Bin 'Abusive' Book

The director of a women's refuge is calling on people to burn copies of erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey, claiming it is degrading to women and encourages sexual violence.

Clare Phillipson, director of charity Wearside Women In Need claims the book depicts "an abusive relationship presented as a love story."

She is urging people to bin the book and wants to burn copies of the bestseller in November, on Bonfire Night.

Erika Leonard James has made millions from her trilogy which charter the travails of virginal Ana and the older Christian Grey, who has a penchant for sado-masochistic sex and corporal punishment.

50 shades of grey

Phillipson is calling on readers to bin the 'abusive' book

Phillipson, who helps victims of domestic violence and human trafficking said: "Our concern is not the graphic depiction of sex - this is an abusive relationship presented as a love story.

"Do millions and millions of women suffer from secret self-loathing? Do they all want to be treated this badly?

"Some of what happens in the book, Fred West did to his victims in his cellar. I fail to see what is erotic about that."

50 shades of grey

The understated outside cover disguises the raunchy material within

Ms Phillipson believed if the author had been a man, the books would not have been published.

She said the way Grey hurt Ana then later made it up to her with expensive gifts and thoughtful e-mails was typical of a domestic abuser.

The book has caused a media storm and divided opinion over its explicit content. Heated discussions on chat shows, radio programmes and on social media have been fuelled by the 'naughty' novel.

Some critics have sneered at the quality of the writing, with calling it Andrew O'Hagan calling it a "spankbuster" and Guardian columnist Zoe Williams lamenting its "improbable dialogue, lame characterisation and irritating tics."

A more favourable review was given by writer Martel Maxwell who in a blog for The Huffington Post UK praised James for her ability to build tension:

"Every fifth word could have been Yugoslavian and I would still have kept reading because E L James' ability to build anticipation to the climax - or Ana's - is top drawer," writes Martel.

"She excels at sex - pages of it. She has you in the palm of her hand, feeling every sensation experienced by Ana at the hands of young billionaire Christian Grey."

50 shades of grey

The book has become the fastest-selling paperback of all time, and been nicknamed "mommy porn" because of its popularity with suburban mothers

However a quick scan of readers' reviews on the amazon website show Phillipson is not alone in worrying about the novel. One reader extends her worries about abuse to Christian Grey as well:

"There is no actual story line beyond this obsessive 'love/sex' affair instigated by one sexually abused man inflicting his depravity on an innocent younger woman thus continuing a cycle of sexual abuse.

"What you're reading about is a tragic, highly damaged man whose preying on a vulnerable, younger woman continuing a cycle of sexual abuse he has clearly experienced himself. I would add I'm not ad libbing here - the author refers extensively to the characters' own highly damaged childhood so dark he barely speaks of it which renders him revolted by the idea of his partner touching his bare chest which is covered in scars."

However Fifty Shades Of Grey and the two books that follow it continue to be immensely popular. On Thursday the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades Of Grey and other copycat "passion" books were credited with helping WH Smith's high street stores weather the tough retail conditions this year.

The erotic novel has sold more than five million copies, making it the best-selling book in Britain since records began, and WH Smith said its 600 high street stores have seen a boost from the trilogy and a raft of similarly racy books that have proved popular in its wake. There are also rumours that a movie is to be made of the novel.