YSL Beauty's new campaign highlights 9 warning signs that a relationship could be turning abusive

The 'Mistaken For Love' series runs as a part of the brand's powerful 'Abuse Is Not Love' campaign

Widya Soraya is a content-creator, activist, and survivor of domestic abuse
(Image credit: YSL Beauty)

Since launching the 'Abuse Is Not Love' programme in 2020, YSL Beauty has made a significant global impact by educating youth about intimate partner violence (IPV) and supporting grassroots organisations. 

This month, YSL continues to invest in resources for those in abusive relationships and their allies through its Abuse Is Not Love campaign, focusing on identifying warning signs of Intimate Partner Violence. The new 'Mistaken For Love' series highlights how abusive relationships can be disguised as passionate love and draws attention to the often unnoticed signs of physical, emotional and sexual violence. 

Global research reveals 46% have mistaken abuse for love at some point, 32% became more aware of their own relationships after hearing others' stories, and 48% of men feel like they were not taught about how to deal with their emotions. 

Juleah Love, Global Head of Brand Corporate Engagement at YSL Beauty says, “We’ve created the Mistaken For Love as a way to shed light on the subtleties of abuse. It can happen so easily and escalate quickly, and it can be very challenging to recognise if we don’t know what to look for. Our aim is to destigmatise talking about abuse and make getting help accessible for anyone who might need it. Abuse is not love, it should be as simple as that.”

Spoken-word artists and activists, including Dan Whitlam, Zoe Love Smith, Widya Soraya and Ynaee Benaben, rework survivors' testimonials into nine impactful episodes. These episodes address the nine signs of abuse outlined in the programme's training worldwide, shedding light on the emotional tension and subtle aspects of abuse. Each artist creatively explores coercive dynamics, such as control disguised as passion and surveillance masqueraded as care. Dan Whitlam emphasises the importance of recognising what love isn't and supporting the 'Abuse Is Not Love' movement. 

To learn more about Abuse is Not Love, or if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse and needs immediate assistance, please consult the list of domestic violence helplines here.


Emotionally abusive behaviours are often the first signs of abuse in an intimate relationship. In the UK, YSL Beauty is partnering with Women’s Aid to raise awareness about these warning signs, which fall into the following categories:

  1. Intimidation: Instilling fear and gaslighting
  2. Ignoring: Refusing to acknowledge or speak to you
  3. Blackmailing: Using threats to control your behaviour
  4. Manipulation: Coercing you into something against your will
  5. Intrusion: Encroaching on your privacy
  6. Humiliation: Putting you down and diminishing your self-worth
  7. Jealousy: Acting out of irrational paranoia, mistrust and possessiveness
  8. Control: Taking over your daily decisions
  9. Isolation: Cutting you off from friends and family

To learn more about Abuse is Not Love, or if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse and needs immediate assistance, please consult the list of domestic violence helplines at Abuse Is Not Love or visit Women's Aid.

Lisa Oxenham

An award-winning health and beauty writer, stylist and creative director, Lisa Oxenham is one of the UK’s top beauty editors and the Beauty and Style Director at Marie Claire UK. With 20 years of editorial experience Lisa is a brand partnership expert, and a popular speaker, panelist and interviewer on a range of topics from sustainability to the future of beauty in the digital world. She recently spoke at Cognition X and Beauty Tech Live and is on the Advisory Board for the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition.

A well-respected creative director she works on celebrity, model and influencer shoots with the highest calibre of photographers, filmmakers, make-up artists and hairstylists to create timeless images, attention-grabbing videos, digital events and masterclasses. Most recently Lisa has directed covers such as Lily Cole and Jameela Jamil, films such as Save The Arts featuring Francesca Hayward and sustainable fashion shoots such as Be The Change. Supporting the beauty industry over the pandemic has been a top focus, directing the British Beauty Council’s six inspirational short biographical films for their Bring Back Beauty campaign.

Lisa is a wellbeing and beauty influencer with a focus on mental health and a large and engaged audience on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.