These fashion spreads hide a chilling domestic abuse message

Women's Aid work by Engine Creative aims to build awareness of 'coercive control'

Published On
Sep 02, 2021

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A new campaign from Women's Aid, the U.K. domestic abuse charity, uses magazine-style fashion spreads to highlight a lesser known forn of abuse, that of "coercive control."

A pattern of behaviors used to control, manipulate or frighten another person, coercive control has been recognized as an illegal offense in the U.K. since December 2015. It can include isolating survivors from family and friends, taking control of aspects of everyday life such as where someone can go and who they can see, and humiliating or degrading behavior.

Agency Engine Creative created print and digital outdoor ads to run in women’s magazines and in fast-food outlets. They use language typical of fashion editorials in glossy magazines to help young people understand what coercive control is.

Typically in such pages, the model’s clothing is selected by stylists and the brands worn are name checked; occasionally items are "model's own." However, here the copy subverts this to show that the model has had everything selected for her by her partner. For example, one ad lists: "Skirt – by model’s partner; Hair – by model’s partner; Make-up – by model’s partner; Anxiety – by model’s partner; Isolation – by model’s partner; Insecurities – by model’s partner."  The campaign is called "Not Model's Own." 

“Drawing young women in with aspirational fashion shots and then letting them realize there is a sinister vulnerability behind the glossy look will hopefully raise awareness of coercive control and help the viewer question anything that does not feel right in their own relationship,” said Christopher Ringsell, creative drector at Engine Creative, in a statement.

“Coercive control can be difficult to identify within a relationship, if you don't know what the signs are," added Farah Nazeer, chief executive at Women’s Aid. " A pattern of different forms of abuse with wide-ranging tactics can make it difficult to define, when you are being controlled and manipulated by a partner. Perpetrators slowly isolate survivors from support, deprive them of their independence and regulate their everyday behaviour, gaining more and more control. This campaign is vital in raising awareness of coercive control to help survivors, and those around them, recognise the signs of abuse."


Women's Aid print ad



Women's Aid print ad