Women's Aid Engine Creative

Women's Aid Highlights Impact of Coercive Control

Created by Engine, the mock fashion campaign aims to raise awareness about the aspect of domestic abuse not often recognised

By Creative Salon

Engine Creative is behind a new campaign for Women’s Aid targeting young women to raise awareness about coercive control, an aspect of domestic abuse that is not often recognised.

The 'Not Model’s Own' print and outdoor campaign takes inspiration from fashion advertising and editorial in glossy magazines to demonstrate the devastating effect of this controlling behaviour on survivors.

In fashion campaigns, the model’s clothing is selected by stylists and the brands worn are name checked. The campaign subverts this to show that the model has had everything selected for her by her partner.

At first glance, the campaign looks like a typical fashion ad but a closer look reveals something sinister underneath. The line is: ‘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 shows the controlling behaviour that women who suffer abuse are subjected to and the emotional effects it has on them. It directs people to where they can get advice and help if they recognise this behaviour in their own relationship.

The print and outdoor campaign will run in women’s magazines and in selected fast-food outlets.

Farah Nazeer, chief executive at Women’s Aid, said: “Coercive control can be difficult to identify within a relationship, if you don't know what the signs are. 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. If any of the signs highlighted in this campaign are familiar to you, Women’s Aid is here for you, please reach out for expert support.”

Christopher Ringsell, creative director at Engine Creative, said: “Drawing young women in with aspirational fashion shots and then letting them realise 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.”

Coercive control is a pattern of behaviours used to control, manipulate or frighten another person. While coercive control has been illegal in the UK since December 2015, records of offences have been steadily rising. There were 24,856 coercive control offences recorded by the police in England and Wales in the year ending March 2020, an increase from 16,679 in the previous year. Within the first two weeks of lockdown, there was a 41 per cent increase in users visiting the Women’s Aid Live Chat site.

Coercive control is difficult to identify as it is a series of behaviours that build and escalate over time, leaving emotional rather than physical scars. It makes victims second-guess themselves and their experiences as they become dependent on the perpetrator. Common examples of coercive behaviour 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 behaviour.

The aim of the campaign is to build awareness of coercive control across the UK to help young people understand what it is. Greater awareness and understanding of the behaviours that make up coercive control means that it will be easier to identify, prevent and prosecute.


Creative Director: Christopher Ringsell

Creative: Jo Moore & Antonia Clayton

Senior Strategist: Katherine Morris

Account Management: Marianne Roberts & Eve Bui

Agency Producer: Chelsea Chapman

Designer: Aaron Pacey

Photographer: Sean De Sparengo

Production Co: Curious Productions

Producer: Lee Sands, Harley Brooks

Hair & Makeup: Helen Asher

Stylist: Annie Swain

Retoucher: Rob Lanario

Models: Isabelle Liddall, Lauryn Bryan, Melinda Aszepesi


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