YSL Beauty – Mistaken for Love

November 9th, 2023

November 9th, 2023

YSL Beauty’s latest release is not makeup. Since the launch of its Abuse Is Not Love program in 2020, YSL Beauty has made a significant impact in educating young people about intimate partner violence (IPV) and supporting grassroots organisations on a global scale. Today, the program continues to invest in resources and support for those in abusive relationships, while also providing tools for those looking to become allies, with a focus on identifying and understanding the nine key warning signs associated with IPV. YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

As part of the Abuse is Not Love campaign, YSL Beauty today launched a new digital series called Mistaken for Love, featuring spoken-word artists and survivors highlighting warning signs of partner violence.


Abuse is not love, it should be as simple as that – Juleah Love, YSL Beauty


In line with this core mission, the Mistaken For Love new series emphasises how abusive relationships are often disguised as passionate love. Throughout various media – be it films, books, or other platforms – and in real life, we’re used to seeing abusive behaviours portrayed as demonstrations of deep love. This reality often goes unnoticed and often leads to escalation of physical, emotional, and/or sexual violence. Far too often, the presence of abuse is realised in hindsight, and often only in retrospect within survivors’ relationships.

Widya Soraya

New global research sampling 10,000+ people across 5 countries reveals that 46% of people have experienced behaviours that they thought were love at the time, but only realised in the aftermath were abuse. Additionally, 32% of people said hearing other people’s stories of abuse has made them more aware of behaviours in their own relationship and more likely to get help if needed.

Based on survivors’ testimonials, each episode has been rewritten by spoken-word artists, love-poets, and activists, including British love-poet Dan Whitlam, Dutch artist Zoe Love Smith, survivor Widya Soraya, and Ynaee Benaben, co-founder of the French NGO En Avant Toute(s).

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

Zoe Love Smith

Through a series of 9 impactful episodes, this campaign reflects on each of the 9 signs of abuse continuously outlined by the Abuse Is Not Love training programs throughout the world. Because abuse can come with warning signs, and if we are all aware of the signs, we can better seek help or offer support.

In full confidentiality of survivors’ experiences, the talents powerfully narrate the emotional tension and subtle ways in which abuse can take place. Each talent recreates a deeply intimate performance and tactfully deconstructs abusive behaviours, by adding their own personal reflections and artistic sensitivity to the topic. Through each poem, they creatively explored the hidden facets of coercive dynamics, where, for example, control is often disguised as passion, surveillance concealed as caring, and love-bombing a tactic for emotional coercion.

Ynaee Benaben

Juleah Love, Global Head of Brand Corporate Engagement, YSL Beauty, said, “We’ve created Mistaken For Love as a way to shed light on the subtleties of abuse, it can happen so easy and escalate quickly, and it can be very challenging to recognize if we don’t know what to look for. Our aim is to destigmatize 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.”

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

Dan Whitlam

British poet, actor, musician Dan Whitlam is providing words for some of these videos. He said, “I’ve always been profoundly interested by the intricate dynamics of intimate relationships – from their inception and evolution to their unfolding. To truly grasp the essence of love, one must first recognise and understand what it isn’t. And love unequivocally excludes abuse. Today more than ever, it is crucial to address the issue of abuse within relationships and breaking down the misconceptions that often have been masqueraded as passion or love. As a spoken-word artist and love-poet, it is a personal imperative to support the Abuse Is Not Love movement, and I’m genuinely grateful to be part of the ‘Mistaken For Love’ series.


Watch the voices here:

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

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

About the Research

The research for YSL Beauty was carried out online by Opinion Matters from 31st October to 6th November 2023 amongst a panel resulting in 10,216 general respondents (aged 16+), across the UK, US, France, Spain and China.

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

UK Stats

  • Almost 1 in 3 (32%) people in the UK have experienced behaviours that at the time they thought were love, but in the aftermath, they realised were abuse (such as jealousy, control, manipulation, love bombing etc.)
  • 65% of British men don’t feel like were taught about how to deal with their emotions or how to be vulnerable to equip them with emotions in relationships later in life
  • 19% of people in the UK have experienced the negative side of love bombing, rising to 22% of women
  • 21% of people in the UK have heard of ‘gaslighting’ but don’t know what it means
  • 20% of people in the UK say hearing other people’s stories of abuse, has made them more aware of behaviours in their own relationship and more likely to get help if needed

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

About Abuse Is Not Love

Abuse Is Not Love is a YSL Beauty global program to prevent and fight against intimate partner violence (IPV), the most common form of violence against women. 1 in 3 women will experience violence by a partner in their lifetime, whether it is sexual, physical, psychological, or financial. The program targets education about the warning signs of abuse to prevent it from happening to anyone who is experiencing abuse, especially to young people (16-24), who have the highest vulnerability and prevalence to this issue.

The program is built on 4 key pillars to have a holistic approach to fighting abuse:

  1. supporting local non-profit organisations on prevention programing in each of the brand’s markets
  2. educating 100% of the YSL Beauty teams worldwide
  3.  supporting thought leadership and
  4. large scale awareness of the warning signs of abuse.

Today the program is active in 25 markets. Abuse Is Not Love aims to educate 2 million people worldwide by 2030. Join the fight and take the training at

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

In the UK, YSL Beauty developed Abuse Is Not Love in partnership with Women’s Aid. The partnership is grounded on two strategic projects:

  1. focusing on youth prevention and education on domestic violence and
  2. through the Safer Futures project which includes the Expect Respect Toolkit, providing schools with age appropriate resources and tools to help understand what domestic abuse is.

YSL Beauty Mistaken for Love

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By Sarah Dann

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