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Women’s Aid charity calls for lessons on controlling behaviour for Love Island producers

The 2022 season of Love Island has sparked conversations and complaints on the subject of controlling, abusive and misogynistic behaviour.  After being tagged in so many social posts about the show by viewers, the charity Women’s Aid criticised producers for missing out ‘an understanding of controlling behaviour in relationships’ in its inclusion training for contestants. The domestic abuse charity Refuge also tweeted that ‘the misogyny and casual sexism witnessed on this series… is extremely concerning’.

SQE trainee Solicitor Amy Blaettler explains that ‘Domestic abuse does not always involve physical violence – controlling behaviours can be very subtle and may involve threats, humiliation or intimidation to harm, punish, or frighten a person.’

Love Island is a dating reality show which airs for about two months over the summer on ITV 2 and involves a group of contestants, ‘the islanders’, who live together in a villa that is isolated from the outside world. The aim of the show is for the islanders to find love, with the winning couple receiving prize money of £50k.

Throughout the series, the contestants ‘couple up’ to avoid being eliminated from the show and are faced with ‘relationship challenges’, such as new contestants joining the villa with the aim of coupling up with one of the islanders.

Throughout this year’s edition of the show, particular concerns have been raised regarding some of the male contestants’ behaviour towards the women on the show. On the 21 July 2022, Ofcom reported having received over 3,600 complaints in that week alone, as a result of some of the remarks and behaviour by contestants.

Some of the concerns include the male contestants’ reactions to and treatment of the female contestants in the villa when they have been talking to other male contestants. For example, contestant Luca accused his partner Gemma of ‘flirting’ with Casa Amor contestant Billy, despite her insisting she was not interested in Billy. Contrastingly, the show did not air any conversations Luca has had with other female contestants, creating a narrative that victimises the men and portrays women as dishonest.

The show has also been heavily criticised for concerns that the women are being ‘gaslit’. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, which aims to confuse and manipulate someone. It can be difficult to recognise gaslighting, but behaviour can consist of denying the truth, invalidating emotions and shifting the blame. Instances of possible gaslighting on the show have occurred, such as contestant Davide calling his partner Ekin-Su ‘a liar’.

Issues of misogynistic behaviour have risen to the point that domestic abuse charities such as Women’s Aid have reached out to the show’s producers, noting ‘the double standards, gaslighting and coercive control being displayed by the men in the villa is hugely problematic.’

But what exactly is controlling and emotionally abusive behaviour, and how do you spot it? Click on the links below to read more about these types of abuse which can occur within relationships:

For advice and support

If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

The following charities provide a range of advice, support, and more detailed resources in regard to domestic abuse:

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Picture of blonde haired Amy Blaettler in black suit

Amy Blaettler

Trainee solicitor

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