Black and white apostrophes on top of a yellow background

Do Not Ignore The Signs

DNITSdo not ignore the signs
Do not Ignore the signs

The signs of an unhealthy relationship are simple. We know them but we ignore them. Always denying the things we know to be true. We all know that bad things could happen to anyone, but often believe that we ourselves are above this reality, living with a massive optimism bias. This bias creates a barrier. One that is fuelled by the taboo, by the lack of willingness for these awkward conversations. These conversations between friends are the gateway into someone’s reality. The best way to defeat these barriers is through a pre-established inner circle, they’re the ones who see the signs. “Do Not Ignore The Signs” breaks through the shame and taboo people feel around these issues in order to encourage an open and honest dialogue.


12.6% of women aged 16 – 19 have experienced some form of domestic abuse within the past year, and 95% of young people experiencing “Intimate Partner Abuse” were female. Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is rising within the UK and one of the biggest issues is being trapped in unhealthy relationships. So, Safer Cornwall wrote a brief to tackle this for Truro and Penwith College. I did some in-person research with their students and came back with one simple insight. Everyone knows about unhealthy relationships and the overall behaviours they need to look out for but we pretend it is not there. We look for the positive and ignore the negative. Our friends see the truth but feel unable to reach out from fear of judgement or being seen as judging. These signs help begin those difficult discussions, they give reason for someone to say “hey, I’m worried about you”. 


When we leave for university, we often leave our entire support network behind. Moving across the country, filled with anxieties and excitement so we may unintentionally ignore the signs. Our minds occupied with this new world and these overwhelming experiences, concentrating on trying to find our place and friendship groups. This makes it harder for these newer friends to reach out. But it is important they do. And it is important we all do. Especially if we see something, if we see a sign. 


Each sign signifies a different behaviour; however every single relationship is different. Something that could be completely healthy for Fred and Sarah could be entirely unhealthy for Alex and Jasmine. But these signs aren’t everything. They don’t cover every aspect of a modern relationship; it is important to learn them but also digest what you’re seeing in those situations. At the end of the day, the best way to combat these is through reaching out. 


This campaign has had proven effect on the campuses it has been launched on, and now across both of our campuses, plus hopefully again in future, it can continue to spearhead this change. 


If you’re unsure, there is a quiz online (linked below) which allows you to self-evaluate your own or your friend’s relationships, so you can be there for them and raise your concerns. 


If you feel the need to find support, you can find university specific links on the website as well. Remember, whatever seems healthy for someone else, might not be for you, and there is no shame in reaching out.


Visit the Do Not Ignore The Signs campaign page to find out more.



Falmouth & Exeter Students' Union logo

Falmouth & Exeter Students' Union
Penryn Campus
Penryn, Cornwall
TR10 9FE

© Falmouth & Exeter Students' Union 2021

Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union is a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) registered in England and Wales, charity number 1193045