Men's Guide on How to Help a Friend

1 in 5 college women will experience a rape or an attempted rape before they graduate. Many women who have been sexually assaulted will to to a male friend or relative for aid after the assault. Many men experience sexual assault as well - studies have shown that 1 in 10 men will be a victim of sexual assault or abuse in their lifetime.

Below are some tips laid out specifically for men to help guide them when providing aid to a friend or loved one who has been sexually assaulted. Not everyone will respond the same way after an attack and so it is important to remember to follow their lead and don’t be afraid to ask how they would like you help. Remember, the way the first person responds to a survivor’s story sets the tone for that survivor’s recovery.

For additional general guidelines, please see the standard CARE “How To Help” page.


No More Violence!

A reaction many men often have when they hear that someone they care about has been raped is to go find the perpetrator and beat him up. While we understand that you may have feelings of anger about what happened, this reaction does nothing to help your loved one recover and it may even make things worse. First, the survivor has been the victim of violence at the hands of an aggressive man; if you also become aggressive and exhibit violent tendencies in their presence, that aggression will be frighteningly familiar to the survivor and you will not appear to a useful helper in the recovery process.

Also if you go after the perpetrator and beat him up, the survivor may be afraid and believe that the perpetrator will come back and rape her again in retaliation. For the safety and peace of mind of your loved one, we recommend that you end the cycle of violence once you are told the survivor’s story.

Safety and Medical Needs

It is important to first tend to your friend’s needs, both safety and medically. It is a good idea to recommend that your loved one goes to the hospital as soon as possible. However, the decision to go to the hospital is solely that of the survivor – you cannot force them to go nor is it advisable to pressure them into going as this is taking control away from them.

Also, make sure your friend has a safe place to stay and no longer feels in danger. Offer to stay with them, for them to stay with you, or to take them to another place where they will feel comfortable.


When told a survivor’s story it is always better to talk less and listen more. Don’t press for more details than your loved one is willing to give and it’s better not to ask questions about the actual incident – they will tell you what they want to in their own time. The survivor has already had control taken away from them once – pushing them to tell you more than they want to is once again taking control away.

Try not to judge their actions and do not blame the rape on the choices she made or allow her to blame herself. What happened was not her fault. No matter what decisions were made and whether or not you agree with them, no one deserves to be raped.

Also, it is important not to share your loved one’s story with anyone else without their permission. Confidentially is key and telling someone else about what happened will only further serve to take control away from the victim.

Be Patient

Recovering from a rape experience is not an easy thing. Most survivors will spend years coming to terms with what happened to them, and no matter how far along any survivor comes from the attack, there will always be emotional scars left over from the experience. It is a good idea to recommend you friend to see a counselor to aid in the recovery process. The CARE office has a counselor on call 24/7 who can be reached by calling (910) 962-CARE or 910-512-4821.

Also, as we mentioned above, you may be having trouble with your emotions and feelings of anger. We also recommend that you speak to a counselor about how to deal with these feelings and to learn other ways that you can help your loved one through this process. The CARE counselor is there for this need as well.

For more information, contact:

CARE Office: (910) 962-CARE (2273)


Adam Hall : (910) 962-7004,

UNC Wilmington | 601 S. College Road, Wilmington NC 28403 | 910.962.3000 | About this Site | Copyright Notice | Feedback | Page maintained by:  R. Caldwell [ caldwellr AT uncw DOT edu ]