For Loved Ones


  • LISTEN – It is a powerful moment when someone chooses to tell you their story. This is your time to let your friend talk. Actively listen; use your body to show you are listening, make eye contact, nodding and smiling/frowning. Be patient and allow them as much time as they need. Do not be afraid of silence; silent moments can actually be helpful.
  • BELIEVE – It is not your job to investigate a case. It is your job to be a friend and believe what they are telling you. Statistics tell us that in almost every case, a victim is telling the truth. If you choose not to believe them, they may never tell anyone else out of fear of not being believed and therefore, not receive any services they need. Assure your friend that it is not their fault, no matter what happened.
  • INFORM – Provide your friend with resources and information. Let them know that most staff, faculty and RAs on UNCW’s campus are mandated to report sexual misconduct, relationship abuse and stalking. Offer to accompany them to speak with confidential staff at the CARE office, Student Health Center or Counseling Center to discuss options without initiating a report. You can also offer to accompany them to the Police Department or Office of the Dean of Students so that they can start the reporting process, if they want. Accompanying a friend can make a real difference in whether or not your friend seeks out support; sometimes taking that first step alone can be scary.
  • EMPOWER – At the core of any type of interpersonal violence is power and control. Victims of abuse, stalking, and assault have had their power and control repeatedly taken from them. As a friend, you can help them regain that sense of power by allowing them to make their own decisions about what they want to do. This can be hard since we might want our friend to report to police or tell their RA. However, they might not be ready to do that and it needs to be their decision.
  • RESPECT – Assure your friend that you understand and respect their decisions and will respect their privacy. In order to help your friend, you need to acknowledge how scary it is to tell someone this information and how dangerous it could be for that person if you were to tell other people. It’s normal for you to want to talk about the situation and get support for yourself, but do so in a confidential manner with a CARE Advocate or Counselor from the Counseling Center in order to maintain your friend’s privacy.


  • Panic or show too much emotion
  • Blame them or ask blaming questions (i.e. Why were you there?)
  • Assume that you know best for them
  • Tell your friend what to do
  • Make any promises that you can’t keep

No More Violence!

A reaction many often have when they hear that someone they care about has been raped is to go find the perpetrator and harm them. 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.

Even if no one close to you has ever been touched by relationship abuse, sexual assault or stalking, you may be part of the great majority who are concerned about violence and its victims.  If you want more information on how to help others, the CARE office has a special place for you. We are initiating specific trainings for students and faculty/staff who can be resources for others.