Standing Up & Saying “No”: Installing Confidence in Young Women

Unfortunately, many of us have experienced sexual assault at one time or another. Perhaps, it was at school or even in the workplace. You’re chatting along and all of a sudden, the man does something inappropriate. Possibly, it was his hand that ventured in an area that he shouldn’t be touching or some other type of physical contact (or perhaps verbal) that was unacceptable. He caught you by surprise and you didn’t know what to do.

The reality is that the vast majority of women, even women with some of the highest self-esteem, simply don’t know what to do. If you’ve already experienced sexual assault, this article is in no way meant to install shame. What happened, happened. And it is not your fault.

The purpose of this article is to help you find the confidence so next time you find yourself in a situation, you’ll be able to respond quicker which will hopefully give you the power to stop the assault from progressing any further.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to be in this situation, but if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, I want you to know that you have the power to say “No.” You do not need to provide any explanation. Just a confident “No” is all you need. If he doesn’t get the hint, say it again and speak confidently.

A man that deserves you will listen to you. If this man isn’t listening, then get out of that situation. You deserve better. Don’t think for a second that this is your fault. It doesn’t matter why he thinks he can do whatever he pleases. What matters at this moment is what you do with the situation. Get up and walk out that door and find a safe area.

It’s also important to try to assess the situation. If you believe you’re dealing with a potential rapist, standing up for yourself and saying “No” isn’t going to cut it. You need to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of that situation asap but be extremely careful. 

Every situation is different, so it’s important to do what makes sense for that particular scenario.

If this man is your boss, then you need to decide whether it’s worth continuing to work there. Find someone at your work (preferably a female who has been there awhile and is in a higher position) and let them know what happened. Most likely, this is not the first time something like this has happened and unless you report it, unfortunately, you probably won’t be the last. If you like your job and you want to continue working there, then make it clear to the perpetrator that you’re not interested in him in that way. Just remember there are other jobs out there with bosses that will treat you respectfully. If you decide to work somewhere else (or if you get let go out of the blue), it’s his loss, not yours. Don’t let that shatter your confidence.

If you’re at a college campus when the assault happens, check to see if your school utilizes Callisto and if so make sure to report it on there. If your school isn’t a Callisto partner, you can still report it to the school or police via traditional methods.

Always trust your instincts. If something feels “off,” trust your gut. Don’t ever worry about not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings. You have a right to leave a situation without explanation and always remember “no” is a complete sentence. There are also a lot of great apps out there like Watch Over Me, that can help keep you safe when you’re in a potentially vulnerable situation.

If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted and need someone to talk to please contact the following:

National Sex Assault Hotline: (800) 656-4673