Criminal Strategy: Ignoring “No”

Anyone who refuses to take no for an answer should be treated with immediate suspicion.

by posted on April 3, 2024
Deering Criminal Strategy No

Some crimes require the criminal to gain your trust—this includes rape, date rape, kidnapping, and some muggings or assaults. He needs you to trust him so he can get you alone, get physically close to you (within attack range), or convince you to go along with some plan that’s going to lead you into danger. Even con-men who do not plan to use physical violence, but who will hurt you financially or otherwise, will employ some of these methods.

These kinds of criminals use specific strategies to try to earn your trust. Author and security expert Gavin de Becker lays out a list of these strategies in his excellent book The Gift of Fear, and we’re going to take a look at each strategy to show you what it looks and sounds like and how you can guard against it.

Discounting the word “no” is a red flag from anyone. This includes friends and family who violate whatever personal boundaries you have set, but it also applies to criminals who strategically ignore “no” in order to get closer to you.

Maybe he’s offered to help you load groceries into your car and you said no, thank you, but he insists. Maybe you’re struggling to lug a heavy suitcase to your hotel room and he wants to carry it for you, and you said no, but he reached for it anyway, and you refused to let go, and he insisted (that’s TWO no’s—a verbal and a physical). Maybe you’re on a date with a new guy and he’s pushing the sexual boundaries past your limit, and you’ve already said no, but his hand is sliding up your leg again.

Whatever it is, refusing to take no for an answer, even if it’s done under the guise of chivalry, is a huge red flag. “Declining to hear ‘no’ is a signal that someone is either seeking control or refusing to relinquish it,” de Becker writes. “With strangers, even those with the best of intentions, never, ever relent on the issue of ‘no,’ because it sets the stage for more efforts to control.” When you say no and then give in anyway, you have handed the other person control of the situation.

How to Defend Against Ignoring No
Never give in on “no.” When you say no, mean it. Backing down after someone pushes back and ignores your no puts you in a vulnerable position because now they know they can push you around and control you. If you’re dealing with a criminal, control is exactly what he’s seeking.

Do not negotiate your “no.” Every mom has been through this with an unrelenting toddler: You say no four times, then “I don’t think so right now,” then “maybe, if you’re good,” then finally give in after they ask for the eighth time because you’re worn down. What did the toddler learn? That they can get what they want if they ask eight times. The same is true of criminals. If you say, “I think I’ve probably got it” or “Thanks so much, but let me try it myself first” or “I don’t think I’m ready for that yet,” you’ve haven’t actually told him no. You’ve just told him to try again in a minute. The words you’re looking for are “No, I don’t want your help” or “No, I don’t want your hand on my leg” or just simply “No.”

The way to defend against this strategy this is to draw a very hard line at no, the first time. If you get any pushback, a firm “I said no, and I’d like to be left alone” is in order, possibly shouted so as to draw attention. If needed, raise your hands into the “stop” position if he’s approaching you. Anyone who continues to advance or continues to ignore your “no” at this point is a bad actor and should be treated accordingly.

By the way, this advice (minus the shouting the hand raising, usually) is also helpful for annoying salespeople who follow you around a store, that girl from high school who keeps DMing you about her MLM, persistent children asking for a snack 30 minutes before dinner, and pushy mothers-in-law. In every case, let your no simply be no, and don’t water it down or negotiate it.




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