No means No

No Means No

Many people have heard the saying “no means no”:  When someone says no to a sexual act, the other person(s) must respect that no, otherwise it is sexual violence.

When Yes Doesn’t Mean Yes

Consent is also about working to address power imbalances and creating space for someone to say no, verbal or otherwise.  Not being able to say no can lead someone to say yes when they don’t want to.  They may say yes:

  • If there is a power imbalance amongst the people involved.
  • If they have been socialized to submit or please or believe it’s their duty.
  • If they have been coerced (i.e. convinced, pressured, or threatened).
  • If they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • If they are fearful that they may be physically harmed or otherwise punished, bullied or shamed if they say no.
  • To avoid an argument or violent outburst.
  • To get out of a dangerous situation.

Some Examples of When People Can't Say No Include:


Reflection Activity:

What are other circumstances when someone might not be able to say “no”? Add your thoughts to your notes using the button.

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