Johanna and Gavin
One week after their breakup, Johanna awoke to find Juan knocking on her window. "He said, 'We need to talk. We need to work things out. I love you,'" she says. "I just said, 'Juan, I'm sorry. I can't.' And I just closed the window."

Juan persisted. "He just kept pounding louder and louder and my brother's room was next door to mine and I didn't want him to wake up." Though her gut told her not to, Johanna let Juan in. That night, Juan raped Johanna.

By saying 'yes' and allowing Juan inside, Gavin says Johanna said 'no' to herself—a symptom of a dangerous cultural problem. When a woman says no, Gavin says, it's often perceived as the beginning of a negotiation. "Expressing things with certainty—in that way that men do—sounds more powerful," he says. "A lot of women in this culture talk with question marks at the end: 'Yeah, I want to?'...So there's a lack of certainty allowed in this culture."

Watch Gavin explain the power of "no"Watch

Saying 'no'—and meaning it—can sometimes be a woman's most powerful weapon. "It takes women to own that 'no' and treat it powerfully," he says. "It's a very valuable resource, that 'no.'"

FROM: Former South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford and Gavin de Becker
Published on July 22, 2010