Refusal Skills

Need help saying no? Read on to find out more about refusal skills.


SWAT Overview

The SWAT method

S – Say no effectively

W – Why – give a clear reason for not doing the behavior

A – Alternative – suggest an alternative action or suggest something else you might do that is safe

T – Talk it out – discuss your feelings about the behavior

Say no effectively

  • Use and repeat the word “no” often
  • Send a strong nonverbal “no” with your body language, e.g., use hand and body gestures to emphasize the point
  • Project a strong, business-like tone of voice
  • Look directly at the person’s face and eyes
  • Stand straight and tall
  • Use a serious facial expression
  • Don’t send mixed signals


  • No! I’m not ready to have sex yet!
  • No! I don’t want to have sex!
  • No! I don’t want to touch you there!
  • No! Stop trying to unbutton my pants!
  • No! I’m not going to have sex with you!
  • No! I really mean ‘no’!
  • No! I don’t want you to touch me there!

Why – give a clear reason


  • I want to finish school before I start having sex.
  • I’m not ready for sex.
  • I respect myself and want to protect myself by not having sex.
  • Reaching my future goals is more important than having sex.
  • I want to avoid HIV, other STD/STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
  • I have my whole life to experience sex. I’m too young right now.
  • I’m not ready to be a parent.

Alternative – suggest something else


  • Let’s check out a movie on cable.
  • I’d rather play some video games.
  • Let’s talk about some sexual activities that are OK for both of us.
  • We could fix something to eat.
  • I’d like to go for a walk outside.
  • I’m really thirsty. Can we get something to drink?
  • Let’s get out of the bedroom. It makes me feel uncomfortable.
  • Some sexual things are OK, but no sexual intercourse of any kind.

Talk it out

Things you can say about why you’re saying “No.”

  • I feel that waiting is the best choice.
  • I’m not ready to have a baby.
  • I feel intimate and close with you already. We don’t have to have sex.
  • I feel like you don’t really care about me when you pressure me like this.
  • I would feel a lot better if we waited.
  • I’m not ready for sexual intercourse.
  • Thanks for understanding my need to wait. I feel like you really love me.
  • I’m glad you agreed to not have sex. I feel like you really care about me.
  • If you can’t respect my feelings, then I’m prepared to end this relationship.

You can say “NO”, even if you’ve said “yes” in the past. It’s never too late to change your mind!

But keep in mind that no one has the right to force you to engage in sexual activity if you don’t want to. If you someone has forced you to engage in sexual activity against your will: TELL someone you trust, GET HELP from a counselor and UNDERSTAND that it’s NOT your fault.

Information on this page is taken from the Making a Difference! curriculum by Select Media.