About the book

True fear is a gift. Unwarranted fear is a curse. Learn how to tell the difference. A date won’t take no for an answer. The new nanny gives a mother an uneasy feeling. A stranger in a deserted parking lot offers unsolicited help. The threat of violence surrounds us every day. But we can protect ourselves, by learning to trust—and act on—our gut instincts.   Goodreads

Year published: 1997

Buy book: Amazon


Quotes from the book


The Gift of Fear (Gavin De Becker)

The fears men have are different to the fears women have

  • Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.
  • It is understandable that the perspectives of men and women on safety are so different–men and women live in different worlds…at core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.

We must learn to trust our intuition

  • Only human beings can look directly at something, have all the information they need to make an accurate prediction, perhaps even momentarily make the accurate prediction, and then say that it isn’t so.
  • Intuition is always right in at least two important ways; it is always in response to something and it always has your best interest at heart.
  • You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.

Saying ‘no’ is enough because ‘no’ is a complete sentence

  • I encourage people to remember that no is a complete sentence.
  • ‘No’ is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.
  • I’ve successfully lobbied and testified for stalking laws in several states, but I would trade them all for a high school class that would teach young men how to hear ‘no’, and teach young women that it’s all right to explicitly reject.

We must allow ourselves to say ‘no’ and explicitly reject without fear

  • Just as rapport-building has a good reputation, explicitness applied by women in this culture has a terrible reputation. A woman who is clear and precise is viewed as cold, or a bitch, or both. A woman is expected, first and foremost, to respond to every communication from a man. And the response is expected to be one of willingness and attentiveness. 

Persistence doesn’t prove love – it proves desperation

  • There’s a lesson in real-life stalking cases that young women can benefit from learning: persistence only proves persistence—it does not prove love. The fact that a romantic pursuer is relentless doesn’t mean you are special—it means he is troubled.
  • If you tell someone ten times that you don’t want to talk to him, you are talking to them—nine more times than you wanted to.

‘Nice’ doesn’t equate to ‘good’

  • We must learn and then teach our children that niceness does not equal goodness. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait.
  • People seeking to control others almost always present the image of a nice person in the beginning. Like rapport-building, charm and the deceptive smile, unsolicited niceness often has a discoverable motive.