Last updated on | by Aet Suvari0
Staying Safe Online Dating
We feel very strongly about any kind of negative activities surrounding online dating. While online dating itself carries less and less stigma allegations remain that it’s fuelled a hook-up culture with a beehive of STD-s and is hi-jacked by predators to perpetrate fraud and sexual violence.
While we strongly believe that online dating is a fantastic platform for finding a partner and can be enjoyed safely and securely – just one occurrence of fraud or violence is one too many.
We certainly don’t want to close our eyes to the fact that these issues exist and they are real. So we’re happy to to highlight the great work done by people around the UK to make online dating sites safer places for all of us.
The National Crime Agency has been doing great work in highlighting safety issues around online dating and improving the safety messages for people who are meeting their online date for the first time. They have a whole campaign dedicated to the matter, called #LookBeforeYouLove.
The campaign is based on research their analysts have undertaken which shows that the numbers of rape and sexual assaults related to online dating have seen an increase recently. The research also shows that the victims are typically women aged 20-29 and 40-44 and over.
Who is the offender committing these crimes and how are we to know him? The research shows that with the rise of online dating a new type of offender has emerged – they don’t necessarily have prior criminal convictions, but they are eager to exploit the readiness and accessibility that online dating provides. Also, their potential victims don’t often perceive them as ‘strangers’ – online dating acquaintances can too quickly feel like people we actually know.
Safe online dating
The research also shows that in more than half of cases there has been communication of a sexual nature between the offender and the victim and that quite often the first meeting between them takes place within one week of the first online contact. In almost half of all cases they don’t choose a public place as the location of their first meet-up and a staggering percentage of offences – 72% – are committed at the house of the victim or offender.
It’s important to keep in mind that often offenders try to persuade or coerce their victims to agree to a first date. They also come up with excuses for meeting up in their house or going there during the date.
So that’s the data that NCA are basing their campaign on. Looking at this it’s easier to discover the patterns behind suspicious-looking behaviour. Falling victim to a sexual assault is never a victim’s fault but it doesn’t hurt to take note of some of their good advice on how to keep yourself safe on a first date.
Like Amba Wade from the NCA Communications team said:
“We don’t want to scare anyone – the risks are still small – but we feel it is important to make sure people are aware. The advice is based around making sure you get to know your date not just their profile and to meet and stay in public during the first date as we have found that 72% of assaults happen at home.”
Some of the safe online dating tips the NCA has highlighted is:
- Don’t feel pressured to meet up with someone from an online dating website if you don’t feel ready yet. Getting together for a date should always be a mutual decision, no one should be ‘talked into’ it.
- Come up with a ‘date plan’ and adhere to it – think about the location, time and duration of the date. Let your date know what your plan is, so they know what to expect. Don’t let your date coerce you into changing your plan during the date if you don’t feel hundred per cent comfortable with it.
- A public place is always a safer option for the first date.
- People are not the same in real life as they are or appear to be online. Therefore it’s important to adjust your expectations and accept that the person you’re meeting is essentially a stranger.
- If you don’t feel comfortable with taking the meeting to the next level, don’t let your date persuade you to do it.
Get more information from the NCA about how to stay safe online dating here.