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Online Dating

1 in 5 relationships now start online and with over 9 million users in the UK, online dating has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. There are, however, risks involved and the potential dangers of online dating have come to the forefront recently, following several cases of sexual assault highlighted by the media.

10 ways to avoid falling victim to online dating predators

  1. Keep your chats restricted to the website or app - Don’t give out personal details such as your phone number and if you restrict your dialogue the messaging services on the website, you are less likely to be targeted as the dating site will detect any underhand behaviour.
  2. Block anyone suspicious – if someone becomes abusive or inappropriate you have the ability to block them.
  3. Take time to get to know someone before meeting – you can quickly feel like you know someone really well because it’s often easier to connect in writing and to read more into the written word, meaning you can rush into things and relationships may move quicker that you expect. Always bear in mind that person is a stranger and ensure they are who they say they are.
  4. Ask a friend for advice – if you even get a gut feeling that something isn’t right ask a friend for their advice and opinion. An impartial opinion can really help you see thing clearer and aid your decision process.
  5. Research them online – Don’t be afraid to research someone you meet online. Use Google Images to check whether the photos they are using belong to someone else and check social media sites to ensure they really exist. You can also search for sentences and phrases online, in case they are using a known fake profile. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to just stop talking to someone.

Once you have made the decision to meet in person, follow these steps to keep yourself safe. 

  1. Always meet in a public place - Remember anyone you meet is a stranger, even if you’re on a second or third date. Never arrange to meet at their house or somewhere that is not in a public, well populated place. 
  2. Communicate with a friend – Let someone else know where you are going and with whom. Check in with your friend at the end of the date too, to let them know you are safe. 
  3. Avoid drinking too much on a first date – While Dutch courage can be enticing, you don’t want to lower your inhibitions and end up doing something you might regret.
  4. Don’t go home with them on your first date – Even if you’re getting on really well, don’t go home with them or invite them to your house, remember, they are still a stranger. 
  5. Don’t be afraid to leave - Always keep your wits about you, and if you ever feel uncomfortable you should simply get up and leave. Your safety is of paramount importance.

Online dating can be a great way to meet people you would never had chance to meet otherwise, but with 85% of the victims of sexual offences linked to online dating being female (2003 – 2015), there is major cause for concern and we would advise anyone planning to meet someone they have met online to be vigilant and remember to stay safe.

Another good website to look at is Get Safe Online, they offer some sound advice

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