With technological advancements, human society is moving towards making online connections more often than before. In this era, online dating has become not only common but a way out to explore a different world. 33.0% of users are found to be women whereas 67.0% are men. However, online dating sites and app developers have occasionally battled with the idea that their platforms could lead to uncomfortable or even deadly interactions. And while there is some evidence that some of the stigma associated with these websites has lessened over time, over half of Americans still believe that meeting someone through a dating website is a risky proposition. Americans who have never used a dating website or app are especially dubious about its security. In comparison to 29% of adults who have dated online, about half of adults who have never used a dating site or app (52%) think that these venues aren't very or not at all secure places to meet people.
Sexual Violence in the world of Online Dating
Violent sexual activity occurs when permission is not freely given or received. It has a significant negative influence on people's opportunities, well-being, and long-term health in the United States. Every community is impacted by sexual violence, which affects people of all sexes, sexual orientations, and ages. Sexual violence can be experienced or committed by anyone. The sexual assaulter is frequently someone the victim knows, such as a friend, intimate partner-current or former-, coworker, neighbor, or family member. Sexual violence can take place in person, online, or through technology, such as when someone posts or shares sexually explicit images of them without their permission or engages in non-consensual sexting.
Physical effects of sexual violence include bruises and genital injuries, STDs, pregnancy (in women), and psychological effects include sadness, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. The effects might be long-lasting. In addition to experiencing recurring reproductive, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and sexual health issues, survivors may develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
A survivor's employment may be impacted by the trauma of sexual assault in the form of time off from work, subpar performance, job loss, or inability to work. These problems furthermore affect their earning potential and their financial security. It can be difficult to cope with victimization and carry out daily responsibilities.
Many users of online dating are strangers to one another, which some experts claim has led to a less cordial dating environment and makes it challenging to hold people accountable for their actions. Study reveals that a sizable proportion of online daters have experienced some type of harassment. Over three out of ten people who have tried online dating report that they have received unwanted messages or sexually explicit images, offensive names, or both after expressing disinterest (37%, 35%, and 28%, respectively). Fewer people who date online claim that someone has physically threatened them on a dating website or app.
Smaller, but still significant, percentages of online daters think that creating phony identities to defraud others (50%) or receiving sexually explicit messages or photographs without asking for them (48%) are frequent occurrences on dating websites and apps.
Safety Tips before going on a date
In 2021, the dating app market generated $5.61 billion in revenue, over $3 billion of which came from Match Group. As the revenue tends to increase, as a user, we need to follow the below-mentioned tips to keep ourselves protected:
- Wait until you feel comfortable: Don't stray from your preferred course of action. On a date, having a few drinks is not improper. Try to be mindful of your boundaries and avoid feeling compelled to partake in alcohol simply because your date is. Additionally, it can be a good idea to refrain from using drugs before or on a first date because they may induce unanticipated interactions with alcohol or change how you perceive reality.
- Do a little digging: Before you meet up in person, have a video conversation. Before meeting up with someone in person for the first time after matching with and chatting with a possible date, think about setting up a video chat. This might be a useful method for confirming that your match is who they say they are on their profile. A video call may be resisted by them vehemently if there is any suspicion of wrongdoing. Another way of testing the authenticity of your online date, visit their social media profile. This will help you to get a better picture before going on a date.
- Meet publicly: Avoid meeting someone on a first date in your house, apartment, or place of employment if you don't know them well yet. If there are lots of other people present, meeting in a coffee shop, restaurant, or bar may help you and your date feel more at ease. For first dates, stay away from meeting in parks and other isolated areas.
- Tell someone where you're going: Send a friend a screenshot of the profile on your date. Tell at least one person where you're going and when you're going on a date. Text a friend to let them know your new location if you decide to continue your date somewhere other than where you had originally planned. Another suggestion is to plan a check-in call or text with a friend halfway through the date or when you arrive back home.
- Provide your transportation: You should be in charge of your transportation to and from the date so that you may leave whenever you choose and are not dependent on your date if things go awkward. Avoid getting into a car with someone you don't know and trust, especially if it's your first meeting, even if they offer to pick you up.