Dating App Safety Tips
Research shows that approximately half of the 18–29-year-olds in the United States are using dating apps to find love. This group of people is the equivalent of the entire population of Australia. While this method is successful for some to find their happily ever after, for others it has proven to be dangerous.
Of the victims represented in a sex trafficking case in federal court in 2021, half were recruited through an online platform. While dating apps were not the only online platform used, they are widely represented as a recruitment source used by traffickers. In our experience it is not uncommon for a victim to be seeking love and a trafficker to use a Romeo Pimp tactic of promising love and a future as a method of manipulation and control.
Here are some tips to protect yourself while using dating apps:
– Avoid connecting with profiles that do not have a bio, any linked social accounts, or only one photo. These are indicators of a fake account.
– Check out their social profiles. Look for any mutual friends and make sure the information they list on their dating app rings true to what is on their social profiles as well.
– Wait to share personal information.
– Do not be afraid to say no.
– Do not respond to any requests for financial help.
– Schedule a video chat prior to meeting in-person. This will give you the opportunity to see the person and confirm they are who they say they are before meeting.
– Meet in a public place. Look for something that is well populated, avoid parks or other areas where you can be isolated.
– Provide your own transportation. This way your date will not know where you live or work because there will be no need for them to pick you up. This will also give you the control to leave whenever you feel necessary.
– Tell someone where you are going. Share with them all the details, including screenshots of your dates profile. Check in with them when you return home.
– Use an employee if you feel uncomfortable. If things are starting to get uncomfortable, tell someone working at the location and ask them to help you leave. They can help you if you need to call 911, to create a distraction or help find you a safe ride home.
– Avoid drinking and drugs. While 1 drink may be alright based on what you are comfortable with, know your limits and avoid overindulging to a point your perception is inhibited in anyway.
– Trust your gut. If you feel like something is not right, it probably is not. Listen to your gut and act accordingly.
There are different methods that traffickers use to build an emotional connection with their victims. This allows them to control a victim better in the future.
When using a dating app there are a few things to be on the lookout for that may indicate the other person has negative intentions.
– Answers your specific questions vaguely or their stories seem grandiose or are inconsistent.
– The other person says “I love you” quickly or is overly complimentary and romantic very early in the communication.
– They may use an absurd amount of sweet-talk. Treating you like you are the best person they have ever met after only speaking a few times.
– Pressures you to send photos.
– Requests your address for home or work by saying they plan to send flowers or other gifts.
– They warn you about themselves. If someone tells you, they are “trouble” believe it and cut ties.
– Tries to recruit you for a modeling job or work in a music video or something of that nature.
Remember no dating app is safe from being used by a predator, be aware regardless of the site you are using. Report any profiles that you think are suspicious.
To learn more about trafficking you can check out Guardian Group’s online training course here.