Safeguarding and Online Dating

At DPAS we like to say that ‘your data is our business’. This Valentine’s Day we’ll amend that slightly; your safety is our business.

Last year, women’s domestic abuse charity Solace reported that out of all referrals made to one of their London services, 25% of victims had met the perpetrators online. Cases of domestic violence (which disproportionately affects women and girls) have risen exponentially since lockdown, as noted by Vera Baird, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, who said ‘…it had been “obvious” that domestic abuse was going to be an “epidemic within the pandemic’.

As an overwhelmingly female organisation, it would feel like a disservice not to take this opportunity to talk about safeguarding and online dating.

So here are our tips for keeping yourself, and your data, safe this Valentine’s Day!

  • It may seem obvious, but we’ll say it anyway! Guard your personal information. If you wouldn’t send your bank details to the prince who emails you from a faraway land, adamant that only your sort code and account number can aid him in usurping a clandestine dictatorship, you probably shouldn’t give them to anyone you’ve met on the internet – no matter how nice their eyes look in that picture!
  • When using dating apps, we’d advise against including any photographs/information which can be used to identify where you live or work. For parents with school age children wanting to try their hand at online dating, we’d also advise against including pictures which show your child’s face or school uniform.
  • Stick to dating apps which require users to verify their profiles. Not only will this diminish your chances of being ‘catfished’, it encourages a level of accountability and authenticity from your potential matches. If they’ve got nothing to hide, they’ll…hide nothing? We’re not sure the exact adage but the point remains!
  • Speaking of adages, ever heard that slow and steady wins the race? Acknowledging and respecting your own boundaries is such an important practice in life, and particularly when online dating. Feel free to take your time to get to know someone before allowing them access to your number, other personal details, or indeed before you give them access to you! There’s no harm in waiting a little before you meet up with someone, even if they seem keen to immediately meet you.
  • Always block and report anyone you feel is suspicious.

If you do decide to meet in real life, someone you met online, remember to stick to the ‘Four T’s’ (all credit here goes to Plentyoffish.com, who put it better than we ever could’ve!);

  1. Tell someone
  2. Take your own transportation
  3. Take it somewhere public
  4. Think up an exit strategy

From all of us at DPAS, we hope you have a romantic, yet risk-free, Valentine’s Day!

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