Staying Safe on Dating Apps

Last autumn nearly 25% of the referrals into one of our London services were referrals where the survivor and abuser met through a dating app.

One of our frontline workers noticed this and decided to look further into whether we needed to provide additional advice for women when meeting men via dating apps.

Referrals we have received include abusers raping survivors, stalking survivors, physically abusing survivors, and coercively controlling survivors. Abusers can delete their profile, use fake pictures, block the survivor post-abuse so, survivors have limited evidence if they wanted to report the case. Abusers are often manipulative and understand how to reassure victims that they are not a threat – so this campaign is more than advising people to trust their instincts as often these people are experts at manipulation.

At Solace we believe that all women and girls have the right to live safe lives free from fear, and we wish that we didn’t have to create additional advice on how to stay safe, but we also have to be realistic about the world we live in, and the dangers facing women.

We will continue to work and campaign for a safer world for woman. However, we also continue to support survivors and encourage conversations around staying safe and identifying toxic and abusive behaviours. With this in mind, we have created safety plan for dating apps due to ongoing referrals we’ve received where abusers have used dating apps as a tool to meet potential victims. Dating apps facilitate these meetings, therefore, the platforms themselves need to take responsibility to make these meetings safer:

We are asking dating platforms to have as a standard:

  • A short compulsory consent workshop as part of building a profile
  • Accessible safety plans on the app for potential daters to view and a process of eliminating abusers from using the app.
  • Clear verified accounts so that people know immediately who has a ‘verified’ account and the implications of not.

We are asking the Government to:

  • Amend the Online Safety Bill to ensure that dating apps are included and the Bill address violence against women and girls online.
  • The Government ensure that this new legislation is fit for purpose. It cannot ignore the extent of violence against women and girls perpetrated online, and the devastating harm this has on victims’ lives, both online and offline.

This abuse is going unchecked and causing women to undertake personal ‘safety work’ including self-censorship and removing themselves from online spaces, while perpetrators are enabled to continue through lack of consequences and tech companies profit.

We have created this safety plan as part of a wider campaign with the intention of helping users to feel safer and give abusers less opportunities to abuse.