Online dating? Make sure you take appropriate precautions and stay safe

Online Dating Safety

A man from Wyong on the NSW Central Coast has been arrested and charged with the alleged sexual assault of two women he met on the dating app Tinder. Police investigations are continuing, but the man has been charged with four counts of sexually touching another person without consent. He has been refused bail and will appear in the Belmont Local Court later this month.

Sexual touching without consent is defined in the NSW Crimes Act as:

(a) sexually touching the alleged victim.

(b) inciting  the alleged victim to sexually touch the alleged offender.

(c) inciting a third person to sexually touch the alleged victim.

(d) inciting the alleged victim to sexually touch a third person.

The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.

Also recently, New South Wales woman, Angela Jay, marked the fifth anniversary of the day a man jumped out of her wardrobe, stabbed her 11 times and doused her with petrol. Her attacker, who was shot dead by police after he fled her home, was a man Angela met on Tinder, and was trying to break up with. Angela has recovered although she still experiences significant trauma from the event.

Fresh warnings about online dating

When stories like these appear in the media, they tend to send out fresh warnings about the potential dangers of online dating. During the Covid-19 pandemic, as a result of the loneliness and isolation experienced by people in lengthy periods of lockdown, online dating has become more popular than ever before.

But police have also warned that there’s been an increase in cyber scams, particularly sextortion and revenge porn, as a result of more people socialising online.

Sextortion is a form of blackmail. It occurs when someone threatens to share intimate images of you online unless you meet their demands for money, more intimate images, or sexual favours. Revenge porn occurs when a former partner distributes sexually explicit images without consent.

In New South Wales it is a crime to record an intimate image of another person without their consent, and it is also a crime to intentionally distribute an intimate image without consent. Both are punishable by up to 3 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of $11,000.

Online dating presents a number of potential dangers simply because the online space enables people to create fake profiles and personas and to lie about who they really are.

That said, there are some romantic stories too, and some that even end up “Happily Ever After,” so you shouldn’t be discouraged from trying online dating, just be sensible — and careful.

Take appropriate precautions and stay safe

If you’re considering partaking in the apps as a way to meet people, then there are some precautions you need to take, both when you’re chatting online, and when you meet in person.

  • Do a little research on your person, beyond what you can find on Facebook or Instagram. You can do this by calling their workplace and speaking with them, or seeing if you have contacts in common you can talk to.
  • Be careful not to give out too much information about yourself before you know each other better.
  • If you want to share sexy photos with someone you’ve just met, don’t include your face, or identifiable characteristics, such as your home, jewellery or tattoos.
  • Remember it takes time to get to know someone — plenty of people have been ‘scammed’ out of large sums of money a few months after meeting someone online because they believed their person was honest and honourable. Be smart, don’t let your emotions cloud your judement.
  • Always make your first face-to-face date a daytime one! Meet in a public place and make sure at least one friend or family member knows where you are and who you are with. Also make sure you have arrangements in place to get yourself home.
  • Be aware of drinking too much — also be wary of drink spiking and food spiking.
  • Take note of the new affirmative consent laws in New South Wales, which mean that sex partners need to have a definite ‘yes’ response from each other before proceeding with intimate physical or sexual activity.

 


 

This post is informative only. It is not legal advice. If you have a specific legal matter you’d like to discuss, please contact us

We service NSW, but specifically the area from Coffs Harbour to Byron BayBallina, Mullumbimby and Tweed Heads regions on the Far North NSW Coast.

To learn more about The Local Court Lawyers, see our What We Do page.

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