With the increase in its popularity, as well as the reliance on technology today, the internet is a part of almost everyone’s lives. One aspect of life that it has greatly affected is relationships. Last year alone, 20 million Americans used online dating to help find their significant other. In fact, according to the popular match.com, one in five relationships start online.
When looking for love, one must be aware of the possibility and know the signs of abuse.
DID YOU KNOW?
- 53 percent of domestic violence victims are abused by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
Women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence.
- In America every 2.5 minutes someone is sexually assaulted. (Rape is the most underreported crime, with an estimated 62 percent of sexual assaults unreported.)
- 60 percent of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships.
- 1,006,970 women and 370,990 men are stalked annually in America. (Stalking includes harassing or threatening behaviors such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or work, repeated phone calls, repeated text messages, or vandalism. With the increased availability of information on the internet through social media and online dating, cyberstalking is becoming a problem as well.)
(Statistics provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org.)
With these statistics, it is important that individuals looking for love be aware of the possibilities of danger that can come along with dating. First dates are exciting, and can even lead to love; however, you should always take safety precautions – posted below are tips to help keep you safe.
Dating Safety Tips for Meeting Offline (and Dating in General)
- A background check or a criminal background check online is a great start. If the person has prior violence in their past, the possibility of you being a victim is increased.
- Always meet in a populated, public location – never in a private or remote location. Stay in public places for the duration of the date.
- Inform a family member or friend of your plans. Let them know when and where you’re going.
- Make sure you have your cell phone with you at all times.
- Stay sober.
- Don’t do anything that would impair your judgment and cause you to make a decision you could regret.
- Drive separately to and from dates until you feel comfortable with the person. (In case things don’t work out, you need to be in control of your own ride – even if you take a taxi.)
- Don’t leave personal items unattended – you don’t want to risk having personal information stolen.
- It is best not to go back to your date’s home or bring them back to yours on the first date. If your date pressures you, end the date and leave at once.
- If your date shows signs of jealousy, control, verbal attacks, wants to move to quickly or does not honor your boundaries these are all red flags of abuse. Educate yourself on what the red flags are.
- At any time if you are in immediate danger call 911.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.
By Lana Schack and Ashley Johnson Scott