I was contacted over the weekend by James*, a Twitter buddy who asked me for some advice, with my Victim Support hat on.
Sally*, a relative of his had gone on a date on Saturday night with a chap she had met on the internet and had not come home. She had left on Saturday night, on the train, to meet a chap and had said she would be home at 11pm and would call James for a lift. She didn’t. And she didn’t answer her phone and had made no contact when he came home from work at 4am.
Sally lives with her four children and her mum and James asked if I had any advice on what they should tell the children on where mummy was.
What can you say whilst trying not to panic?
The police were contacted and started a “missing person enquiry”.
Thankfully there is a happy ending to this story and James emailed me to say “phew, Sally has been in touch and is coming home”.
This was 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Nearly 20 hours after she had last been in touch.
Hopefully Sally has learnt her lesson that you cannot say you will be home at 11pm after meeting a relative stranger and turn up 15 hours late without there being any consequences.
We all know people who are single who have tried dating via online dating sites. After all, for people with children who find it hard to get time to go to pubs and clubs, it is a great way to meet people without having to pay a babysitter. You can read profiles and “get to know” people and decide who you want to meet without all that awkward silence of a blind date.
However, it has to be done with caution. We all know the horror stories of the 14 year old actually being a 50 year old, we drum into our kids about “Stranger Danger” but do we take that advice ourselves?
Here is my five point safety plan if you, or someone know, are online dating:
1) Make your own way to the first date destination. Don’t arrange to be picked up by your date. You want to be able to run away when they don’t look like the pics.
2) Make sure it is a public place and make your own arrangements to get home. Do not rely on your date for a lift.
3) Tell at least one person who you are meeting. Tell them which website you met through and what their ID is. And give them your date’s mobile number. Also write this information out and leave it in a prominent place at home.
4) Agree to call somebody when you are home, or at a set time to touch base.
5) Stick to points one to four.
This might seem like overkill but it is easy to get swept up in the moment / get a flat phone battery etc and you trigger justified panic to those that love you.
If you have a friend who is using online dating sites, please ask them to follow the above steps.
Being safe on a date doesn’t just relate to condoms
*not real names