Meeting for a date or hook up
Whether it’s a once-off hook up or a budding romance, there are ways you can stay safer when meeting in the flesh after connecting online.
Follow these tips to help protect yourself – just a few minutes now can save you a lot of headaches later.
Tip 1: Save and store your app conversations
It's a good idea to save and store your app conversations with any potential dates you meet online before meeting up with them in person. There are still dating apps that remove any evidence of contact with the other person once you have been ‘unmatched’ or ‘blocked’ – so backing up your conversation or taking a screenshot of it and saving it outside the app may help you identify them if you need to make a complaint or report a bad experience afterwards.
‘I recently watched a program about the risks of dating apps in Australia.’
‘I was shocked to hear some unfortunate stories of people who were sexually abused, and they could not report it due to lack of evidence. Since then, I am constantly backing up and screenshotting my conversations with strangers that I am planning to meet in person. I haven’t had a bad experience but I’d rather be sure that I can take some action if something happens.’ – Sarah*
Tip 2: If you're on a date, meet in a public place
Share the person's profile with a close friend and tell them where you are meeting. Shopping centres, cafés, and restaurants are good meeting places because there are always a lot of people nearby.
‘Alex and I met on Tinder three years ago.’
‘It was Alex’s first Tinder date so we agreed to meet for a drink before their shift started at a bar down the road. The date went so well that I went to watch them DJ – I was pretty smitten straight away. I know so many people meet each other online but a lot of the time we hesitate before we tell people we met on Tinder. I often joke that I requested my least favourite song when they were DJing.’ – Georgia*
Tip 3: Get a friend to stay in contact with you – and trust your gut feelings
Tell a friend where you are going and send them your live location. You can do this via a number of apps, including Messenger, WhatsApp, Find My iPhone and Find My Device. Agree on a ‘safe’ word to use as a code if you need your friend to help you.
If something does not feel right, then it probably is not right. Don’t hesitate – if you are in doubt, get out of the situation as quickly as possible.
‘If at any point I send them a message about sport, they know that things aren’t working out…’
‘That's like our code that we have because I don't ever talk about sport ever. So, if I send them a message being like, “How is the football going?” they know to call me.’ – Kirra*.
Tip 4: Stay alert for other risks
Being filmed without your consent
Photographing or filming sexual or private activities without the consent of the person shown is illegal. There is always a risk that you could be filmed with a smartphone or hidden camera without your consent. Check around to ensure that there is not a camera or device that could be used to film you. There is legislation in each state and territory concerning surveillance and listening devices, which includes smartphones and other devices.
If any intimate image or video of you is shared without your consent, you can report it to eSafety. Check this quick guide to image-based abuse for LGBTIQ+ people to find out how you can get help and support.
Being robbed in your home
Some individuals or gangs create fake profiles on apps to arrange a hook up with a person so they can rob them. If you have been robbed, call the police immediately. Other people you hook up with may also take the opportunity to steal from you. Remember, keep your personal possessions nearby when you are out. If you're at home, make sure you lock away or hide any valuables or documents such as your licence, passport and birth certificate, as well as any bills or notices that can be used as forms of ID. Learn more about identity theft and how to protect your personal information.
Being lured into an attack
Some people use apps to lure LGBTIQ+ people into situations where they are physically threatened or assaulted, sometimes sexually. This is referred to as 'entrapment'. Be very cautious if someone asks to meet you at a quiet or isolated spot. Once there, they could harm you, or other people could turn up to be violent or rob you. If you experience any kind of assault, call the police immediately.
LGBTIQ+ police support
If you have been assaulted physically or someone is threatening you, contact the police immediately. If you would like help to talk with the police, go to one of these LGBTIQ+ support organisations or go to your local police station and ask to speak with a LGBTIQ+ Liaison Officer (also known as a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer) to report the incident.
Access more support services
For additional support services for the queer and LGBTIQ+ community across Australia, visit the ABC Queer and LGBTIQ+ support services page.
*The personal stories quoted here are real accounts taken from eSafety's community engagement sessions, only the names have been changed
Do you feel unsafe right now?
If you are in Australia and in immediate danger or at risk of harm, call Triple Zero (000).
Contact your local police on 131 444 if there are threats to your safety or threats to your friends or family members.
All ages. Counselling and referral for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and/or intersex. Phone counselling available from 3pm to 12am, every day. Online chat available 3pm to 12am, every day.
All ages. All issues. Phone counselling available all day, every day. Online chat available 7pm to 4am AEST daily.