Online Dating Rape: A New Apocalypse

Once upon a time, I met a man on Fetlife and joined him for lunch in a public place. Like a responsible kinkster, I arranged a safe call. We had an awesome conversation for a few hours before I arrived home safely. The end.

It seems like a simple story with a perfectly au fait ending, but last night, a friend went through all the reasons that meeting him for lunch instead of at an event was a stupid choice. She’s too sweet to use those exact words, but I’m not. It was fucking stupid. Don’t get me wrong, lunch dude is pretty great, but this post is about first-date rape, not noble guys like lunch dude.

Reports of first-date rape have increased by six times during the last five years of the online dating boom. Rapists have changed their methods of collecting victims because the internet creates a false sense of intimacy.

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The same study found that almost half of online dating rapists coerced reluctant victims to meet them before they were ready. That provides a pretty useful red flag for Fetlifians, as does the fact that nearly half of those rapists met their victims within a week of finding them online. If your goal is rape, not connection, why waste time. Enough with the boring schpiel, though.

If Lunch Dude had been a predator, my public meeting place wouldn’t have been enough to keep me safe. Nor would my safe call. A rapist might follow me home, spike my coffee, or drag me into a dark corridor in broad daylight. It happens, and I’m sure you’re thinking you’re smart enough not to make the same mistake. I thought I was, too, but given a polite enough exchange of emails, I throw all my rationality into the trash with last night’s leftovers. I won’t get raped. That only happens to other people. He is not a rapist. He’s polite and intelligent, so I’m perfectly safe. The meet is platonic, so rape won’t happen.

We’re all prone to falling for the old fashioned ‘it won’t happen to me’ trope. My idiocy also has plenty to do with the fact that I think I’m intelligent enough to tell a rapist from a decent person on the internet—which is utter bullshit. If I had the inclination, I would be able to create a believable new character for myself on Fetlife. I created journals and profiles for a comma and a sandwich spread, so I could definitely do it with a real personae. Rapists can, too, and they do because it works.

The kink community is far from perfect, but it does come with some useful safety tools. All of them are flawed, but meeting new Fet acquaintances at events instead of alone at coffee shops is a step in the right direction. Reference checks are, too.

A friend and I have been building a safe call network, and I’ve been stunned to find how many Fetlife members don’t know what a safe call is. If that’s you, here it is. They’re not ideal on their own, but safety tools are bricks that you must pile on top of one another till you’ve laid down enough to build a wall.

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