(This was a personal letter I wrote to a friend who asked me for self-defense advise because she wants to start dating through online apps. She urged me to post this for others to see and I did. But it wasn't written with all groups and all circumstances in mind)
First of, no…I don’t judge people for using apps to date or hook up. Personal ads go back to the late 17th century I believe, it’s an old tradition keeping up with technology.
As for your question…yikes…I’m gonna be real, so fasten your seat belt.
I wish there was a magic self-defense technique I could teach you to be safe, but that’s not realistic. Anytime you step alone into a place with walls and doors with a man who could potentially be violent, you are taking risk. It’s not only a question of that man being physically stronger or a better fighter, it’s the fact that men who rape or murder get a high from raping and murdering…so if it were to go down, you’re fighting for your life with someone who isn’t panicked and scared to death like you will be, on the contrary, their pulse will probably slow down as soon as the encounter becomes violent…those are some bad conditions to win a fight, even if all things (strength, fighting skills) were equal.
So my advice is to be aware and prepare:
Believe your intuition if you get bad vibes about someone, but DO NOT believe your intuition if you get good vibes very early on. Remember, you could just be in the presence of a master manipulator.
2) When you decide to meet someone from a dating app in person, confide in a friend or family member you trust, basically make them your designated safety buddy. Tell them who it is you’re meeting, when and where and at what time they should consider hearing back from you. If your safety buddy hasn’t heard from you within an hour of the arranged time and they can’t reach you, they should alert the police.
3) When you arrive at a first date with the online stranger, ask him if you could take a photo of his driver’s license so you can take a screenshot and text it to your safety buddy. If he’s confused about this, explain to him your personal safety concerns (tbh, you can also leave at this point because I doubt you’ll dig a dude who is completely unaware of what a frightening and dangerous world this still is for women)
4) Don’t go to their home on a first date. I have no judgement about casual sex and I strongly believe women should have as much sexual freedom as men. So hook up if you want, just be smart about it. Do not walk into their territory where you aren’t familiar with the layout and exits but they are. Either have him come to your place or split a hotel room (if you’re getting a room ask for one near the elevator (those rooms are unofficially earmarked for people with mobility issues and though they are very rarely all booked up, as a courtesy you should inform the front desk that you will move if the room is needed)
5) Should you carry a weapon? only if you are sure you can hold on to this weapon in a fight. I’m not an expert on guns. I don’t trust guns to be honest, you may have to ask someone else about that. I also don’t trust that as WOC in America we can shoot someone in self-defense and not go to prison forever. Pepper spray is good on the street, not great interior, especially not in a situation where you might be pinned down. I have a knife stuck under my bed, but I’ve
had years of knife training and I feel confident that I can do some damage before any attacker has a chance to wrestle it away from me. If you never worked with a knife, a stun gun may be a better option (if legal in your state).
6) Personal alarm. Carry one and stick one under your bed or behind your night stand. I gave one to my friend’s daughter when she moved off campus into her own studio and not 3 months later I received the biggest bouquet of flowers from the family…apparently a boy she trusted suddenly turned into a boy who doesn’t think “no” is a full sentence. She pushed the alarm stuck under her bed and he ran away like a bat out of hell.