A frightening experience at gunpoint for a young Sydneysider last night has prompted concern about safety when meeting new people online.
A 25-year-old Surry Hills man was attacked, gagged and held at gunpoint by two men after inviting one to his home via a dating app on his phone. Catch up with the story here.
A gay neighbour who lives only two doors away from the victim tells Same Same that he was shocked to hear the news when the police knocked on his door to check for information about it late last night.
“I feel physically sick that this has happened,” he says. “I did hear a bang last night but thought it was someone frustrated that they had been locked out.
“It’s a really scary thought that someone could think of using an app like that to rob and abuse someone. It shows that you really do have to be careful when having randoms in your house.
“I will definitely be warning my friends about this kind of thing,” he adds. “It kind of makes you not want to use the apps. I really hope the guys ok and this type of thing doesn’t happen again.”
Similar sentiments have been expressed on Facebook and Twitter in response to our story on this incident today, with comments showing people are worried that too many risks are taken in inviting strangers into homes after minimal introduction via mobile apps.
Working with our communities in Sydney, ACON’s Anti-Violence Project tells us they at least welcome the fact that last night’s victim did not hesitate to tell police the details of what had happened.
“This is encouraging and models a good community response,” says the project’s team. “We want to encourage people to report these sorts of incidents to police.”
These three points are paramount:
We all have a right to be safe.
No-one is responsible for another’s abusive, violent or criminal behaviour.
Support is available.
Of course there are lots of ways you can meet other people for sex, including parties, pubs, clubs, beats, saunas and online. All of these can be fun but there are a few things you can do to make sure you only get what you are looking for.
Below, the Anti-Violence Project has some suggestions to use when meeting people online.
While these tips do not guarantee safety and are not foolproof, they can be used to minimise any risks.
Trust your instincts and be cautious. If it doesn’t feel right, you are probably right. It is perfectly OK to end the conversation or meeting if you are uncomfortable.
Online information can be used to aid physical harassment – be wary about what information you provide online and use pseudonyms (an online name). Remain as anonymous as possible and avoid giving out personal information.
Consider meeting in a public place, or text, e-mail or tell a friend where you are going and check in with them afterwards.
Request a face pic if one is not available and consider avoiding meeting anyone without one. Consider requesting an additional face pic to compare to any others which may be available.
Keep a record of any conversation if possible – online or texts.
Try and speak with the person before you meet. This way you will also have their number. Reluctance to give you a number could be a warning sign. Getting concrete information (like a phone number) can be helpful.
Consider providing your friend with the name, address and mobile number of the person you plan to meet.
Consider leaving a note with the address of where you’re going or any other details.
If they come to your place, you could let them think someone else may be staying with you.
If you go to their place, always trust your instincts and leave immediately if it doesn’t feel right. Have your own transport or cab fare.
If something happens it’s not your fault. It is extremely important to report all incidents of assault or theft to the police immediately.
Please also report the profile of the perpetrator to the website or app you have used.
ACON’s Anti-Violence Project can also help you get the support you need, give you information, or help you make a police report.
To report crime to the police:
In an emergency: 000
Police Assistance Line: 131 444
To report it to the Anti-Violence Project:
Telephone: 9206 2116
Freecall: 1800 063 060
This page was written by Matt Akersten with the assistance of ACON’s Anti-Violence Project.