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New VPD database helps online daters stay safe

A VPD database is making sure people are aware of the dangers of online dating, and know how to be safe

Dating is becoming easier, but that doesn't mean it is safer. Photo: Perrin Grauer

Reported by Perrin Grauer

With online dating becoming more common, the Vancouver Police Department has released a database to help users establish safer dating practices.

Female students in their late teens and early 20s are less likely to report assault at the hands of men they met through online dating services, according to Hilla Kerner, spokeswoman for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. Professionals in their late 20s and 30s are more likely to report an assault, though they are at no less risk.

Det.-Const. Michelle Grandbois of the VPD says students might be at greater risk “because of age and life experience. Obviously older people will pick up on different things.”

Experience isn’t everything

Regardless of how much life experience a person has, meeting somebody through a dating app can be a risky proposition.

“Even men who meet women through mutual friends are not worried for their reputation and are allowing themselves to act as sexual predators and to attack women,” Kerner said.

Online dating services like Tinder and Bumble are designed to make meeting new people easier, but the VPD warns that these apps can also be subject to abuse. The VPD database, available at includes tips and testimonials for safer dating.

Nancy Pollak, coordinator of Langara’s Women’s Studies department, spoke with The Voice via email and said the dangers of internet dating are the same ones women have always faced.

“In B.C., many young women enjoy varying degrees of personal freedom and choice re: dating and sexuality… But our society is still riddled with sexist double standards, with long-entrenched practices of sexual exploitation and coercion,” writes Pollak. “So no surprise that the online dating scene would also have its share of [sex offenders].”

It is not the victims fault

Kerner was also quick to point out that assault can happen no matter how careful a person is.

“Women who do call us about being sexually assaulted…through a man that they met online do blame themselves very much,” says Kerner. “Women try to do whatever they can to protect themselves…but we don’t want to increase the self-blaming.”

Kerner says that if anyone have been victimized, a support group can help them get a more diligent response from the criminal justice system.

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter’s 24-hour crisis line is (604) 872-8212.


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