MAKE THE CREEPS OWN UP
People using dating apps should be made to declare any violent history, victims demand
DATING apps should have to ask users to declare histories of violence when they sign up.
That’s the view of assault survivor and advocate for ending violence against women Dr Angela Jay, who said a big misconception was that violent men were easy to detect.
Like declaring a criminal conviction ahead of entry into a country like the US, Dr Jay believes there is merit in dating apps asking users to declare histories of violence or outstanding AVOs.
“I think the onus needs to be on how dating apps can make things safer for these users and if that is by excluding people with a known violent history then I would be all for that,” she said. “The logistics of that are going to be far more difficult.
“But it’s as simple as if you sign up to a dating website or app, it asks the question ‘do you have a criminal history or AVO?’
“People can lie but it sends a message that people can have a violent history, which most people don’t think about when trying to find a partner.
“It might not change everyone’s experience but it will help continue the conversation and the culture change I think we are experiencing.”
When Dr Jay agreed to a date with a man she met on Tinder, she had no way of knowing he had been the subject of 10 apprehended violence orders from five different women.
After matching online, Dr Jay did all the things women are urged to do. She got to know Paul Lambert on the phone and met him in a public place.
It wasn’t until she tried to end the relationship six weeks later that Lambert, in a play of intimidation, opened up about his violent history.
“I think it’s something that unless you have experienced it personally, or know someone who has, it is not something you think would happen to you,” Dr Jay explained.
“It didn’t even occur to me I could be entering a relationship with a man who had a violent history. I had an assumption if you had been convicted of a crime or AVO there would be some sort of limit on your freedom.”
After taking out her own AVO against Lambert, he stabbed her 11 times and doused her with petrol in her Port Macquarie home in 2016.
Lambert was shot dead by police after the attack.
One of the key problems with online dating is that people are constantly told to be vigilant about posting personal information on the web yet they share personal details on dating apps to increase the chance of a perfect match.
“There are some lovely people on dating apps, you can’t tar them all with the same brush,” cybersafety expert Susan McLean said.
“But dating apps give opportunity to people that might not be successful with dating in the real world because people would have that instinct that something is not right.”
Dating apps needed robust reporting systems as there had been plenty of examples where platforms failed to act when women reported abuse through the app itself, Ms McLean added.
“I think if someone has been charged with a criminal offence and you provide documentation to the sites to say this happened or you tell the site that a detective is investigating the member, then at least they can check that out,” she said.
“They do have a responsibility to the safety of their users. You can’t just expect people to be nice and honest.”
Dating app Bumble, which has 70 million users worldwide, recently confirmed it took down profiles in light of sexual harassment reports and banned dangerous users following advice from law enforcement.
However, there is currently little to stop men with violent histories from creating a dating profile in the first place.
Research suggests one in three people use online dating to find love or a quick hook-up.
Dr Angela Jay is now an advocate for ending violence against women.
Paul Lambert attacked Angela Jay in a violent rage.