Peo­ple us­ing dat­ing apps should be made to de­clare any vi­o­lent his­tory, vic­tims de­mand

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - AVA BENNY- MOR­RI­SON CRIME RE­PORTER

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.

Pic­ture: John Ap­p­le­yard

Dr An­gela Jay is now an ad­vo­cate for end­ing vi­o­lence against women.

Paul Lam­bert at­tacked An­gela Jay in a vi­o­lent rage.

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