A new study by the Australian Institute of Criminology, found one in three users of dating apps had experienced a form of in person sexual violence perpetrated by someone they met online.
In this study LGB+ people were more likely to experience both in person sexual violence and online facilitated sexual violence, the study didn’t capture gender in ways that identify who was cis or trans but we know trans people face very high levels of sexual violence.
There are many forms of online abuse. These include but aren’t limited to:
- monitoring people
- online stalking such as using geotags on social media to track whereabouts
- people tracking phones to find out someone’s location via apps like Find My iPhone
- sending unwanted texts repeatedly
- sending threats, unwelcome or hateful comments
- continuing to contact someone after they’ve told you they are not interested
- sending sexually explicit messages, photos or videos without consent
Dating applications and websites can be used to facilitate sexual violence and can have serious impacts for our communities, this includes when sexual violence occurs online and not in person.
Sometimes we can feel like we should be able to just ‘brush it off’ if something happens online, but online facilitated violence can be just as upsetting as in person violence and whatever you’re feeling is okay.
Using an app, including for a hook up, does not mean that that person has consented to any form of sex (including where sex has been discussed before). Consent is a free and voluntary agreement to each act of sexual activity and can be withdrawn at any point.
There are things we can all do to call out inappropriate behaviour and to shape healthy and safe cultures of dating and hook up app use in our communities.
This can include:
- asking before sending any photos (even safe for work ones!)
- responding to people making jokes about sexual violence both online and in real life
- calling in your friends and family when they display or support inappropriate behaviour
- speaking up against harassment, jokes and touching without consent
- modelling good consent practices
There is support available for members of our community who experience these forms of sexual violence and there is support for community members who want to know how to support a friend.
If you would like to learn more about LGBTQ+ prevention and response to sexual violence you can:
Access the LGBTQ+ Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Toolkit
Especially the sections on:
The meeting online section if:
- you are online dating
- keen to meet new people
- want to know how to be safe online and;
- what to do if things go wrong
The dealing with online abuse section if:
- you are experiencing online abuse
- you are worried you may experience online abuse
- you want to learn how to protect yourself;
- and learn how to reduce the impacts
The building resilience section if:
- find help and support available
- minimise impacts of harmful online experiences;
- and using social media in a positive way
Resources and support
If you need support after an experience of sexual violence here are places you can reach out to: