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Strider Answers (I have a date with a guy I met on a dating site. How can I manage my safety?)

Q: I have a date this week with a guy I met on a dating site. How can I manage my safety?

-23 y.o. female in LA

Well, first of all, a little more information would be helpful. But we’ll do what we can with this.

First let’s look at the nature of predation. If you are about to meet a serial predator, he will both plan and act opportunistically. Nothing is off-limits to him and he may be very experienced at this. So you want to manage your dates, at least the first several, exaggerating your safety.

1. The Place

i. Choose a public place to meet with lots of people. Small, out-of-the-way places may seem romantic, but these are the choices of serial predators too.

ii. Best case is a place where everyone knows you including the bartender, manager, waiter/ress, etc. I personally have a go-to place for all first meets.

iii. Next best case, and kind of fun, have a friend go and sit at another table. He/She gets the chance to play undercover agent and is there if anything goes wrong. You don’t need to tell your date – they are not a friend yet. Repeat as many times as needed and have fun with it.

In Close Call Case #116-04-D07, the victim-hero met her date at an out-of-the-way restaurant. He drugged her during dinner. When she left the table feeling strange, he followed her into the bathroom and attempted to assault her. So, anything is possible.

2. Drinks and Food

i. Eat and drink only things that have come fresh to you and don’t leave your drink unattended. A drug rapist only needs a few seconds to drop something in your drink.

ii. Go the bathroom right away, this way you won’t have to go and leave food and drink exposed on the table.

iii. If you somehow end up with a drink that was exposed and you still want to drink it, do this; drink it very, very slowly. Give yourself 30 minutes to finish it.

This will do two things:

1. If it’s poisoned you should feel the effects begin and then you can call 911 while you’re still aware and

2. If your date becomes agitated about how slow you drink, that suggests he has an agenda other than getting to know you. Call a friend and get out of there.

3. Social Media

i. Create or check as many connections as possible.

This does two things:

a. let’s your date know that you know who he is and

b. let’s your date know that other people will be watching. Just like beasts in the jungle, human predators don’t like potential interruptions.

4. 10-36 and 10-37

i. Have a 911 Friend™ play police dispatch during your date. No matter the form of communication, do something that in law enforcement we call “10-36” and “10-37”. “10-36” means “arrived on scene” and “10-37” means “departing scene”. In other words, let someone know your movements and have a clear agreement that if you stop communicating, they are to call 911 and attempt to find you. Share your plans for the date and make sure they’ll be up as late as you. You want them to confirm you are home safe at the end of the date. Provide your date’s name and phone number so they’ll have a starting place. A copy of their driver’s license or vehicle would be even better.

Just imagine, you have gone on a date which has turned into a nightmare. You’re at his apartment, not sure how you got there. Your legs and arms are so heavy you can barely move. He pushes you into the bedroom and you can barely speak. He ignores your pleas to stop. But then you mumble, “my 911 friend is wondering where I am, she has your number”. “Sure” he says. Then his phone rings. Now he’s got a major problem. This is known as predator disruption and as long as your friend insists on seeing you to make sure you're safe, all will be well. By the way, she’s not to come alone in this case, but either with a tough friend (female or male) or the cops.

If she can’t get through, she is to call 911 and report that you believe she has been abducted and you have the name and number of the abductor. Obviously, you both need to trust each other a lot because the police will not be happy if this is a false call. Nevertheless, persist with 911 and if they won’t respond, go find a cop and explain it to him or her. Better safe and embarrassed than sorry.

Lastly, trust your instincts, especially when they say be careful. We all want to jump into a relationship with someone that seems right. But let it happen slowly. Our relationship advisor and board member Don Goodman says that there are “rings of trust” and a person should earn access to each new and closer ring. That takes time.

Be safe out there!

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