Online dating linked to sexual assaults

03:55, Aug 15 2014
PHONE A FRIEND: Tinder allows users to accept would-be hook-ups on face value.

A "clash of expectations" by singles using online dating services has been linked to sexual assaults in Canterbury.

Police say they are receiving, anecdotally, about two complaints a month from women who have been sexually assaulted by men they met through dating websites and Smartphone apps, and say people need to wake up to the risks.

The warning comes after Lower Hutt 26-year-old Warriena Tagpuno Wright, fell to her death from a Surfers Paradise high-rise apartment last Friday while visiting a man she reportedly met on Tinder.

The man, Gable Tostee, 28, was not formally arrested and no charges have been laid.

Detective Senior Sergeant Darryl Sweeney, the Canterbury sexual assault team manager, said social networking had become "a live issue" for police.

Men could trawl through a large number of women's profiles a day. In at least two cases, police had asked online dating websites to remove the profiles of potential predators.


Some men thought FindSomeone meant "find someone for sex", he said.

"Just because you are looking at [actor] Mark Wahlberg, doesn't mean he's there when you arrive. When it goes wrong, there is going to be a sexual assault investigation," Sweeney said.

Most of the online dating-related sexual assaults reported to police happened in cars or homes.

"Anecdotally, we see multiple women each month," he said.

"Ladies in their late 30s and 40s coming out of long-term relationships and looking to start another are going onto websites and taking big risks," he said.

Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo said Tinder was romance on speed.

It was based on physical attraction, which could lead to different expectations - those seeking sex and others wanting relationships.

"When there is a clash of expectations, it can lead to trouble. If one person is naive and the other predatory, it can have a nasty outcome."

NetSafe chief technology officer Sean Lyons said people could reduce the risk by telling a friend their plans, and never getting into a stranger's car or going to their home.

He agreed a "clash of expectations" was the main source of problems.

Dating coach Angela Meyer said Tinder was just another way to meet people and users had to be careful - just like they would in any other situation, she said.

Tinder was not to blame if something happened to a woman, as it did to Wright, she said.

A lot of people viewed Tinder as a game or a way to find someone for sex, but many people also went on dates.

People needed to meet in real life to see if there was a spark, she said.

It was actually safer to meet on Tinder or online than a bar because people were not drunk and they had a digital footprint, she said.

Meeting online was better than the New Zealand 3am scramble after the bar closed, she said.

A Police National Headquarters spokesman said police monitored social networking sites to find people trying to groom children.

They would do the same of adult online dating sites if police received specific complaints.


- Emily, a student from Christchurch, met a guy on Tinder but ended up being too busy with university to meet up with him. However, he did not give up and stalked her and bombarded her with messages, which scared her.

- Beck from Christchurch met her boyfriend on Tinder. It was their first time using it. They are now planning to move in together.

- Jo met her partner via Tinder a year ago and they plan to marry next year.

- Daniel met his partner on Tinder six months ago.

- Anne started using Tinder after she separated from her husband last year. The 27-year-old-mum of twohas met seven different guys and had varying experiences. Most were young men in their 20s working, who mostly wanted sex.

- Louise from Invercargill started using Tinder to spite her ex-boyfriend. "It was both hilarious and frightening." She deleted it after two weeks because she could not think of any more clever ways to respond to the "Hey" opener line most guys used.

- Julia from Wellington was out in town with friends when a guy approached their table and asked if she was on Tinder. He then showed her a photo of herself on Tinder. "I think he expected me to go home with him." She felt uncomfortable and has since deleted Tinder.

- Nick's girlfriend was his first date on Tinder almost three months ago and they are now living together. "It's not all the sex and carry on everyone makes it out to be."

- Jane said there were a lot of creeps who just wanted to have a one night stand.

- James said no one likes to admit it, but everyone uses it.

- Hoani said he met more creepy possessive girls on Tinder than good ones.

- Barry said he used Tinder to make new friends and not the hook up seedy side as many people did.

- Mary gave up using Tinder after nothing happened.


- Tell a friend your plans

- Arrange your own transport

- Meet in a public place

The Press