Rachel just turned 18 when she met Jason. She was fresh out of High School, finally an adult, and preparing to go away to College. Jason was 2 years older than her and worked full-time. He attended a local Community College part-time and was doing well balancing both school and work. He was the total opposite of her last boyfriend. In addition to being tall, dark and handsome, Jason was outgoing, decisive and confident…or so she thought.
Blinded by love, Rachel couldn’t see the reality of the situation. She didn’t think anything was wrong with Jason wanting her to be at his house by the time he came home from work every day, or his telling her what she could and couldn’t wear. She didn’t miss going out with her friends because he needed her and she didn’t want to disappoint him. Although a little creepy, she didn’t even have a problem turning her computer on at night so he can see she was at home sleeping.
Rachel was happy and very close with her family. They went on family vacations at least twice a year together. And even though her friends were always invited to the family parties, holidays were always spent with family. So when everyone began to notice she was becoming unhappy and withdrawn, to the point of hibernating in her room instead of joining them, they started to worry. Instead of seeing Jason as outgoing, decisive and confident, they all saw him as aggressive, controlling and obnoxious. When her family and friends tried to talk to her about it she withdrew from them even more. Rachel was becoming someone they didn’t recognize and although she professed to be happy, she wasn’t. Then the bombshell, Jason expressed reservations about her going to College even though she would only be about an hour away, he didn’t want her to go.
Unfortunately people like Rachel, in unhealthy relationships, suffer constant stress and anxiety, which can compromise their health, erode their self-esteem, make them feel helpless and alone, and undermine the way they function in school and at work. According to The Center For Relationship Abuse Awareness, “Relationship Abuse is defined as a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Abuse can be emotional, psychological, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern to try to control her/him.”
If you feel the relationship you are in may be abusive, the first thing you need to do is to acknowledge it. Abusive relationships don’t start out that way. They usually start out on a high note, and gradually become abusive. By answering the questions below in the “How Healthy is Your Relationship” quiz courtesy of Linfield College, you may be able to recognize a potentially abusive situation before it gets worse. Talk to your family and friends. Usually they are the first to notice the problem anyway and, like in Rachel’s case, have already voiced their concerns. If you are a student and away at College you can also seek help by going to your University’s counseling center. Most importantly make sure to maintain outside relationships because it’s imperative that you’re not alone. Do not allow anyone to isolate you. We all need a good support system and no one has the right to take that away from you.
If you know of someone in an abusive relationship and you want to help them speak up. Tell them what you see going on because of their relationship and then listen with compassion. Don’t be judgmental or they will tune you right out. Discuss a safety plan if they ever feel they need it. Help them to disconnect and move away from the abuser. Talk to them about healthy intimate relationships. Pick up a few self-help books to read together. By knowing they are not alone, the victim is more likely to view their relationship more realistically and empower them to break away. Finally, suggest they seek professional help so they can learn to make safer choices in the future.
How healthy is Your Relationship?
1. Does this person accept that you have other friends?
(A. Yes B. No)
2. Does this person ask for your opinion about issues that affect you?
(A. Yes B. No)
3. Does this person have good relationships with his or her family and friends?
(A. Yes B. No)
4. Does this person talk AND listen to you?
(A. Yes B. No)
5. Would you consider this person a friend?
(A. Yes B. No)
6. Do you “act like yourself” when you are with this person?
(A. Yes B. No)
7. Does this person have other interests besides you?
(A. Yes B. No)
8. Does this person expect you to say where you have been when you’ve been apart?
(A. No B. Yes)
9. Does this person lose his or her temper easily?
(A. No B. Yes)
10. Does this person get angry or hurt and/or claim that you don’t pay attention to him or her?
(A. No B. Yes)
11. Have you ever seen this person throw, hit or break things when angry?
(A. No B. Yes)
12. Is this person jealous of the time you spend with your friends and relatives?
(A. No B. Yes)
13. Does this person seem to have control issues?
(A. No B. Yes)
Count and total each “A” and “B.” Use the key below to gauge how healthy your relationship is:
13-11 A’s = you seem to have a healthy relationship,
10-8 A’s = your relationship is showing moderate signs of abusiveness,
7-5 A’s = Please seek help, you are very likely in an abusive or potentially abusive relationship.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799- SAFE
In the news this month Match.com announced their new policy of screening applicants against the National Sex Offender Registry after a law suit was filed by Carole Markin. Ms. Markin claims she met a man on Match.com and after their second date, he followed her home where he attacked her.
Unfortunately, there will always be those people out there that go online in search of someone to connect with for the wrong reasons. In fact it was a disturbing story similar to this one that started our website. SaferDates.com was created after one of our founders heard a story of a woman whose experience with online dating ended tragically. This story touched us so much that we have made it our mission to dedicate every day to providing an atmosphere that empowers the online community to defend itself against the threat of criminals both on and offline. Everyone on our staff strongly believes that empowerment is driven by knowledge. We are proof of it personally as the majority of us have backgrounds in martial arts and self-defense.
For this reason it’s important to help not only our members, but everyone out there looking for love online by sharing as much information about personal safety as possible. Online dating is becoming more popular now and is expanding to all age groups. Many people either know someone who uses online dating, or someone who met their partner on a dating site. After all, where else can you conveniently meet someone you are attracted to and have similar interests, personalities and values?
The first and most important physical safety tip is awareness. Unlike social networks, many online dating sites have measures in place to protect your anonymity when communicating. You have control and do not have to share any of your personal information including your first name. Keeping your profile page simple and honest without over sharing is attractive and safer. Below are a few additional safety tips to put into practice:
- Before going out, gather information on your date and share that information with friends and family. Keeping any romance a secret could lead to serious complications later.
- Be vague. You’re not being deceptive if you tell someone you live in a big city instead of saying you live in a specific town.
- Make sure your first date is in a public place and agree to meet them versus having them pick you up at home.
- Have someone call and check up on you sometime during the evening. You can always use code words to get out of an uncomfortable situation.
- Finally, before you go out with someone, make sure to always run a background check. Although it is not a guarantee, it could certainly help avoid a dangerous situation.
The following excerpt is from a website appropriately named onguardonline.gov. Their article titled “Online Dating Scams” is definitely worth the read. It provides helpful tips for online financial safety, as well as, information on how to report online dating scams.
“Scammers look for targets of any age and in any location, who they can convince to send money in the name of love.
It can be tough to tell if your sweetie’s heart is in the right place. Here are some clues that it’s not:
- He wants to leave the dating site immediately and use your personal email or IM.
- She claims love in a heartbeat.
- He claims to be from the U.S., but is currently overseas.
- She plans to visit, but is prevented by a traumatic event.
People have reported scammers who professed undying love and affection at warp speed; others who secured their trust through passionate and intimate conversation; and still others who took a more deliberate approach with months of patient wooing before asking for money. Some scammers even make wedding plans”.
In short, the fact that technology is changing the dynamics of dating means we need to work on the adaption to a new set of safety precautions.
Special thanks to Top Martial Arts in Clearwater Florida.
I was shopping the other day and noticed the department stores already switched over their clothes to fall attire and it hit me… its back to school time! Instantly I was reminded to write something on college campus safety. When I got back to my office, I spotted an overlooked note, penned on my calendar back in May, as a reminder to write a post on this very topic. I remembered adding that note right after reading an article about the Virginia lacrosse player murder on www.foxnews.com.
My initial thought for this post was to gather as much information as I could get my hands on without overwhelming everyone at the same time. Then I found the following website and hit the jackpot: www.securityoncampus.org
Today, Security On Campus, Inc. (SOC) remains the first and only nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of criminal violence at colleges and universities nationwide through educational, awareness, and policy initiatives. SOC’s website provides access to a comprehensive database of campus crime statistics and other pertinent information. SOC has many major legislative accomplishments, one in particular called the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, a federal law that requires institutions of higher education to release campus crime statistics and security policies to their current and prospective students and employees.
I recommend all students and parents of students bookmark this site for easy future reference.
Plus check out the following five safety tips to consider when moving onto campus. Feel free to pass them around.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. We can’t say that enough! Be aware of strangers in your dorm. During the day, walk the campus to learn a couple different ways to get to and from class. Plus make a mental note of vulnerable areas and steer clear of them especially at night.
- Contact your campus security officer and request a report on campus crime history and talk to them about the vulnerable areas you spotted.
- Contact the local community safety officer assigned to the neighborhood(s) around the campus. Anyone can do this to learn more about their neighborhood. Your local community safety officer should know every criminal or future criminal in the area, that’s their job. Pick their brain, I did before purchasing my home and learned what neighborhoods to stay clear of.
- Make sure your dorm room or apartment has adequate locks on the doors and windows. You can have your parents install more locks before they head back home, if needed. Also make sure your door has a peephole and if it doesn’t ask to have one installed.
- Run a background check on your roommate and surrounding roommates by gathering information nonchalantly. Act like you’re getting to know everyone and just want to jot down their full name and date of birth. It should seem harmless to them. If not, just explain you like to pass out cupcakes on birthdays and what college kid doesn’t like cupcakes.
My college years were a blast. I would go back in a heartbeat. So have fun, be crazy, party, eat lots of pizza and cupcakes, while your metabolism allows it, but always remember to never, ever get too comfortable and let your guard down! Oh and I forgot to mention the most important thing, try and learn something while you’re at it. And I don’t mean how to become a master at chandeliers. My favorite drinking game!
Until next time, here’s to keeping you Safer in the City!
About Jessica Walker~”Safer in the City” columnist I was very excited when asked to write a column for http://www.saferdates.com/ I’ve been influenced by safety and self-defense pretty much my whole life. While other girls were making macaroni necklaces in Girl Scouts, I was sparring with boys, breaking boards and doing knuckle push-ups on cement in Tae Kwon Do class. Read my column to learn more.
We spotted this online dating safety tip in the news this morning and wanted to share it with our readers. Help promote safer online dating and share this information with people you know who enjoy the many benefits of online dating.
Safer Dates believes awareness is always your best defense.
EL PASO – An online scam is taking aim at “lonely women” and making U.S. soldiers look bad in the process.
The U.S. Army says the scammers use the pictures and names of soldiers serving overseas on dating websites and start relationships with women.
The scammers then explain in order to continue the online relationship, because they say they are serving overseas, they need money for “special laptops.”
“We’ve even seen instances where the perpetrators are asking the victims for money to “purchase leave papers” from the Army or help pay for their flight home so they can leave the war zone,” An Army spokesman said.
To continue reading please visit NewsChannel 9
Regardless of where you meet new people, you should always consider your safety first. Some argue that worrying so much about safety puts a damper on the whole dating experience. Untrue. Think about it, we do some of the following personal safety precautions every day, almost instinctually:
• Putting on a seat belt in the car
• Looking both ways before crossing the street
• Applying sunscreen when sunbathing
• Learning CPR
• Wearing a life vest while boating
These are great examples of accepted ways in which we are prepared and aware of how to avoid a hazardous situation.
While dating online, you still want to practice ways that eliminate potential hazards and although it may not sound romantic, your personal safety could be at risk if you ignore certain precautions. Here are a few of our recommendations that should help you be more prepared and aware while dating:
• Before going out, gather information on your date and share that information with friends and family. Keeping any romance a secret could lead to serious complications later.
• Be vague. You’re not being deceptive if you tell someone you live in a big city instead of saying you live in a specific town.
• Make sure your first date is in a public place and agree to meet them versus having them pick you up at home.
• Have someone call and check up on you sometime during the evening. You can always use code words to get out of an uncomfortable situation.
• Finally, before you go out with someone, make sure to always run a background check. Your safety is worth it!
While we’ve all evolved to the ever changing dynamics of dating, especially online, we still need to work on the adaption to a new set of safety precautions. Share these tips with your friends and family so one day they’ll be as instinctual as wearing a seat belt.
For those already involved in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is a wonderful way to open up the lines of communication to let our significant other know how much we love them. For singles it can be a very emotional and vulnerable time and Valentine’s Day is the perfect day for scammers to target these emotions.
Online dating romance scams mainly target free dating websites or sites that do not moderate. They usually start with the scammer setting up a fake profile and making false promises. After building trust, scammers play on their victim’s emotions by planning to meet them in some faraway place or asking for money. To get what they want they may ask you personal questions about family members, where you live, your birthday or pry into your financial status. Do not share any of this information on your profile, merely describe who you are and what you are looking for in a partner.
Due to a 30 percent increase in online dating scams last year, more dating sites are working hard to weed out the scammers. Unfortunately this percentage is a little higher because many victims do not report the scam – they are too embarrassed.
Safer online dating sites should include:
• Screening procedures to get accepted on the site.
• Safety Tips
• Background screenings
• A way to contact the administration to report any suspicious activity.
Follow these safety guidelines and make this year a Valen-time to remember!