It all started off pretty routinely: Lucy matched with a guy on Tinder, they chatted on the app, then they decided to meet up in person.
There was dinner, a movie, more banter – it was a fun date.
“He seemed lovely, I really liked him… He was a guy I could see myself dating.”
At the end of the date, he offered to drive Lucy home. But once she was inside his van, the plan quickly changed.
He drove up into the bush, towards the Dandenong Ranges on Melbourne’s outskirts. It’d be fun and they could sleep in the van, he said, despite Lucy’s protests.
“It was really scary and things definitely progressed more than I had wanted them to.”
Lucy told him she didn’t want to have sex, but her date didn’t listen.
“I was raped that night,” Lucy says.
On the ride back to her apartment the next morning, Lucy’s date seemed untroubled about what had happened the night before. He even gave her some advice on how to enjoy sex more.
“Because I hadn’t orgasmed, he was telling me, ‘You’ve just got to relax, blah blah’. He was giving me advice. I don’t think I said anything,” she said.
“I think we had a conversation and when we were talking about me not orgasming he was like, if you need help I’m happy to help you out, and I said look, I’m not going to be messaging you.”
The rapid rise of dating apps
Ten years ago, nobody had heard of the term ‘swipe right’; now it’s being used as a theme for weddings, while online stores sell baby onesies that say, ‘Tinder date went well.’
Finding love and hookups on dating apps is no longer niche: it’s now the number one way Australians meet their partners.
Knowing how ubiquitous dating apps have become in Australia, we were curious to find out more about what happens when dates arranged on apps go wrong.
In a survey last year, we asked our audience a question among many others about their lives: what’s the worst experience you’ve had on a dating app?
Most responses from men were more frustrations than concerns: “Met someone who was clearly much older than their profile claimed,” one man said. Another told us about a date who just wanted to watch reality TV at home.
For women like Lucy, on the other hand, what constituted a ‘bad’ experience was much worse.
One woman described being driven to a park and having her date masturbate in front of her. Another told us about being orally raped. Many others told us more stories of being sexually harassed, assaulted, stalked, and in a particularly shocking case, held hostage overnight.
We’re launching a crowdsourced investigation, and want your help
There’s surprisingly little information about how sexual harassment and assault plays out in the dating world now that it is dominated by apps and websites.
What we do know is that the problem is big enough to warrant a serious investigation: 13 per cent of respondents to triple j’s What’s Up In Your World survey, like Lucy, said they had an experience using a dating app that made them feel unsafe.
We want to know how dating companies handle complaints, if repeat sexual offenders can use dating apps to find their victims, how police investigate these crimes, and how often sexual assault and harassment is going underreported.
It’s in the public interest to find answers for these questions, and we want your help to get them. If you feel comfortable, we want you to share your experience in our crowdsourced investigation.
Your identity will be treated as strictly confidential by the ABC, unless otherwise agreed with you, and the information you provide to us will not be published without your express permission.
For further details about how the information we collect during crowdsourced investigations is handled, see the ABC Crowdsourcing Collection Statement.
If you have further questions, email email@example.com.