Points of View: Dating Apps and Sexual Violence
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Match Group can do something about sexual violence. They choose not to.
Lily Goldberg’s point of view
If you’ve ever used dating apps, you know that swiping is almost like a game. It’s fun to see who you associate with and where those matches can take you. But that’s the problem with dating apps. We treat them like a game, and with games there are no serious implications involved. However, this assumption is wrong. I suffered alarming consequences using dating apps on independence day 2020 when I was raped by a man I met on a dating app. I started showing signs of PTSD after the event, my depression worsened and my anxiety escalated. Unfortunately, I am not alone in my experiences.
sexual violence, an umbrella term for assault, abuse, harassment, rape, stalking, etc. is disgusting and common on dating apps, with women and the LGBTQ+ community being disproportionately affected. In a recent study from the Journal of Sex Research, 88.4% of students surveyed had experienced at least one instance of sexual violence on a dating app. The Australian Institute of Criminology found similar results in their study, with three out of four respondents having experienced sexual violence on a dating app.
Even with these startling statistics, there is only one well-known dating platform that has looked into the harmful effects of sexual violence on dating apps. Bumble recently teamed up with Bloom, an app that provides trauma-informed care to survivors of sexual violence. When a user experiences sexual violence on Bumble, they can contact the company and get a free access code to use Bloom’s healing resources. Those who receive the code can complete three self-paced courses: “Healing From Sexual Trauma,” “Society, Patriarchy, and Sexual Trauma,” and “Dating, Boundaries, and Relationships.” These courses allow for maximum flexibility, as they are self-paced and address financial constraints, which can be a significant barrier to receiving any type of mental health treatment.
Unlike Bumble, Match Group (parent company of Tinder, Hinge, Match.com, etc.) does not offer any resources for victims of sexual violence. Match Group has resources on Tinder like a panic button that can be used if the user feels like they are unsafe on a date. However, after an incident of sexual violence, Match Group does nothing for the survivor. In fact, there was testimonials users who haven’t even heard from Tinder after alerting them to a sexual assault.
The lack of response and inability to address the issue of sexual violence shows how little Match Group cares about the safety of its users. That’s not to say that Bumble solves the problem perfectly. In fact, I think all dating apps need to be more innovative in their sexual violence prevention strategies, but at least Bumble is ready to address the problem and aims to help survivors heal. Creating sexual violence prevention strategies will likely take some time, so until then, providing resources to survivors is a step in the right direction.
Match Group should partner with an organization like Bloom to make changes to its handling of sexual violence. Addressing sexual violence in the app not only means preventing it, but also dealing with it when it occurs. Without having the resources in place on the app to deal with what will inevitably happen when strangers meet strangers online, it’s dangerous for all users. Let’s stop ignoring victims of sexual violence and start blaming apps that do nothing to address the intensive issues survivors are facing. Until Match Group adequately addresses sexual violence on its app, I urge you to use Bumble, an innovative app in providing resources to survivors.
Viewpoints on Chapelboro is a recurring series of opinion columns submitted by the community. All thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions in this series are those of the author and do not reflect the work or reporting of 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com.