When I got a response with the title “I met my rapist on tinder”, a chill washed over me like someone dumped a bucket of iced water on me. The reason is that when I downloaded the Tinder app, my second biggest fear was getting raped; the first was getting killed. For some like Ash, Shan, and Carly, this fear was their reality.
About five years ago, Ash did something that hundreds of thousands of people do every day. She downloaded the tinder app. Very early on, she matched with someone who had most of the qualities she looked for in a partner (or so she thought) and with the convenience of being a ten-minute bus ride away, they met up for their first date where they had a nice walk.
The first signs of trouble were mild, with Ash not allowed to be outside of his room when she visited (even to use the bathroom) because he did not trust his roommate. Ash saw it as him being a little overprotective, but it was not enough of a red flag because the roommate in question was “a really garbage” person.
A few weeks into dating, the financial abuse started with him asking for money for things such as bus tickets and meals with no reciprocation, and this was quickly followed by verbal and emotional abuse that involved words like “You’re useless, you’re a slut, you’re a whore!”
After over three months of dating, Ash realised she was dating an alcoholic who needed weed to function. He was insanely jealous to the point of threatening to harm her male coworkers and occasionally saying, “you can’t leave me, or I’ll kill myself.”
On a mid-December day in 2017, he had visited Ash at home. Whilst having sex that night, she asked him to be gentle because she was still sore from him using a toy on her the day before (or that morning), which she had protested (in vain) was too big. He met her request with accusations of cheating and him being rougher with her. At that point, she asked him to stop because she was in pain, but her pleas fell to deaf ears, her being pinned to a position and leaving her with the only choice of shoving her face into the pillow so that he couldn’t hear her pain noises.
An argument started at about 4 am because he wanted the window open, and she wanted it closed because it was too cold. He brought up the subject of a work dinner she had planned to escalate the fight. Accusing her of sleeping with her coworker, he promised to attend the dinner to “punch him (the coworker) jaw in.” After a physical altercation that involved him punching a wall and a vodka bottle in her direction, she responded by throwing a piece of the glass back in his direction, she asked him to leave multiple times, and he refused. She eventually let him sleep on her couch and ended the relationship with him after leaving the next day.
Like Ash, Shan met up with a tinder date years ago. She was 18 years old, and he said he was in the army and had pictures of him in an army uniform. When she got to his house, “there wasn’t much furniture and it looked… weird.” He said his house had been robbed when he was away for army work. The date went okay, and Shan agreed to spend the night. During sex, he penetrated her anally without permission “and wouldn’t stop,” says Shan. It was the last time she used a dating app.
Similarly, Carly met her rapist online through another dating App, Bumble. Both parties had expressed wanting a casual hookup during the first date, and on the second date, they hung out with other friends, after which she had told her desire to go home alone because she had too much to drink. He begged to come with her, and Carly agreed on the condition that there would be no sex that night. “When he got to my house, he wound up overpowering me and assaulting me,” she says.
Neither Ash, Shan or Carly reported the rapes to the police, and in Ash’s case, it was because when she reported a sexual assault to the police when she was in high school, she was told they did not have any evidence to charge the culprit. “I was told I couldn’t charge the first person with sexual assault, so what’s to say I’m gonna be able to charge him with rape,” says Ash.
According to Ash, “The unfortunate part of dating apps is that…you get attracted to the good qualities of somebody without being able to see the bad ones,” says Ash. She continues to suffer PTSD, requiring her to go to therapy years after this incident.
Part 3 of Online Dating Stories will be available on Wednesday, May 12.