Many years a go, when the internet just came about, it was not uncommon to hear advice similar to the tune of "never meet anyone in person that you have met online". Obviously, in today's world it's much more common to meet - but this does not mean you should not still take sensible precautions. Below we present some advice for you. But please remember, the list is not exhaustible and you should do your own research taking precautions for your own safety.
Talk on the phone
Probably the first step is to talk on the phone. This way there is a number that hopefully is traceable. Do not rely on messaging online, people use VPNs that can mask their IP and location.
Vet before you meet
Never ever take an online profile to be genuine. Do a little research, sometimes social media accounts and a google search can reveal a lot about a person.
If you are meeting someone in real life on your first few dates, then meet somewhere public. Please ensure you pass on their details to someone close and text them to let them know you are ok every hour and once when you arrive home safely. You should also ask your date's permission to pass on the information to your close relative or friend.
Meet is a public place
Make sure you meet in a well lit and public place where there will be lots of other people around.
Never feel pressured to meet
If you feel pressured to meet, just say no.
Tell someone you trust where and who you are meeting. But again we cannot put enough emphasis on the fact that you need to make sure you are 100% sure you are meeting a genuine person.
Take your mobile phone with you
Always take your mobile phone with you and make sure it is switched on and fully charged. It is always advisable. to make sure that the venue has a good signal for your mobile service provider.
Check out the venue
It is always advisable to physically go and check the venue, find out if it safe, does it have security and CCTV cameras etc.
Never leave your drink/food unattended
Always make sure you have your drink with you. This way you can be sure no one can slip anything nasty into it, this includes being cautious with the person(s) you are meeting. Never trust anyone. This always applies to food or anything you might ingest.
Always have your transport arranged by yourself. Do not reply on others, don't accept a lift home, get a taxi from a reputable firm. Pre-booking is always wise too.
Find friend apps
Some phones such as iPhones have a tracking system where friends can track you and know where you are at all times. This may be a useful asset if you don't mind your friend or relative knowing where you are at all times. This feature can also be turned on and off as you wish usually.
Never give out your address, real name or any other personal information until you are 100% sure you can trust the other person(s).
Going to the loo
Never leave behind items like handbag, mobile phone, keys (in fact anything) behind when visiting the toilet etc. Like your drink or feed, always make sure you never leave your personal belongings unattended by yourself.
We would not recommend inviting someone to your home that you have not met before or have met a few times only - this would be very dangerous.
After knowing someone for some time and being able to fully trust them, it is important to set up some ground rules first for things you expect and do not expect from your visitor(s) such as:
- Staying overnight
- Serarate rooms
- Leaving time
Do not get intoxicated
Do not get drunk/intoxicated. You will not know what you are doing or you may do something you may later regret.
Never agree to being filmed
This is a rule that goes without saying, especially in intimate situations that may be compromising your privacy.
Again, we cannot stress enough that any offline encounters are your sole responsibility and this includes your safety. Always remember you are meeting strangers, no matter how long you have known them online.