Cyber Stalker
Have you ever been scammed or catfished online? One out of every two Americans have, including myself. More and more Americans are now using the internet to find love. There are so many online services and dating apps out there. An estimated forty million Americans are connecting online to meet someone new. You want to have some safety precautions in place and some self defense knowledge. Knowing simple steps for your safety when interacting with others online is self-protection. Dating apps do not conduct criminal background checks on users, so it is up to you to determine if you are comfortable meeting up with someone you met on social media.

Here are some statistics to think about:

  • Ten percent of sex offenders use online dating to meet people.
  • Approximately three percent of men using online dating apps are psychopaths.
  • More than twenty percent of rapists use online dating sites and apps to find victims.
  • Internet predators commit over sixteen thousand abductions, one hundred murders and thousands of rapes annually.

The crazy thing about this is dating sites are making big money and more and more Americans are going online every day looking for the right soulmate. Some people are comfortable meeting up with a stranger after just a few chats on an app. You can tell if someone is telling you the truth about themselves just by speaking to them on the phone. If they are reluctant to give out their number, or they shrug it off, suggest a video chat instead and pay attention. A red flag should go up if they avoid providing any personal or contact information.

If you are planning to meet someone for a first date, meet them in a public environment such as a coffee shop or restaurant, with a lot of other people in the area. Never have them pick you up at your home or work.

Keep yourself and your home safe. Do not give out your address and do not accept a ride, even if the person suggests riding together for convenience. Your home is your place of safety. Do not create any uncertainty, so do not do it. You must always keep your guard up because you never know when an attempt will happen. Rape catches every victim off guard. You go out to have a fun night with someone and it ends up being a nightmare and you have been sexually assaulted. Nobody can predict when rape will happen but be proactive by thinking ahead and be smart.

What I would recommend before you meet up in person with a potential date for the first time is you may want to research the person's name on social media to be sure they are not using a fake social media account to create their dating profile. If you feel uncomfortable with that person and they are acting inappropriately towards you and you are feeling suspicious, you can block them and report them. If you decide to meet someone, before meeting them on a date, tell a family member and/or a friend where you are going, when and who you are meeting on a date. Take a screenshot of your date's profile and let them know. If you decide to go somewhere else, text your friend and let them know where you are going and when you are home. Even if everything goes good on your date, DO NOT invite him to your home or go to his. You want to spend more time together in public places.

While on your date, if something does not seem right and you get an uncomfortable feeling, your internal alarm is going off. Go with your intuition. You may have possibly met with someone who intends to commit sexual assault. Make up an excuse and leave. Trust your instincts and feel free to leave a date or cut off communication with whoever is making you feel unsafe. Do not feel bad about your decision; you are playing it safe, and you are a warrior. The safest plan is to think ahead. Stay around people, make your own way there and back, and do not feel pressured to go home with your date. You want to get to know the person face to face and make sure your expectations match your date's. You do not owe this person anything, no matter how long you have been chatting online.

Be aware of alcohol and drugs, they play a major role in date rapes. Drinking can loosen inhibitions, reduce commonsense, and causes some people to get extremely aggressive. Drugs can take away your ability to be in control or get help. Some criminals will put a drug in your drink, and it is almost impossible to detect it. These drugs make people feel weak and confused and can cause you to pass out and forget everything that happened while on the drug. You must protect yourself and focus on the safety and prevent it.

Self defense is not a luxury; it is an essential life skill. Knowledge and experience are a necessity. Fighting back may be your only choice of escape and you deserve a fighting chance. This can happen to anyone, so work on your self-defense skills and be prepared. You should know the person well before you go into secluded places, especially when you are in the early stages of dating. Going someplace where you cannot get help is risky. This includes your home, apartment, or bedroom. If you do feel comfortable going to their house, be sure a family member or a friend knows where you are. When in their house, know how to get out. Make up an excuse to go out to your car and know how all the locks work on the doors and how to get out quick. In case you need help, I recommend having a speed dial on your phone.

If your date is not being respectful and is putting his hands on you, yell "Please stop" and put on a mean face. Get yourself to be angry. If they persist, hold their hands, and get your feet on his hips so you can control the distance between the two of you and you can get away. Be sure to make a lot of noise screaming and yelling, as you want to make him think someone can hear you. His fear is getting caught. If they continue and do not stop, you should not hesitate or feel badly about striking someone who has not listened to what you told them. Be aware, though, that it could possibly trigger violence in them. You want to get away and go to safety. Criminals and predators have a plan and have likely "done this before." Assaults are swift and vicious. Fighting back and having a plan may be your only chance of survival, and you deserve a fighting chance.

Just so you know, if you have been scammed or assaulted by interacting with others online, you are not alone, and it is not your fault. I was catfished by someone I met on Facebook. She was from China. It seemed so genuine that our communication went on for a couple months. It seemed like we had so much in common, but something did not seem right. I went with my intuition and instincts, so I insisted on a video chat. She resisted and shrugged it off, made up several excuses not to have the video chat. That was when I knew I was catfished by a stranger.

This can happen to anyone. Use this knowledge to keep your guard up and go with your intuition and stay safe.

Robert "Tokyo Joe" LaMattina is the founder of Tokyo Joe's Studios. He is a Grand Master in Kempo karate. He has bee studying the martial arts for over fifty years and has been offering women's self-defense rape prevention courses since 1980. To contact him, send an email to

karate@tokyojoesstudios.comcastbiz.net

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