Swipe right: The emergence of dating-app facilitated sexual assault

      The use of dating ‘apps’ to facilitate real-word social encounters between strangers is ubiquitous. Sexual assaults following dating-app meetings have been reported in the media and anecdotally noted by clinical forensic physicians. Limited empirical data suggests there has been an increase in real life sexual offences facilitated in this manner. There is little additional known about the circumstances of these alleged incidents. This retrospective audit of a single clinician’s forensic examination caseload from an Australian metropolitan clinical forensic medicine service identified that 14.5% (11/76) of alleged sexual assaults where complainants underwent a forensic examination were facilitated following a dating-app meeting. In all cases where it was asked (n=9), the alleged incident occurred at the first face-to-face meeting between the parties following a period of online communication. More than half of the incidents occurred at the alleged perpetrator’s private residence. This small preliminary audit suggests a significant proportion of forensic sexual assault examination caseload is being facilitated following dating-app meetings, and identified some common features that may be characteristic of alleged sexual assaults occurring in this manner. The authors propose further large scale research in this rapidly evolving area.
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