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Dangerous dating: how to protect yourself while dating in cyberspace

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PROVIDENCE -

A New Bedford woman out on a date with a man she met online is still recovering after the date took a violent and nightmarish turn.

The woman says she was recently raped, sodomized, assaulted, kidnapped and nearly strangled to death by a guy she had just met on a website named ‘Tagged.'

According to the New Bedford Standard Times, the 31-year-old woman says she was beaten

After hearing the story, NBC 10 decided to dig deeper, speaking with some local experts about what steps online daters can take to prevent a similar situation from happening to them.

"When you're starting to get to know somebody through an online relationship or dating online, it's important to have a sense of a safety, a plan in the back of your head if things don't turn out exactly as you think," Deborah DeBare said.

DeBare is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She suggests online daters, especially women, should start planning for the safety of the date before the meet up even happens.

The women's advocate said, "So, for example, make sure that you never meet somebody in private for the first time you're meeting them. Meet in a public place so there are a lot of other people around. Also, let a friend or family member know where you're going to be, so that in case you need some help, or something goes wrong, someone will know where you are."

She thinks online daters should even go as far as coming up with a short, ‘secret code' that you could easily text a friend, signifying you need help, should trouble arise.

DeBare said, "Just a quick message and let them know that you want them to come (telling the friend where you are beforehand) just in case it doesn't turn out right."

Providence Attorney Brian Lamoureux was in general litigation for years, but suddenly began specializing in social media and legal issues after an NBC10 interview a few years ago regarding a Facebook case put him in the public spotlight, and his phone his been ringing off the case for legal help with similar cases ever since."

Lamoureux said, "I think tips I'd give for folks who are trying to engage in a relationship online, one is, use your best instincts and your best judgment. If it didn't feel right, or seem right, chances are it's not going to be a good situation."

Lamoreux says he gets physically upset after seeing what some people are sharing online.

"I'm very concerned with people checking into places and RSVP-ing for events, and establishing a regular presence at particular places that people can look at and say, this person is out of the house at this time every Friday night because they check into this bar."

He said, "Even listing what you enjoy doing on the weekends could lead someone to track you down and create a stalking situation."

The domestic violence expert we spoke with said that New Bedford woman who says she was recently raped and kidnapped by her online date, is very lucky to be alive.

And DeBare reminded that regardless of the fact that the woman took the man home, no one deserves to be abused.

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