- Shraddha Walker’s murder case reignited the debate around women’s mental health, safety, and online dating.
- Experts have weighed in on matters related to online romance scams and abusive relationships.
Netflix’s chilling story of the infamous “Tinder Swindler” Simon Leviev is yet to sink in when the media outlets are filled with the tragic nightmare that is the Shraddha Walkar–Aaftab Poonawala affair. The two had gotten together via a dating app and, at the end of a long-drawn abusive relationship, Walker was brutally murdered by her live-in partner.
In the wake of this event, research groups have claimed that the homicide has frightened many women users of dating sites to the bone. Many have withdrawn from their regular dating app interactions, even preferring to stick to long-term singlehood.
Shraddha Walker’s murder case has indeed raised the much-needed concern about women’s safety and mental health, dating applications, and romance scams.
Online Dating Scams And Abusive Relationships
Many of these deaths are attributed to dowry deaths, kidnapping, rape, and “romantic” revenge killing. Recently, relationships forged over social media platforms, dating websites, and matrimonial apps have come under scrutiny over issues of women’s safety, cybercrime, and human trafficking.
Emerging studies reveal that 60% of social media and dating platform users, especially women, have experienced:
- Stalking and physical harassment
- Emotional abuse
In developing countries like India, with their stringent norms around sexuality and gender, public shame and regressive approaches towards romantic relationships fuel dating scams. In fact, women from tier 2 and 3 cities are the most vulnerable on such platforms.
How Romance Scammers Find Their Victims?
The psychology of scammers, especially romance scammers, comprises narcissism, sociopathy, and artful manipulation. They create illusions of time pressure, scarcity, and authority bias. They frequently subterfuge their victims’ vulnerabilities and personal insecurities.
Such scammers seek out women who fall back on such Internet platforms to deal with unpleasant situations like romantic breakups, sexual dry spells, or loneliness. Many are also enticed by a fake pretext of an ideal romance or a better life or greater employment opportunities.
In most cases, women get so enmeshed in these abusive relationships that they find it difficult to leave. They continue to be exploited and remain at the mercy of their abusers.
Romance Scams And Psychological Impact On Victims
If the victims’ testimonies in The Tinder Swindler are something to go by, online dating scams qualify for nightmarish experiences. Recent research is replete with how women are victims of toxic relationships forged over the Internet. Most victims of such scams report being scarred for life, and experiencing mental health issues like:
- Social anxiety and withdrawal
- Stress disorders
- Trust issues
- Body image dissatisfaction
- Self-harm tendencies, etc.
Correcting The Pitfalls Of Online Romance Scams
Experts have called on dating websites to choose consumer safety and awareness over consumer acquisition and work on consumer awareness programs.
They have also stressed that self-care, self-awareness, and effective communication with a strong support system can help people (especially women) avoid the pitfalls of online dating scams whilst enjoying the benefits of such dating platforms.
For instance, acquainting oneself with “safe dating” protocols listed on dating apps or websites can go a long way in ensuring users’ safety on dating and matrimonial websites.