A couple weeks ago, our advisor Rebekah Bastian introduced us to Dana Lockhart, Director of the Domestic Violence Victim Support Team for the Seattle Police Department. It was our intention to interview Dana for a series of conversations about safety and online dating to begin in April, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM).
Unfortunately, this conversation took on a new level of immediacy this past weekend when Ingrid Lyne, a Seattle-area mother of three, lost her life following a date with a man she met online. Details are still emerging but police have a suspect in custody, 37-year-old John Robert Charlton.
Whether the man Lyne met online is ultimately found guilty of her murder, this case echoes a scenario that Lockhart considers part of a disturbing trend: a rise in assault and violent abuse seen much earlier in relationships than was previously common, which seems to correspond to the rise of online dating.
Our in-depth conversations with Dana Lockhart are in the works. For now, we would just like to extend our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ingrid Lyne during this time of grief and senseless tragedy.
We would also like to emphasize how important it is to curb whatever victim-blaming tendencies any of us might be tempted to vocalize right now and realize that Ingrid Lyne wasn't doing anything wrong. Over 40 million American adults have tried online dating, and according to a recent Pew Research Poll, 5% of Americans in a marriage or committed relationship met online, a number that is growing. It is completely reasonable to expect to be able to meet someone online and not get murdered. Period.
As a dating app that places the highest priority on both safety and deeper, less superficial connections, this is a case that we will be watching closely in coming weeks, in the interest of creating some constructive dialogue about how we can use the resources at our disposal to help make online dating safer for everyone.