Now more than ever—as we hook up online, without even the benefit of neighbors—it’s imperative to watch our own backs.
Here are some tips on how to keep yourself safe:
* BACKGROUND CHECK: Before going on a date, Google him. Do a Facebook investigation, says Strack. Research him as thoroughly as if you were buying a used car.
* PRIOR VIOLENCE: Strack also suggests making sure he hasn’t had a restraining order issued against him. Usually these records are available online, although where to find them, depends on your jurisdiction (here’s San Diego’s.) Try the web sites for your local police department, sheriff, district attorney, city, or county, says Strack. Sometimes a good local domestic violence council or program will also have them. A guide to getting free court records online may help you get oriented.
* DISAPPEARING ACT: Once you’re dating, if he goes missing periodically, or calls erratically, and his explanations don’t quite make sense, be suspicious. These guys are genius at lying to cover up a double life. One time, Frey called Peterson’s cell phone to leave a message for when he arrived in Paris, as she knew he was on the plane. But to her surprise he picked up. (Unbeknownst to her, it was two days after he killed his wife Laci and the son she was about to give birth to.) He kept explaining away various events that didn’t line up. Ultimately, she became uneasy enough to call a cop friend and have him checked out.