Women over 35 using online dating apps hit with ‘rejection violence,’ experts say

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Greek Australian, Stacey Koniaras, returned to the dating scene after her divorce and there was nothing pleasant about her experience.

“I was told, ‘I wish you misery and ill health for your life and your family’. You name it and I’ve been called it,” the 47-year-old nail artist told ABC News.

For the Warrnambool mother, it was a rude introduction to the world of online dating after coming out of a long-term relationship four years ago. What struck her wasn’t the remarks themselves but the disproportionate reactions to polite rebuffs.

“[One date’s] reaction was extreme [and over] the top,” she told the media outlet.

“I would block him and then he would start up another messenger account — calling me, calling my friends.”

Stacey Koniaras has been the victim of ‘rejection violence.’ Photo: ABC News/Patrick Stone.

Ms Koniaras was forced to get a restraining order to get him to stop.

“It was quite stressful.”

While Ms Koniaras is now in a relationship after meeting someone “the old-fashioned way,” she’s speaking out in the hope it can help change attitudes.

“I just find it really sad that women are still treated the way we are,” she said.

Why ‘rejection violence’ is becoming more common:

Ms Koniaras is among women over 35 years old who reported cases of severe hostility from some men as part of a triple j Hack callout on dating apps.

A joint triple j Hack and Four Corners investigation in October revealed Tinder was failing to adequately respond to survivors of sexual assault and allowing rapists to cover their tracks.

Academic Lily Thacker, an adjunct professor at the US-based Eastern Kentucky University, coined the term “rejection violence” to describe the phenomenon.

‘Rejection violence’ is becoming more common on online dating sites such as Bumble and Twitter.

She documented physically violent reactions to rejection globally that ranged from women being stabbed and shot to gang raped just for saying no.

“But the most common form of rejection violence is verbal abuse,” she added.

Figures show just how common this verbal and text-based abuse has become.

  • A 2020 study by the US-based Pew Research Centre found nearly half of all women aged between 35 and 49 who used online dating, had someone continue contact after they said they weren’t interested — nearly double the rate among men.
  • More than a third of women had been called an offensive name.

How to deal with troubling behaviour:

Ms Thacker said tackling these toxic behaviours meant looking at depictions of masculinity in mass media and at home.

“Men don’t just wake up one morning and have that idea in their head, it gets put there, and then it gets reinforced,” she said.

“The standard set for men in so many cultures is so unbelievably unobtainable.”

Since the joint investigation by triple j Hack and Four Corners, a number of policy changes at Tinder and its rival dating app, Bumble, have also been made.

In a statement, Tinder Australia told the ABC it had added a number of safety features over the past year including the introduction of safety-focused photo verification technology in Australia.

It also added a feature asking users if a particular message bothered them, the company said.

In a statement, Bumble said it also had a number of features in the app that allowed users to hide, block and report users who violated its terms.

It also used a mix of artificial intelligence and moderators to verify photos and identities as well as crack down on unsolicited nude images, it said.

Source: ABC News.

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