'I was raped by my Bumble date' - how women feel unsafe going on dates in Leeds

In a series of investigations into women's safety on the streets of Leeds, we look at dating.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 4th November 2019, 1:19 pm

Leeds is a brilliant city for dating. Head into any bar on Greek Street on a given night and you're likely to spot a couple meeting for a drink.

Often you can play at guessing how they met, if it's their first or third date, or even if one of them is more into it than the other.

But there is an increasing dependence on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, where people meet others with whom they have only chatted on a virtual basis and do not know.

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Women have been subjected to rape, sexual assault and other kinds of assault after going on dates in Leeds. Picture: Getty

Numbers released by West Yorkshire Police show, unsurprisingly, a spike in the number of crimes in the county relating to online dating and apps through their rise in popularity over the last five years.

Of a total of 193 crimes connected to dating apps since 2014, 105 of these listed the victim as female, while 62 were men (the remaining 26 had no record of the victim's gender).

Offences included harassment, sexual assault, physical assault, grooming and rape.

Non-sexual or violent crimes such as malicious communications (i.e. sending threats or trolling), theft and blackmail were also common.

Nearly three quarters of all victims of crimes related to the dating app Tinder were women, West Yorkshire Police said

There were 22 reports of rape connected to dating apps in West Yorkshire over the past five years - 17 had female victims, one of whom was a child under 13.

Tinder was the most commonly-named dating app amongst crimes reported between 2014 and July of this year, pertaining to 40% (78) of all offences.

Meanwhile, 73% of these Tinder-related crimes had female victims.

Ella* was raped after a date with a man she met on dating app Bumble in Leeds in November 2017.

Rape survivor Ella was attacked by a man she met through Bumble. She said the man was never prosecuted over the attack - despite admitting it in writing - nd she is terrified of bumping into him. Picture posed by model.

"Prior to [being raped], I had always been very conscious of safety", she said. "I was spiked on a night out in 2011 when I was a student at Leeds University.

"I would always notify friends of where I was going.

"I never thought I would be so unlucky as to be attacked once, never mind twice. After being raped in 2017, I have struggled hugely with anxiety and panic attacks.

"I no longer feel safe on my own, even in my own house and I never walk on my own regardless of day or night.

Women have been subjected to rape, sexual assault and other kinds of assault after going on dates in Leeds. Picture: Getty

"To a certain extent I live my life in fear and only feel safe when I’m with my boyfriend, who I met after I was raped and who has always been a wonderful support."

The man who raped Ella was never prosecuted, despite admitting it in writing.

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"Ultimately after a year-long investigation, and after the man who raped me admitted what he had done via text, the CPS didn’t feel there was enough evidence to charge him", she said.

"That has just added to me not feeling safe as there seems to be no deterrent against violent attacks.

"Even now, one of my biggest fears is that I will bump into the man who attacked me and I wouldn't be able to do anything about it. The only consolation is that, God forbid, he ever attacks someone else, my allegations would be on his record as evidence of 'bad character', which could potentially sway a future charging decision."

Luckily, many of Leeds' bars and pubs are catching on to the importance of women's safety when meeting a date.

Ask for Angela is a scheme many bar staff use. Anyone who is feeling uncomfortable on a date - or just in general - can go to the bar and ask to see 'Angela'.

The code name means staff will either call you a taxi or discreetly help you leave the premises.

It's a good idea in theory - but not all bars are aware of it.

The Yorkshire Evening Post contacted 50 different bars across Leeds asking if they were aware of Ask for Angela.

Of those contacted, only 24 replied. Some 21 bars said they were aware of the scheme, but only 13 confirmed staff were trained to act if necessary.

Those that said they actively used it included The Decanter on Park Row, The Lost & Found on Albion Place, The Stone Roses on Lower Briggate, North Bar on New Briggate and Crowd of Favours on Harper Street.

Councillor Al Garthwaite, Labour councillor for Headingley and Hyde Park, is a big supporter of the scheme and is trying to ensure it is rolled out across as many venues as possible.

In a meeting with Women's Lives Leeds - a support group promoting women's safety in Leeds - Coun Garthwaite said she wanted to see staff trained to respond if female customers were at risk.

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police runs a campaign every year to highlight the nature of rape and sexual offences, and the Force says that all cases are taken seriously no matter who the victim is, or when and where the crime occurred.

Rape survivor Ella added that, despite everything, the problem of women's safety at night is not an issue specific to Leeds.

"Every one of my friends from different cities across the UK has, at some point, been subjected to the behaviour I’ve outlined," she added, "from inappropriate comments to rape."

"My own father said it was my fault for being raped as I 'shouldn’t have put myself in that position'.

"Even had it gone to court I was warned [by the detective] that I would have to dress covering from neck to knee, minimal make up, and to hope that I didn't get a jury of Asian men or older women, as they were 'the demographic least likely to convict statistically'.

"Women are made to feel as though it is solely their fault when something happens and there is still not enough accountability for men despite the lip service that we hear."

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of sexual assault victims