Dear Kiki: I recently left my abuser. Is it safe to use Tinder?

Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area can be sent to (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Illustration by Jav Ducker

Dear Kiki,

I’d like to try dating again, specifically trying out Tinder. I recently moved outside of Iowa City, away from my abuser. He doesn’t know where I live. I know that Tinder uses your location. How can I be safe on the app, and is there a way to use the app without your location being known?

Sincerely, Looking for Love after Abuse

Dear Looking,

I commend you for getting out of an abusive relationship. It is a dangerous and fearful time for victims, especially in the beginning stage, which it sounds like you’re still in. Iowa City is not a big city, and even though you’re outside of town, which might seem safer as you’re less likely to run into your abuser at the grocery store, your location in Oxford or Mt.Vernon will be more obvious on a dating site that is location-based. Maybe your ex won’t see your profile, but someone who knows you both might. Then you could possibly be looked for in a smaller area where you would be easier to find. So I will be blunt up front, your safety is of utmost importance now.

I’m generally familiar with most dating apps—even a few as a mostly disappointed dater. (Not to say there aren’t amazing love stories that began on Match or super hot hook-ups that happen from a swipe on Tinder.) Regardless of the app you choose, beginning communication online can seem innocuous enough, but it also begets a lot of deception, dick pics and unsavory loners who are severely lacking in attractive social skills — or worse.

Domestic violence in Iowa City has increased. According to Iowa City Police Domestic Violence Investigator Scott Stevens, “Traditionally, going back, Iowa City police has handled between 500 to 600 cases of relationship-related violence (so, domestic assault, harassment, stalking, violation of no contact orders). In 2017, we had a little more. We had over 700 of those cases.”

Here are a couple of statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: One in three female murder victims are killed by intimate partners; 94 percent of murder-suicide victims are female. If you don’t already have one, have you considered getting a court protective order that tells your abuser to stay away from you? Also, keep any evidence if he tried to contact you: Write down the time, date and place. Keep emails, phone messages, gifts, letters or notes. Photograph anything of yours that he damages, especially if you receive any injuries. Do not hesitate to get in touch with resources in our area for support (see below).

I understand the desire for love, companionship and support from an intimate partner, but because you have only recently moved away from your abuser, I am concerned you could be operating from a vulnerable position, emotionally and physically. I would suggest not rushing into another relationship — maybe you will meet someone organically, who you can get to know slowly and safely. I wish you all the best.

–xoxo, Kiki


Domestic Violence Intervention Program

1105 S Gilbert Ct #300
Iowa City, IA 52240
24-Hour Hotline: 1-800-373-1043

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Rape Victim Advocacy Program

332 S Linn St #100
Iowa City, IA 52240
RVAP Crisis Line: 1-800-228-1625

Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline


This article was originally published in Little Village issue 246.

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