Safety Tips

Online Dating and Hook-Up Safety Tips

Violence can have physical, emotional, and financial impacts. We encourage LGBTQ and HIV-affected community members to get support and stay safe, including when dating or hooking up online. We can help even if the incident isn’t reported to the police and we keep all information confidential.


Make a safety plan and let someone else know (We can help!). Tell at least one person about your plans, such as who you’ll be with, a way to get in touch with the person/people that you are meeting, meeting place, and what you plan to do. Plan in advance what will happen if you feel unsafe, such as where they will meet you and whether you want police called.

Use your tech. Text yourself or friends about where you’ll be or where you are, the handle the person or persons use on the website or phone app. Include a picture of the person, and save messages when using websites and phone apps.

Meet in public. Meeting in public allows for greater options for safety. If possible bring friends with you, as they can watch your back and give you their impressions. If the person doesn’t look like the picture, ask them about it. If they don’t have an answer you feel comfortable with, leave.

Know your limits. If you’re going to use substances, including alcohol, consider deciding ahead of time when and how much you will use.

Practice safer sex. If you think you may have sex, make it safer sex—bring safer sex supplies and use them. AVP has free safer sex supplies (condoms for men and for women, lube, dental dams, etc.) available and can help you safety plan around how to ask your sex partner to engage in safer sex.

Incidents of hook-up violence can happen in public spaces such as bars, sex/play parties, etc. Let friends, other patrons, or bar/nightclub staff know if you leave temporarily and when you intend to return. When you are outside, scan the street for establishments (such as a bodega or car service) where you can go to seek help if you feel unsafe. Don’t leave any drinks or your belongings unattended. Discuss your interests and boundaries for sex, including BDSM, before engaging.

Trust your instincts. If you feel threatened or unsafe at any point, if at all possible exit the situation.

You can say no. No matter who initiates or how far you’ve gone, you can stop at any time for any reason.


It’s not your fault. Nobody has the right to violate your boundaries or commit violence against you, no matter where it happens or how you met.
Document the incident. Take photos of any injuries; keep records of emails, texts, calls.
Consider medical attention or counseling after an incident. Violence can have many physical and emotional impacts. AVP has free and confidential counseling and support group sessions available.

Hate Violence and Police Violence Safety Tips


Let someone know your plans for the night: who you’ll be with and if plans change. Brainstorm in advance ways people can contact and support you.
Be aware of surroundings. Locate public spaces and 24-hour businesses to seek help if you feel unsafe.
Trust your instincts. If you feel threatened or unsafe, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
Use words to alert bystanders and use your body to defend yourself or to get away.
Leave a trail: Program our hotline information (212-714-1141) into your phone; let people around you know when you leave a place; text yourself or friends about where you’ll be; save e-mails and online messages.


Consider medical attention after an incident. Violence can have a physical and emotional impact.
Document the incident. Take photos of injuries, and keep records of e-mails, texts and calls.
Take care of yourself. Utilize friends, partners, and family.

Police Violence

If you’ve called the police, introduce yourself when they arrive. This shows that you know to report misconduct.
If you are harassed or attacked by the police, get their name and badge/car numbers.
You do not have to consent to a search of your person, your car, or your house. Do not try to stop police from searching you. Instead, repeat out loud, “I do not consent to this search.”
You have the right to watch and document police activities. Take video and pictures at a safe distance.

Call us.  We’re here to support LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of all forms of violence, including hook-up, dating, sexual, intimate partner, hate, and police violence. If you have witnessed or experience violence, we encourage you to call our 24-hour bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 where you can speak with a trained counselor or to use our secure online reporting form.

Take care of yourself. Utilize the help of supportive friends, partners and family.

Get involved. To help keep our communities safe, get involved with our community organizing work. Help develop our programs and projects to bring safety for all communities.