Stranger Danger- 2 words that evoke thoughts of people who prey on our children. Years ago the "Stranger Danger" campaign was started as a way to protect our children against those who might prey on their innocence and cause them harm or worse death. We know now that the "Stranger Danger" campaign doesn't work for children. The more likely threat is actually from people they know. Nice try but Epic Fail nonetheless.
We then moved to "Stranger Danger" for the "Tween and Teen set" with regards to the internet. With all the online predators stalking our children there. But, of course what do we know as adults and parents? Even Chris Hanson and Dateline can't seem to convince our children to be careful of those they don't know. They too are as likely to be injured or hurt by a boyfriend or someone they know as by a real stranger.
Even adults are susceptible to "Stranger Danger" especially with the advent of online Dating sites and sites like Craig's List. So what do we do in an attempt to be safe? Meet friends/co-workers of friends you might say. Well, I too thought that might be a safer alternative but, sadly no.
I say Vet your dates.
No, that doesn't mean date a Vet, or date at the the Vets, it means do your own research first. Even with the best intentions and the best recommendations from friends or co-workers you still need to do some research and protect yourself.
"Shannon, What on earth could make you so jaded? Don't you trust anyone?" you might ask. It's sad but true that I would have to respond with a resounding "NO!".
Last year, I decided to not necessarily "jump" back into the dating pool, but simply stick my foot in and gauge the temperature. My last relationship had ended about 3 years before, and as we know "Life Happens" and it happened with me. I was too busy with my teenage daughter and her high school years. As a single parent I wanted to devote all the time she wanted to making the rest of her childhood all she could want. Between work, volunteering for our local Fire Dept and devoting all additional time to her there simply was no time for me. Not placing blame, just saying I made the decision to make her life the priority. So, for three years, no dates, no booty calls ( it would have been unseemly for me to invite someone over to our house with her there, or go out late at night to their house) no "Shan time" at all.
So, my good friend Brenda sets me up with a co-worker. Major in the Army, Security clearance, respectful to her. Why wouldn't he be safe?
Well for those of you that don't know, I work for a major Law Enforcement Agency, teach/train with the Law Enforcements Agency's Academy, was married to a cop (that I put through the academy and did all his training with, and had a significant other for 7 years that was a State Trooper. I'm just a little savvy to danger and self preservation/protection. (Trust me when I say, this is why I am in full possession of all my bones and they are not currently making music as wind chimes). I now believe that while recommendations are good, vetting is not only better but necessary!
Because I'm a fairly street-smart woman, I refused to let him pick me up and instead met him at a crowded local restaurant. (Definitely a factor in me keeping my bones intact and under my skin) This man within 2 hours was in my personal bubble, telling me how he had not abused his wife, (that would be a strike with a closed hand, a slap with an open hand was simply spousal discipline) which he then laughed off, how he was a widower ( I was afraid to ask what happened to his wife and where she was buried) and looking for a mother to his children and someone to get up and make his breakfast (Never mind that I had already told him I wasn't interested in marriage or more children, and I didn't make breakfast for my own teen, why would I get up and make it for him?). When I told him I couldn't see him the next day he called multiple times anyway, wanted me to come see him and his RV in the parking lot of a local restaurant so he could show me how "comfortable" it was (like I'm gonna do that with someone in a parking lot on the second date after only dinner. Seriously?!?) The next day as he and his children are leaving to go out of town he calls me before 9 on a Sunday morning, which I let go to voice-mail. Hell, I don't get up for GOD on Sunday mornings (love me some Saturday evening masses), why would I get up for him? His voicemail said he wanted his children to meet me since he had told them all about "their New Momma". Are you hearing the creepy Psycho movie music yet? I definitely was. I ignored his calls for the duration of his vacation, (why ruin it by devastating him), to get crazy voice mail after crazy voicemail, culminating in the "Are we breaking up? Cuz that would seriously devastate my kids. They're so excited about a new mom. Now, I have no doubt they would have been devastated, that meant they were still stuck with him and no additional safety net. It was only after I threatened him with a call to his Commander and the MP Commander to file for a restraining order, with the knowledge that I had saved all his Crazy voicemails, that he finally left me alone. After talking with Brenda and filling her in, she did a little asking around the office, and found out this was his M.O.
This is why a simple recommendation is not enough. We all have to protect ourselves and Be Smart! Imagine if I had given this person my address and he knew where I lived? Do you hear it? That's the sound of chimes in the wind? Now guys, don't think "I'm a guy, this couldn't happen to me." I would suggest you re-see "Fatal Attraction". There are some "Crazy Bitches" out there.
This is why I say Stranger Danger means Vet your Dates. Don't just get one reference, find out all you can about the person. Google them, know what they do for employment and verify it. NEVER have them pick you up at your home. Always meet them somewhere with crowds. First date, go with a group, have a safe word with your friends and never leave alone with the date. I also recommend for subsequent dates that friends know who you are with and where you are planning to go and you check in with them. Trust me when I say, your friends would rather hear that you are having a good time on your date than to have to join a search party looking for you later. I'm not even opposed to a printed Criminal Background Check, on their dime, presented along with their updated lab results showing they are clean. Does no good to check one danger and overlook and equally dangerous one. If they aren't willing to produce said documents you don't need to go out with them anyway. What are they trying to hide. Now by the same token, you should be willing to show your documents. Fair is Fair after all.
Over Kill? Maybe, but better safe then swinging in the wind making music.