ONE of Cork’s top models has told of the “sexually vile and horrific messages” that forced her off Tinder, warning other women to exercise caution when using dating apps.
Liz Desmond from Aherla has achieved success during her time as a model with the Lockdown agency, making regular appearances on shows such as Ireland AM, Exposé and RTÉ’s Today Show. However, despite her good looks she admits the path to find love has not always been smooth.
“When my friends were all getting engaged and building houses, the panic began to set in,” she said. “I had been single for years. Society had changed. This was the way people were meeting each other.”
After a little encouragement from friends, Liz told the Evening Echo how she took the plunge and went on Tinder.
“When you’re a model, people just assume there will be men queueing up for you, but that’s not the case. I know a lot of people in the industry who are using the app. I was initially wary about going on Tinder so my friends downloaded it for me.
"Before I knew it, my private messages had gone from zero to 60, but most of them were so highly sexually explicit and vile that I couldn’t even repeat them back. It left me shaken to my very core.
“If someone in a bar approached me and spoke to me like that it wouldn’t be tolerated, so it shouldn’t be tolerated online. Unfortunately, some men feel that because they’re hiding behind a screen they have the right to speak to you however they like.”
The 34-year-old’s picture was also met with judgemental comments.
“Somebody sent me a message saying that I looked like ‘very high maintenance’.”
“That annoyed me because this person didn’t know me but had already summed me up just with a photograph,” said Liz.
While she emphasised that she is a strong person, she fears that others subjected to abuse on Tinder may experience confidence issues.
“It’s sad that people work up the courage to put themselves out there only to be let down like that. You hear so many harrowing stories of Tinder dates that I’m glad to have never found myself in a compromising position. I was one of the lucky ones.”
Liz has since found love with a man who she met through mutual friends.
“He had also come off Tinder as he hadn’t had great experiences with it either. The way we met was very romantic. I don’t have any regrets as I know that the path I took eventually led me to where I am today.”
Liz acknowledges that she has many friends who have had positive experiences with dating apps.
“I’m also a make-up artist and a lot of my clients are brides who found their husbands through the app so there are a lot of success stories too.”
Liz’s warning follows Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone’s call for the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to consider including a provision for judges to order all sex offenders not to use the apps in the new Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill.
Speaking to the Evening Echo, Mary Crilly, founder of Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre, said: “In many cases where women are subjected to any kind of abuse the blame is placed on the female.
“Even when a girl is innocently placing her details online the blame often comes back to her and this needs to stop.
This is a place where many people meet now and many will report back with positive experiences.
The trouble with online platforms is that they give perpetrators the chance to get to know a person and manipulate them.”