According to court documents, Zachary Mills held the victim against her will, biting her, punching her and denying her food and water for five days.
SPRING, Texas. Tens of millions of Americans use dating apps, but what happened to a young woman this spring is a reminder to be careful before meeting someone new.
After exchanging several messages on Bumble, the 22-year-old agreed to meet Zachary Mills in person. He picked her up on Christmas Eve and drove to his house, and that’s where her nightmare began.
The victim was held hostage for five days, repeatedly sexually harassed and beaten by 21-year-old Zachary Mills. Lot 4, Constable Mark Herman’s office.
On December 29, she fled when Mills left the apartment at 8011 Augusta Pines, and he was arrested the next day and charged with aggravated kidnapping.
The victim was taken to a local hospital with “severe injuries”.
“Can you imagine the trauma this victim is going through just because she was looking for love?” Chau Nguyen, a traumatologist at Jem Wellness and Counseling, said.
Online Dating Safety Tips
Experts are urging anyone using dating apps to be careful, and there are several ways to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.
1. First, do some digging, including checking the person’s social media accounts. If it’s a new account with few photos, posts, or friends, it might be fake.
“Make sure you know the person’s real name. Get some background information on who this person is. Find out if you have mutual friends,” advised the captain of the 4th section, Jonathan Zitzmann.
2. Schedule a video chat before your first face-to-face meeting, rainn.org advises.
3. If you agree to meet, send a screenshot of your partner’s profile to a friend and let them know the details.
“Tell your friends and family, ‘I’m going to the mall or I’ll have a drink.’ Let them know where you are going and who you are with,” Zitzmann said.
4. If you are meeting your boyfriend for the first time, do it in a public place where there are a lot of people.
5. Don’t get into a car with a stranger.
“Using your own car to get to know a person before you agree to drive to their home,” Nguyen said.
6. Do not give out personal information, such as your home or work address, until you are sure you can trust them.
7. Look for warning flags, including these examples from rainn.org.
- asks for money
- Claims to be from the US but currently lives, works or travels overseas.
- Claims to have recently been widowed with children
- Suddenly disappears from the site and reappears under a different name
- Gives vague answers to specific questions
- Too complimentary and romantic at the beginning of your communication
- Presses you to provide your phone number or talk outside of an app or dating site
- Asks for your home or work address under the guise of sending flowers or gifts
- Tells controversial or grandiose stories
- Uses incoherent language and grammar, but claims to be highly educated.
- Sends abusive or offensive messages
- Attempts to threaten or intimidate you in any way
8. Trust your gut. “If something is wrong, you can say no and go home,” Nguyen said.
For more information, check out the FTC’s tips on how to avoid online dating scams.
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Sexual assault and harassment is unacceptable and never the fault of the victim, no matter what you were wearing, drinking or with whom you were. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) is here to listen and provide resources, is anonymous, free, and available 24/7.