The Dangers of Late Night Party Lines
If you’ve ever watched television after 11:00 at night, then you’ve likely seen a those commercials with a sultry young woman wearing a negligee and holding a phone. She tells you how many people there are out there — in your area! — waiting to meet you for an exciting night together. She talks about how hard finding women for dating in your area can be hard, but how using her party line can help. The commercial might even come to an end with a special offer if you set up your account in the next 30 minutes.
Why not sign up? There are some people who meet fun partners off late night party lines like these. However, in some circles party lines have gotten a reputation for being dangerous, and some people believe that if you meet someone off this sort of phone line you are basically asking to appear in the next secret murder special on one of the true crime networks.
Here’s the deal: when you meet people for the first time, whether it’s at a bar, at church, at the gym, at a baseball game, through a carefully vetted website like eHarmony or Match, or through a phone chat service, you’re taking a risk. Teenagers are especially at risk — they tend to make more impulsive decisions, and they don’t stop and think about what they’re doing as logically.
It’s true that there are bad people out there — drug dealers, kidnappers and thieves who want to do harm to people. However, the vast majority of the other people on chat lines are just like you — they’re single and want to find someone else to talk to — and maybe even meet. But before you meet someone, there are a few things that you should bear in mind.
Gisele, a 25-year-old single woman in the Orlando area. She met a guy who said that he was 27 on the chat line. They swapped a few messages and then decided to meet at a downtown bar, a good drive from Gisele’s apartment out in the suburbs. She put on a black skirt and a pearl-colored blouse and went downtown, feeling sexy. When she got there, the guy looked terrific, and she ordered a Cosmopolitan, and then another one. About midway through the second one, she started to feel woozy. The next thing she knew, she was in a stranger’s house, with her clothes on the floor, and this guy was snoring next to her. She gathered her stuff, tiptoed to the door, and then called a cab to the hospital; she had been sexually assaulted.
Rape isn’t the only bad thing that can happen — and it isn’t only women who end up being victims. Kevin, a 32 and met Laura on a chat line. It only took a few messages for him to agree to meet her at a local tavern. They stayed and chatted until closing time, and then they stumbled out to leave. He walked her to her car, and she gave him a lingering kiss, but then as he stopped to get out his keys next to his own car, he felt an iron pipe slam down on his shoulder, and then on his head. When he came to, his wallet (along with $400 and all of his credit cards) was gone. These are the types of scams that can happen if you’re not cautious.
One reason why the companies who run chat lines do not assume responsibility for personal meetings — and that you hear a disclaimer every time you call in — is that there are people out there with the worst of intentions. There are rare cases when people who make a connection on a chat line and then agree to meet end up the victims of theft, and even rape and murder.
While this is definitely the exception rather than the rule, there are a couple of precautions that you can take to make sure that this does not happen to you.
1. Always meet in a public place. A coffee shop is ideal, but if you do choose a bar, choose one that you know.
2. If you order drinks at the bar, keep an eye on your glass or bottle. If it disappears from your sight, order another one. A lot of attackers will slip a drug into your drink when you’re not looking, and by the time you realize that your drink has been doctored, it is often too late.
3. Before you leave, tell a friend or family member where you are going. Ask them to text you at a pre-arranged time so you can let them know that everything is all right. That way if you end up needing a ride, they will know where to pick you up. If you feel uncomfortable going by yourself, bring a friend along. A person who is really interested in getting to know you will understand that you want to be as safe as possible when meeting a stranger for the first time.
As long as you keep these basic precautions in place, you don;t have to fear using the party lines. Odds are that nothing bad will happen to you, except perhaps not hitting it off!
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