Podcaster sexually assaulted during World Pride calls for stricter verification rules on dating apps

Podcaster sexually assaulted during World Pride calls for stricter verification rules on dating apps
Image: Benjy Potter
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*trigger warning: story contains sexual assault details which some readers may find distressing*

Man sexually assaulted after World Pride shares feelings of blame for having let the attacker into his hotel room. 

 

UK podcaster and journalist Benjy Potter says he was sexually assaulted by a man he met on online whilst attending World Pride, in New York, during 2019. He had been there for a work trip.

 

Writing for Metro, Benjy said: “While enjoying the procession, I’d also been messaging a guy on Grindr. I invited him over to my Downtown room in the afternoon during a planned break from the festivities.”

“As we messaged, I told him that I didn’t want to have anal sex but I’d be up for oral and kissing,” Benjy said, adding: “I made that crystal clear.”

“I’d never been comfortable having full penetrative sex with anyone I’d met on Grindr so it was typical for me to set this boundary before meeting someone.”

 

Benjy went on to say he had earlier felt ‘lucky’ to be one of the thousands of people in Manhattan for the experience, which he described as ‘euphoric’. 2019 marked 50 years since the Stonewall Riots began in NYC and he described how “Britney was pumping and I was having the time of my life.”

NYC World Pride 2019 (image: Christopher Gagliardi)

When the man from Grindr eventually arrived at his hotel, at around 4am, Benjy said: “we started to kiss. Before I knew it we were both naked on the bed.”

“All of a sudden he began to enter me. I told him to stop. I noticed he didn’t have a condom on, and I told him to stop again.”

“He carried on. I tried to push him off me, but he carried on. Finally, after a few minutes, he stopped.”

 

Benjy revealed how after the experience, which he said was penetrative but that the man ‘didn’t ejaculate’, the two showered together and the man left without them discussing it.

Benjy shared about feelings of ‘blame’ after the incident because he’d let the man into his accommodation, adding that he did take screenshots of his Grindr profile, but couldn’t bring himself to make a police report or one to Grindr.

 

Once he was back in London, Benjy did the right thing by immediately visiting a sexual health clinic, who wrote him up a course of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) to help reduce the risk of HIV infection.

PEP is a treatment that can stop an HIV infection after the virus has entered a person’s body. It must be taken within 72 hours of exposure. He continued taking the PEP for the prescribed 28 days.

 

Since the incident, Benjy eventually got comfortable using Grindr again, but said he’s become much more cautious about taking risks and will usually meet for a drink beforehand now. 

 

He said he’d been inspired to share his story after seeing Tory MP Jamie Wallis, the UK’s first openly trans MP, come out as trans and share his own rape ordeal.

 

Speaking about the experience now, Benjy said talking about it had helped in his own recovery but stressed that there should be more dialogue and education about the importance of consent. 

 

In terms of dating apps and what could be done differently, he said:

“Grindr could, I believe, make itself much safer by introducing ID verification. At the moment you can sign up with just an email address and I think that gives perpetrators a sense that they won’t be held accountable for their actions.”

“In the same way that Facebook have a responsibility to remove hate speech on its platform, I think Grindr also have a responsibility to clamp down on sexual assault.”

 

We asked Benjy what advice he might offer anyone who has been through something similar, he said: “talk about it, tell friends, speak to someone. It’s always better being spoken about”.

 

If you have been a victim of sexual assault and would like to seek support, you can call the Sexual Assault Casework & Support helpline on 0800 704 2040, or visit Galop UK”s official website for more information.

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