Relationship coach shares tips on how to stay safe after Madison man strangled by stranger he met online

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) – Like many things over the past year, dating has gone from face to face to online, creating convenience at your fingertips. However, it also gives violent predators an easy way to find potential victims.

“They know what to say, it’s reiterated, they know how to interact online, they’ve perfected that over the past decade,” said Laura Wood. Wood owns and operates “Love & Lifestyle Coaching with Laura”, where she helps men and women find lasting relationships.

As a former prosecutor, Wood says she has seen many times how relationships can turn violent. She explained how often predators specifically use dating apps, due to the ease of use of your real identity.

“They use the apps because, first of all, there is a level of anonymity. Second, they can create the image they want to create with online dating. They want to act like they’re the CEO of a company, a quick Google search is going to show you something, ”Wood said.

Now she fears that cases of violent encounters are on the rise.

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Metro Nashville police on Thursday arrested Bruno Almeida-Rache, 27, after police said he admitted to putting his victim in a choke until he stopped breathing. The victim, identified as Joshua Smithson, 36, was at his home on East Marthona Road around 2:30 a.m. Police said the two had ingested drugs that night and had sex. The two met through a dating app.

“I think the level of violence increases, and you can become uninhibited and that’s where you see the first cases of rape, the first cases of violence, the first date, then the stalking behavior.”

Wood says she now asks her clients to be on high alert, giving them advice on how to protect themselves when dating a stranger. She says COVID-19 is spreading and fewer people feel comfortable going out in public, leaving many to turn to online relationships.

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Some of the tips Wood shares with Wood include sending “photos of the person you’re dating ahead of time, even if it’s me as the coach.” Send the photo, if you met them online send the name they used, and when you send it to a friend it creates security around the whole experience.


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