Google Helps Connect People With Domestic Violence Support

Editor’s note: This post is authored by Crystal Justice, Chief External Affairs Officer at The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence or relationship abuse, is a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over a partner, and it affects more than 12 million people in the US every year. One in four women and one in seven men aged 18 and older in the US will be the victim of severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Relationship abuse comes in many forms – apparent or invisible; emotional, financial, digital, or physical; in families, in couples, and in relationships of all kinds – and the risk has only grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) is a vital service: our mission is to answer the call to support and shift power back to those affected by relationship abuse — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Now, The Hotline is working with Google to help provide quicker access to domestic violence information and 24/7 support to those who need it.

Starting today, when people in the U.S. search for information related to domestic violence on Google, they will see a box at the top of the search results displaying the contact information for The Hotline – with direct access to our phone and chat services. This will help survivors, especially those in crisis, get the information and connection to the 24/7 support they need quickly and with less scrolling. Because finding the right information fast is essential for survivors, as their window to safely reach out for support may be limited.

The Hotline is the only national 24-hour domestic violence hotline providing compassionate support, life-saving resources, and personalized safety planning via phone, online chat, and text. Services are free and confidential, and provided in English and Spanish through bilingual advocates and in more than 200 other languages through interpretation.

As always, the safety of survivors is our primary concern. So, our advocates are also available 24/7 to answer questions and give advice about internet safety for survivors. They can suggest things like:

● Managing your search and browsing history,

● Using computers found at your local library, Internet café, shelter, workplace, or computer technology center,

● Setting up an alternate email account that a partner doesn’t know about.

Swiftly connecting survivors with support is critical right now, because the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated risk factors for domestic violence. More people are experiencing isolation and are limited in their ability to go to work, go to school, or see friends and family. The pandemic has also accelerated an increase in economic and housing instability for many experiencing abuse: since 2016, housing instability as a concern has grown by an average of 20% annually among those contacting The Hotline.

All of these factors heighten the risk of relationship abuse, and limit the ability of survivors to reach out for support. COVID-19 has left many survivors feeling trapped in their homes with an abusive partner – with limited time to get resources or information. To learn more about how the pandemic has affected survivors, read our Year One report.