COVID-19 has exacerbated many long-standing challenges in our society, from homelessness to racial inequity. A critical one has been the pandemic’s effect on those who face domestic violence at home: The UN Population Fund projected in the spring that six months of lockdown measures would lead to at least 15 million more cases of domestic violence.
In March, advocates for families affected by domestic and sexual abuse reached out to us asking us for help. In response, we’ve been thinking through how we can provide the most useful, relevant information for those in need, as well as family members and friends trying to help a loved one.
To that end, the Google Ad Grants program has given an extra $2 million of search ads to domestic violence organizations since May. In one example, a Google volunteer worked with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) to build new ad campaigns to reach people searching for legal resources, yielding a 3.5x increase in engagement. In addition, our COVID-19 hub now provides links to support for vulnerable communities, including organizations supporting survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
The timing is critical to help survivors get access to services. NNEDV’s WomensLaw.org Email Hotline reported that COVID-related inquiries increased more than 350 percent from March to April and more than 200 percent from March to May. That’s why together with our partners, we’re launching a new video campaign called #ISeeYou to help increase visibility of available services and to remind survivors that they are not forgotten.
Staying home is not a safe option for everyone. And COVID-19 has created financial, housing and childcare challenges that will further affect survivors over the coming months. The teams at hotlines, nonprofits and support organizations are doing incredible work to help. You can learn more about this work and the #ISeeYou campaign from Deborah J. Vagins, President and CEO of NNEDV over on the YouTube blog.And please share the #ISeeYou campaign or any of our other resources with your communities and help survivors know that we stand with them.