UK Search Trend Predicted Rising Trend in Domestic Violence

In a week where the government reported that deaths from domestic abuse have doubled since the start of the UK’s Coronavirus lockdown, we saw another ugly and deeply shocking consequence of the COVID-19 crisis.

At Tribe, we weren’t surprised by the statistics in the government report, which also said that calls to a national domestic abuse hotline run by Refuge rose by 49% after three weeks of lockdown. Calls from men to the Men’s Advice Line also rose – by 17% in the first week of lockdown alone. Now, the Metropolitan Police is making 100 arrests a day and West Midlands Police 400 arrests in a fortnight.

We’ve been monitoring the trend in Google search for ‘domestic abuse helpline’ in the UK. Search volume has been increasing over the last five years at a steady rate. Suddenly, it has increased 300% in a month. This is probably the tip of the iceberg in terms of the actual scale of domestic violence; the volume of victims who are able to search for a phone number will be a fraction of those suffering at the hands of abusive partners, while those who make the call will be an even smaller percentage. Those who are arrested represent a yet smaller fraction of those who perpetrate acts of domestic abuse.

The government has launched a public awareness campaign under the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone to reassure victims that support services remain available. But for those for whom home is not a safe place this is a terrifying and life-threatening trend. Google search is, as always, a highly perceptive and accurate indicator of real and perceptible shifts in human behaviour. People ask Google questions they cannot, or are afraid to, ask their closest friends and family. For some, at times like this, Google is the only place they can turn, looking for a way out of the trap.

The government needs to look at trends in Google search to identify undercurrents before they become a social reality and another aspect of the Coronavirus crisis that will leave deep scars on many individuals and their families.

Here’s our Technical Director, Mark Westaby, talking on LBC News on 24th April 2020 about the shocking trends we’ve seen in the data –

Several years ago, Gareth Jones of Tribe collaborated with Social Film Drama and Omni Productions to produce the highly impactful film Leaving along with resources that address domestic violence. The film is now used across the UK as a leading training tool in the field of DVA

It is a sad indictment of our society that this issue remains to be effectively combatted. That’s why, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are offering free use of our statistical data to any charity in the UK helping to combat this issue using media relations and other awareness-raising initiatives. We’ll also give 50% discount on our usual rates for developing any campaign materials that might help to protect lives.

For more information, please contact us on or call 0845 437 9340

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