If there’s someone you need to know immediately, what do you turn to? Google, of course. It doesn’t even matter if you’re unable to form proper, grammatically correct sentences. You can just type random words and expect Google to magically understand exactly what it is you’re looking for. From cooking recipes to correct spellings, from DIY links to step-by-step explanations on how to go about a task – Google has everything. Unfortunately, this also has a downside. Since all information is literally available at your fingertips — free of cost — it may also be used for the wrong reasons, like domestic abuse.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen a shocking rise in domestic abuse around the world. With many victims and survivors locked at home with their abusers, gender violence reached an all-time high during the pandemic. Now a study that has been published in the journal, Taylor and Francis, has revealed that the rise in domestic abuse could be backed by people Googling some really horrific and morbid questions in 2020.
The study was authored by Katerina Standish who serves as the the deputy director and senior lecturer at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Otago in New Zealand. She began researching on femicide and the pandemic last year.
The study looked at Google searches in the US and found they were focused on six areas of interest — precarity and insecurity, despondency and helplessness, indicative male violence and intentional male violence. Results showed a spike from 31% to 106% in 2020.
The search results related to intentional male violence was shocking. “How to control your woman” and “how to hit a woman so no one knows” were each googled 165 million times. “I am going to kill her when she gets home” was googled 178 million times.
Similar search results were seen with indicative male violence. “He will kill me” was Googled 107 million times and “He beats me up” was Googled a whopping 320 million times.
“Help me, he won’t leave” was Googled 1.22 billion times. Scary? Yes.
Standish also explained how she managed to get these numbers. “Each one of these ‘rounded’ numbers results from a person inputting these search terms into the web engine. These figures are presented in full form because I did not want to lessen the visual impact of each individual entry into the search engine. Hundreds of millions of people are looking online for help and I wanted to reflect this COVID-19 reality,” she wrote in the inroduction section of her study.