A simple hand gesture helped save a teenage girl’s life. The gesture is a popular one thanks to TikTok users who have made it go viral.
A driver in Kentucky spotted a young woman making a hand gesture from the back of a car and contacted local authorities. The driver continued to follow the car and the signaling young woman until deputies were able to arrive, secure the 16-year-old girl, and arrest the suspect. The teenager had been missing from her home for days when she was finally safely rescued.
The girl’s story is remarkable, and also one that’s important to know because of the symbol she used. The hand symbol involves holding your hand up, palm forward, crossing your thumb over your palm, and then closing your fist over your thumb.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SIGNAL
Isolation can increase the risk of violence at home. Use this discrete gesture during a video call to show you need help:
1. Hold hand up with palm facing other person.
2. Tuck thumb into palm.
3. Fold fingers down over thumb. pic.twitter.com/gsIgSbXOmc
— Halton Police (@HaltonPolice) August 24, 2021
The symbol originated with the Canadian Women’s Foundation in partnership with media agency Juniper Park at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The signal was a way to flag abusive situations during a time when many were isolated with their abuser. The organization, which helps women in abusive situations has an entire section of its website (as well as a YouTube video) dedicated to the signal.
The sign, however, is most well-known for TikTok PSAs, though. The gesture has gone viral with multiple videos showcasing how to make the signal. While, of course, no one wants to ever have to use it, its dissemination is important in case you—like the driver in this case—ever see it and recognize a person’s signs of distress.
For more information on domestic violence prevention, support, and education, you can head to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. You can also find useful safety tools for personal protection here.