LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was a hand gesture, made popular on TikTok, and it saved a girl in Kentucky after she was found with a 61-year-old man. The teen had been reported missing out of North Carolina.
The gesture, called the Signal for Help, is an international signal that gained popularity during the pandemic. It was a way for women in a domestic violence situation to discreetly show they need help.
"We know any external factors that add stress, isolation and financial strain can create circumstances where a survivor’s safety is further compromised," the National Domestic Violence Hotline said in a 2020 report. "This pandemic has elements of all three."
That's why in April of 2020, the Canadian Women's Foundation released the "Signal for Help" on Twitter.
To do the signal, simply place your thumb inside the palm of the hand then wrap your fingers around your thumb like a fist--and that's it.
The women's foundation said that the signal was created because COVID-19 made it difficult for those at risk of abuse to reach out for help safely.
"'Signal for Help' is a simple one-handed sign someone can use on a video call," they said.
If you see someone use the signal, the CWF said to check in with the person safely and see what they may need or want you to do.
"Let them lead the conversation," the foundation said. "They may want you to call authorities, but do not assume that is what they want or need."
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, support is out there. Reach out to the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).