since the pandemic forced people to stay home, some feared for the safety of women in unsafe households. To help, a hand signal started going viral on TikTok showing how people can ask for assistance non-verbally to keep them safe. The domestic violence hand signal quickly made the rounds all over the internet — and it saved one young girl’s life.
A 16-year-old girl was rescued from the car of an older man when someone driving near them noticed the girl making a domestic violence hand signal that had gone viral. The signal is simple: the person needing help first holds up their palm with their fingers together and their thumb tucked into their palm. Then the person lowers their fingers to cover their thumb, signifying they’re trapped.
“The complainant was behind the vehicle and noticed a female passenger in the vehicle making hand gestures that are known on the social media platform ‘Tik Tok’ to represent violence at home – I need help – domestic violence,” according to a statement from Laurel County Sheriff John Root.
According to BuzzFeed, the signal was first developed by the Canadian Women’s Foundation in April 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was originally intended for people to have a way of asking for help during video calls and in situations where they can’t speak up. The hand signal later evolved and can now be used for any situation in which a person, particularly a woman, needs help.
It’s become a beacon of hope, and anyone can help once they see it. As Andrea Gunraj, vice president of public engagement at the Canadian Women’s Foundation, told BuzzFeed, “The signal itself is not the action. The action is all of us being aware of gender-based violence and being nonjudgmental responders … We have to be ready to respond.”
If you ever see someone do the hand signal, find safe ways to help them, whether by contacting the police or crisis help centers. It might just save a life.