LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A missing 16-year-old girl was rescued in Kentucky after someone noticed her using a specific hand gesture made famous on the app TikTok.
“I believe that any way that a victim can reach out to the public to an advocate is beneficial to them,” said Renee Kennedy at the Scott County Family Justice Center.
For some victims of violence, using hand signals may be a way to get out.
It is a simple gesture using only one hand: tucking the thumb into the palm and folding the four fingers over.
It all started with a campaign launched in April of 2020 called "Signal for Help".
The Canada Women’s Foundation started it. They say isolation caused a significant increase in domestic violence and it quickly became popular on TikTok.
“I think that these videos, these hand gestures, these photos and graphics that come up on your newsfeed could save some lives,” said Lauren Lindback at the Knoxville YWCA.
On November 4, in Laurel County, Kentucky, that's exactly what it did.
Investigators say a 16-year-old girl signaled from her kidnapper’s car and a nearby driver saw it and reported it to the police.
Kennedy says hand signaling was probably the safest way for the victim to let someone know she was in danger.
“So this is a good way for them to privately signal for help when, you know, a verbal call for help may result in a beating or even death,” said Kennedy.
Catherine Oaks from the McNabb Center says the "Signal for Help" campaign proves anything is possible.
“I think it can give people maybe a sense of hope that, you know, there are people out there in the world that are watching,” said Oaks.