Viral TikTok Hand-Signal Has Saved Another Woman From Kidnapper

Hickman County, TN -- A viral hand signal that indicates someone may be in distress has led to the rescue of a woman in Tennessee.

Earlier this week, the unidentified woman in Hickman County, used the signal at a convenience store to signal to another shopper that she was in danger, Fox News Digital reported.

The shopper, Eric Streeval, saw the woman mouth the word "help" and saw her do the hand signal, which led him to tell a cashier to call 911. 

The "Signal For Help" was created by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a public organization focused on gender equality, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The signal is used as a simple and discreet way for people to show that they need help, particularly in domestic abuse situations.

The prompt is made by facing your palm outward and placing your thumb on the palm of your hand while bringing your fingers over the thumb to "trap" it.

After the woman flashed the hand gesture to Streeval, he snapped pictures of the license plate from the pickup truck the woman had been in, WKRN reported.

Police then pursued the truck as it left the store parking lot until the driver crashed the vehicle. The man behind the wheel has been identified as Jonathan Smith, 31, who was Tasered and arrested.

The woman was not injured, while Smith was charged with aggravated kidnappings and aggravated domestic assault, Fox News Digital reported. 

When someone sees the Signal For Help

Except for cases when the person is in immediate danger, it does not always mean they should immediately call the authorities, the Canadian Women’s Foundation says.

Instead, someone who sees another person using the Signal For Help who does not appear to be in immediate danger should try to safely check in with that person "to find out what they need and want you to do."

If someone is in immediate danger, the Canadian Women’s Foundation recommends calling 911 or local emergency services.

Anuradha Dugal, vice president of community initiatives for the organization, told Fox News Digital in November that the foundation knew there was an increase in domestic violence at the start of the pandemic. In response, the foundation wanted to give people a visible tool to use to reach out for help over video chats, without needing to send anything digitally, which could be tracked by an abuser. 

"The idea behind it was to create a simple gesture, or a sign, to silently show that you need help without leaving a digital trace," Dugal told Fox News Digital. 

Dugal said the specific sign was chosen because it can be done with just one hand, and it is clearly not like a normal gesture someone would use while talking. 

The Signal For Help was created in consultation with members of the deaf community and it does not mean anything in American Sign Language.

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