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Viral TikTok Hand Signal Saves Woman From Alleged Kidnapper At Convenience Store

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Viral TikTok Hand Signal Saves Woman From Alleged Kidnapper At Convenience Store

A hand sign that's gone viral on TikTok meant that a woman in Tennessee was able to avoid an alleged kidnapping and domestic violence situation, after she was able to use it to alert one of the nearby public.

According to Fox, the incident took place at a Twice Daily convenience store on Sunday (April 10) and saw witness Eric Streeval pick up on the popular hand signal being used by a woman who'd managed to catch his eye.

Mouthing 'help' to him, she made repeatedly covered her thumb with her four other fingers.

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TikTok users know it as the Signal For Help. It was created at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic by the Canadian Women’s Foundation - a public organisation focused on gender equality - and is a way for people to discretely show someone that they're in danger and need help.

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Luckily for this woman, Streeval was wise to it and so told the clerk at the store to call 911, while also taking a snap of the license plate of the pickup truck the woman was in.

As a result, police arrived onto the scene and found the vehicle just as it was leaving the car park.

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Chasing it for 10-15 minutes, the pursuit eventually ended up with it crashing. The woman was uninjured while the man - identified as 31-year-old Johnathon Smith - was tasered and arrested after trying to flee on foot.

He's been charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated domestic assault.

"If you see something, say something," Streeval told WKRN. "Domestic violence is a bad thing here in Tennessee. The victims, a lot of times they’re too afraid to speak out."

This viral hand signal shows that someone needs help. Credit: Canadian Women's Foundation
This viral hand signal shows that someone needs help. Credit: Canadian Women's Foundation
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He added: "I credit the young lady in this situation with having the world’s most courage of actually speaking out because who knows what would have happened."

Back in November, Anuradha Dugal, vice president the Canadian Women's Foundation's community initiatives had told Fox that the implementation of the sign was due to an awareness of increasing domestic violence at the start of the pandemic.

The idea was 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," she said.

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If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247 

Featured Image Credit: The Canadian Women’s Foundation

Topics: News, TikTok, Canada, Domestic Abuse, Police

Simon Catling
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