Just when we thought that TikTok was all about goofy cat videos and trendy challenges, a story like this reminds us of the true power of social media.
Prolonged periods of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic lead to an increase in domestic violence. Many people became trapped in their homes with their abusers, so the Women’s Funding Network designed a simple “help me” hand signal for victims to use over video chats and in person.
The signal involves holding up a flat palm, folding in the thumb, and then closing the fingers over the thumb. Videos of the “I need help” hand signal went viral across the internet, particularly on TikTok. A teenage girl from Asheville, North Carolina saw a video, and when she found herself in a car with a man against her will, she used the signal to save her own life!
Her ordeal started on a Tuesday afternoon when 61-year-old James Herbert Brick of Cherokee, North Carolina kidnapped her and drove her to his relative’s home in Ohio. When they arrived in Ohio, the man’s relatives found out she is underage and that her parents reported her missing, so the kidnapper forced the teen back into his car and took off down the highway.
It was while they drove down I-75 in Laurel County, Kentucky that the teen remembered the domestic violence hand signal she’d seen online. Frantically, she began flashing the hand signal to every car nearby, hoping that someone would recognize it and send help. Thankfully, someone did just that!
A Good Samaritan who was following James’ silver Toyota saw the teen’s silent cry for help and called 911. As they described the car and situation to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, the driver kept following them and gave the cops updates on his location as they drove. When the kidnapper exited the highway, the sheriff’s department pulled them over for a traffic stop and rescued the missing teen.
When they looked through the man’s phone, they found sexual pictures of the girl on his phone. He was brought up on criminal charges and taken to jail
We shudder to think of what could have happened in this scary situation, but this teen’s quick thinking and the other driver’s knowledge of current internet trends saved her life! You never know when you’ll be asked to be the angel in someone’s life. Will you recognize their cry for help?
Watch the video below to learn more about the “help me, violence at home” hand signal, and be sure to share this important information with others.
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