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A TikTok demonstrating the hand signal for domestic violence.

A TikTok demonstrating the hand signal for domestic violence.

Tennessee police rescued a woman from an alleged kidnapping and domestic violence situation on Sunday, and it's all thanks to a popular hand signal from TikTok.

The woman ran into a convenience store in Tennessee, mouthed the word "help" and gave the hand signal by crossing her thumb on her palm and then covering her thumb with the rest of her fingers, the Tennessean reports.

The gesture was invented by the Canadian Women's Foundation and popularized on TikTok.

Someone in the store recognized the sign and reported it, according to the Hickman County Sheriff's Office.

Police showed up at the scene just as a pickup truck was leaving the parking lot with the woman in the passenger seat, reported ABC 4. Witnesses pointed police to the truck and it quickly turned into a full-blown 10-to-15-minute car chase.

The chase ended with the pickup truck crashing into a creek, according to reports.

The driver tried to get away on foot, but police tased him and arrested him, and the woman was rescued without injuries.

Johnathan Smith, 31, faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated domestic assault in connection with the case, the Tennessean reports.

It's not the first time that the signal has led to someone's rescue.

The Canadian Women's Foundation invented the hand signal for help and spread it on TikTok, where they specifically promote it as a way to call for help when an abusive partner is within earshot.


#covid19 is making it difficult for people at risk of violence to safely reach out. Learn more: #fyp#signalforhelp

Eric Streeval, one of the witnesses at the Tennessee convenience store, told News 2 it's important to know the signs when a woman is in a bad situation like the one he saw.

"If you see something, say something," Streeval said.

"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."

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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