Thanks to a domestic abuse hand gesture learnt from TikTok, a man rescues a teenager in the backseat of a passing car

The Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) had no clue how quickly the “Signal for Help” campaign would take off on social media when it was first introduced. However, Signal for Help’s creativity has now allowed it to save the life of a 16-year-old girl.

Parents of a 16-year-old Asheville, North Carolina, girl reported her missing.

A driver observed a distressed kid making a hand gesture from the backseat of a vehicle on the freeway two days later.


It turned out to be the CWF hand signal for “Help.”

In circumstances when it would not be safe for the victims to speak out, this signal was created particularly to inform observers that they were experiencing domestic abuse.


The 16-year-old had read about CWF’s “Signal for Help” on TikTok, where videos of the signal in usage had been uploaded and seen millions of times. The passing driver had also read about the signal there.

According to a statement issued by the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office:

“The complainant was behind the vehicle and noticed a female passenger in the vehicle making hand gestures that are known on the social media platform ‘Tik Tok’ to represent violence at home — I need help — domestic violence.”

The foundation created the signal back in March 2020 because they expected a spike in domestic violence incidents to coincide with the lockdowns.

Major US cities reported a sharp rise in domestic abuse reports during lockdowns, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine (as reported by TIME). For example, a growth of 18% in San Antonio, 22% in Portland, and 10% in New York.

The driver immediately called for help from authorities after noticing the teen’s “Signal for Help.”

After that, the man continued to pursue the automobile for 7 miles until Kentucky police were successful in stopping it and saving the adolescent girl.

James Herbert Brick, a 61-year-old driver, was taken into custody.

Brick may not have been aware that the teenager was utilizing the hand gesture, according to Laurel County Sheriff’s Deputy Gilbert Acciardo.

“He obviously thought she was waving at individuals and she wasn’t.”

“She was using that signal, the TikTok signal, to signify ‘I’m in distress.’”

“Thank goodness there was a motorist out there that interpreted that [and] phoned 911,” he added. “It was just a wonderful resolution.”


The CWF encourages everyone to get in touch with the person who uses the “Signal for Help” to find out what they need. You should call the police right away if the victim is at risk, as was the case with the 16-year-old in this tale.

Andrea Gunraj of the CWF said:

“It was really relieving to hear that this young woman was able to do this and that people understood what was going on and that they were able to call for help in that circumstance.”

Watch the video below for more information: