Teenager rescued after using viral TikTok hand gesture for help

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A simple gesture - an open hand, thumb across the palm and closing the rest of the fingers into a fist - that went viral on TikTok is being credited for a remarkable rescue in Kentucky, U.S.

A teenage girl was reported missing by her parents last week but wasn't found until two days later in a different state when a passing driver noticed she was giving that signal for help and called 911.

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Laurel County Sheriff Deputy Gilbert Acciardo says, "He observed a young girl in a passenger car that seemed to be in distress that was giving the TikTok signal that she needed help. We didn't know what that meant."

Now, 61-year-old James Herbert Brick has been charged with unlawfully imprisoning a 16-year-old girl. 

The Canadian Women's Foundation developed the sign as a silent alert for women stuck at home with their abusers. 

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Andrea Gunraj of the Canadian Women's Foundation says, "The sign, really important to know but what's much more important I think for those of us around people are experiencing abuse to know how to respond to it and proactively recognise it." 

The effort was spurred by the pandemic-fuelled increase in domestic violence.

"No wonder when people saw this they said 'let me share this', 'let me be a part of this conversation' because it is something we're facing every single day," says Andrea.

That harsh reality fuelled the signal's spread, its positive impact after this unlikely Kentucky rescue now clear. 

Credit: CBC News/TCA

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