A Kentucky sheriff's department said that a 16-year-old girl, who had been missing for several weeks, was found by a driver after she used hand gestures to indicate she was in distress.
According to the Laurel County Sheriff's Department in Kentucky, James Herbert Brick, 61, of Cherokee, North Carolina was taken into custody Thursday afternoon for "unlawful confinement" after he was pulled off the interstate with the teenager missing in the back. According to the sheriff's office, he also had sexual images of a teenage on his phone.
According to TikTok, the hand gestures of the teen were popularized and called "representation violence at home" by the sheriff's department. Witness in the car behind Brick's Toyota called 911 after recognizing the hand signals. He told dispatchers that the teen seemed to be "distressed."
Brick was pulled over by deputies at an exit to interstate. They discovered that Brick had been reported missing Tuesday by her parents from Asheville, North Carolina.
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According to a release from the sheriff's office, the teenager said that she had traveled with Brick across North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Although the department didn't reveal what sign the teenager used, advocates advised those in distress to use hand signals discreetly to ask for help.
According to the Canadian Women's Foundation, one hand can send an international signal to help someone in distress or in domestic violence cases. To "trap" your thumb, face your thumb forward. Next, place your thumb in front of your other fingers.
SIGNAL OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The risk of domestic violence can be increased by isolating yourself. This discrete gesture can be used during a video conference to indicate that you need help.
1. Place palm in front of other person and hold your hand.
2. Place thumb in palm.
3. Place thumb and fingers on top of the other. pic.twitter.com/gsIgSbXOmc Halton Police (@HaltonPolice) August 24, 2021
The foundation points out that the sign does not mean you have to call authorities right away, but it simply indicates, "reach me safely."
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This sign was shared on social media platforms like TikTok. It is particularly timely considering that research has shown that lockdowns and the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in an increase of domestic violence cases.
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When they are unable to speak freely about dangerous situations or need help, it is advisable that people use the hand signal discretely on web cameras and other situations.
"The Signal for Help can be a useful tool for some people. Some people are not able to make video calls. "Please find below other resources, services and programs that may help you in an unsafe situation at your home," the Canadian Women's Foundation states.
This article first appeared on USA TODAY. TikTok hand signal for help saved a missing girl: Sheriff