This is the viral TikTok hand gesture that signals domestic violence

TikTok is the place to go for recipes, life hacks and beauty trends – but a viral hand gesture doing the rounds on the platform has had a far greater (and life-saving) impact.

A missing 16-year-old from North Carolina is believed to have been found due to a viral hand gesture that signals domestic violence.

A 911 caller who was familiar with the gesture alerted authorities after seeing a young passenger in a vehicle who was making hand signals which indicated they needed help.

The hand gesture was first introduced last year by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, during the early days of the pandemic, to help address a rise in domestic violence while lockdown measures were in place.

The move itself involves holding up a hand, then tucking your thumb into your palm and closing your fingers down over it. Then repeating this action.

These three hand gestures combined convey ‘violence at home’ or ‘needing help’ in various capacities.

Since then, TikTok has helped spread awareness of the move, including one video that has been viewed more than three and a half million times.

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How to do the hand gesture:

Created by the Women’s Funding Network and the Canadian Women’s Foundation, the gesture involves putting your palm up, tucking your thumb in, and closing your fingers.

As a result of intel from the 991 caller, police found the missing girl who – according to official reports – was trying to alert passers-by. A 61-year-old man has since been arrested and charged with unlawful imprisonment.

Now Kentucky police are trying to spread awareness of the hand gesture through videos and infographics, in a bid to help other victims of domestic violence.

They say the simple signal could be used in a variety of circumstances, such as during a video call or when answering the door.

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However, the events have sparked widespread criticism – particularly in light of the recent violent crimes against women, such as the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

Many have pointed out that shouldn’t be up to women to learn gestures to save their lives, violence shouldn’t be happening in the first place and women’s safety should be taken more seriously.

This is something that’s at the forefront of minds now the days are getting darker since the clocks have gone back.

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