sos hand gesture for domestic violence
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 8, 2024 ·  3 min read

Missing Teen Rescued After Making SOS Hand Gesture She Learned from TikTok

If you were kidnapped, would you know what to do to increase your chances of being rescued? Or, on the flip side, do you know what the signals are for someone who is kidnapped? Luckily for this 16-year-old girl, she knew the SOS gestures. Even luckier, someone else knew what they meant. Where did she learn this trick? On TikTok, of all places. (1)

Teen Girl Uses SOS Hand Gestures To Be Rescued From Her Kidnapper

TikTok is one of those apps that divides people. Some love and spend way too much time on it. Others have decided you’ve had enough with new social media trends and apps and have refused to even download it. 

While social media of all kinds, including TikTok, can be a bad influence, sometimes they can be very beneficial. For this teenage girl who had just been kidnapped, something she learned from a TikTok video saved her life. She’d seen a video about the hand gesture that you use to tell someone that you’ve been kidnapped.  (2)

Quick Thinking

The 16-year-old went missing from her North Carolina home recently. Her kidnapper put her in the back of his car and was taking her away somewhere. The girl, despite her panic, remembered the hand gesture she had learned on TikTok to tell others that she had been kidnapped. She began making this gesture at every single car that passed by. While most were not aware of what the gesture meant, thankfully one person did. 

“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 TikTok to represent violence at home – I need help – domestic violence,” said Laurel County Sheriff John Root.

At the very least, they knew that there was something wrong. They called 9-1-1 immediately. The police followed the car and rescued the girl before it was too late.

“Our guys were waiting at the top of the ramp. We had one cruiser getting behind the vehicle. We had another cruiser get in front of the vehicle we boxed it in,” Sheriff’s Deputy Gilbert Acciardo

Read: Infant was found alive in dead mother’s lifeless arms; she cradled him during a plane crash that killed both parents

The SOS Gesture

The gesture is a subtle one made using just one hand. To make the gesture, you first hold your hand up with your palm facing outward. Next, tuck your thumb in so that it is touching your palm. Then curl your fingers down around your thumb. This indicates that you are trapped. Keep repeating it until someone at the very least realizes that you are trying to tell them something that you can’t say out loud.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Be sure to teach your friends, family, and loved ones about this hand gesture. It could save their lives or someone else’s.

Keep Reading: Father who never stopped searching for abducted son reunited after 24 years


  1. Missing teen rescued using popular TikTok hand gesture to signal help.” ABC News. Kelly McCarthy. November 8, 2021.
  2. Missing N.C. teen found after using TikTok hand sign alerting she was in danger.” NBC News. Nicole Acevedo. November 6, 2021