A hand signal that went viral on TikTok has saved a woman from a dangerous domestic violence situation.
Last Sunday, a woman was visiting her brother in Hickman County in Tennessee, US, when her ex-boyfriend, Johnathon Smith, showed up, police say.
She got into Smith's vehicle and a little while later the two had a physical altercation, Lieutenant Mike Doddo said, according to The Tennesean.
Smith allegedly refused to let the woman out of the car and threatened to kill her. Lt Doddo said he picked up a screwdriver and said if he couldn't have her, nobody could.
The pair continued driving and eventually stopped off at a petrol station at around 1pm and both Smith and his ex-girlfriend went inside.
Woman knew signal from TikTok
Fearing for her safety, the ex-girlfriend was able to communicate that with those inside the petrol station without saying a word.
Witnesses told local news station WKRN the woman crossed her thumb over her palm and repeatedly covered her thumb with her other four fingers.
The hand movement went viral on TikTok in 2020 and was promoted as a way domestic violence victims could silently signal that they were in trouble. Lt Doddo said the woman learned the signal on the video sharing platform.
Eric Streeval, who is part of a motorcycle group that helps domestic violence victims, was at the petrol station when the two were inside.
He said the woman looked at him and mouthed the word "help".
Lt Doddo told The Tennessean staff at the petrol station tried to stall Smith at the register, as someone else called for help.
However, Smith caught on and swiftly took the woman back to the truck and drove off.
The sheriff's department arrived at the petrol station as Smith was leaving and a 10-minute pursuit began, ending when Smith crashed the truck into a creek.
Smith allegedly fled the vehicle and was captured by deputies and he was charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated domestic assault, with additional charges pending, WKRN reported.
The woman was not injured following the crash.
“If you see something, say something. Domestic violence is a bad thing here in Tennessee. The victims, a lot of times they’re too afraid to speak out," Mr Streeval told WKRN.
"I credit the young lady in this situation with having the world’s most courage of actually speaking out because who knows what would have happened."
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