Sign of two Quebec women rescues a kidnapped woman

A distress signal shared on social media by two Quebec sisters saved an American woman kidnapped in the United States by her abusive ex-husband.

“For us, just seeing the mark used and understood around the world is the greatest gift. It just saved a life. This is the best example of how it works in practice,” launch Florence-Olivia and Marie-Emmanuelle Genesse, 27 and 23 years old.

Last Sunday in Tennessee, a woman was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, Jonathon Smith. The 31-year-old is said to have gotten the American into his truck before locking the doors and preventing her from getting out.


A photo of Jonathon Smith taken after his arrest for kidnapping in the United States.

Photo courtesy of the Hickman County Sheriff’s Office

A photo of Jonathon Smith taken after his arrest for kidnapping in the United States.

According to US media, Smith and the victim “had physical altercations in the vehicle.” He even reportedly threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend with a screwdriver, telling her that “if he couldn’t have it, nobody would.”

stroke of luck

“She used the distress signal at a supermarket where her kidnapper stopped. It was the clerk who recognized his hand gesture and called 911. This is proof that everyone has a role to play when it comes to domestic violence,” explains Florence-Olivia.


Florence-Olivia (left) and Marie-Emmanuelle Genesse make the sign that saved an American.

Photo courtesy Canadian Women’s Foundation

It’s this famous signal that the sisters have gone viral, having their videos viewed millions of times on TikTok and Instagram. Simply raise your hand, palm outward, then put your thumb in your hand and finally close your fingers.

Photo credit: the.sisofficial/Tiktok

Thanks to this, the intervention of the Tennessee police quickly saved the American. Interestingly, authorities later confirmed that the victim found out about the signal on TikTok.

This gesture was first created by the Canadian Women’s Foundation to report a domestic violence situation. However, Marie-Emmanuelle Genesse adds that it can now be used by anyone in need.

Photo credit: the.sisofficial/Tiktok

louder than words

“The physical sign is stronger than the spoken word in such situations because it is understood around the world. People take it seriously. We have evidence of this because this is the second time it has happened,” says Mme Genesis.

In fact, the signal was also used last fall by a 16-year-old girl who was kidnapped from a car in North Carolina. The teenager had made the gesture to other motorists on the street. The latter called 911 and quickly rescued the youth from authorities.

Note that the two Québec sisters, who speak perfect French, have expertise in the field. Marie-Emmanuelle is pursuing a Masters in Feminist Philosophy from Concordia University. For her part, Florence-Olivia is studying philosophy of law, specializing in sexual violence at Johns-Hopkins University in the United States.

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