Could TikTok Save Your Life? Maybe! 

In the age of digital media, platforms like TikTok and true crime podcasts have become unexpected allies for individuals concerned about their safety in abusive relationships. With viral hashtags like #IfIGoMissing and the “If I die bury me with all my ice on” TikTok sound, these individuals are shedding light on intimate partner violence (IPV) and aiming to protect themselves. People are utilizing these platforms to their advantage, creating binders to document their experiences and potentially hastening the process of justice. Let’s delve into this innovative approach.

The Binder: A Tool for Documentation and Justice

One key way people leverage TikTok and other digital platforms is by creating binders to record crucial information about their lives, partners, and potential suspects. These binders have various details, including hair, fingerprints, dental records, tattoos, and information about exes. Available in multiple languages, these comprehensive records can serve as essential evidence if the person goes missing or meets an untimely demise.

Backing up the Claims: Seeking Alternatives

The decision to resort to social media for documentation often arises when traditional support routes fail to yield results. The need for alternative avenues becomes apparent, especially considering the alarming statistics surrounding intimate partner violence (over 10 million people are physically abused annually in the U.S.). Individuals have reported contacting law enforcement, friends, and family but have been met with inaction. In fact, research conducted by the UK highlights that more than 50% of women “reported an instance of domestic abuse at least twice before they felt appropriate action was taken by the police,” and many women 12% felt police never took the right action. 

Considering these results highlight all women, we can only imagine the significant impact on those that are often dismissed at higher proportions, like people of color and transgender individuals. The murder rate of Indigenous women is 3 times that of White women, and nearly 40% of missing persons are Black. Despite making up a high percentage of missing persons, law enforcement has historically allocated fewer resources to Black people (and really all people of color); this has come to be known as the Missing White Woman Syndrome. Further, studies show that between 2017 and 2020, the victimization rate among transgender individuals was 2.5 times that of cisgender people. (We want to send a special shout-out to TransGriot for leveraging alternative methods; may she rest in power for her work drawing attention to missing and murdered trans folks.) 

Faced with the urgency of their situations, they must turn to TikTok and other platforms to create a digital trail of evidence, ensuring that their concerns are not brushed aside.

Shining a Light on Intimate Partner Violence

Roughly 85% of IPV victims are women and intimate partner violence disproportionately affects marginalized communities, including women of color and LGBTQQIA2S+ communities. These groups often face additional barriers when seeking help and justice. 

With more than 25 million views, #IfIGoMissing is definitely grabbing attention. The hashtag could serve as a powerful social media tool to shed light on the intersectionality of intimate partner violence and advocate for comprehensive support and resources. However, when we look at the faces of the people using the hashtag, they still don’t necessarily resemble the faces of people who are more commonly ignored. 

Time plays a critical role in responding to cases of intimate partner violence. The first 24 to 48 hours, known as the “golden hours,” are crucial for gathering evidence and ensuring the safety of potential victims. By using digital media to document their experiences and identify potential suspects, victims of IPV hope to expedite the investigative process. This innovative approach could potentially save lives and ensure justice is served swiftly.

TikTok and social media could be life-changing for victims but only as much as viewers respond. Organizations and communities need to recognize the power of social media platforms in addressing intimate partner violence. Beyond just recognizing, they must act and be vigilant and responsive to such campaigns on digital media. By actively engaging with victims’ stories from all backgrounds and taking appropriate actions, organizations can provide much-needed support and resources to those in need.

Resources for Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence or needs assistance, here are some resources that can provide help and support:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): 1-800-656-4673

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Examples of In Case I Go Missing Binders:

The View

TikTok Just a Girl

TikTok The Greatest Ever