Chicago's 'hero movers' are a reminder of how hard leaving abusive relationships can be.

When a three-man moving crew saw a woman frantically running out of a dental office in Chicago, they knew she was in trouble. And they knew they could help.

Josh Lara, Cody Grant, and Mike Zaininger were unloading a truck in Chicago's West Loop back in October when a woman ran up to them, asking to use their phone, telling them that someone was shooting.

That someone was the woman's abusive ex-boyfriend. He was carrying a gun, and he was looking for her. "She knew she was being looked for, the way she was hiding," Zaininger told DNA Info Chicago at the time. "It was just our instinct to try and protect and help her," Lara said.


The three movers acted quickly to hide the woman in their truck, likely saving her life. Her ex, unable to find her, fatally shot himself outside the dental office where she worked.

On Dec. 14, 2016, the three "hero movers" — as they've been called — were honored by their local city council.

Lara, Grant, and Zaininger being honored by their city council. Photo via 25th Ward.

An official city proclamation thanked the men for their "selfless display of bravery" and "remarkable display of courage and quick-thinking." The three heroes were surrounded by their loved ones and family, with Cody Grant's youngest son wearing a shirt reading "My Dad Is My Hero."

Escaping an abusive relationship is not usually as simple as running outside and asking for help.

Abusers purposely make their victims feel small and helpless to convince them the abuse is their own fault. They cut their victims off from support networks and often use financial control and manipulation and emotional abuse to ensure their victims stay quiet and have no means of escape.

A woman walks through the streets of Paris with fake blood for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Photo by Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images.

"Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship," reads the Domestic Violence Intervention Program website. The woman who the hero movers hid was lucky to find them — and even luckier that they acted quickly to help her and didn't stop to ask questions or turn the other way.

There are things you can do if you suspect that someone is being emotionally or physically abused or if someone comes to you asking for help.

A good first step is to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of abuse, which can help you identify an abusive relationship that might not seem like one at first.

If you want to help a friend or family member, you should also try to understand why that person might not want to leave the relationship or why they might not even think they're being abused. Shaming them for that or pressuring them to escape can actually be counterproductive. Instead, make yourself someone they can trust and talk to no matter what.

A photo exhibition of murdered women in Ankara, Turkey, as a protest against violence toward women. Photo by Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images.

Because leaving abusive relationships puts women at such high risk of retaliation from their partners, it's important to develop a safety plan that also accounts for the safety of kids, pets, and family members.

We won't all find ourselves in situations where we can be like the hero movers, but stopping domestic violence is up to all of us.

The woman in Chicago was in direct and immediate danger. She was being hunted by an angry abuser who had a gun on him. But instances of domestic abuse won't always be that extreme. There isn't any one type of person who can find themselves stuck in an abusive relationship. It happens to women, it happens to men, and it happens in LGBTQ relationships as well.

If abuse is happening to someone you know, don't assume that someone else will step in, and don't assume that that person will eventually help themselves. You can, and should, be the person that speaks up in a productive way when you see it.

In Chicago, when the movers stepped in, they saved a woman's life. They also demonstrated the simple power of being there. They did the right thing, and it should inspire all of us to do the same whenever we can.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call or visit the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, 800-799-7233

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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