Her life was on the line, and she did the one thing that could save her: She ordered pizza.

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically assaulted by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence affects an estimated4 million womeneach year. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women (and 1 in 4 men) have been the victim of physical violence at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.

While it might seem as simple as just leaving for those of us who aren't stuck in those kinds of relationships, it's nowhere near that easy for many abuse survivors.


This is why it's so important for 911 operators, police officers, and all of us, really, to be able to read between the lines in these types of situations.

One incredible story of a woman using 911 to help escape an abusive relationship happened in 2015.

Cheryl Treadway of Highlands County, Florida, escaped a hostage situation with the help of her cell phone and a local Pizza Hut.

Treadway and her children were being held at knifepoint by her boyfriend Ethan Nickerson. So she placed an order on her phone's Pizza Hut app — a small hand-tossed pizza with pepperoni. Oh yeah, it also came with a note telling store owners that she was being held hostage and asking them to please send help.

Upon receiving her order, the local Pizza Hut called the police, who arrived at her home and arrested the boyfriend.



Treadway's story brings to mind a chilling anti-domestic violence PSA that ran a few years back during the Super Bowl.

The PSA features a woman on the phone with police, but acting as though she's ordering a pizza.

And, while No More — the organization behind that Super Bowl PSA — isn't exactly everything it claims to be, the message in the PSA is no less valid.

The scenario in the PSA played out in real life and was shared on reddit by the 911 operator.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has many resources for people stuck in an abusive relationship, including a safety planning tool.

The safety planning tool is really helpful for abuse survivors looking for a way out, and it includes details on the different types of plans, tips on how to leave an abusive relationship, and a guideline to some basic legal info.

What if the Pizza Hut manager didn't think to call 911 in Treadway's situation? What if the operator in the PSA didn't catch on to the caller's message? Luckily, they did. Still, it's important to know that not every warning sign will light up like a road flare. Sometimes, people are asking for help and we just might not be listening.

Thankfully, some out there are listening. And in doing so, they're saving lives.

The article was originally published in 2015, it has been updated.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
Library of Congress

When we think about the era of American slavery, many of us tend to think of it as the far distant past. While slavery doesn't exist as a formal institution today, there are people living who knew formerly enslaved black Americans first-hand. In the wide arc of history, the legal enslavement of people on U.S. soil is a recent occurrence—so recent, in fact, that we have voice recordings of interviews with people who lived it.

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less