When a woman picked Golden State Restaurant Group's McDonald's location in Lodi, California, she didn't know that her cry for help would be heard. There are at least 20,000 safe place program sites in the US that was able to help youth in the time of crisis. When the victim walked up to the counter of the fast-food chain they didn't hear the usual order of a quarter pounder and fries, instead, she mouthed 'help me'. The man with her was her abuser and this time she needed to be saved.
Eduardo Valenzuela was abusing the victim since some time and this time he had threatened her with a stolen firearm. The woman walked to the restaurant counter and gave her details before her abuser could notice. An extensive investigation by the police revealed that Valenzuela had been abusing the victim for a long time for which he was booked for criminal threats, stolen property, and felon(prohibited person) in possession of a firearm.
The employees were understanding towards the victim
Safe Place Program helps youth in a crisis situation. The restaurant's website mentions that it is a safe space for young people in need of immediate help and safety. The program includes several schools, institutions, fire stations and libraries that has a sign in yellow and black mention that it is under the program.
The Golden State restaurant posted on their Facebook page that they were proud of the team for being a part in the program and helping someone in need.
The woman told an employee to call 911 while at the counter and gave them her license plate number and requested them to hide her. She went to the restroom and returned to the counter only to be stopped by her abuser who told her that they would be making the order in the drive-thru. While they were at the drive-thru the victim signalled once again to the employee that she was in need of help.
The police arrived in time to rescue the woman
The woman was driving the car while her abuser was in the passenger seat. He had threatened her earlier that day with a stolen firearm and she was troubled to be seated in the car while the gun was in the trunk of the car. The officers arrived at the front counter asking about the woman as she was going through the order.
They were rushed to the drive-thru by the employees. The woman was rescued just in time and the man was arrested for various charges including a stolen firearm. She was shaken due to the incident and mentioned that she was driving him to his home. Safe Place Program is a space to rescue victims of various assaults and abuses including human trafficking.