At a recent Green Dot leadership training session, I was asked to write down on a piece of paper an action that I would do as a leader to help implement culture change.
I wrote, “Write a commentary on domestic assault which I experienced.”
Experiencing domestic abuse took my voice away, and during the thick of it, I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. Well, I have my voice back and I’m breaking my silence.
According to the training, red dots represent an act of power-based personal violence or the choice to tolerate, justify or perpetuate violence. My whole life at one point was a red dot where my body and boundaries were abused, but I turned to my green dots — family, colleagues and leadership — for help.
It’s through programs, like Green Dot, that the Air Force is changing toxic red dots to green.
I clung to these green dots and they helped pull me out of the toxic fog of a life I had been living. A green dot is any behavior, choice, word or attitude that promotes safety for all of our citizens and communicates utter intolerance for violence.
Walking on eggshells just to keep the peace isn’t living. Making excuses for explosive behavior in public isn’t living. And neither is being called names that cut you to the core. There are people in this world who only feel good if they’re causing someone else pain. That is not love, and that was the hell I lived in until I clawed my way out, re-establishing my boundaries and understanding that what I experienced was abuse.
Moving on from abuse, I keep a quote from Maya Angelou close to my heart as a baseline of my boundaries.
It reads, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
I ignored the red flags, lost my voice and had my world shattered. Sharing this story, I am your green dot.
If you’re experiencing life living around red dots, I hope these words reach you. I hope they empower you to reach out to the green, to an already established safety net that will catch you, help you and give you your voice back.
The momentum of the Green Dot program needs to not only propel its way through our service, but throughout our society, establishing healthy boundaries that banish toxic red dots.
Editor’s note: The author’s name was redacted to protect their identity.