By Gina Randall, 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 14, 2016
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Betrayal is something people hope never to feel, but betrayal from someone you trusted and loved with all your heart is the worst kind. For one Team Mildenhall member her friend suffered betrayal, and rather than turning to others for help, she tried to take her own life.
“My friend was in a pretty bad marriage,” said Staff Sgt. Gloria Jolly, 100th Communications Squadron Post Office NCO in charge of parcel service center. “He raped her. She told me it was a one-time thing and she continued to live with him. Later she told me she was always afraid to go home, and that broke my heart.”
Feeling she (Jolly’s friend) had no one to turn to at the time, she thought she had no way out.
“She tried to commit suicide,” Jolly reflected sadly. “I wasn’t aware of how bad her marriage was, she didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until after she moved out that she finally opened up to me.”
Like many people, Jolly felt sad that she couldn’t somehow help.
“I wish I had known as I would’ve been there for her — but she hid it well,” Jolly added. “I knew their relationship was rocky since he didn’t treat her well. It was difficult for her when he became abusive because she is incredibly sweet and very sensitive, so things affected her.”
But resilience within her came through when she needed it most.
“Thankfully she started talking with a therapist,” Jolly said. “She’s incredibly strong and I’m so proud of her for getting away. Now she is part of Project Semicolon. It doesn’t end with the period, it’s a semicolon because your life continues. Just like her life continued, and now she’s truly free, her life is just beginning, it hasn’t stopped. I know she is still dealing with it, she had told me at the time she didn’t know it was rape. It wasn’t until she reached out for help and was able to talk to her therapist that she came to terms with the fact that it was. She felt anger and was hypersensitive. She eventually moved out, even though she was alone, she said she had a feeling of relief and of safety. My friend said she didn’t realize how unsafe she felt back then, I really felt for her.”
As a friend, Jolly looked to her own feelings on hearing how her friend coped.
“When I first found out I was angry — angry that she tried to commit suicide,” Jolly explained. “But I didn’t show it to her as I wanted her to open up more. My secondary feeling was shock that she went through that, and that she went through it alone. It was just utter heartbreak. I also felt admiration since she was such a strong individual, not only to go through it, but alone. While she did have that moment of weakness to try and end her life, she realized, ‘I can’t do this, I need to find help’— and that takes real courage.”
Being there for her friend made Jolly hope to do more. She wanted to help those in their darkest hour. To be receptive to people reaching out for help, in ways so subtle they don’t even know they’re sending signals they need help.
“Once she opened up to me, I felt a connection to the Green Dot community,” Jolly added. “The more training I get the better I can help her, since she still has her days dealing with what happened. I could be a better friend to her, but also to help other people. I want to be there to help them the best way I can.”
Unlike regular PowerPoint training, the United States Air Forces in Europe Green Dot Training course offers an interactive approach, and is something Jolly is proud to be a part of.
“I’m excited about training other people after this course,” said Jolly. “I want to be a big part of this cause since it’s great and I think this is wonderful training. It’s taught differently.”
From bases across USAFE, 60 Airmen gathered at RAF Mildenhall to receive the Green Dot course Oct. 11 to 14, 2016.
“Green dot is the strategy that the Air Force has selected to address sexual assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking,” said Melissa Emmal, a contractor with Green Dot, a national non–profit organization based in Washington, D.C. “These folks are getting trained to implement the strategy on their installation.”
This ‘train the trainer’ course was an opportunity for leaders around Europe to select their best, in order to bring the training back to other Airmen in their unit.
“Most of them were selected because they are confident in front of a room of people, well-liked and positive about stepping into this,” Emmal added. “They’re seeing us demonstrate pieces of curriculum, and practicing it. By the end of the week they’ll be ready to share this with their installations.”
This training is a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to protecting people from harm. In a scenario the group was told to imagine someone they love and care about at one side of the room, and someone wanting to cause them harm at the other side. There are 20 people between them. What do those 20 people do in that situation? Do they react to help the person you love? But even if they react, is it reactive? Stopping the harm or offering help once the harm has taken place? Or are they proactive, setting standards so harm doesn’t take place?
This training aims to stamp out the red dots, meaning bad choices, by replacing them with green dots, meaning intervention.
There’s no place for people who cause harm to others, not in the community, and not among our brothers and sisters serving alongside us each day. Green Dot training hopes to prevent the situations Jolly’s friend was in taking place, and to equip Airmen to deal with it if a Red Dot does occur.