Red Flags

Disclaimer: The following contains some graphic content that may be considered disturbing or offensive. Please be advised.

I had been accepted into the work study program at my University. When looking through my options I discovered that I could work in the College of Architecture Library. Perfect! When I began working, I was always scheduled with another student whom I could shadow and thus learn the ropes. The first student with whom I was placed was an upperclassman in architecture. He was intelligent, passionate about architecture, art, theater, and world travel. He was fascinating. He immediately recognized and encouraged my passion for architecture as well.

He invited me to join him and a group of architecture students at the movies. I accepted.   Since I did not have a car, he picked me up at my dorm and drove me to the movies. He had a truck that only seated two people, so it wasn’t until we arrived at the movies that I realized there were no other students joining us. He made an excuse that the others canceled. My initial thought was that there never were other students. I assumed since we worked together he thought it too awkward to just ask me to the movies. Now I think it was just one of many things he did to see how much he could get away with, whilst not raising any red flags. After our night at the movies he began asking me out on dates. We went to the movies, the theater and expensive restaurants.

Straight out of High School, I still had the High School mindset that if you meet someone a couple years ahead of you in school they are roughly two or three years older than you too. After a couple weeks of dating, sitting in his truck at the end of a date he finally admitted to me that he was not two or three years older than me. He was ten years older than me. Lacking the money, he had not immediately entered college, but rather joined the military. Now he was taking advantage of the G.I. bill.

This too should have raised a red flag for me, but I am the daughter of a retired Air Force Colonel. I grew up surrounded by Air Force Officers whom I trusted and respected. Knowing this only made me trust and respect him more.   Plus, of my six close friends in High School, two had dads that were ten to fifteen years older than their mothers. My friends had wonderful relationships with their parents and both their parents were very involved in their lives. As our conversation ended, he gave me a hug and whispered: “I feel like I am getting away with murder.” Another red flag. At that moment, his comment struck me as odd, but I dismissed it.

On another occasion, we were casually talking and he asked me if I had ever had sex before. I told him “No.” He laughed and said there was no way I had never had sex. Another red flag. I was frustrated that he didn’t believe me. This conversation should have seemed odd to me, but upon dropping me off at college, my dad warned me that men always ask for sex and it was my responsibility to say no. He wasn’t specifically asking me for sex at that time, but I felt like it fell under this gross generalization.

One night while we were spending time together he confided in me. He recounted a painful memory that I believe took place early on in his military career. He had never slept with anyone before. He went to a party and drank so much he passed out. When he awoke, he said his pants were down and there was a woman on top of him having sex with him. He said there were two other women in the room watching. He then told me if he was a woman, this would have been considered rape, but since he was a man it wasn’t. He told me after that he just needed to sleep with someone of his own freewill. He started dating another woman and they quickly became sexually involved. I didn’t know what to say. I felt terrible for him. I quietly listened and offered a hug of comfort, but I had no idea how to respond to this painful memory.

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