The following is a partial timeline of the start of my sexual abuse:

April 1998
I was a junior in high school when Carol Lynn Mathia, a trusted family friend and someone I considered to be a “second mom” blurted out to me over the phone that she had to bury her face in a pillow to keep from moaning my name during sex with her husband, Fredrick.

May 5, 1998
Hannah, the precious daughter of one of our families at church, passed away suddenly at the hospital during a routine checkup. 

May 6, 1998 (22 years ago today)
I can remember this day like it was yesterday.  Our family was preparing to have Mrs. Mathia and her four kids over for a “play date”.  We had known the Mathias for several years through church.   Mrs. Mathia wore long, “modest” dresses, sang in the choir, played in the orchestra, and worked in the nursery. She was always nice and claimed to love God and her husband. I remember many occasions seeing Mrs. Mathia going forward during an altar call, crying over something she was convicted about during the message.  Mrs. Mathia was in her mid-thirties and her kids were a few years younger than me.  As a result of years of grooming, I trusted her as an adult, an authority in my life, and as a friend.  She often told me that she got along better with me than she did most adults which made me feel special. 

My family was still grieving from this news when Mrs. Mathia and her kids pulled up in their silver Chevy Astro minivan.  When everyone came inside our house, my mom broke the news of Hannah’s passing to Carol Lynn which immediately resulted in her sobbing uncontrollably.   As an excuse to get out of the house and away from the crying, I offered to take her kids outside to play in our big, red barn.  As the back porch door closed behind me, I heard Carol Lynn tell my mom that she wanted to go to the barn also to make sure it was a safe place for her kids to play.  As we walked through the door into the barn, the Mathia kids took off upstairs to the hay loft to play in the club house.  As soon as they were out of sight, Mrs. Mathia, who was still crying, quickly wiped the remaining tears from her eyes.  Then, as if nothing had ever happened, she pushed me against the barn wall and stuck her tongue down my throat.  Up until that point, I had never dated, or even held a girl’s hand.  15 minutes later, I had experienced and participated in sexual acts that I didn’t even know existed. 

 That weekend, our church held a funeral for Hannah.  At the funeral I saw my pastor’s niece Lynette, a childhood friend who I hadn’t seen in years.  Lynette was beautiful and at the end of our conversation she wrote her phone number down on a piece of scrap paper and handed it to me.  As I walked away from that conversation, I caught Carol Lynn (as she now insisted that I call her) glaring at me from across the room.  She quickly made her way over to me and demanded to know what Lynette had just handed me.  When I pulled that scrap piece of paper out of my pocket, Carol Lynn crumpled it up, put it in her mouth, and started chewing it.  In between chews, she hissed these exact words- “If you’re with me, you will not be with anyone else”. 

Sheltered But Not Protected is passionate about spreading awareness regarding the behavior of sexual predators as well as warning signs to be aware of.    Predators come in all shapes and sizes.  They are often narcissist and only have feelings for themselves. They thrive in cult minded churches where there is no real accountability outside of the “outward appearance”.  Predators groom their victims, as well as the victim’s parents and other people in their lives.  They are masters at their craft and can molest your child while you’re in the other room, or right in front of your face as they look you in the eye and carry on a conversation. 

The following is a list that the Department of Justice compiled that reveals common characteristics of sexual predators. 

Sexual predators:

  • Work in a wide range of occupations, from unskilled laborer to corporate executive.
  • Relate better to children than adults.
  • Usually prefer children in a specific age group.
  • Usually prefer either males or females, but may be bi-sexual.
  • May seek employment or volunteer with programs involving children of the age of their preference.
  • Pursue children for sexual purposes.
  • Frequently photograph or collect photographs of their victims, either dressed, nude, or in sexually explicit acts.
  • Are usually intelligent enough to recognize that they have a personal problem and understand the severity of it.
  • May go to great lengths to conceal their illegal activity.
  • Often rationalize their illicit activities, emphasizing their positive impact upon the victim and repress feelings about the harm that they have done.
  • Often portray the child as the aggressor. This usually occurs after the child realizes that by withholding “sexual favors” the child will obtain what he or she desires, such as new toys, clothing or trips.
  • Talk about children in the same manner as one would talk about an adult lover or spouse.
  • Often was a child molestation victim and frequently seeks out children at the age or stage of physical development at which the predator was also molested.
  • Are usually non-violent and have few problems with the law (pedophiles are frequently respected community members).