Chosen to be a Child Molester’s Enabler: The Beginning of My Story

Part of my mission, my purpose in life, is to educate others about child predators.  I’m not here to stir up some kind of crazy hype, but to present the facts and to give you a bit of insight as to what happened in my own life.  How was I so blinded to the fact that for forty years I was living with a practicing pedophile?  How did I not see the signs?  How did I not pick up on something being very wrong with the man I married?  
The truth is that I sensed something was wrong even before we got married, but I didn’t listen to my inner being.  I didn’t pay attention to those nudgings that something was wrong.  Why?  Because as a Christian it had been taught to me from little up that people who went to church were good, honest, moral people.  I was taught to trust people who said they believed in God and followed His teachings.  And, I did just that.  I was, unfortunately, one of the most trusting women who ever walked the face of the earth!

Pay attention to this, please!  Just because a person tells you that they walk by the teachings of God does not mean it’s true.  In fact, the word of God warns us against “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, and I learned first-hand just what that meant.  But, it would be years before my eyes were totally opened to this fact. 
As a bit of background information, I came from a broken home.  My parents divorced when I was fourteen, a sister of mine died when she was thirteen, my mother was an alcoholic, and my father was by today’s terms a “dead beat dad.”  Needless to say, I longed for a different life, and I prayed constantly that God would send a good, righteous, faithful Christian into my life so that I could build a home on godly principles and a firm foundation. 


I worked hard all through high school so that I could go to college.  But, I didn’t want to go to just any college.  It had to be a Christian college because I sincerely believed that was the only place I would ever meet a Christian man to marry.  Because I worked so hard all through high school, I earned a four-year scholarship to a four-year state school.  BUT, you guessed it!  The idea of finding and marrying a Christian man was so ingrained in my heart and mind by now that I passed up the scholarship and instead went to a very small, two-year Christian College.  Little did I know that this one decision would lead to so much heartache for me and for those who are most special in my life — my children.  While it’s true that we can’t see around every bend in the road, there are signs and signals along the way.  I didn’t pay attention to anyone who tried to talk to me.  One thing was on my mind — finding a Christian mate!

Every person wants to feel special, and longs to be told that they stand out among all of the rest.  During the summer between my first and second year of college I met a young man who was articulate, bright, funny, witty, and who also told me that I stood out.  He was spending the summer at college and so was I.  A friendship developed, and even though I was engaged to marry someone else, this young man worked very hard every day to convince me that I was with the wrong person.  He pointed out all of the flaws of the man whose ring I was wearing until he finally convinced me to break off the engagement.  That’s a story in and of itself — maybe I’ll share that with you another day. 

What was a bit strange to me was that the man I would soon marry had a quiet control over me like nobody ever had before.  Even though I had low self-esteem I was used to making my own decisions and being very independent.  For the first time in my life I found I was reporting my every move to this quiet, shy young man. He told me I was special.  He said out of all the girls on campus I was the only one that he thought was pretty and was a true Christian.  He told me just what I wanted to hear.  It was the word “Christian” that nailed me!  I knew he was the one I had been praying about since my youth!

One of the greatest stories my now ex-husband loved to tell was how he spotted me from across campus and said to his roommate, “See that girl?  I’m going to marry her.”  This was totally absurd because at the time he said that we had not even met!  He later told me he would hide and watch me — study me — and he knew my schedule, when I was going to eat, when I’d walk back to campus, when I would go to work.  He said, “I knew everything about you.  I knew where you were from morning until night. I knew I would marry you.” 

Instead of being freaked out and thinking this guy was some kind of stalker psycho, I was flattered.  “He chose me.”  Out of all of the girls around, he chose me and that again was more evidence of answered prayers.  Deep inside, though, was a gnawing feeling that something wasn’t right.  He didn’t talk much.  And, for a man who said he loved God, he made fun of people in a mean way.  He mocked people’s insecurities.  Yes, you guessed it!  He mocked me on several occasions and I felt like a piece of dirt he had stepped on.  He made fun of the size of my nose.  He made fun of my feet calling them “hammer head toes.”  He made fun of the space I have between my teeth.  I cried myself to sleep many, many nights, but still……..he was a Christian man, and he was so nice when we were together in public.  He opened the car door for me (it was my car, by the way).  He paid the bill when we went out to eat and left a nice tip.  (It was my money that he used.)  He talked me into giving him my car (which I had since I was 16) and I found myself asking him for permission to use my own car.  This was really weird! 

Why did I put up with it?  Why does anybody put up with abuse?  Because they’ve been so used to being beaten down that they think this is the norm. Please, please — if you’re in a situation like this run for your life!!!  This is NOT the way a good relationship works!  And, it’s a red flag indicator of many other problems — in my case, it was a big red flag that I was being masterfully manipulated.  Groomed to be the wife of a pedophile who was already deeply involved in porn and child sexual molestation!  

 Learn to listen for “clues” that a decision you’re making might not be right.  I had BIG clues that I passed off as “odd”, “not making much sense”, “silly”, or “not that big of a deal.”

Clue 1:  For the last four months we dated, my fiance was in Israel doing overseas study.  We corresponded by letter only.  We were to get married less than one week after he arrived back in the states.  In his letters he would write to tell me how he would hide behind the grasses on the beach and watch girls changing out of their clothes and swimming nude.  He said he’d skip class and stay there all day.  In other words, he was openly telling me he was a “peeping Tom.”  This was a test of how far he could manipulate me and I passed with flying colors! I never questioned him about it.  Oh, I cried lots, but I never questioned him!

Clue 2:  He told me while we were dating that he and one of his cousins spent the summers together and they would steal cartons of cigarettes from stores and sneak out of the house at night and smoke the cigarettes and look at “porn” all night long.  Another test!  I looked at him quietly but never questioned him.  If you want to know the truth — I didn’t even know what porn was!!!!!  I had to ask my college roommates.  Again, I was being tested.  Could he get away with doing things right under my nose?  Sure he could. I’d never question a man of God!

Clue 3:  He was almost 21 and his favorite job was to “babysit all the little kids at church for free because he loved to give them baths and powder their little butts.”  I’m totally sick now as I write these words.  Why in heaven’s name didn’t I run from this man? There were so many clues that something was wrong, and I passed them off as being a little odd.  Nothing more — just a little bit odd. In fact, I actually thought this was kind of nice.  I never saw my father get involved in parenting like that, and I thought, “Wow!  This man will make a wonderful father!”    

Porn.  Lying.  Peeping Tom.  A young man who loves bathing and powdering little kids.  Masterfully manipulating.  Gaining the trust of adults. (Church people loved him babysitting their kids!)

I was another one of his victims.  I was being set up. I was being groomed  I would be the perfect alibi for his continued evil behavior.  He was calculating.  He studied me.  He used me.  He used my faith as a means to get what he wanted.  He knew what he was doing! His actions were no mistake.  He worked very hard to plan every detail.   

Listen up everyone!  Please don’t do as I did!  If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is!!! Pay attention to the little details and the little voice that is whispering something is wrong!!! 

This is just the beginning of my story.  I will share more in the weeks to come in hopes that others will not be blinded to the facts as I was.   We must get educated about child sexual molesters so that we can protect life’s most precious blessings — our children!

Why am I sharing the ugly, sad parts of my life?  That’s simple.  Because children are beautiful.  Children are precious.  Children deserve to be protected.  Statistics (according to information found here ) tell us that 1 in every 3 girls and 1 in every 6 boys are molested by the age of 18.  Please help me to stop this!  Let’s get educated!  Let’s do all we can to make it incredibly difficult for the molester!  Let’s be vigilant on behalf of our children — at all times!!! 

Every child should have the ability to grow up feeling safe and loved and whole and pure! 

It isn’t easy or comfortable for me to write about this, but I must.  I must take this terribleness and do something positive with it.  I must work for the safety of our children. 
Thanks so much for stopping by and for taking the time to read this.  Thanks even more for making yourself more aware of what is going on right under our noses — in our schools, our churches, our camps, our homes.  Let’s do all we can to work together to make this a safe place for our children!  

Love,
Clara

 

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18 thoughts on “Chosen to be a Child Molester’s Enabler: The Beginning of My Story

  1. Thank you Clara for sharing this. My story with my ex is very similar to your beginnings. I am sooo thankful that I was able to get out of that relationship, and I owe so much of my healing to you and SG. Sending you tonnes of love!!

  2. Clara,You are always in my thoughts and prayers. Not only will this story help others but may it heal you as well. Just keep remembering how much you loved by so many of us!Your friend,Nancy

  3. Tara,Thanks so much for sharing some of your story, also. This is so much more prevalent than we care to think about. And, I feel so thankful for your words about Silent Grief. That makes my heart smile.Love and continued blessings to you,Clara

  4. It was so emotional reading this; since we knew him personally. We would have NEVER thought he could be capable of this…………..You will help others, Clara; by sharing this. Perhaps; even ONE person may see some red flags through your story. Thank you for sharing these painful memories with us. If we could prevent even one child from being molested, it is worth it.

  5. Dear friend Clara, As you know, I already knew bits and pieces of this before I read this, but want you to know that you and your precious children are in my DAILY prayers; for healing, for peace and for a deeper walk with our Lord. I love and admire you more than you can ever know and so appreciate your willingness to share this painful experience. Please keep trying to do all the good you can to help others to understand this horrible sickness. I can't imagine learning this about a man that you had loved and lived with for over 40 years. Thank you again for what you're doing.

  6. Nancy,Thank you so much for the prayers and love.Each time I tell bits of the story I find there is a bit of healing as well as a bit of freedom from the grip this has held on me. It is a daily prayer of mine that God will use this — use me — in some way to help protect others from this same kind of pain — most especially the children who have fallen into the hands of molesters.Thanks for keep me and my family in your prayers.Love,Clara

  7. Nancy,It is very emotional — for all of us. It's hard to imagine, much less believe. That's why I had to sit right there in the courtroom — to hear with my ears him say that this is who he is. I still have times when it's so hard to take it all in.And, you nailed it when you said, "if we could prevent even one child from being molested it is worth it." Amen and amen.And, that is why I will continue to educate and advocate — for the children.

  8. Betty,Thank you again and again. I know you're so faithful in your love and prayers and I appreciate that so very much!As long as I have life, I will keep trying to be a mouthpiece for the safety of our children.Thank you for your ongoing love and support.

  9. Clara, My Darling, My heart is so full of love for you and such hope for God's faithfulness. You have not and will not be ruined by the terrible experiences you and your family have endured because you choose God!!! As you have been an encouragement to me through Silent Grief and as a speaker to our women's retreats twice, you continue to be through your example of freedom in Christ through the most difficult of dark times. Know that a random woman of God on the left coast loves you and has been thinking of you and praying for you continuously! 🙂 I hope we meet again soon. Until then, I will enjoy the sweet and savory messages of your blog and the beautiful pictures.Yours in Christ, Jessie Pannell

  10. Brian,Thank you so, so much. This means more to me than you will ever know. You and Jesse are such a special couple, and I often find myself praying for you, your children, your marriage and your ministry.Much love to you,Clara

  11. Jessie,You are such a special, sweet friend! Whenever I think of you, it's always with a smile — always!!! Just hearing from you made this old mama cry — I wish I could give you a big hug right now.Thanks so much for the love, prayers, and encouragement!Please give my love to all of the special ladies who were so kind to me at the reatreat. (I still hear from Lynn!)Much love,Clara

  12. Dear Clara, sister of my heart. It breaks my heart to know that in your heart you have other area of sisters. I don't fit in that one. I could have, I guess, I dated a fella in college who was controlling. That's where I was protected or blessed because I wasn't smart. It is my prayer that as you write your heart will heal and I am so thankful and blessed to have you in my life. You know I asked you once if you ever felt like Peter, sifted like wheat. He has asked to sift you too often but have past the test and are a shinning example to others. God bless you, heal your heart. You are in my prayers always. Melody

  13. What a brave woman you are. In spite of all this you have kept your faith, empathy, hope and are eager to make a difference. Perhaps this was God’s plan for you, to be a light in the world of child sexual abuse. I never knew my family outside of my parents and brother because both my parents were sexually abused by multiple members of their family. The few times I saw my grandpop as a very little girl (around the age of 3), I had to lock myself in a bathroom to keep from getting fondled. I have had 5 other attempts in my life, from babysitters to fathers of boyfriends, to my brother’s best friend. Evil is in every heart it seems. And this is a testimony from a very “Christian” household. All the above claimed to be Christian. I cant see into their heart, but to me they use the label to get their fix.

    • I’m not sure at all that I’d say I’m brave, but I thank you for saying that. This isn’t the path that I would have chosen — to be writing about sexual molesters and all of the planning and lies that help them to succeed in their crafty endeavors of manipulation and harming children. BUT, because this world has been opened up to me (and my family) I do feel it’s my responsibility to do something for good with the information I now have.

      I haven’t figured out at all yet what is at the crux of a predator’s heart — evil lurking??? Or does it begin from a catalyst such as pornography or a few horrible experiences themselves….??? I don’t know, and maybe it’s a combination of everything. Reading things such as you went through (locking yourself in the bathroom from your grandfather) are things that no child should ever have to do. And, to hear that both of your parents were sexually abused by multiple membeber of their families makes me cringe in pain.

      Was there open communication in your home? Do your parents know about your grandfather’s fondling? I pray for the day when all of the curtains are opened and the windows are flung wide so that the predators are standing naked in front of everyone so we can see them for who they are and STOP them and stop allowing them to hide behind the facade of religion! Professed followers of God have not been scrutinized in the past…we’ve placed such people on pedestals and praised them for their godly works, when so many are far from living what they preach or teach. What a travesty! Education and exposure — together we will form a voice and be heard!

      • No, I would never tell them. It would just break their heart. They know of some of the other incidents with close friends. They tried so hard to shield me, but shielding isn’t the answer, awareness and education is, as you have said. I was a beacon to molesters BECAUSE my parents isolated and shielded me. Safety is in numbers. Isolated children are vulnerable. Temptation in and of itself is not wrong. Jesus was tempted in all things. Sin and evil enter our hearts when we succumb to the temptation, and don’t get help with temptations that harm others. That is where your husband “went down the rabbit hole”. While I was exposed to their sinful impulses, I was not ever actively molested, somehow managing to get out of the episodes. Molesters are sometimes impulsive opportunists, but I found that they become unaware of their environment when the impulse takes over. While they were completely intent on their mission, I was looking around for an escape. And I always found one. I now have a “spidey sense”, which I think all people should learn to develop.
        In regard to my parents, I know they suffered terribly, but when my adopted cousin told me that she was getting molested by the same person who molested my mom, and I told her, she did nothing. Had I known there was a hotline to call, I would have called it in, but I was only 14 at the time. How my family could have just called that child a liar is just insupportable. She ended up marrying my cousin (her adopted brother) and they had a terrible life. I personally think secrets like this are not uncommon, just slid under the rug.

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