Kathleen is the youngest of 13 children and her mother died when she was just 3 months old. Her oldest sister was barely 13 and was thrust into the role of caregiver for the younger children while working in the cotton fields of rural Mississippi and attending school whenever she could. Kathleen's father was a gambler and when he was unable to pay his gambling debts, he used his own daughters as payment.
This is a raw and real story of Kathleen Coleman – in her own words.
Her father later sent her, an older sister, and brother to live with his sister. Kathleen was molested by her aunt?s husband as a regular way of life from kindergarten to the age of 13. Deep in her spirit she knew it wasn?t right, but I didn?t trust my intuition. I believed my uncle when he kept telling me it was okay. He would have me ride with him to take my aunt to work and after dropping her off he would molest me and take me to the store for candy. That was my life. To me it was normal.”
Ultimately the truth of the molestation was revealed. The court process decreed that either the children or the child molester leave the home. The aunt kept her man, (the perpetrator who loved having sex with children) and she abandoned the molested child sending 13 year old Kathleen, and her siblings to live with her father's brother and his wife.Shortly afterwards Kathleen's 18 year old sister got married and she took in 13 year old Kathleen and her 15 year old brother. This became too much for the newly married couple, and Kathleen went to live with yet another sister in Chicago.
The Only Constant
Kathleen recalls, I was a sheep being led to the slaughter. I was as green and gullible as all out doors. From Mississippi to the projects of Chicago, I was a target. Shortly after arriving in Chicago, I was sent to spend the summer with an adult cousin and was molested again. This is all I ever knew. Being molested was the only thing that was constant in my young life. Everything else changed but men having sex with me as a child was always there. Every decision I ever made was shaped by these experiences. When I was taken out of the home, there were no counselors, no one said this was wrong. I just moved on to the next house.
Sitting Duck for Human Trafficking
Just prior to her 14th birthday, Kathleen was sent to Indianapolis to live with the sister who took care of her as a toddler. She attended Wood High School. It was the worst experience of her life. She was the new kid, the boys wanted her and told stories about her that were not true. The girls hated her, they jumped her and beat on her because of the lies the boys told. No one ever believed Kathleen. She skipped school rather than endure this ridicule. She started smoking pot and shoplifting.
Before age 15 she had been in juvenile detention 3 times for skipping school and stealing.? The second time she got released from juvenile she was placed in a group home for girls. I do not remember the name of the home, but I never forgot the address, 904 Udell Street. There was a church across the street. The home has been torn down, but First Baptist Church is still there. I remember Reverend Bradley and his wife. They were kind to me. Going to church was my escape.”
The girls in the home attended Crispus Attucks High School. Kathleen was so far behind academically she didn?t even try. It was no different there than at Wood. Whenever things went wrong in the group home, she was usually accused of it. She remember one Sunday morning, “one of the girls was missing a pair of hose. She was ranting and raving and everyone was afraid, because she was a spoiled brat and a bully.” Kathleen went to church that morning and when she returned she was accused of stealing the pantyhose.
She was tired of being lied about. She was not surprised by the other girls as they were afraid of being bullied. Kathleen was painfully disappointed the houseparent, someone that she respected dearly, did not believe her.The hurt in my houseparent’s eyes was unbearable and I ran away.”
She knew too well what to do for a warm place to sleep.?She could have easily become a victim of human trafficking. This is how it starts. Kathleen's life made her a sitting duck for being exploited. But not this time.? After months of homelessness she grew weary of this life and turned herself in to juvenile detention.Upon her third discharge from juvenile detention, she was placed in Pleasant Run Children's Home where she stayed from age 15-18. This saved Kathleen’s life.
Goodness Poured In
Pleasant Run was her salvation. For the first time she had stability and for three years she was not molested. Her house-mother helped her with a book report and her teacher spoke powerful prophetic words to Kathleen in praise.Kathleen, this is an excellent report. I will not be surprised when you grow up to be a famous author.
Kathleen can count on one hand the people who poured into her and encouraged her. Kathleen remembers two positive outpourings from her youth. In Mississippi, she spent her days at her cousins? house reading books. Their mother gave them books of every kind to read. She was praised once in high school by her English teacher for writing an outstanding book report. She struggled in high school, yet she is a published author of two books and her command of the written word is excellent. She was mentored and truly felt cared about by the staff at Pleasant Run Children’s Home. Kathleen dedicated her first book to her English teach and her housemother even though she had no idea where they were or even if they were still living, but their impact was felt for a lifetime. Never underestimate the power of sowing into the life of a young person. One small act of interest and inspiration can make a significant positive difference. Kathleen is a living example.
For three years Kathleen was sheltered and protected from sexual predators. She had structure and with hard work and encouragement graduated from Manual High School. Despite the success of the prior three years, she was approaching emancipation. She was not prepared for independence. She lacked emotional maturity, social skills, financial education, and more importantly self-esteem, confidence, and a realistic outlook on life. I enrolled in I.U.P.U.I. believing that I could live off student loans and work study. That lasted for about two semesters, and I found myself homeless again.
Kathleen contacted a former staff at Pleasant Run Children’s Home asking for his help to get back to Chicago. He was driving to Gary to visit his son and he agreed to take her to Chicago. “I arrived in Chicago in March. By June I was married at age 19. My husband was a typewriter repairman by day and a monster at night.” Kathleen was forced by her husband into sex trafficking.
I do not want any child to ever experience the life I did as a result of things out of their control. Children who are emancipated from the state need additional care, mentoring, training and preparation for independent living. We need to start as early as possible to reach out to them, to build them up, to instill confidence, and self-value. We need to provide every opportunity to strengthen and encourage them in their area of giftedness. Allowing them opportunity to experience the arts has proven to have a positive impact on youth development, building self-esteem, teamwork and motivation while inspiring growth and awakening potential for maximum fulfillment of their call and purpose.”
- What if we pour into young people who find themselves in juvenile?
- What if we speak words of encouragement and plant the seeds of greatness in a young person's mind?
- What if we see a Kathleen Coleman in the eyes of every troubled youth we encounter?
- What would happen if we started building hope in young women who have been removed from the home and are in foster care?
- What if we invested in a child and kept them from being exploited and victimized by sex trafficking?
Miss Sophia?s House
Kathleen created Miss Sophia?s house as a result of her life experience. Her passion is to awaken potential, cultivate gifts, and empower girls growing up like her, who are in dire need of a positive role model. Glory be to God for saving and preserving the life of Kathleen Coleman and anointing her as a minister, intercessor and founder of? the International Evangelistic Prayer Ministry.
Later in life Kathleen returned to school and earned a bachelor's in organizational leadership. She is a living, breathing example of the life-changing results that come from God’s power and love. As a Certified John Maxwell Speaker and Life coach, Kathleen empowers women to escape the prison of their past to break forth into the glorious victories that rides on the wings of freedom. As a licensed minister and motivator, she is Spirit led, delivering inspirational and empowering messages of love, dominion and abundance.
Join Kathleen to Make a Difference
How can you make a difference in a young girl?s life, one that is just like Kathleen was in her youth?
Engage Kathleen Coleman as a speaker for your church or organization. Let her light a fire for God?s Word and allow it to inspire your group to take action to transform your community.
Miss Sophia?s house is in need of volunteers who will teach art of every kind.
Miss Sophia?s house is in need of musicians, dance and voice instructors willing to give lessons.
Miss Sophia?s house is in need of mentors to teach Bible study and just listen to young girls.
Miss Sophia?s house is in need of storytellers to encourage young girls in creative expression.
Can you donate art supplies, instruments, sheet music, writing supplies, Bibles, books and time?
Would you make a monetary donation to purchase these supplies?
Kathleen Sophia Coleman co-authored this story.
In her own words…she shares the inspiration for Miss Sophia’s House
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is The Story Teller. A freelance journalist writing business spotlight promotional stories and positively in love with telling the God stories.