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What Abuse Survivors Expect from the Portland Crime Victims ConferenceTim King Salem-News.com
90 experts in Portland will talk about crime victims, while countless Oregonians continue to suffer needlessly.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Victim's advocates will gather in Portland June 2nd through 4th during a special conference called "Responses, Rights, and Resources for Crime Victims". Plenty of money will be spent on the event, and a host of people will be there to talk about the importance of taking care of crime victims.
Coral is the victim of a church-going, business man ex-husband named Marty Warner in Polk County, Oregon, who abused her for years and years. Marital rape was common in their relationship, and when she tried to turn him in for it and have him removed from her home, she was threatened with arrest in Polk County and told to stop her accusations.
Before it was over, Coral would see her children taken away from her, by a man she only viewed as an abuser. Today she lives in another state to preserve any rights she has, and she may soon be looking at jail time over not paying her wealthy, abusive ex-husband child support.
And it is unlikely that many people attending the special conference in Portland make it to places like Dallas very often. No, this is a state where the Governor is too important to be bothered by the reality of what is going on here; a state where the Attorney General's Office makes victims of crime like Coral Theill feel like a bother.
Contact with the Governor's Advocacy Office concluded with "we are unable to assist in your current situation. You need an attorney who believes in you to advise and guide you on what available options there are."
They basically told Coral what she already knew; that if the abuser can muster enough people to take an oath and say they witnessed the opposite of what the victim described, then she loses, simple as that.
Gene Deutscher, a Marine combat veteran, who nominated Coral for her "Woman of Courage" award, made this statement about the lack of interest in her case from the Oregon Governor's office: "They are vested in a system that works for them; not for you or other victims."
Newsvine.com had this to say about our first article that outlined the abuse suffered by Coral Theill:
"This article is easily portraying the most disturbing series of events I have seen happen to any one person. How injustice can occur at so many corners and in so many flavors to this woman is, quite frankly, unbelievable in 2007. The opening may appear like any other husband emotionally abusing his wife...but what happens when the system does the same?"
Some of the people who will attend this conference like Attorney General Hardy Myers, know all about Coral and the abuse she has endured on their watch in Oregon. They all pass the buck instead of bucking up to the responsibility that she deserved. Their only advice has been, "to seek a lawyer." Hmmm, I wonder if any people at the AG's office ever tried to hire a lawyer as a nearly homeless, poverty stricken abuse victim. Shouldn't the rules for them be just a little different? Only in reality I suppose. The state of Oregon is in a state of denial if anyone believes services are even slightly in touch with the "out of the box" type of thinking that is required in a case like Coral's.
What the state's crime victims advocates did in this case, was to simply let Coral "fall through the cracks". Most involved in the process that nearly rendered her homeless, probably didn't think Coral would write a book like "BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark" that would see impressive sales on Amazon.com. Today, thousands of people from this country and all over the world have read the book and they probably aren't very moved by Oregon's regard for mothers and abuse victims.
Shortly after meeting Coral, I discovered a published review of her book by the District Attorney of Benton County, Oregon, John Haroldson.
He wrote: "BONSHEA also illustrates the degree to which the legal system can also be used as a vehicle to further perpetuate abuse even after the victim has chosen to take a stand against the abuse." John Haroldson's office is in Corvallis, Oregon, just a few miles away from where Coral's abuse took place, but on the other side of a county line.
I think that if the case had been in Haroldson's county, Mr. Warner would have been locked up and Coral would have been left with at least some control of her life. It wasn't easy for her to suffer abuse and then come forward as a victim after reaching the breaking point. She spoke out, she stood up for herself, and she still didn't get anywhere. But Coral's strength has still inspired many women to take a stand against abuse in our state and elsewhere. I don't know what that says about Oregon's crime victim advocates, but it sure speaks highly of Coral Theill.
Coral counted on Polk County DA John Fisher to enforce the law and protect her from her abusive husband. Instead, Fisher sided with the man, described by those who know him as a ranking member in his right wing Polk County church. The church leadership sided with Warner and his expensive lawyers, over his distraught wife, as did law enforcement, and the courts; creating an impossible battle for an abuse victim to fight.
She spent her life raising eight children, and depended on her husband's income because that is the design of the "traditional" American family, so revered by conservative society. When the abuse became too much, Coral spent every last dime she had on lawyers and was overpowered by her husband's local team of courtroom players.
No aspect of the system worked the way it was supposed to for her, and as long as Coral remains banned from her children and railroaded by a court and laws enforcement system that ignores marital rape charges, then her case stands as a measurement gauge for the entire state of Oregon. Nothing about the system is any better than the people it leaves behind in the rubble.
I guess that in the end, it is always about money and showmanship and telling people how much you "care" that counts. It isn't actually stepping to the aid of a crime victim, unless perhaps their situation is more conventional than Coral's.
To Coral's benefit and that of many others, the story is on the Internet for all to see. Her book is selling and she isn't alone; Coral has strong friends and supporters in domestic abuse advocates like Professor Barbara May at Linfield College here in Oregon and many others who rally for her constantly, we support her as well. Even former Superbowl player Jess Phillips Jr. is on Coral's team, but his letters to relevant people have also failed to bring change. The mainstream press leaves it alone, and Oregon keeps walking forward while victims like Coral are cast aside.
I hope you follow the links to the Coral Theill stories that I have written. I do not exaggerate in stating that I have received, literally, hundreds of emails over these stories from people that I never otherwise would have heard from; real victims advocates who refuse to bow down and be quiet.
I hope you also order her book and prepare for a mental adventure as you try to comprehend the cruelty Coral suffered at the hands of, first, her abusive husband, and then the unresponsive and almost spiteful system that removed everything this mother had. You can judge by the photo shown here that Coral was at one time, a happy mother of several children. Today there is almost no contact between her and the children and each Mother's Day is very difficult for her, along with most every other day of the year.
What the Portland conference next week does promise is more than 90 experts presenting over 70 workshops and plenaries, "to enhance your knowledge and skills for serving victims of crime." While I address the story through the eyes of Coral Theill, it is only fair to point out the good that obviously extends from events like this.
Organizers suggest the event will be useful for victim advocates, counselors, program managers, attorneys, social workers, psychologists, law enforcement, researchers, nurses, advocates, volunteers, administrators, clergy, nonprofit managers, system-based victim service providers and anyone who cares about helping victims of crime.
And it takes place in "beautiful downtown Portland". Coral won't be attending; though she should have been one of their top invited guests. Perhaps they are showing their fear of facing the ugly truth; a real victim's failure to find justice in the state of Oregon.
The conference will be held at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower from June 2nd through 4th. You can learn more about it by visiting this link: 2008 National Conference. Another Internet site Coral recommends is: thelizlibrary.org/
BONSHEA is purchased online at: iUniverse.com http://amazon.com and barnesnandnoble.com and has received 12 five star reviews, and a writer's award from iUniverse Publishing. The National Domestic Violence Resource Center in Pennyslvania previewed BONSHEA and is recommending it as a survivor story.
You can also find BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark by Coral Anika Theill at the Salem, Corvallis, Albany, Independence, Monmouth and Linn Benton and Chemeketa Community Colleges. Copies are also available at Borders Bookstore in Corvallis, Oregon.
Also see these follow up articles:
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators. Tim's coverage from Iraq that was set to begin in April has been delayed and may not take place until August, 2008. You can send Tim an email at this address: email@example.com
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