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Welcome to Oregon: Land of Domestic Abuse EndorsementCoral Anika Theill Special to Salem-News.com
This is part two in a special series by Author Coral Theill, who survived years of marital rape and abuse in Oregon. Her abuser has evaded punishment and has custody of her children to this day.
(DALLAS, Ore.) - Since I am only a name to you and not a “face,” I am asking that you imagine yourself, or your own daughter, sister or mother as the woman in this story. I also ask you to respect my courage for sharing my personal holocaust with you.
I moved to Oregon in 1976 due to my marriage to Mr. Marty Warner of Independence, Oregon, a former employee of CH2M Hill, Hewlett Packard and presently, Clair Company engineering firm in Corvallis, Oregon. I was a homemaker and nurturing mother of eight children for almost 20 years.
Physical exhaustion, birth trauma, post-partum depression, long-term marital and ritual abuse and a home environment that gave no support contributed to my physical and mental collapse in April 1993.
My husband's response to my breakdown was to isolate me further. He took me to several Christian "counselors.” They told me I was a selfish woman, that I had a serious spiritual problem and God was punishing me because I had not learned how to submit to my husband and the religious "authorities" God had placed over me. They believed God was punishing me. I was subjected to their rituals of prayer and exorcism.
In 1994, my husband also left me at the "Wing's of Love" half-way house on Killingsworth in Portland, Oregon, a shelter for ex-cons and street people, to "break me" (his words) to the will of God. The house was filthy and rat-infested. My husband’s debt free estate, at this time, was over a quarter- of- a million dollars. It was a frightening experience during the period of my illness/breakdown for my “abuser” ex-husband, his cult leaders and religious supporters to be in charge of my “recovery program.”
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During the period of my illness/breakdown in 1993-1995, while I was nearly catatonic, my husband used me sexually, raped, beat and impregnated me. According to Oregon law, this is a criminal act. (Extensive documentation is available through many sources, including my ex husband’s admission in court of using me sexually and impregnating me while I was unable to care for the children or myself).
Due to suffering these acts, I filed criminal rape charges against my ex-husband, Mr. Warner in 1999. District Attorney John Fisher, Polk County, and District Attorney Donna Kelly, Wasco County, did nothing to bring justice in this case. Many people believe rape is justifiable, if the husband commits rape. Even though our laws say differently, many prosecutors refuse to “enforce” them.
In 1996, one of my physicians commented on my ordeal, stating that if I could have had proper medical attention, and had been free of being raped, impregnated, beaten and further abused by my ex-husband and his religious supporters during my illness, my recovery would have only taken months instead of a couple of years. He was surprised, but pleased, that I had survived.
After healing from this broken state in 1995, I came to the conclusion that continuing in this way of life would eventually kill me.
Throughout the years of our marriage, my ex husband had always threatened that if I sought safety, he would take my children from me. Despite his threats, I retained an attorney in the winter of 1995, initially for intervention for my children, and secondly for my own safety. The price of my safety has been an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children. This is a choice no mother should ever be forced to make, a price no women should be ever be forced to pay for the sake of her own safety.
During the temporary custody hearings, my physicians and the custody evaluator recommended to Judge Norblad that my younger children and nursing infant remain in my care because I had been the primary caregiver, was a nurturing mother and was fully recovered from my former depression; even so, I lost custody of my eight children, including my nursing infant in 1996. Judge Norblad had expressed in Court that he was going to follow the recommendation of my physicians by leaving my younger children with me. No explanation for the judge’s change of opinion was ever offered to me. (Judge Albin Norblad has a long history of removing babies and young children from good, nurturing mothers.)
To this day, I do not understand why attorneys did not bring up the criminal actions of my ex-husband during my civil divorce trial. Both Mr. David Gearing and Mr. Mark Lawrence were aware of my previous breakdown and my pregnancies during the time of my breakdown. In Feb. 1996, Judge Albin Norblad, Marion County Circuit Court Judge, laughed with my ex-husband, Mr. Marty Warner, in court about the fact that it was so easy for me to get pregnant, even while I was in a nearly catatonic condition and suffering from a mental/emotional breakdown years earlier. Friends in the courtroom did not share Judge Norblad or Mr. Warner’s sense of humor.
I was not the only woman my ex-husband abused. Read the notarized statement submitted to the court in 2003 by Debbie Custis, a former co-worker of Mr. Marty Warner.
Bridgeport Community Chapel in Dallas, Oregon, supported Mr. Marty Warner throughout the custody and divorce proceedings. My friends and I wrote Pastor Ron Sutter of Bridgeport Chapel several times. He never responded to any of our letters.
Dr. Racquel Bergen, in her document, “Marital Rape,” writes, “In a study of battered women, Bowker (1983) found that they ranked clergy members as the least helpful of those to whom they had turned for assistance. The emphasis of some religious institutions on wives’ responsibility “to obey their husbands” and the sinfulness of women’s refusal to have sexual intercourse with their husbands, perpetuate the problem of marital rape. Most researchers of marital rape agree that rape in marriage is an act of violence---an abuse of power by which a husband attempts to establish dominance and control over his wife.”
Abuse begins in the minds of a community that allows and accepts it.
In 2004, my “Christian” ex-husband, Mr. Warner, appealed a court decision, concerning our case, to the Oregon State of Appeals. Even though I was homeless, destitute and disabled, he wanted more monies from me in child support. (Mr. Warner owns a large debt free home and acreage, has stock, savings and retirement accounts and income from working as a professional engineer for 35 years.) Although the appeal was denied, I was again forced to defend myself with no resources and no legal assistance, further adding to my trauma. After this case, Mr. Warner initiated another case against me with the Polk County courts for further child support.
While in the midst of surviving the horrors of my divorce case, in 1998, I was also a victim of ‘therapist exploitation,’ unethical and unprofessional conduct by a physician/therapist involved in my court case. My physician gave my personal information to his unlicensed associate without my permission. (Both of the therapists worked for the Veterans’ Administration). I was later threatened, stalked, robbed, beaten and strangled by his associate. In February 2005, Oregon Circuit Court Judge Tom Hart read the documentation I submitted, including court records and letters written by my physician/therapist admitting his breech of my client confidentiality. Judge Tom Hart was alarmed and recommended I report this physician immediately to the Oregon Medical Board. I followed his advice and sent the documentation along with my complaint against this physician to the Oregon Medical Board.
The Oregon Medical Board’s ruling was in favor of my physician. The physician's breech of my client confidentiality did not qualify as “misconduct or unethical.”
Numerous physicians, nurses, advocates and professionals who were familiar with this case of “therapist exploitation” also recommended I report the abuse to protect future victims. While I was in shock from the loss of my children and the ongoing court trauma in Oregon, I was “prey” for these two “pseudo therapists.” I write this to you today, because the abuse and exploitation by my doctor and his unlicensed associate violated me to an even greater degree than all the other abuse I had endured to date.
Even though there may be no justice, I continue “give voice to the violence,” write books, post websites and continue to believe in vindication, restitution, justice and "one fine day". I was a guest speaker for a Task Force, including judges, police, and advocates regarding these two therapists in an effort to assist the court system. (See advocateweb.com)
In 2007 I was nominated for the Boston R.O.S.E. Fund Award, for women who have turned the overwhelming adversity of being a victim of domestic violence into a success story of being a survivor, and the Sheila Wellstone Award, which honors individuals and/or organizations who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to safe and healthy homes and communities and are a champion for the cause of ending domestic violence.
Recently, I was nominated by a U.S. Marine for the “Women of Courage” series and selected by expressionist artist Andrea Harris for the next portrait in her series (AndreaHarris.com). My portrait and story will be on exhibition in public places throughout the U.S. to help champion my cause. “Woman of Courage” is an educational series celebrating women who have embodied courage and nurtured those qualities in others and who have inspired others to pursue their dreams.
People have asked me what I have learned from the local (Polk and Marion County Oregon) judicial and religious systems these past twelve years. I candidly share with them that I have learned that in this dominator society “my body is not mine, but belongs to the community that upholds male dominance and female possession and ownership. By being possessed (occupied), the female becomes, weak, depleted, and usurped, in all her physical and mental energies and capacities by the one who has physically taken her, by the one who occupies her. Her body is used up, and the will is raped.”
I ask, is this what our society is telling me, that, 'masculinity is still measured by how well a man controls his wife in the house and his horse in the field...the men as a body politic have power over women. They decide how women will suffer; which sadistic acts against the bodies of women will be construed to be 'normal.' ---Andrea Dworkin
I have concluded, by my present circumstances, that the judicial and religious organizations, and people who have aided my former husband all embrace the same views regarding women and children. They believe male power is absolute over women and great harm will come to those who question and/or defy that power. In America domestic violence is still acceptable, people are still 'living in ignorance about this subject'...even in the churches.
“The most violent element in society is ignorance.” I believe this is the mentality that causes and perpetuates abuse.” ---Ellen Goldman
In his profound book, Man's Search for Meaning, Dr. Viktor E. Frankl writes, 'When we understand the why we can do any how. Understanding that our religious and judicial systems are based on patriarchal power and control has been the secret of my survival through these past years of horror. Liberating myself through the power of forgiveness has been a continual strength, but still I long for freedom, dignity, honor and equality, not only for myself, but also for everyone.
I have learned that those who commit depraved, inhumane and criminal acts toward others do not think or feel or act from a 'place of truth, communion, respect, individuality, clear self-awareness, and union with the Creator.’
My ex-husband, Mr. Warner, the judges, attorneys and district attorneys involved in my case, act from a place of separation. They do not feel pain, and they do anything they want to do to another human being without thought of the other's feelings, pain or suffering.
Through it all, I have learned to cast light on darkness. “Evil (ignorance) is like a shadow. It has no real substance of its own; it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.” - Shakti Gawai
These past years, I have asked myself, “What does the human spirit need in order to heal and move on?” They need a safe place to share their pain and be acknowledged, they need compassion, they need to know that they (and others) will be protected from their perpetrator(s), they need accountability----someone who will hold the perpetrator accountable, they need restitution or material compensation for the losses incurred by the victim, and they need justice and vindication (not revenge)---to be set free. Scars remain, but healing is sufficient so as not to continue to be held in bondage to the trauma.
A judge’s signature on a white sheet of paper can be a shattering experience for an individual.
As long as society, victim advocate groups and the judicial system, chooses to turn a blind eye whenever control and manipulation tactics are practiced by a custodial parent through courtroom litigation in order to separate child from mother (or father); and refuses to act against this lowest and most hateful form of spousal revenge, justice cannot be served. As long as those who hold the power fail to acknowledge and support the rights of non-custodial parents, justice cannot be achieved.
“Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society and any departure from it under any circumstances lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.”---quote found in the Justice Building in Salem, Oregon.
I implore you to help me find justice.
When there is no justice, there is truly no healing.
I remind all those around me to not forget the millions of women and children who are veterans of intimate wars and private anguish and for whom terror at home is business as usual.
Coral Anika Theill
Coral Anika Theill, author, artist and advocate, teaches that we become ‘healed healers’ when we embrace our own suffering and pain – Making Light of the Dark. She is a volunteer for the USO and assists with wounded soldier programs. She is presently writing a book entitled, “The Gift of Healing is Your Birthright.”
For more information on cases of mother’s losing custody in family court see: stopfamilyviolence.org, endabuse.org, mothers-of-lost-children.com, thelizlibrary.org, batteredmotherscustodyconference.org
Tim King, Editor’s Note:
Justice needs our voice.
Contact: Governor Ted Kulongoski (503) 378-4582
Attorney General Hardy Meyers (503) 378-4400
District Attorney John Fisher and
Coral Anika Theill’s published book, BONSHEA, has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College. Coral received a “Writer’s Award” in 2002 from iUniverse Publishing, Inc. BONSHEA is also recommended as a “survivor” story by the National Domestic Violence Resource Center in Pennyslvania. 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.
TO ORDER ONLINE: BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark by Coral Anika Theill: iuniverse.com, barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com. Read 12 five star reviews at: barnesandnoble.com Toll free: 1-877-823-9235 iUniverse Publishing, Inc. or email@example.com ISBN: 0-595-25658-9 (pbk) ISBN: 0-595-65240-9 (cloth) Copyright 2003
To see part one in this special two part report by Coral Theill, visit: Marital Rape and Abuse Victim Seeks Justice From Oregon's Governor
This is the original Salem-News.com article by Tim King on Coral Theill's plight: Abuse Under the Watch of Oregon's Justice System
Articles for November 28, 2007 | Articles for November 29, 2007 | Articles for November 30, 2007
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