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Marital Rape and Abuse Victim Seeks Justice From Oregon's GovernorCoral Anika Theill Special to Salem-News.com
This is a special plea for justice from an abuse survivor to Oregon's Governor. Does hope exist in Oregon's legal system? This is a story every one should know. Part One in a special series.
(DALLAS, Ore.) - After surviving years of childhood and marital abuse and neglect, a woman suffers a physical collapse and severe mental/nervous breakdown. While in a near catatonic state, the woman is physically assaulted and raped. She becomes pregnant.
Her abuser, the father of the child, manipulates the judicial system and seeks custody of the baby. With intervention from the religious community and testimony about the mother's prior mental history, the father is awarded custody of the nursing infant. The mother is ordered to pay her rapist/abuser exorbitant child support while suffering from homelessness and disabilities. She is no longer allowed contact with her child. When the baby is abruptly taken away, the mother goes into shock.
The 'father of the child' has committed crimes against the mother according to Oregon statutes and laws (Chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, 163.375), but is embraced and rewarded in our judicial and religious system. The victim becomes the criminal. I am this woman; this baby is my child; and the father of this child is my ex-husband.
November 26, 2007
Dear Governor Ted Kulongoski, Attorney General Hardy Meyers, Governor’s Council on Domestic Violence, Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, citizens and lawmakers of Oregon:
I am writing you because something has gone terribly wrong in your backyard, specifically: The Polk, Marion and Wasco County courts and district attorney offices. When I sought safety and help in Oregon’s judicial system, I was not prepared for the horrors I experienced these past 12 years. I am requesting that the acts of disrespect, dishonesty and violence against me be acknowledged and resolved.
The ideology and belief system in Oregon’s judicial system have given power and legal rights for certain individuals to act inhumanely, including judges and district attorneys. This power must have checks and balances. In my case, there are no checks and balances. I cannot find help to correct this injustice. I repeat, no help.
This “Open Letter” is intended to demonstrate that wealthy perpetrators, supported by Oregon’s judicial system and attorneys, can continue to commit crimes of violence against their victims by harassing them and stalking them through the courts. My case history supports this fact. When you do not have monies for your own legal defense, you can be victimized indefinitely. Oregon’s legal system has given numerous individuals the legal right to commit criminal, depraved and inhumane acts against me.
According to Euro-American history, women and children were considered legal property, the chattel, of the father or husband. By taking his name, the wife 'belonged' to her husband.
Today, women and children are not legal property, but attitudes have been slow to keep up with the law and many men still believe it is their right or privilege to control women. I experienced this first hand, when I sought safety from my ex husband, Mr. Marty Warner, in Polk County, Oregon in 1995.
In 1999, I wrote a letter to Governor Kitzhaber that was included in the first chapter of my published book and true-life story, BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark. I asked him “where should I go for help? I never received a response.
Today, I am not asking you “where I should go for help,” because I know, now, that there is “no help” elsewhere. So I am simply asking you “to help.”
I want to be free from the ongoing “legal stalking” by my ex husband who has been supported by what I believe is a corrupt Oregon judicial system. My health is frail and can no longer continue to endure this systematic form of legal terrorism. I want emancipated from my former husband, Mr. V. Martin Warner, and the Oregon judicial system.
I want my children to have access to psychological help as was recommended by Judge Paula Brownhill at the 2003 court hearing. I am distraught over the fact that I have been forced to give up my children so they can remain in a dysfunctional household fraught with abuse. I believe if there is no intervention for them in the near future, my children will learn the art of manipulation and lies to survive. They will be conditioned and will learn to keep family and church secrets. I want the cycle of violence to stop.
I have extensive documentation, including affidavits from physicians, co-workers and neighbors, court transcripts of nearly 42 court related hearings, tapes and videos, medical and mental reports and witnesses to substantiate and elaborate on this story. I believe when this case comes to light, someone will have to answer for the abuse and silent violence I have suffered in the Polk, Marion, and Wasco County courts. Martial and ritual abuse has evolved into legal abuse.
My “Open Letter” is also an effort to expose the fact that the advocacy system, as is, can offer no help or assistance in cases like mine. I have not received any help with my case from local, state, or from anyone or group on a national level, even though my case history in Oregon courts has been documented by many advocates, including my counselor and mentor, Dr. Barbara May, Professor of Nursing, Linfield College, as one of Oregon’s most violent and obscene cases.
Even though I have written hundreds of letters throughout the years to Oregon state legislators, to the media, lawyers and legal advocates, to the Governor of Oregon’s Council on Domestic Violence and Attorney General Hardy Meyers Sexual Assault Task Force in an effort to seek help and promote awareness for the need for better laws for women and children escaping domestic violence and abusive situations, there is often no response.
The letters received from the Oregon State Bar and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Violence was shocking. Legal aid cannot and will not help and U.S. Staff Attorney for Domestic Violence, Poverty and Homelessness, Naomi Sterns, in Washington DC, was of no help either.
Many people have been perplexed by this lack of help. Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson has written of my case, "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"I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on court and legal fees and ordered to pay child support that soon amounted to twice my income, to my wealthy ex husband. I live below poverty level, have a disability due to the abuse I have suffered in my marriage and from the many years of ongoing court trauma. I have had no legal representation for the past 10 years. There is presently a $6,100 Summary Judgment against me through the Polk County District Attorney’s office for back child support based on income I never earned and errors throughout the years in the courts. My passport has also been revoked until all child support is paid.
Many people wonder why this is happening to me, when I was a victim of a crime, have a disability and have no contact with my children. It is not money that Mr. Warner wants. He wants vengeance and power and control over me.
I have not had visitation privileges with my children for nine years, and was ordered in December 2003 by Judge Paula Brownhill that I could not visit, phone, write or send gifts to my children. I had to give away the Christmas presents that I had purchased for my children that year due to Judge Paula Brownhill’s court order. My children have been actively discouraged from having a relationship with me. They have been severely brainwashed by my ex husband, his family, attorneys, school and religious educators.
LIFE Magazine, USA Today and many other organizations have featured articles on women in prison in America. They report that women prisoners are allowed to keep their babies with them for eighteen months while serving their sentences (Florida Statute 944.24). I am haunted by this single question. Why was I treated lower than a criminal in America and I have no criminal record and have no history of alcohol, drug or child abuse?
I was physically and mentally incapacitated during the time of my illness and unable to consent, and suffered repeated sexual assaults by my husband, Mr. Warner. My children were allowed to remain with the man accused of these crimes. My contact with them was completely, suddenly and arbitrarily removed.
Marital rape can be defined as any unwanted intercourse or penetration (vaginal, anal or oral) obtained by force, threat of force, or WHEN THE WIFE IS UNABLE TO CONSENT [mentally and/or physically incapacitated] (Bergen, 1996; Pagelow, 1984; Russell, 1990).
On July 5, 1993, marital rape became a crime in all 50 states, under at least one section of the sexual offense codes. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, there are NO EXEMPTIONS FROM RAPE PROSECUTION GRANTED TO HUSBANDS. Oregon is one of the 17 states.
I want District Attorney John Fisher and Deputy District Attorney Martha Hill investigated in regards to this criminal and civil matter in Polk County. I want the civil judgments and my case with the Polk County District Attorney’s office dismissed. I want protected from my abusers, Mr. Marty Warner and the Polk County judicial system. No woman who has been raped and suffered the abuse I have endured should be forced to pay her wealthy abuser and rapist monies.
In situations similar to mine, impoverished women have spent years in jail for owing back child support after losing their young children to their wealthy ex husbands. Their only crime: poverty.
I wonder what “is next” for me in the Polk County justice system.
I have risked and lost everything to escape my ex-husband, but I have never been more sure that the choices I made were the only choices I could make and survive.
Dr. Barbara May has been involved in my case since 1997. Throughout these past years she shared extraordinary wisdom and insights with me that helped transform my life from victim to survivor.
She writes, “Coral A. Theill is an abuse survivor who has been resourceful on her own behalf against all odds. She lives below poverty level income and has had to live out of her car at times in the past. Unfortunately, she has continued to be systematically beaten down and broken down in a variety of ways by other individuals, by her family, by her community, and by society despite her efforts to try and eke out a so called, ‘normal life.’ Anyone, even the strongest person, reaches a breaking point, especially when all avenues turn into dead ends and you are let down, rejected, turned away by everyone again and again. An excerpt of a letter I sent to District Attorney John W. Fisher, JD of Polk County Oregon on August 2, 2006 typifies just one example of many I have on how the system failed Ms. Theill."
"Having just heard the news from Coral that she will have to appear at a court hearing next month, I am appalled by what is happening to her in the name of the law. I am extremely concerned about her mental health which is what prompted my letter. I appeal to your sense of humanity to please see what you can do to seek true justice in this matter." (I received no response to this plea from D.A. Fisher and Ms. Theill was required to appear in court). --- Barbara A. May, PhD, APRN, BC, Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Professor of Nursing, Linfield College
Maureen T. Hannah, Ph.D., Chair, Battered Mother’s Custody Conference, has written of my true-life story, "As shocking as it may be, Coral's story resonates with the truth. I hear pleas for help from protective mothers like Coral every day, week after week, year after year--all of them pleading for their very birthright, their greatest right, which is to be a mother. She pinpoints, with heart-piercing accuracy, the historical hatred of females and of the feminine that has permeated societies, including our present one, for eons. Her personal story of living with and divorcing an abusive "religious" man who was cheered on by the community's religious, governmental, and legal authorities mirrors the persecution of all women who, like Coral, choose to say "no" to male dominance and power. Coral also calls out for the only true cure for the dark side of human nature, and that is to live in the light."
"Coral's work is a special blessing for me and for my sisters throughout this country. Not a single particle of the wisdom Coral shares misses the mark. BONSHEA pierces through the darkness that hides the legal system's routine abuse of mothers and children.”
Patricia Evans, nationally known author of the books, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out, Controlling People, The Verbally Abusive Man-Can He Change, has commented, “Coral's story is extremely common in the U.S. today. Hundreds of thousands of fine, intelligent, loving, giving mothers have lost their children via the family court system. When I watched a good friend die when her immune system collapsed after ten years of her ex husband’s constant law suits, aimed at totally taking away her children; after I stood next to a woman who trembled from head to toe, in a room filled with women who had all lost their children as had she; after I talk with one of the thousands of women who tell me how they are abused, and that they cannot leave because they've been told, "If you leave, you'll never see the kids again," I know that abusive men, will, if they have money and are so inclined, say and do anything to get back at their wives for leaving them. I have also seen a psychopathic woman of wealth do this to her husband.
”How can this enslavement be happening in the United States? Because power over the innocent is condoned. Power over those who have what one wants is condoned. Power over the poor is condoned. Furthermore, there is no oversight of the family court system, nor is there any standard for determining justice in custody cases.” See the Website: VerbalAbuse.com.
Oregon NOW Advocate, Anna Goldreyer, who has followed Coral's story since 2003 writes, “What is being seen over and over is that mothers are routinely prohibited from having even the most basic contact with their own children, not because they were unfit parents, but because they were outspent, out represented, and out-maneuvered in a court atmosphere not prepared to understand the needs of families dealing with domestic violence.
”To unnecessarily and violently separate a woman and her young children can represent the gravest form of abuse, with major social ramifications in generations to come.
”To harass and exhaust a victim through repeated, frivolous court actions aimed at punishing and controlling her, beyond the point where a victim is physically, mentally, or financially able to defend herself, can evolve into a form of legal stalking. The family court system as it is does not yet recognize this, and the advocacy system is literally not financially able to help these survivors spend thousands and thousands of dollars defending themselves year after year in court.
”In the controversial documentary "Breaking the Silence, Children's Stories" aired by OPB last year, which illustrated some of the ways a wealthy abuser can use the system as a tool of abuse, a non custodial mother remarks: "to lose one's children in such a way would unmake any woman." And it is true. Taking a woman's children is the last great punishment an abuser can scar them with. To be publicly and permanently branded 'unfit' is a new scarlet letter. It can and will scar an entire family for life.
“Awareness that such things can even happen is the first step. For stories by some of the children who have survived being taken from their mothers by abusers, some of whom brought lawsuits against their parents, see the website: courageouskids.net. For stories of the many other mothers and children in Coral's position and those trying to help them, as well as information and resources on this issue, please see her websites at the end of this story.
You can visit the National NOW Family Law Advisory Ad Hoc Committee Website here: nowfoundation.org/issues/family
In April of 2007, prayers were answered when Tim King printed an article on my life story at Salem-News on May 12, 2007, Abuse Under the Watch of the Oregon Justice System. Tim King’s outstanding article received national attention. People from all over the world were truly outraged by the circumstances surrounding my Oregon court case and story. One commenter on Tim King’s original article, Rachel, South of the Border, May 15, 2007 1:30 PM (Pacific time) wrote: “An extraordinary piece. I cannot believe, with all the domestic violence organizations and money spent via NFP's, politicians, and organizations that no one has yet gotten Coral's children back to her. Yes, the outrage is what happened, but the secondary outrage is the lack of help even the domestic violence community lends to its victims. We can give victims all the well wishes and support in the world, but unless we give them proper legal care first, and then proper trauma care second, then the system is still a failure. Domestic violence advocacy has been watered down to grant writing, politics, and lots of talking at the victims' expense, while leaving women like Coral no better off than before millions were spent to 'study' this phenomenon.”
A U.S. Marine on the front lines in Iraq wrote this comment in response to Tim King’s article: May 14, 2007 3:15 pm (Pacific time) COMMENT “We receive so many comments from people back in the states 'Thanking us for their freedom.” Well, the thought of some of those people being the ones who put Mrs. Coral through what she has been through makes me ask the question; What the hell are we over here fighting for, so the American Man will have the freedom to do what? Abuse, rape, torture not only strangers but their own wives! And we fight so certain public figures will have to right to protect them. One lady compared the treatment of American women to those of other countries and I can tell you as bad as Iraq and Afghanistan is towards their women (and I have seen them both first hand) I have never heard of a story as bad as this one and because of that it's even sadder. We as a society have the technology to put 'Men on the Moon' but we, as a society can't fix the problem of 'lack of support' for victims of domestic abuse. I will go on patrol tomorrow here in Iraq and risk my life and the lives of my fellow Marines so Mr. Warner and all those supporting him can continue to do what they do! 'Only in America.” Mrs. Coral, keep your head up 'Change is going to come,” 'SEMPER FI'
The U.S. Marine’s profound comment reminded me of the Cheyenne Proverb, “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its woman are on the ground. Then it is done; no matter how brave its warriors, nor how strong their weapons.”
(To be continued)
Here is the link to part two: Welcome to Oregon: Land of Domestic Abuse Endorsement
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 27, 2007 | Articles for November 28, 2007 | Articles for November 29, 2007
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