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Nov-28-2012 23:41printcommentsVideo

Patriarchal Religion, Battered Wives & Divorce: Imprisoned in the Name of God

Divorce is not the scandal; it is the cover-up and condoning of abusive behavior in the Christian community. Part 6 of 6

Slogan for abuse survivors

(SALEM) - Escaping an abusive marriage is no easy task for many evangelical women, many of whom have pastors that say physical and mental abuse is no reason for divorce. The fear of reprisals and repercussions from husbands, pastors, the religious community and the judicial system prevents many women from seeking safety and wholeness. They are experienced with the ways abuse and trauma operates in their home. To seek safety would often mean subjecting themselves to further abuse in our judicial system as well. The choice to stay in domestic violence is not a choice at all. It is just the lesser of two evils. A battered woman weighs what kind of abuse she is most familiar with and can possibly survive. Fear of the unknown is often a crushing deterrent.

"Despite the documentation of the breadth of this problem [domestic violence] it remains a "myth" to many pastors. Although 40 percent of battered women report that they first went to their pastors for help, most pastors deny the existence of violence among members of their congregation. The "absence" of the problem represents the failure of the minister to acknowledge its existence and his or her willingness to address it."  - Judith Herman, M.D.

Domestic violence is a crime. It is a complex problem with roots in an oppressively hierarchical, patriarchal violence-accepting society.

My case speaks loudly of the insidious crimes that are legally permitted and condoned under the guise of church and state-sanctioned domination of males in marriage.  Laws must be changed to protect vulnerable people who cannot protect themselves. (When Those Who Are Supposed to Help You Get Out - Don't) 1

Punishment: Breakdown & Post-Partum Depression

Mr. Marty Warner, my ex-husband, assumed the role of teacher, doctor and mentor in our home. He also believed he was the "priest" of our family and dragged me through eight religious cults. I had no right to think and make decisions for myself. I was not allowed to express my emotions, feelings or beliefs. But, even though he considered himself the absolute master of home and family, he was an absentee husband and father, due to his personal retreats and religious activities, i.e., Right to Life home school and cult meetings.

During the period of my breakdown/depression in
the spring of 1994, my husband and his pastors left me
at the “Wings of Love” half-way house on Killingsworth
in Portland, Oregon to punish me and break me to the
“will of God” they said. The house was a shelter for
ex-cons, street people and prostitutes. It was filthy
and was infested with rats and lice. Three months
earlier, I had a D & C, due to my 3rd miscarriage,
from being raped by my husband.

In March 1994, my physician dismissed me as his patient because my husband was not bringing me in for appointments and was leaving me with unqualified people. Mr. Warner enlisted the help of Mr. Bill Heard, an unlicensed Christian counselor and ordained pastor in Roseburg, Oregon. He was oppressive. He also told me I was a “selfish woman” had a “sin” problem and that I needed to repent of my disobedience to my husband, etc. Mr. Heard believed I was “God’s living example of cursed women.” At this time my husband and his pastor left me at the “Wings of Love” Half-Way house for God to punish me and break me to the “will of God” they said.

Bill & Linda Heard, Roseburg, Oregon

In September, 1994, my husband and I boarded a plane to Chicago, Illinois.  I was left at Bill Gothard’s Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana during the time I was physically and mentally incapacitated.  I was exorcised daily for “witchcraft.”  Again, they told me I was in “sin,” and needed to learn how to obey my husband and the authorities God placed over me.  I scrubbed toilets, washed floors, peeled potatoes, made beds in the hotel, etc.  I ran away after several weeks and flew back to Portland, Oregon.  My brother, Don Hall, picked me up and I lived with him, in Dallesport, Washington, off and on for the next several months.

In October 1994, Mr. Warner called my brother, told him to help me get dressed up. Mr. Warner picked me up, while I was in a nearly catatonic condition, took me to a nearby motel and used me sexually throughout the night. He returned me to my brother’s house in the morning. No contraceptives were used. I was again pregnant with my eighth child. Due to my breakdown, I still was unable to care for myself. My husband’s actions are defined in Oregon as RAPE COUNT I.

Characteristics of Abusers

While staying with my friend and former neighbor, Stephanie Hawkinson, Corvallis, Oregon, in January 1995, she gave me some reading material on abuse. I had never been exposed to this kind of information before and found it very enlightening. The material answered questions about emotional and psychological abuse and stated that the sole purpose of the abuser's actions is to dominate, manipulate, and control another person.

The book listed abuser's tactics as name-calling or yelling, using angry expressions or gestures, humiliation (either in public or private), isolation of the victim from family and friends, accusations of infidelity, constant belittlement of another person, constant questioning of the other person's judgment or decision making abilities, threatening to take the children away, accusations of insanity, and ignoring or minimizing the other person's feelings. Physical abuse could include, slapping, pushing, kicking, pulling hair, biting, choking, shaking or throwing someone around a room, twisting of any limbs, any form of restraint, and rape, i.e., forcing someone to have unwanted sex.

Other characteristics of an abuser included thinking there are no consequences for his behavior, depriving partner of money, making her beg for it or taking her money, restricting his partner's access to food, clothing, work, health care etc., destroying possessions belonging to his partner, believing in male supremacy, being pathologically jealous, being cruel to animals and children, being self-righteous and self-centered, denying or minimizing his abusive behavior, needing to be in control of every situation, and believing they are the “head of the household.” Other signs of an abuser: prevent you from working or attending school and need to control all finances and force you to account in detail for what you spend.

One of the most life changing moments I had up to then was Stephanie taking my face in her hands and telling me, “Kathy [Coral], when you begin to call the way you have been treated by Mr. Warner “abuse,” then you will be on the road to recovery.  I had “Stockholm Syndrome,” was unwell at that time, and continued to explain to her that my husband was kind because, “he let me plant flowers in our gardens.”2  It would take me several months to be able to verbalize and articulate what was so obvious to the people around me.  I began to have hope for the first time in my life.  The brainwashing and conditioning that had left me numb was replaced with words of truth and empowerment.

In January 1995, a friend, Therese Vasquez, drove me to my OB/Gyn, Dr. Charles South in Albany, Oregon.  He was aware of my frail health.  Dr. South confirmed my 8th pregnancy and tells me in strong language to go get the best divorce attorney I can find and divorce the “son of a b---ch.”  He knew this way of life would soon kill me.

My husband picked me up from Stephanie’s and I returned to my home January 20, 1995, and resumed my expected duties.

I took care of the children, cooked meals, cleaned the home and did the laundry and grocery shopping during this time. The four eldest children were attending a Christian school in Philomath, Oregon. I came down with severe toxemia and had difficulty sleeping because of the pain.  Several weeks before my eighth child was born, all seven children came down with the chicken pox. One of my oldest daughters was also ill and had surgery.

I followed the advice of my trusted physician, Dr. Charles South, soon after my baby was born. None of us could foresee the horrors of the Oregon court system.

Escaping an Abusive Marriage is No Easy Task

I have twenty years of mental scars to prove what I am saying is true.  I was severely abused by Mr. Marty Warner and his religious leaders and counselors during my illness in 1993-1995.  After questioning Mr. Bill Heard, one of the religious counselors my husband had taken me to during my breakdown, my attorney, Mr. David Gearing, Portland, Oregon, commented that I could have died under the "care" of these unqualified counselors. He spoke the truth.

Mr. Bill Heard testified in Court that Mr. Warner was the more qualified and competent parent.

Mr. Heard based his opinion from being involved in our lives for one year.  I had been the primary care giver of our children for seventeen years.

Pastor Ron & Marijo Sutter, Monmouth, Oregon, Bridgeport
Community Chapel. Used by Permission: Polk County Itemizer
Observer “Mr. Warner is a great father.” - Mrs. Marijo Sutter

Betsy Close, Oregon District 8

Although I confided about the severe abuse and rapes I suffered from Mr. Warner to Pastor Ron Sutter, Brian King, Betsy Close and Bill Heard, they all dismissed me and have fully supported Mr. Warner. When an elder, Mr. Brian King, Bridgeport Community Chapel, found out I was seeking a legal separation, he said, “Kathy [Coral] are you aware of the sexual temptation you will put your husband through if you go through with this?” His question traumatized me as I reflected on my role as Mr. Warner’s wife for the past twenty years.  It also aroused my fears for my daughters.  Brian & Kathy King supported Mr. Warner during the period I had a restraining order and charged their legal fees on my attorney’s bill. They never compensated me for their bill.

Dr. Raquel Bergen 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.

Marijo Sutter, supporter of Mr. Warner and wife of Pastor Ron Sutter, Monmouth, Oregon, was questioned by custody evaluators for court in 1996.  She stated, “Mr. Marty Warner is a great father.”  She knew me for a period of one month. Mr. Warner stayed with Pastor Ron and Marijo Sutter, during the two week period I had a restraining order.  He told them he was impoverished, even though his estate at that time was worth ½ million dollars.

Escaping an abusive marriage is no easy task for many evangelical women, many of whom have pastors that say physical and mental abuse is no reason for divorce.

Since seeking safety from my ex-husband,
Mr. Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon,
my ex-husband has legally stalked and sued
me, i.e., 42 court related hearings since 1995,
including his appeal to the Oregon State of
Appeals. I've had no attorney help since '97.

Court Hearings

In February 1996, I visited both Dr. Michael May and Dr. Roger Jacobson in Corvallis, Oregon, for psychological exams to be used in court as evidence of my mental health and well-being. They were relieved to hear I had survived my breakdown and were supportive of my decision to divorce my husband. Dr. Michael May commented that he believed my previous breakdown would have only been a three month episode, instead of nearly two years, with the proper help and the absence of ritual, mental, physical abuse, rape and two pregnancies.

Judge Albin Norblad

I went through a three-day temporary custody hearing, February 28 - March 1, 1996. Judge Albin Norblad heard the testimony of my psychiatrists. Their testimony validated my recovery from my breakdown. Their recommendation, to the Court, was that the younger children remain in my custody.

In court, Judge Norblad stated his intent was to leave the younger children with me. My physician and friends were present and heard Judge Norblad make this statement. However, the following week Judge Norblad signed a court order abruptly removing my younger children, including my nursing infant, Zachary, from me. In the letter from the Court, dated March 5, 1996, Judge Norblad states, "her experts (psychiatrists) testified that she is now well." Judge Norblad, contrary to what he told me and my attorneys in court, nevertheless, awarded all eight of our children to my former husband, including my nursing infant. My physician was shocked at the judge’s decision and said, “removing a nursing infant from a mother is equivalent to castrating a man.”

I was allowed to visit my baby and younger children in the family home two weekends a month.

In 1998, I could no longer sustain the abuse and sexual assaults that I suffered from Mr. Marty Warner that were a result of my “court ordered visitation” of my children. I went under a state address protection program per the recommendations of my physicians and mentors. Mr. Warner physically abused my young children due to the fact that they loved me and wanted to run away to live with me.

My own attorney, Mr. David Gearing, of Portland, Oregon, made me promise him in Court that I would never make any disparaging comments to my children about their father. I have tried to teach my children to respect everyone's right to their religious belief. However, when someone uses their religious beliefs to harm, hurt or abuse another human being, then I believe we should teach our children to protect themselves from that person. Through Gag Orders by the Court, society and my attorney set my children up for abuse.

Respect My Religion

How can one respect a religion with ideas that harm other human
beings? We are often asked to "respect people's religions." In the
first place, many religious ideas are very disrespectful to human
beings and are not worthy of respect. Secondly, what about people
respecting our religion in return?

On December 5, 2000, I received a letter from my ex-husband, Mr. Marty Warner of Independence, Oregon:

“You have shared with me both in our conversations and in your letters, and have demonstrated, that you currently do not share the same values or spiritual perspective as those of our family. That certainly is your prerogative. However, due to our present significant differences in values and faith, it is understandably difficult for you to be supportive of our family’s goals, values and vision. Consequently, your interaction with the children tends to bring about considerable confusion, disharmony and, though you certainly do not intend it, is quite disruptive and counter-productive. Rather, I am trying to answer your question and practice discernment and judgment concerning the effectiveness and fruitfulness of your calling or visiting with the children at this time.”

Since 1999, no contact, calls, letters, gifts or visits with my children have been allowed per my ex-husband and his attorney’s demands through the court.  In America, a parent can be banned from seeing their own children because they do not attend a cult or condone cult behavior(Author’s Note: Brainwashing is only effective as long as there is no outside interference.)

The fact that I do not agree with Mr. Warner’s misogynist, patriarchal and cult mentality does not make me unspiritual or a bad role model for my children.  I believe that teaching my children healthy thinking patterns regarding abuse issues is disruptive and inconvenient for Mr. Warner and his cult leaders, NOT THE CHILDREN!

I thought after my divorce in 1997, the courtroom trauma would be finally over.  I was naïve.  My court and legal trauma had only begun.  Mr. Warner does not believe in losing, and even though he had full custody of all eight children, my divorcing him was a great loss of face (and free labor).  He and his attorney would attempt to teach me who was in control.  There would be no relationship with my children unless I was under my ex-husband’s total control and submitting to his abuse.  Dr. Barbara May, my mentor since 1997, said my ex-husband, Mr. Marty Warner, had not only mastered abuse, he appeared, from his actions, to have the “Ph.D. in power, control and abuse issues.”3

Although my children have erased me from their life, I am not dead, I am very much alive, and I have a face, and a name.

Gloria Steinem

I have been and will always be very involved in their life, even if it is only through prayer. I am praying that someday my children will choose to become "aware, awake and conscious" concerning details of their past and present. Their lack of awareness regarding their own life will greatly affect those around them. I pray my children will find good role models and mentors. I also pray that someday my children will find the courage to walk through the unpleasant details of their past.

Many of the pastors and Christians my children have chosen to socialize and worship with, embrace and support their father, Mr. Marty Warner, a man who has committed criminal acts against his former wife and children. This does not support my children's well-being, only their delusion of themselves and their family. 4

You will never know where you are going unless you truly understand where you came from. It is important to take care of the "contamination of the past."

Gloria Steinem spoke about domestic violence at the 40th Anniversary of Ms. Magazine on October 11, 2012. She stated that since 9/11 there have been more women killed by their husbands and boyfriends than all the Americans killed in Iraq & Afghanistan and the 9/11 attack combined. You can hear her speech at:

"The home and our country is the single most dangerous place for woman - it is not the street." – Gloria Steinem

Sex and World PeaceHow the Treatment of Women Affects Development and Security by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett    
The evidence is clear: The best predictor of a state's stability is how its women are treated.

“The larger the gender gap between the treatment of men and women in a society, the more likely a country is to be involved in intra- and interstate conflict, to be the first to resort to force in such conflicts, and to resort to higher levels of violence. On issues of national health, economic growth, corruption, and social welfare, the best predictors are also those that reflect the situation of women. What happens to women affects the security, stability, prosperity, bellicosity, corruption, health, regime type, and (yes) the power of the state. The days when one could claim that the situation of women had nothing to do with matters of national or international security are, frankly, over. The empirical results to the contrary are just too numerous and too robust to ignore.

“But as we look around at the world, the situation of women is anything but secure. Our database rates countries based on several categories of women's security from 0 (best) to 4 (worst).

The world average is 3.04, attesting to the widespread and persistent violence perpetrated against women worldwide, even among the most developed and freest countries. The United States, for instance, scores a 2 on this scale, due to the relative prevalence of domestic violence and rape." - Valerie Hudson, Sex and World Peace 5

States in which women are subjected to violence and uncontested male rule at home, where women are not allowed equal freedoms and rights to bodily integrity, privacy, and equal protection under the law, are those most likely to engage in violence as nations.


Anyone can Endure Tyranny but it takes True Courage to Embrace Freedom

To this day, I remember the terrifying fear I felt for years as a child and also during my marriage that had me lying awake shaking some nights.  Every form of abuse has a long lasting effect on each one of us. Revictimization 2009 Pandora’s Project by Louise 6  

I no longer embrace the ideological rigidity and doctrines of patriarchal religions and fundamental “Christianity,” but wish to help those who are being abused “in the name of God.” My script for my life involves wholeness, dignity, honor and self-respect.  I am at peace with my life and my past and have learned that as I honor myself, I honor God.

I remind 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.  One in four women will experience violence at the hands of their partner at some time in their lives and one in three women will be the victim of sexual assault.

The shame of my abuse lies upon the community who refuses to help or stop it. Domestic violence and abuse begins in the minds of a community that allows and accepts it.

The kind of violence, abuse and suppression perpetrated by so many of our organized religions and government agencies is truly shocking and can only continue by our refusal to look AT IT rather than the OTHER WAY.

A victim's first scream is for help, a victim’s second scream is for justice.

Related Articles:

This series...

The Dark Side of Fr. Oregon Representative Betsy Close and Joe Paterno: Depraved & Inhumane Part 1

The Dark Side of Fr. Oregon Representative Betsy Close and Joe Paterno: Depraved & Inhumane Part 2

How I Became a Brood Mare and Egg Donor for the Church and State: Rape is Torture - Part 3

My Body Feels like a Crime Scene: Invisible Victims - Part 4

Battered and Raped in the Name of God: Fundamental Christians Condone Crimes against Women & Children - Part 5

Documentation & Letters:

1 "When Those Who Are Supposed to Help You Get Out - Don't"
Written by Maria De Santis of the Women’s Justice Center, Santa Rosa, CA 
The Patriarchy Still Rules! And Still Needs to be Upended! 
The glaring blind spot is rooted deep in the self-preservation mechanisms of patriarchal rule.

2 Why Do You Stay:  Traumatic Bonding and Stockholm Syndrome

3 Narcissists & Psychopaths Cause PTSD for their Victims

4 What the Bible Says About Rape by Valerie Tarico

5 Sex and World Peace by Valerie Hudson

Sex and World Peace: Or, What Little Girls Have to Do with Our Wars by Soraya Chemaly

6 Revictimization 2009 Pandora’s Project by Louise

Radio Program:  Listen to Coral Theill’s guest appearance on the “Abuse Freedom Live” Radio Program, August 19, 2012

May-8-2010: A Mother Does Not Forget Her Children: First March on Washington for Mothers of Lost Children - Coral Anika Theill

May-10-2010: SILENT VIGIL AT WHITE HOUSE: Mothers of Lost Children - Coral Anika Theill

May-12-2007: Abuse Under the Watch of Oregon's Justice System - Tim King Salem-

Nov-29-2007: Welcome to Oregon: Land of Domestic Abuse Endorsement - Coral Anika Theill Special to

Nov-28-2007: Marital Rape and Abuse Victim Seeks Justice From Oregon's Governor - Coral Anika Theill Special to

May-10-2009: Oregon Should Consider Coral Theill this Mother's Day - Tim King

May-29-2008: What Abuse Survivors Expect from the Portland Crime Victims Conference - Tim King

Feb. 26, 2010: "The Gift of Healing is Our Birthright - What an Advocate Looks Like" - Coral Anika Theill Special to

Jan. 11, 2012 Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Calls on Congress to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

Coral Theill’s Military Articles at link

Coral Anika Theill, reporter and advocate, is author of "BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark." Her published works address abuse, trauma recovery and healing from post-traumatic stress and most recently, wounded Marines, the Warrior Games and Montford Point Marines. Her writings have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines/soldiers recovering from PTS and TBI. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, attorneys, professors and authors. BONSHEA has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon and can be ordered at:, or Email:

"Those who serve may already know the toll of having to kill or be killed, but civilian society should also recognize that those who go into battle defending our way of life pay a price. I feel a deep gratitude to our servicemen and women and believe our society needs to do more to respect, understand and support those returning from deployment in conflict zones.” – Coral Anika Theill, Contributing Writer for Leatherneck Magazine

The Commandant of the Marine Corps on Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury and Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma of PTS and TBI



Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

One Who Escaped July 12, 2013 8:55 am (Pacific time) As a Christian who came out of the apostate, organized, Institutional church system, I challenge anyone to refute the truths contained in the link I've posted. Anyone honestly seeking the truth of the matter, will find that ALL churches are cults, no exceptions. Does this mean that Christianity itself is false? No, not by any means, just that for the last 2,000 yrs., it has been so distorted by wicked man made traditions that it bears no resemblance to the teachings of Christ, and scriptural Christianity. An honest searching out of this will bear witness to the validity and truth of Ms. Theill's testimony and story.(You can't make this stuff up!) She's not the only one, it's simply that she's had the courage to tell about it in spite of the persecution and opposition. I truly feel sad for those who are still trapped and in bondage to this evil system. However, there is no real excuse, or....for those who use and abuse this corrupt system to further their own wicked, selfish, evil ends, and unregenerate natures.

Coral Anika Theill December 6, 2012 10:29 am (Pacific time)

Spiritual abuse is a serious form of abuse which occurs when a person in a cult-religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice misleads and maltreats another person in the name of a deity (god) or church or in the mystery of any spiritual concept. Spiritual abuse often refers to an abuser using spiritual or cult-religious rank in taking advantage of the victim's spirituality (mentality and passion on spiritual matters) by putting the victim in a state of unquestioning obedience to an abusive authority. Spiritual abuse refers to the use of spiritual knowledge to deprive, torture, degrade, isolate, control, or (in rare and extreme cases) even kill others. It is used by evil-minded spiritualists, sometimes, including cult-religious leaders, to gain advantage, dominate, or exercise control over others. Being an "action of man," in worst case scenarios, spiritual abuse can otherwise be considered a form of "spiritual terrorism."
Spiritual abuse is the maltreatment of a person ostensibly in the name of a god, deity, faith, cult-religion, or church, whether habitual or not.

Abuse Advocate December 5, 2012 9:54 am (Pacific time)

"To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good ... "Ideology [or religion] - that is what gives devil-doing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors." - Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Coral Anika Theill December 5, 2012 6:11 am (Pacific time)

“The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness" writes Judith Herman in the opening statement to her book Trauma and Recovery. "To study psychological trauma is to come face to face both with human vulnerability in the natural world and with the capacity for evil in human nature. To study psychological trauma means bearing witness to horrible events . . . when the traumatic events are of human design, those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict. The bystander is forced to take sides." – Judith Herman, M.D.

Apostasy Watcher December 4, 2012 3:21 pm (Pacific time)

Jesus needs some new PR. Never before in the history of Christianity has the name Christian been more hated and ridiculed. Never before in the history of Christianity have people like Marty Warner, Betsy Close, Bill Heard, Bill Gothard, "pastor" Ron Sutter, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others of that goat herd given people more reason to. I'm a follower of the teachings of Christ...but I don't like them either. I passionately resent the terrible things they do "in the name of God" and the false image they give of Christianity. You know who you are, and there is no excuse for it!

Tetelestai December 3, 2012 2:29 pm (Pacific time)

Um, yea, and until it does change, or they institute gun control I will continue to keep my equalizer, which seems to have a detrimental effect on overcharged, power trip male libido. Besides, I think little pocket size derringers are cute. Not bitter or cynical, just very realistic and practical.

Coral Anika Theill December 1, 2012 5:38 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you, Tim, and for your support and encouragement throughout these past years.

Everyday, all women in our society deal with male domination. Women are verbally intimidated, bullied, battered and killed by men, but our society is in a state of denial about the truth and severity of the abuse. Raising consciousness of this violence against women is the beginning of what it will take to bring it to an end. Susan Brown-Miller has said "rapists are the shock troops of patriarchy." It follows that the men who batter and psychologically abuse women are the army of occupation - forcing subjugation and servitude.

Tim King: Coral, our eternal thanks to you, our star writer who takes on the toughest subjects with the greatest success, someday things will turn around, I can't wait and we'll have all the more power to bring change, thank you!


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