BONSHEÁ – Yaqui Indian –
meaning ‘out of the darkness into the light’
During my marriage I was required to be a "helpmeet" in a world like the one from Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel "The Handmaid’s Tale. My abusive husband and the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY leaders used coercive control, isolation and intimidation tactics and to strip me of my personhood, safety and freedoms as a United States citizen. I have lived under a state address protection program from my abusive ex-husband,
Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon since 1999.
A startling memoir of one woman escaping an abusive marriage and oppressive religious cults [PEOPLE OF PRAISE] and trying to find "justice" in a failed system. Anyone concerned with issues of abuse and injustice in America should read this book. Mother of 8 Battered & Raped in the Name of 'God': OPEN LETTER to Oregon Governor Kate Brown
- Christine Pahl, MS, LPC, Oregon
Excerpt: “Our relationship with Coral began in September of 2020, just days after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. It had become clear that Amy Coney Barrett would be then President Donald J. Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ginsberg on the bench. Coral was working fervently to derail Barrett’s confirmation, expressing publicly and passionately, the harrowing story of her time in People of Praise, and sounding the alarm that Barrett had been a prominent member of the same organization.
Coral’s experiences at the hands of her tormentors, including members of the People of Praise, are heinous enough to disturb even the most seasoned social worker. The atrocities include serial rape, kidnapping, domestic assault, involuntary servitude, ritual humiliation, denial of medical care, financial exploitation, social ostracism, psychological torture, and disinheritance. For Coral, all of that immeasurable suffering pales in comparison to the agony she has endured as a result of her court-mandated separation and emotional alienation from her eight children.
There is no language sufficient to express the extent of the physical and psychological suffering Coral has endured in the name of religion. The only thing that’s more shocking than Coral’s experience is that she survived it. We were drawn to Coral's story with both fascination and outrage. We were grateful and humbled when she accepted our invitation to appear as a guest on our show, The Radical Secular Podcast. We found her to be unbroken, unbowed, and unapologetic. She shared her story with courage and conviction and each grotesque new revelation pushed our jaws ever-closer to the floor. We launched The Radical Secular Podcast in part to explore and expose the sorts of destructive hierarchies which animate Coral’s story. Our conversations with Coral have hardened our resolve to sound the alarm about creeping theocracy, and they have reminded us to count our comparative blessings.
Our interview with Coral titled, Raped for God: The People of Praise, aired on February 15, 2021.
The frightening implications of Christian fundamentalism’s infiltration of the highest court in the land motivated Coral to publish this new edition of her memoir. Every person who begins reading this defiant chronicle of Coral’s experience under the lash of Christian fundamentalism will emerge deeply concerned for the future of justice, equality, and freedom, including religious freedom, under the United States Constitution.”
Last year my story as a handmaid survivor and former member of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s “People of Praise Community” received national and international attention and was featured in the AP, Guardian, Washington Post, Newsweek, Reuters, Amy Goodman: Democracy Now, Freedom from Religion Foundation with Annie Laurie Gaylor, secular and women's rights activist and a co-founder of Freedom from Religion Foundation and Andrew L. Seidel, author, constitutional and civil rights attorney, Dr. Steven Hassan, Freedom of Mind, Verdict, The Radical Secular Podcast, Inside Edition, National Catholic Reporter, Reforme – Paris, France as well as dozens of other media outlets from September 2020 – June 2021.
Coral Anika Theill
Author, Advocate & Military Reporter
Contributing Writer for Leatherneck Magazine,
"I recommend this book for health care providers, those in the criminal justice system, and volunteers or helpers of any kind to get insights and clarity about the complex dynamics of domestic violence and its toxic effects to individuals and society-and what needs to be done to eradicate this pandemic problem." – Barbara A. May, PhD, RN PMHP, Professor of Nursing, Linfield College, Portland, Oregon
"Every so often a book is written that touches the heart. This is such a book. BONSHEÁ is an unforgettable story that will leave an indelible mark on your psyche." – Adaline Archer, Court reporter, (Ret.) Washington
"BONSHEÁ 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, District Attorney, Benton County District Attorney's Office, Corvallis, Oregon
"I think she is very brave to write this book. Some of the abuse was so terrible it was painful to read, but it is important to hear it. There are people out there who use their religion as a way to abuse and control women. I'll be honest, I found this book through searching for news articles about the President's possible pick for a Supreme Court Nominee and found out she is a member of an extremist religious cult called 'People of Praise.' I believe this author's description of how abusive and controlling the cult is. Extremely scary." - Kayla Jones, 5 Star Review, Amazon
"I would love to discover that every judge, every minister, every person who seeks justice, would read this book! I have consulted thousands of abused women and know that the injustice Coral suffered, the loss of her children, is an all to common experience of abused women seeking to protect their children and to save themselves." - Patricia Evans, Author,The Verbally Abusive Relationship, California
"A must-read for anyone impacted by abuse, marriage, divorce/family court to prepare to fight for your children’s lives in the current family court system. Advocates, attorneys, judges, and other professionals working in family court must read this account to understand the lengths abusers will go to continue to control and torture their abuse victims. I applaud Coral Theill for the courage she shows making light of the dark secrets within the fundamental churches and the collusion of the family court system." - Debra Wingfield, Trainer, Author, and Case Consultant, North Carolina
"You stand TALL amongst many. We're all wounded but some choose to heal so that they can heal others. Continue your incredible work. Even here in Africa, we tell your story....God bless you for this gift to all womenfolk. Look at what it's doing for all of us in the world. It's reaching beyond the sea and cultural divides. I'm at a loss for words. Thank you, Coral, for your light." - Nana Ngobese-Nxumala, Director, Woman Forward Political Party, South Africa
"The brutal misery you have endured and comeback from is astounding. The way you have harnessed that unspeakable and unstoppable pain leaves me along with many others in awe. The impact you are making is important and vital to ALL women who can easily find themselves in this scenario." - Sandy Earley, Chicago, Illinois
"Your memoir, BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark, is an amazing revelation of the corrupt underbelly of our government. Abusers thrive with the help of the institutions that are supposed to protect. Your survival is even more amazing and a testimony to the power of our inner selves." - Donna Buiso, Author, Nothing But My Voice
Coral Anika Theill was a victim of MARITAL RAPE while married to her abusive husband,
Marty Warner, Independence Oregon. Coral's story of survival was published March 1, 2018 in
by the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault & Survivor's Magazine
WINGS OF LOVE HALF-WAY HOUSE, Killingsworth, Portland, Oregon
During the period of my collapse and post-partum depression in the spring of 1994, my husband,
Marty Warner, and his Christians & AME Baptist pastors left me at the "Wing's of Love" half-way house on Killingsworth in Portland, Oregon, to punish and "break me" to the will of God.
The house was a shelter for ex-cons, street people and prostitutes.
It was filthy and infested with rats and lice.
My husband's estate at this time, was over a quarter-of-a million dollars.
Read more about SPIRITUAL ABUSE HERE
Coral Anika Theill & U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
(DALLAS, OR) Coral Theill's case history in Oregon courts has been documented by physicians and advocates, including her counselor and mentor of 18 years, Barbara A. May, PhD, RN PMHP, Professor Emerita of Nursing, Linfield College, Portland, Oregon, as one of Oregon's most violent and obscene rape and domestic violence cases. Ms. Theill has lived under a “state address protection program” from her ex-husband, Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon, since 1999. In honor of Mother’s Day 2014, The Pixel Project featured Coral Anika Theill's Interview in the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project. August 13, 2014, Ms. Theill submitted a request for a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and on August 1, 2015, August 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017 Coral Theill's Oregon case history was filed with the Claim Submitted to the United Nations on Modern Day Human Rights Crisis. On January 5, 2016, Ms. Theill's Polk County Oregon case history was submitted to the United States District Court as a 'Declaration of Support' in Adkins v Adkins #15-754 addressing the due process violations in family courts across the United States. Coral also participated in YOKO ONO'S ARISING PROJECT in Iceland, October 2016. On October 9, 2020 Coral Anika Theill sent her LETTER TO THE SENATE & Judiciary Committee.
BIO: Coral Anika Theill's published works address abuse and trauma recovery and most recently, wounded Marines and Montford Point Marines. Her writings have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines and service members recovering from PTS and TBI. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, professors and authors. BONSHEÁ has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon. In July 2011 Coral received the Lester Granger Award from the National Montford Point Marine Association and serves on the Board of the Montford Point Marines of America, Inc. In 2002 she received a Writer's Award from iUniverse Publishing Co. She is also a contributing writer for Short Rations for Marines. Her October 2011 Leatherneck Magazine article, "Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma Associated with PTS & TBI," is used as a college text for the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia and is cited in the U.S. Army War College "Psychological Health Notes." Coral Anika Theill's story of surviving marital rape was published March 1, 2018 in RECLAMATION: A Survivor's Anthology by the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault & Survivor's Magazine.
“Fathers who battered the mother are twice as likely to seek sole custody of their children as are non-violent fathers.”
—American Psychological Association
Two hundred years ago a system of legal slavery allowed for the ownership of human beings as if they were livestock. Children were ripped away from their mothers with as little consideration as separating a calf from a cow. In this country today, extreme forms of paternalistic religion promote an institutional form of slavery where a woman must be totally obedient to a husband who has absolute control of her life. The wife’s lot is to obey and bear children. If she rebels and chooses to save herself by escaping from this life, the father—supported by the church community and often by the court system, can forcibly strip a child away from the mother.
I have concluded by my present circumstances, that the judicial and religious organizations and people who have aided my former husband, Marty Warner, 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. I believe this is the mentality that causes and perpetuates abuse.
Upper L to R: My youngest son of eight children, Zachary David Warner, 2013, Coral Theill and Zachary 1995, Independence, Oregon
Lower L to R: Judge Paula Brownhill, Astoria, Oregon, Judge Albin Norblad, Coral Theill's memoir cover, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark
Many mothers who seek safety from abuse 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 that seems to favor those who inflict domestic violence.
Women trapped in relationships with abusers come to expect horrendous misbehavior and violence from their partners. What they cannot fathom is the maddening reinforcement commonly provided to abusive men by the justice system, the religious community and the public at large. Tragically, the key abuse collaborator is the custody judge. Of all the bad actors in a battered woman's life, none wield more power over a mother and her children. It is beyond infuriating when women discover that their custody judges either lack understanding of domestic violence or intentionally collude with abusers to take away women's financial resources and, even worse, their children.
Coral Anika Theill at Battered Mothers Child Custody Conference,
The George Washington University Law School
Forcibly taking a mother's children, and then controlling her emotionally by withholding contact must be publicly recognized as one of the
greatest forms of 'mis-use' of the American justice system and one of the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control.
"As I watch the news today, I see all sorts of other cases pretty similar to Coral Theill's. The thing that I just do not understand about our "system" is why or how can we allow what happened to Coral (and is still happening) to happen. Some are held against their will, raped, battered, abused and then glorified as are the three ladies from Ohio. Guys are considered "heroes" as a result of being the person to make a phone call to the authorities about it.
"Then we have those in the same situation (and maybe even worse) who are blamed, ostracized from society, stripped not only of their children but of their dignity, ridiculed, and even forced into hiding and receive absolutely no support from anyone in the justice system who by the way are supposed to be by the people, of the people and for the people." - Excerpt of letter from Sergeant Major Brian K. Jackson, USMC (Ret) to Mr. Joel Corcoran, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley's assistant, May 9, 2013
On March 10, 1996, I was forced, by an Order of the Court, and by my ex-husband, Marty Warner, his attorney, his family and religious supporters, to do something that raged against my good conscience, my common sense and against all my motherly instincts. After a temporary custody hearing, a Court Order signed by Judge Albin Norblad forcibly removed my nursing baby and two youngest children from me. I obeyed the Court Order and gave my children over to my ex-husband. I drove to the hospital, rented a breast-pump and later collapsed and went into shock. I could not understand what had happened and why. I have not yet recovered from the shock; perhaps I never will....
When I sought safety for my children and myself in January 1996, the Court allowed me to live in hiding with my young children prior to the court hearings, due to the testimony and affidavits of numerous witnesses. I retained an attorney and reported the crimes that had been committed against my children and me.
The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children, including my nursing infant. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.