Yoko Ono's ARISING PROJECT: "Testaments of Harm" Coral Anika Theill's Life Story
Coral Anika Theill, Author of BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark Submission
for Yoko Ono's ARISING PROJECT, "Testaments of Harm" Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland
My name is Coral. I have a personal story to tell of a lifetime of abuse: childhood rape and sex trafficking, kidnapping and torture, martial abuse - mental, physical, sexual and ritual - first condoned within many of the fundamental, evangelical Christian movements (cults) that thrive today and now within the very court system of my own country. What I experienced during my childhood, in my marriage, in the churches and the Oregon court system amounts to nothing less than hate crimes with a gender bias. I was 'groomed' to accept abuse and violence since I was a young girl. I had no other reference in life. There was no help, nowhere to go and no one to tell. When my great-uncle [a convicted murderer and sex offender] was allowed, by my own parents and grandparents, to continually rape me for years, nothing I said or did could make it stop. As a young child I learned that abusers were embraced and protected. Sadly, as an adult, I have discovered the rules of this game have not changed much. My abusers, still, have been repeatedly embraced and protected. During the years of my marriage, fear of my husband, his religious leaders and religious authorities was branded in my mind. The quiet still voice inside of me reminded me that something was very wrong. I felt alarmed, but there was nowhere to go and no one to tell. Several years of severe mental and physical abuse left my senses blunted; everything became blurred. The instincts of self-preservation, of self-defense, of pride, deserted me. My married life continued the pattern of my childhood. My experiences in my marriage and the Christian cults reinforced these beliefs---isolation, physical and sexual abuse and/or emotional and mental pain would follow any questioning of others' motives, power and control of me. I had learned as a child that if I didn't do as I was told, my personal safety would be jeopardized.
After experiencing twenty years of violence and abuse in my marriage, I intuitively knew that continuing this way of life would eventually kill me. I went to Oregon's courts for help and protection for myself and my children. Nothing had prepared me for the horrors that I would experience in what we call 'Oregon's justice and legal system.' Marital and ritual abuse evolved into legal abuse.
The treatment I received in Oregon’s courts was more abuse and humiliation. Sexual crimes I endured as a child, my previous depression, my fertility and the rapes by my husband all became subjects for ridicule in court. An Oregon Circuit Court judge laughed when he heard I became pregnant when my husband raped me.
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.
On March 10, 1996, I was forced, by an Order of the Court, and by my ex-husband, 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 a circuit court judge forcibly removed my nursing baby and 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....
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. Losing one's children via court sanctioned kidnapping causes inconsolable grief and a lifetime of psychic shock. Awareness that such things can happen is the first step toward change.
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 not prepared to understand the needs of families dealing with domestic violence. Battered women may lose their babies and children, their homes, their friends and their livelihood. Survivors of childhood abuse will often even lose their families. Rarely does society recognize the dimensions and long lasting effects of this reality for the victim.
Yoko Ono's Arising Project: Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland - October 2016
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.
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. Removing a mother’s children from her, when she has committed no crime, is cruel and unusual punishment.
Yoko Ono's Arising Project: Iceland - October 2016
I have concluded that I am nothing more than a brood mare and egg donor for the church and state, I have no rights as a disabled person and nurturing mother, and that seeking safety from abuse and violence led to the abrupt removal of my nursing infant and children, being sued by my ex-husband, legally stalked for decades, homelessness and poverty. I bear invisible, but permanent battle wounds from years of abuse in our family court system. The price of safety was too high - it cost me my right to be a mother.
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. I believe this is the mentality that causes and perpetuates abuse and until "Patriarchy is upended," nothing will change. The extremely patriarchal view of the roles of men and women in our society harm everyone and hinder our human evolution and ability to live fulfilling and mentally healthy lives. Patriarchy is practiced in our courtrooms.
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. Individuals who escape abuse and torture deserve the utmost respect and support. These people have risked it all to heal and stand up for the truth. They are heroes and angels who hold a horrific reality for everyone else. They have suffered and escaped, and for that, we should bow our head in reverence and listen to their stories. I have learned to value the horrifying scars of my childhood and past as valuable raw material for soul work. A victim's first scream is for help; a victim's second scream is for justice.
I believe taking a mother's children away from her is the worst form of harm that can be inflicted on a woman and it is happening in epidemic numbers all over the world as a result of government systems in place which maintain the power and control men have had over women and children since patriarchy began. #thewomenscoalition
Submitted by Coral Anika Theill Author, Advocate, Speaker & Reporter Memoir: BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark Website: www.coralanikatheill.com