Until the Lion Learns How to Write Every Story Will Glorify the Hunter: Healing Begins When Someone

HEALING BEGINS WHEN SOMEONE BEARS WITNESS!


The past twenty years has been an incredible journey from darkness to light. Through my journey of "making light of the dark,"

I have had the privilege of meeting extraordinary individuals, who, like me, are human, flawed, spectacular and deeply compassionate. I am thankful for their assistance in my survival these past many years. Most importantly, they helped me heal the imbalances created from past wounds and see my past from a new perspective.


Leaving a family system that condones domestic violence, rape, the molestation and rape of children, psychological murder, coercive control, spiritual and ritual abuse [cults] was my only safe and sane choice.


I have learned that confronting abuse and violence is ugly and requires difficult self-examination.


I am a survivor of five decades of abuse---childhood sex trafficking by my own family, domestic violence, marital rape, ritual & spiritual abuse, therapist exploitation, maternal alienation, and nearly twenty years of “legal stalking” and judicial injustice. While I was married to my abusive ex-husband, I survived 20 years of domestic violence and torture. I was a nurturing and loving mother during the years of our marriage. My married life continued the pattern of my childhood.


I have lived under a “state address protection program” from my ex-husband since 1999. What I experienced during my childhood, in my marriage, in the churches and the court system amounts to nothing less than hate crimes on a gender bias.


I have spent long hours trying to make some sense of my life and have come to the conclusion that when horror overcomes us the only response possible is to remember what happened and tell the story.


I have the greatest respect for women who stand up to tyranny and oppression and fight for freedom and justice. Often they battle alone, with children in tow, and with the enemy entrenched in their home, in their minds, and sleeping in their beds. These are the extreme and painful conditions under which I, and women all over the world, set out to make our escapes from domestic violence and terror. And even so, right up until today, the bravery of women's struggles for freedom is still too often met with the cruelty of questions like "Why don't you just get up and leave," instead of being given the admiration their struggles deserve.


I am sharing my story with you to give my life a voice, and to intellectually and emotionally create change. I hope after listening to my story, no one will ever tell a domestic violence victim to "just leave."


I have learned that confronting abuse and violence is ugly and requires difficult self-examination.


Unless violence can be talked about, it cannot be stopped.


I truly believe more victims would be willing to share their pain, fear and shame if they could expect to be believed, respected and vindicated.


Exposing individuals who aid, support, enable and condone the criminal and violent behavior of abusers and predators is just as important as exposing the men who abuse women and children.


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. The message that the current judicial system gives to many domestic violence and rape victims is that they are not worthy, and that no one cares. Our culture of shaming and victim blaming needs to stop.


I believe I have been harmed by the same rigid and perverse social constructs where money means power and power makes right.


I choose to not participate in the silence that protects perpetrators and isolates survivors.


Once on the other side of our crisis, one must look back and throw down a footbridge for followers to use. When you have "jumped outside of the given" there is an obligation to share with others what you learned. You must not only tell how you got there, but the process of survival as well.


The freedom that I gained when I broke my silence about the abuse I suffered I wouldn’t trade for anything. Once secrets are exposed to the light, they lose their power over you.


In these past years I have learned that I have a right to live without fear, to be treated with respect, to have and express my own feelings and opinions, to be listened to and taken seriously, to set my own priorities, to say “no” without feeling guilty, to ask for what I want without reprisal, to ask for information from others, to have my own needs met, to have privacy and support and friendship.

I have learned to not ALLOW ANYONE TO INVALIDATE ME – OR TELL ME HOW I SHOULD FEEL.


If you really want to know about our justice system in America, you do not question the judges, police, attorneys and lawmakers, you go to the victims, the unprotected, the vulnerable; those who need the laws protection the most and listen to their stories.


In America there are many victims of childhood molestation and abuse, rape and domestic violence! But guess what? There are relatively few batterers and perpetrators. In their efforts to seek safety, justice and vindication; victims often become further victimized by our judicial system. Why? The batterers and abusers are “innocent” and protected by family, friends, co-workers and church members. Often family and friends turn against the victim in order to protect the abuser and their own reputations.


Victims suffer not only from the abuse they experienced but also from the threat of meaninglessness and powerlessness that comes with it. People who experience the trauma of violence at the hand of someone they know, (i.e., a partner, parent, relative, therapist, teacher, pastor, or priest) - struggle to make meaning, usually in a context of isolation, if not moral condemnation and victim blaming.


Meanwhile, as the years pass, many victims become progressively more mentally, physically and emotionally sick because the victim has been rejected and betrayed all over again by those close to them who refuse to deal with the truth and by those who find denial an easy alternative. The burden placed on the victim's shoulders becomes unbearable. Finally, family and friends who "knew the truth" dismiss the crimes of molestation, rape and violence because "it happened a long time ago."


The victim's worst nightmare has come true.


If the perpetrator is “innocent,” then the victim must be guilty by default. It was their fault to begin with (they were told by their abuser). In the victim's mind, they must be both the criminal and the victim. The victim has a hard time finding where "they" are inside themselves.


Most victims have to recover without the conscience of their communities, cultures, and countries validating their story, without justice, and without restitution. I truly believe, though, that we are victimized twice if we do not seek justice.


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.


Domestic abuse also includes emotional abuses, especially gaslighting, which enables the abuser to convince their victim that they are at fault for what is happening. Abusers may also use tactics like sexual coercion, verbal abuse including insults, personal attacks, or attempts at humiliation, withholding money or preventing access to financial resources, and surveillance in order to control their partners. Physical abuse is often the form of abuse that gets the most attention, likely in part because it’s the easiest to notice from the outside, but it’s rarely the entire story.


"Since 9/11 more women have been killed by their husbands and boyfriends than all Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 9/11 attack combined. It’s still true that the home in our country is the single most dangerous place for a woman – not the street,” - Gloria Steinem


Women often don't leave domestic violence because they know that when they do leave - the danger of more severe violence increases dramatically. Violence, and the sheer terror of it, is one of the principle reasons women don't leave. And the women are right!


When domestic violence victims attempt to leave the relationship, the stalking and violence almost always escalates sharply as the perpetrator attempts to regain control.


We often berate the victim for staying in these relationships and can't understand how it happened. A violent, controlling man does not take a woman out and beat her on the first date. We all put on our best face when we initially meet people and batterers are no different. If he took the woman out and beat her on the first date there would be no second date. She has no history or investment in the relationship and wouldn't tolerate it. His taking control of her is a gradual process.


The women also know these dangers are heightened still more because so many officials, first responders, and courts are also in denial of the gravity of her situation. And she's right again. Despite the modern-day rhetoric about treating domestic violence seriously, the reality is that the critical protections she needs when leaving are still as precarious and unpredictable as a roll of the dice. One responder may help effectively. The next may ignore, mock, underestimate, misdiagnose, walk away, blame her, take her kids, shunt her into social services, arrest her, send her to counseling, or one way or another refuse to implement real power on her behalf, abandoning her to a perpetrator who is now more enraged than ever.


The women also know these dangers are heightened still more because so many officials, first responders, and courts are also in denial of the gravity of her situation. And she's right again. Despite the modern-day rhetoric about treating domestic violence seriously, the reality is that the critical protections she needs when leaving are still as precarious and unpredictable as a roll of the dice. One responder may help effectively. The next may ignore, mock, underestimate, misdiagnose, walk away, blame her, take her kids, shunt her into social services, arrest her, send her to counseling, or one way or another refuse to implement real power on her behalf, abandoning her to a perpetrator who is now more enraged than ever.


*My husband threatened that he would take my children,n away from me if I ever sought safety. When I finally got the courage to leave my husband had local sheriffs hunting for me.


Throughout the years of my childhood and marriage, I was voiceless and surrounded by super predators --- my family, my ex-husband, Marty Warner, his pastors and counselors, (Bill Heard, Bill Gothard Institute, Dr. Charles Kuttner) and numerous Christian cult leaders.


During my senior year in high school, I attended ground school and flight training at Pearson Airport, Vancouver, WA, and earned my solo flight certificate and passed my FAA exams. I was President of Honor Society and involved with volunteer work in the community, was a straight A student, co-valedictorian and voted "most academic and most likely to succeed." After court reporter training, I worked as a juvenile court reporter and secretary for two Superior Court Judges in Longview, Washington when I was 19 - 21 years old. At this time, I met my abusive ex-husband, Marty Warner. I did not know how to escape the clutches of super predators and sociopaths in my personal or home life.


I was 'groomed' to accept abuse and violence since I was a young girl. I had no other reference in life. As a young child I learned that abusers were embraced and protected. 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, to continually rape me for years, nothing I said or did could make it stop.


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.


For nearly twenty years, I was married to a man who ruled his household with absolute authority. During the course of our marriage, I bore him eight children. My firstborn children were identical twin girls. I also suffered three miscarriages. I home schooled the oldest children for several years, renovated three houses, baked, canned, gardened, etc. I was treated as a possession (slave). In the course of my marriage I was drawn, against my will, into several extreme fundamental churches and cults which emphasized patriarchal authority and the obedience of women.


His personal justification for his behavior came from Biblical scripture and was akin to terrorism and hostage-taking: sexual coercion, financial restrictions, verbal and physical abuse, isolation from friends and family, denigration, controlling my decisions, whereabouts, education, and prohibiting me from working outside the home.


He took away my right to my own spiritual beliefs and practice, forced me to work long hours within the home (often without sleep), invaded my privacy (he read all my incoming and outgoing mail), forbid me to see my own physician and denied me medical care. In 1987 he forced me to have sex while I was blind and impregnated me against the recommendations of my physicians My husband raped and impregnated me in 1994, while I was suffering a post-partum depression and breakdown. I became pregnant with our eighth child while I was nearly catatonic and unable to shower, dress or feed myself.


Battered women, hostages and prisoners of war will share some of the same experiences.


I am one mother, among millions, who sought safety from domestic violence and lost what was most precious to me - my children. I went to Oregon's judicial system for help and was not prepared for the horrors I experienced within our legal system. I found a system which treated me as deplorably as my former husband and his religious supporters.


After my 7th child’s home birth, I suffered a severe post-partum depression and breakdown.



Photo: "Wing's of Love" half-way house on Killingsworth in Portland, Oregon

Photo Credits: Debbie Dresler, 1994


During this time, in the spring of 1994, my husband, Marty Warner, and his pastors kidnapped me and left me at the "Wing's of Love" half-way house on Killingsworth in Portland, Oregon, to punish and "break me" (their words) 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 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 Christian cult leaders and religious supporters to be in charge of my “recovery program.” Three months earlier, I had a D & C due to my 3rd miscarriage from being raped by my husband. I was helpless and physically and mentally incapacitated during this time due to my breakdown and partial stroke.


In his book, Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life, Dr. Evan Stark writes,


"Coercive control shares general elements with other capture or course-of-conduct crimes such as kidnapping, stalking, and harassment, including the facts that it is ongoing and its perpetrators use various means to hurt, humiliate, intimidate, exploit, isolate, and dominate their victims. Like hostages, victims of coercive control are frequently deprived of money, food, access to communication or transportation, and other survival resources even as they are cut off from family, friends, and other supports through the process of “isolation.” But unlike other capture crimes, coercive control is personalized, extends through social space as well as over time, and is gendered in that it relies for its impact on women’s vulnerability as women, due to sexual inequality. Another difference is its aim. Men deploy coercive control to secure privileges that involve the use of time, control over material resources, access to sex, and personal service.


"A main means men use to establish control is the microregulation of everyday behaviors associated with stereotypic female roles, such as how women dress, cook, clean, socialize, care for their children, or perform sexually. These dynamics give coercive control a role in sexual politics that distinguishes it from all other crimes."


By January 1995 I had recovered emotionally and mentally from my previous post-partum depression/breakdown. While pregnant with my eighth child, my trusted physician and OBGyn, Dr. Charles South, Albany, Oregon, recommended I seek safety and a divorce before I became a "statistic."


After the birth of my eighth child in July 1995, I followed my doctor's advice, retained an attorney, reported crimes committed in our home and filed for a divorce.


In 1996, in preparation for the child custody court hearings, I passed six psychological exams. Several of the exams were three and four hour interviews from top physicians in Oregon. My ex-husband failed his court ordered psychological exam.


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. Belts, fists, logs, fraternity boards, threats, coercive control, gaslighting, cults and bullying were my ex-husband's favorite weapons of choice. My ex-husband also abused numerous women in the workplace.


The treatment I received in Oregon’s courts was more abuse and humiliation. Sexual crimes I endured as a child, my breakdown, my physical shortcomings, my fertility and the ‘rape’ by my husband all became subjects for ridicule in court while I was on the witness stand. Oregon Circuit Court Judge Albin Norblad laughed when he heard I became pregnant when my husband raped me. When I reported the abuse, I received a letter from the Oregon State Bar informing me that I deserved this treatment because I had a previous breakdown/depression years earlier.


Oprah Winfrey often states on her program, “America is the safest place in the world for women.” Tens of thousands of mothers in America would be quick to disagree with Oprah’s words. We bear invisible, but permanent battle wounds from years of abuse in America’s family court system. Our mental scars and years of court documentation prove that seeking safety in America often costs more than money. The price of safety in America has been too high for all of us – it cost us our children and our right to be a mother.


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 children from me, including my nursing infant. I obeyed the Court Order and gave my children over to my 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 family court causes inconsolable grief and a lifetime of psychic shock. Understanding the correlation between our patriarchal society and patriarchal court system has assisted me in my survival.


After the traumas of childhood, twenty years of subjugation to my husband and his extreme religious views, a breakdown and rapes, the treatment by the courts was a final outrage.


Marital and ritual abuse evolved into legal abuse.


While I was homeless my memoir was published in 2003.


Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.




In 2004, I attempted to go back to college after my divorce to improve my life, but was forced to drop out after a couple terms due to my ex-husband and his attorney, Mr. J. Michael Alexander, appealing our case to the Oregon State of Appeals in 2004. I was destitute, so I had no monies for an attorney. Instead of college, I wrote my own "legal brief" in response to their appeal for $50,000 more in child support. I also received contempt orders, was sued and threatened with jail time and received a court order, signed by Judge Paula Brownhill, prohibiting me from my writing or sending with my children gifts in 2003. My crime - my 16 year old son, Joshua Warner, hugged and talked to me at his football game at Santiam Christian School.


My ex-husband, his pastors, family, friends and school teachers alienated my children from me - telling my children and the community various lies - that I abandoned them, was living in a mental hospital, joined a biker gang and/or committed suicide. I am an erased mother. Sadly, my children have supported my ex-husband's further abuse of me personally and in the courtroom. Several of them have sent me hate mail.

Many children who have no contact with their protective parent have clear functional amnesia. They have no memories other than those created and re-created by the controlling parent. These children successfully re-program who and what they are outside as well as within.


In households throughout America, children are learning “male-supremacy” and “strong over weak” messages from their parents. Children are watching, listening and learning by our interactions in the private and professional sectors. Sadly, children are learning the “domination game.”


Judith Herman, M.D. maintains that the function of domestic violence is to preserve male supremacy. “Perpetrators understand intuitively that the purpose of their behavior is to put women in their place and that their behavior will be condoned by other men [women] as long as the victim is a legitimate target. Thus, women live with a fear of men which pervades all of life and which convinces women that their weakness is innate and unchangeable. The legal system is designed to protect men from the superior power of the state but not to protect women or children from the superior power of men. It therefore provides strong guarantees for the rights of the accused but essentially no guarantees for the rights of the victim. If one set out by design to devise a system for provoking intrusive post-traumatic symptoms, one could not do better than a court of law."


Most people recovering from trauma have experienced the dynamic of those around them "taking the side of the perpetrator." Without understanding why they are doing so only compounds the suffering the survivor experiences, and intensifies the feeling that one is tainted, bad, or defective for having been traumatized in the first place.

In her book, Trauma & Recovery, Dr. Judith Herman explores the cultural dynamics of collective repression and denial and why people tend to shun and try to silence trauma survivors.

How our culture regards trauma and traumatized people is very important to those trying to become reintegrated into society after massive psychic shock.

Going over the scar map of my psyche of what led to this and what led to that has assisted me in my survival.


After surviving decades of abuse and torture, I became an advocate --- not only for myself, but for trauma victims, as well as wounded warriors.


I believe we are as sick as our secrets.


What you can’t say owns you, what you hide controls you.

The freedom that I gained when I broke my silence about the abuse I suffered I wouldn’t trade for anything. Once secrets are exposed to the light, they lose their power over you.


Healing is the process of rounding up all the fragments of our shattered self and reconciling them. The traumatized person who accomplishes the work of recovery and healing has the potential of becoming more integrated and more aware and conscious than the person who has endured no blatant trauma and has never had to piece together a shattered psyche.


What does the human spirit need to heal and go on? What does a victim need? To heal and go on they need a 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. They need accountability – someone to hold the perpetrator accountable. They need restitution or material compensation for the losses incurred by the victim. They need 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. When there is no justice there is truly no healing.


In her book, Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman writes, “It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of the pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering. . . .


“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator's first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens.


"Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims."


Battered wives who seek help or advice from clergy members are often told that they bring abuse on themselves by refusing to submit to their husband.


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. Many women choose to stay in violent relationships due to the corruption in our family court system.


Some people have wondered what was "wrong" with me. Why did I stay so long in such an unhealthy and abusive environment?


My answer is simple.


Abuse and trauma leave an individual in a state of numbness -

you become the walking dead. When you are numb,

you are not in a state of mind to be planning an escape.

You think about how to survive the next day or you think about death and suicide. It is as if you are a soul neither dead or alive wandering in a half-world seeking redemption without hope of ever finding it. While living with abusers, hope is not within reach.

You are thankful your captor has not killed you.


My husband used coercive control, isolation and intimidation tactics to strip me of my personhood, safety and freedoms as a United States citizen.


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.


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.


I believe the courts and churches that are so adamant in punishing women who seek safety have not yet realized the long term ramifications for the victim. As a child, I could not have imagined that Court Orders, due to my ex-husband’s wrath, would prevent me from adequately grieving for the loss of my only sibling, Donald Hall.


The court order sought by my ex-husband and abuser, denying me visitation privileges also created complications in July 2009. I was not permitted to attend my own brother’s funeral. My brother’s pastor reported that my ex-husband was attending the funeral, as well as my younger children. According to the Oregon Court Order, I could be arrested for attending the funeral due to being in the same vicinity of my younger children—a violation of Judge Paula Brownhill’s court orders. I emailed the pastor my eulogy for my brother’s service.


Another complication was the fact that I lived under a "state address protection program" from my ex-husband.


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.


As long as we continue to condone those in power who harm and victimize innocent people, then we will continue to witness injustices against those who are vulnerable and unable to protect and defend themselves. I believe my own life and experiences these past years reveal a moral dilemma for the religious organizations and judicial systems that exists today.


The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country but we know, in most cases, that is not what happens.


Presently, I am at a loss, and it is difficult to continue to have faith in a legal system that is based on similar authoritarian, patriarchal and paternalistic models as my marriage.

I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of the laws being abused and the courts that follow them which continue to destroy protective mothers and children’s lives every day.


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.


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


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.


To be publicly and permanently branded ‘unfit’ is a new scarlet letter. It can and will scar an entire family for life. Nothing justifies the minimization or removal of a fit and loving parent from a child’s life. NOTHING.


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.


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. In America, the land of the free and the brave, one woman is physically assaulted every nine seconds, one woman is raped every two minutes, and one in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of eighteen.


I hope my story of survival will encourage and empower women and men worldwide.


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






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