#METOO Marital Rape & Patriarchy: An Act of Violence
A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave it’s warriors, nor how strong their weapons.
This article is Dedicated to the Warner & O'Halloran Family, Church Leaders and all who supported and condoned the ACTS OF RAPE I suffered from Mr. Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon
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. Finally, the victim becomes so physically sick and unnerved that he/ she has a breakdown. My married life continued the pattern of my childhood.
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.
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.
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. Toward the final stages of her pregnancy, she fully recovers from her breakdown. She births her baby, and mother and baby enjoy bonding and breastfeeding. The mother cherishes her newborn son. After undergoing several psychiatric tests and evaluations, her physicians state that she is well.
Coral Anika Theill & her infant son,
Zachary David Warner, July 1995,
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.
The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful xii desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.
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.
In March 1999 and May 1999, I filed criminal rape charges against my former husband in Dallas, Oregon, (Polk County) with Deputy Sheriff Terra Wilson, and The Dalles, Oregon, (Wasco County) with Police Officer Jeff Miller. At the time of the rape and assault, I was living apart from my former husband with my brother and healing from a mental/nervous breakdown I had suffered after my seventh child was born. During the period of my illness/breakdown in 1993-1994, while I was nearly catatonic, my husband used me sexually, raped, beat and impregnated me. According to Oregon law, this is a criminal act. (Extensive documentation is available through many sources, physicians, witnesses, including my ex-husband’s admission in court of using me sexually and impregnating me while I was unable to care for the children or myself).
In October of 1994, Mr. Warner picked me up from my brother’s house, took me to a motel and forced me to have sex while I was in a nearly catatonic state. I became pregnant. Sergeant Steve Baska, from The Dalles Police Department, investigated and documented the evidence and facts of the rape I reported to them. In June 1999, Sergeant Baska called me and told me that the documentation of the rape was on the desk of District Attorney Donna Kelly. The district attorney told him that they would not prosecute because “a jury would never convict a husband of rape.”
I believe District Attorney Donna Kelly is not in touch with the views of the community. I know the community feels differently. Many people are appalled, outraged and disgusted about this case, but are afraid to confront my abusers because of fear of reprisals. Law makers, attorneys, district attorneys, police and society suffers from “rape illiteracy.” There is manipulative rape committed by dates and husbands and intimate partners, not to mention fathers and uncles, babysitters and teachers.
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.
There is rape that is quietly coerced under threat, there is rape that is cooperated with in order to survive, there is culturally proscribed rape, and there is rape without physical force. It is all still rape. Many people believe rape is justifiable, if the husband commits rape. Even though our laws say differently, many prosecutors refuse to “enforce” them. Police informed me that a crime had been committed against me and that the laws are written to protect people from criminal acts being committed against them. If the District Attorney will not prosecute documented cases of rape, then the law should be removed from their books. It confuses the general public when they are informed about written laws, but then see the criminals who committed the crimes suffer no consequences.
Rape Count I as described in Chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, 163.375: Rape in the first degree. (1) A person who has sexual intercourse with another person commits the crime of rape in the first degree if: . . . . (d) The victim is incapable of consent by reason of mental defect, mental incapacitation or physical helplessness. (2) Rape in the first degree is a Class A felony. (1971 c.743 s.111; 1989 c.359 s.2; 1991 c.628 s.3) (3) “Mentally defective” means that a person suffers from a mental disease or defect that renders the person incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct of the person. (4) “Mentally incapacitated” means that a person is rendered incapable of appraising or controlling the conduct of the person at the time of the alleged offense because of the influence of a controlled or other intoxicating substance administered to the person without the consent of the person or because of any other act committed upon the person without the consent of the person. (5) “Physically helpless” means that a person is unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.
While the legal definition varies within the United States, 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 (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. Despite the fact that maon is one of the 17 states. Dr. Raquel Bergen, in her document, “Marital Rape,” writes, “rital rape has not been criminalized for long in the United States, it is clearly a serious form of violence against women and worthy of public attention.
The research to date indicates that women who are raped by their husbands are likely to experience multiple assaults and often suffer long-term physical and emotional consequences. Marital rape may be even more traumatic than rape by a stranger because a wife lives with her assailant and she may live in constant terror of another assault whether she is awake or asleep. Given the serious effects, there is clearly a need for those who come into contact with marital rape survivors to provide assistance and challenge the prevailing myth that rape by one’s spouse is inconsequential.”
Dr. Bergen also 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. The emphasis of some religious institutions on wives’ responsibility “to obey their husbands” and the sinfulness of women’s refusal to have sexual intercourse with their husbands, perpetuate the problem of marital rape. Most researchers of marital rape agree that rape in marriage is an act of violence—an abuse of power by which a husband attempts to establish dominance and control over this wife. While the research thus far reveals no composite picture of a husband-rapist, these men are often portrayed as jealous, domineering individuals who feel a sense of entitlement to have sex with their “property.”
I do not understand why the criminal actions of my ex-husband were not brought up by attorneys during my civil divorce trial. Both Mr. David Gearing and Mr. Mark Lawrence were aware of my previous breakdown and my pregnancy at the time of my breakdown. I believe injustice and negligence has been committed by these attorneys.
“A Florida legislator who opposed criminalizing rape in marriage stated, “The state has absolutely no business intervening into the sexual relationship between a husband and a wife.” In other words, the state has legally created that relationship and has protected the husband’s forced access to the wife. It is this conception of privacy—keeping the wife sexually subjugated to the husband as a matter of law—that cloaks the abuse of wives in legitimacy and a secrecy that stops interference. The right of a man to use his wife the way he wants has been the essential meaning of sexual privacy in law.” Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse
This is where domestic violence originates. Conforming to this ideology contributed to my mental/nervous breakdown in 1993. Dworkin also writes, “Anyone whose legal status is that she exists to be touched, intimately, inside the boundaries 148 of her own body, is controlled, made use of: a captive inside a legally constructed cage.” In 1979, Bob Wilson, a state senator from California, while talking to women lobbyists eloquently stated, “But if you can’t rape your wife,” the lawmaker asked, “who can you rape?”
The answer, of course, is “no one.” In these cases, intercourse remains the fundamental expression of male rule over women, a legal right protected by the state especially in marriage. My case speaks loudly of the insidious crimes that are legally permitted and condoned under the guise of state-sanctioned domination of males in marriage. Laws must be changed to protect vulnerable people who cannot protect themselves.
Presently, women prisoners around the country are winning lawsuits against guards who have raped and impregnated them. One woman prisoner was awarded $100,000. Until our country becomes more healthy-minded in matters of sexuality, rape cases will continue to be a horror for women in America. In our country, sexuality is often synonymous with power, control, possession and ownership.
In 1893, Matilda Joslyn Gage, author of Woman, Church and State, wrote, “An investigation of the laws concerning woman—their origin, growth, and by whom chiefly sustained—will enable us to judge how far they are founded upon the eternal principles of justice and how far emanating from ignorance, superstition and love of power, which is the basis of all despotism.”
Matilda Joslyn Gage was a committed abolitionist and leader in the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. She was adopted into the wolf clan of the Mohawk nation in 1880. Her courage in almost single-handedly standing up to the oppressive forces of right-wing Christianity led to Gage being written out of official suffrage history. Gage gave up her place in history in the fight for religious liberty.
District Attorney, Mark Hesslinga in Polk County told Deputy Sheriff Terra Wilson, from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, that he did not want my case investigated. The district attorneys in Polk and Wasco counties have ignored my case and not responded to my letters and phone calls. Consequently, they are sending a very strong message to children, young adults and the community that sexual crimes and violence committed against women will be ignored and tolerated.
“Today, the men as a body politic have power over women. They decide how women will suffer: which sadistic acts against the bodies of women will be construed to be ‘normal.’”—Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse
The most painful and insidious act committed against me was being raped by my ex-husband during the period of my mental nervous breakdown. One day, after I had attempted to cut my wrists by an electric grinder to escape life with Mr. Warner, he taped my wrists and drove me to a motel and raped me. The next day I was forced to meet with Mr. Tom McMahon, a Christian counselor and writer. He also told me I was selfish and needed to learn how to “obey.”
Until now, to survive the court trauma and shock, I kept my feelings regarding the rapes deep within me. I can’t find that woman,—the empty shell with bandaged wrists any more. She was mentally gone, spiritually stripped and being used like a whore and a brood mare by the man who “legally owned her.” This fact leaves me at a loss for words and is probably one of the reasons I felt compelled to change my name. I don’t know Kathy Hall, anymore. I believe the day she was raped while so physically, mentally and emotionally broken, she died. Severe trauma can so impact our ability to recognize our self, that even the face in a mirror is a stranger.
On April 22, 1999, I legally changed my name to Coral Anika Theill at the Marion County Courthouse, in Salem, Oregon. Kathy Hall was laid to rest.
Helen Benedict, 1992, Virgin or Vamp wrote, “I prefer to characterize rape simply as a form of torture. Like the torturer, the rapist is motivated by the urge to dominate, humiliate and destroy his victim. Like a torturer, he does so by using the most intimate acts available to humans—sexual ones.”
*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 RECLAMATION: A Survivor's Analogy by the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault & Survivor's Magazine.