Coral Anika Theill INTERVIEW with Geerte Frenken: I Lived the Handmaid's Tale in Corvallis, Oregon
"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.
When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom. The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. "Without some form of public acknowledgement, all social relationships remain contaminated by the corrupt dynamics of denial and secrecy.”
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.
Coral Anika Theill lost custody of her eight children, including her nursing infant, on March 10, 1996, by coercive control through the patriarchal church and the Oregon judicial system, when she sought safety and reported crimes committed by her abusive husband.
She has a personal story to tell of twenty years of marital, mental, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse, condoned within some of the fundamental, evangelical Christian movements (cults) that thrive today. What she experienced during her childhood, in her marriage, in the churches and the court system amounts to nothing less than hate crimes with a gender bias.
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.
Her ex-husband has legally stalked her for the past 20 years – 45 court related hearings to date, including the Oregon Court of Appeals. During her survival of ongoing court trauma and abuse, she lived out of her car for three years while she was sued for twice of what she earned for child support. To date, she has no contact with her eight children. Several of her children were involved in abusing her while she was married. Since her divorce her children have assisted her ex-husband in the cover up of crimes committed against her and her children, his “smear campaign” against her and the ongoing legal abuse via Oregon’s court system.
Photo was titled "Family of the Year" - 2013 - Independence, OR
Coral Anika Theill's eight children with their father,
From L to R
Zachary Warner, Hannah [Warner] Hart, Rebekah Warner, Joshua Warner, Marty Warner, Theresa [Warner] Arnold, Aaron Warner, Rachel [Warner] White, Sarah [Warner] Bobeda
She has concluded by her present circumstances that the judicial and religious organizations and people who have aided her 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. This is the mentality that causes and perpetuates abuse. Coral believes that exposing individuals, pastors, and the churches 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.
Coral Anika Theill, with her newborn son and eighth child, Zachary David Warner
July 1995, independence, Oregon
“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.” – Coral Anika Theill, author, advocate and reporter, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark, www.coralanikatheill.com
After years of abuse and court trauma, and now more violence, betrayal and therapist exploitation, I identify with the character of the Vietnamese woman portrayed in the movie, ‘Casualties of War’ starring Michael Fox and Sean Penn. A group of American soldiers invades a Vietnamese village and capture a young woman. They gang rape her and force her to march with them on their patrol. When they were “finished with her,” they shot her and threw her over an embankment.
I believe that 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 - both for men and women. It alienates us from each other and isolates us from the divine.
I agree with author James Redfield. He writes, "A group consciousness which speaks constantly of separation and superiority (our religious and legal systems) produces loss of compassion on a massive scale, and loss of compassion is inevitably followed by a loss of conscience.” I believe our goal should not be eliminating religion, but illuminating the tactics by which it commands obedience and discourages doubt so that people can recognize these and reject them. It is more important that we all make up our own minds, use reason to guide us, and do not passively rely on faith or authority of religious leaders.
Rather than keep our thoughts in captivity, we should set them free to explore wherever they wish - to seek out different viewpoints, to question fearlessly, and most importantly, to expose all ideas to the fire of testing. The ones worth being kept will survive. Humanity has a vast potential to accomplish things as yet undreamed-of, but blind faith will never take us there. If we are to become aware of the dangers that beset us and enter into a future where we can realize this potential, this is the way we must learn to live.
"What is the kernel of patriarchy? What is the core concept which undergirds this complex, paradoxical social system? The general consensus is that it's the fear and control mechanism of "somebody's got to be in charge--and that somebody's got to be a male.
"Fundamentally, patriarchy is "the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over women in society in general. "While it implies that men control society's institutions, it does not infer that women lack rights. Many people are aghast when they hear we're still in a patriarchy. Didn't the women's movement abolish those backward laws? Haven't most weddings removed "obey" from the vows? True, second wave feminist activism brought about many breakthroughs. But the net effect of those reforms was the modernization of patriarchy, not the absolution of it. Never forget that fear and control kept the Equal Rights Amendment out of the U.S. Constitution." - Kathleen Trigiani
Patriarchy [Christianity] continues to encourage a fear-based authoritarian structure that has segregated people into positions of superiority or inferiority. This type of tyranny prohibits personal empowerment and demands unquestioning obedience and submission. Many people believe the judicial system in America is structured in the same manner as the patriarchal church system.
Albert Einstein spoke profoundly when he said, "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the level of thinking that created them."
Society accepted the circumstances that I and thousands of mothers have been forced to survive as normal. Some individuals who have deep legalistic religious persuasion believe that the cruelty and injustices I have experienced are God’s way of punishing me for seeking safety and divorcing my abusive ex-husband.