Oregon State Senator Betsy Close is an Obstacle to Women & Children's Safety
by Coral Anika Theill
Published in Honor of October Domestic Violence Awareness Month
State Senator Betsy Close Supports Batterer and Child Abuser and Revictimizes D.V. & Rape Victim
"You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage when silence is so very inviting. They step forward and share
their TRUTH so others know they aren't alone." - Jeanne McElvaney
(Albany, Oregon) From 1984-1996, Betsy and Chris Close were friends with my abusive ex-husband, Mr. Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon. I was one of their “casualties.” Extreme religious views distorted their ability to view me, a woman, as a fellow human being.
Betsy Close is an obstacle to women and children in Oregon seeking safety and security. She holds many extreme fundamentalist beliefs that are a detriment to women and children as well as the general community. As long as women like her are in office, women and children will have to prepare for the worse!
Senator Close's brand of conservatism does not represent the majority of the people in the district and her views on the subservience of women, legalistic Christianity and dogmatic right-wing extremism are toxic and wrong for Oregon.
I lived in Corvallis, Independence, Albany and Salem for over twenty years. My name, at that time, was "Kathy Warner." I was the wife of Marty Warner. Mr. Warner is a former employee of CH2M Hill, Hewlett Packard, Clair Company and presently works for the City of Monmouth. (Three women have reported being abused by Mr. Warner in the workplace).
When I was divorcing my husband to escape a long-term abusive marriage, Betsy Close was a friend of my family. I took care of her children during the years she was involved with “Right to Life” activities and pursing her political career. On several occasions we shared dinners and out of town excursions. Before the birth of my 8th child, I was an overnight guest in her home. I was one of very few friends who attended her father’s funeral in the fall of 1995 in Washington State.
She testified at my divorce trial that no Christian woman has a right to divorce her husband except in cases of desertion or fornication outside the marriage. She sided publicly with the man who had abused me and my children physically and psychologically for 18 years!
From 1993-1994, Oregon State District 8 Senator Betsy Close phoned me, during the time of my illness and told me God had cursed me. She sent me letters exhorting me to repent. She does not believe an abused and battered woman has a “right to divorce.” Under Betsy Close’s fundamental ideology, a battered wife should just call “911.”
Mrs. Close’s viewpoints promote domestic violence and loss of lives.
Mrs. Close continued to lie throughout her testimony. People who are economical with the truth do not do well under cross examination. She had difficulty keeping her distortions straight and her notes in order. Witnesses in the courtroom became humored. When my attorney asked her if she knew that my husband, Mr. Warner, and his attorney Mr. Mark Lawrence, had put me through 45 hours of depositions, that were abusive in nature, and numerous court hearings in the past few months, she said she was not aware of these facts.
After she finished testifying and court recessed, Judge Albin Norblad headed to the judge’s chambers. Mrs. Betsy Close stepped down from the witness stand and approached me in a very aggressive and hostile manner. Friends in the courtroom and Christopher Vasquez, an Air Force cadet, (later a pilot and Major in the Air Force) moved to protect me from her. Judge Norblad ordered her removed from the courtroom for her disorderly conduct. I have not heard from Betsy Close since the court trial in March 1996. Someday, I would like a public and written apology.
*TAPE OF STATE SENATOR BETSY CLOSE’S SWORN TESTIMONY. Listen to State Senator Betsy Close's dangerous views about domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a huge problem in the United States. In 1999, Governor Kitzhaber reported that domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in Oregon – and nothing substantive has changed in the years since he made that statement. New legislation is needed that would promote safety, wellness, and wholeness for women, children and families involved in domestic violence and abuse incidents in Oregon.
As an advocate and abuse survivor, I am proposing new laws to empower battered women, rape victims and abused children in Oregon and throughout the USA. In July 2014 I met U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and personally handed him a document summarizing the nearly 20 years of court abuse I have suffered in Oregon State. See Coral Anika Theill’s July 8, 2014 Letter & Document to U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley “Court Sanctioned Domestic Violence and Child Abuse”
In May 2014, my true life story was featured in the Pixel Survivors Story Project to help raise monies for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
As long as individuals, such as Betsy Close, are in office who fail to recognize the severe and far-reaching consequences of domestic violence to our society, women in situations like mine will continue to suffer. Anyone who denies a woman’s (or a child’s) right to be safe, especially when that denial is cloaked in a paternalistic and legalistic religious dogma, contributes to the prevalence of the abuse. Betsy Close is such a person and the wrong choice to represent the people of Benton and Linn Counties.
In October 2014, Barbara A. May, PhD, RN, Professor Emerita of Nursing, Linfield College, Portland, Oregon, shared her views on Betsy Close’s court testimony, “In my opinion, ‘just call 911,’ is a good sound bite and plays well to those looking for a simple answer to a complicated problem. In an ideal world, that might be all that is necessary. It reminds me of the Reagan's "just say no," slogan during the zero tolerance war on drugs program in the 80's. Unfortunately, we are not living in an ideal world and those living in a situation where abuse is occurring are well aware of this. They are smart people who know they need to weigh the pros and cons of taking that step in the context of their situation. Safety for themselves and their children (if there is any), is paramount in the decision-making.
“Depending upon their situation a “911” call may lead to what the victim perceives as an unsafe outcome if, for instance, officers decide to arrest both parties. If there are children, they may be taken by Child Protective Services and foster care. Maybe when officers respond to the call, they harbor their own biases about IPV and no one is arrested, but the victim is now punished further for making the call. Maybe the call results in one or more fatalities. There are many examples as to why calling “911” can be complicated and yield a negative outcome. Anyone looking for simple answers to a complicated problem such as IPV has no grasp of the dynamics involved in this problem.
“Resolving this problem will take a comprehensive effort at macro and micro levels from global collaboration down to individual actions. Then, if all the stars were aligned at all these levels, an individual could indeed trust that making a "911" call would have a positive outcome.” (Dr. Barbara May, my mentor of 17 years, as well as many physicians, counselors and advocates throughout the country describes my Oregon court case as “obscene” and the individuals who were a threat to my safety and survival “toxic.)
The five individuals, Mr. Marty Warner, Pastor Bill Heard, Mr. Brian King, Mrs. Helen Warner and State Senator Betsy Close, that were so adamant about my rights of motherhood being removed from me, were also pro-life and “Right-to-Life” activists and claim to “love Jesus.! I found this ironic and hypocritical! (Betsy Close was a founding member of Options Pregnancy Care Center, a private non-profit group. Marty Warner was a representative for Right to Life)
Betsy Close shared during her sworn testimony that I had called her before the court hearing and told her I wanted to drive to a cabin and kill myself and my baby, Zachary. This was totally untrue! I had not spoken to her for several months.
As I listened to Mrs. Betsy Close on the witness stand, I was horrified at the lies and distortions. I could not understand why she acted so viciously and invented such a twisted story. I loved my baby, Zachary, loved my life and was doing all I could to escape the hell that had been created for me in the past. I was not suicidal. I desired to protect myself and my children. My friends who had been protecting and supporting me the past 8 weeks, felt the same about Mrs. Close’s hostile testimony - she was either delusional and/or committing perjury.
I had lived in hiding for two months prior to the temporary custody hearings of March 1996. I was surrounded by and living with close friends and neighbors who had known me for twenty or more years, including my court reporter friend and “adopted mom,” Addie Archer, from Longview, Washington, Debbie Custis, a former co-worker of my ex-husband who had also been abused by him for years at Hewlett Packard, (Debbie Custis Affidavit Documenting Mr. Marty Warner's Abuse), Debbie Dresler (Debbie Dresler’s letter to custody evaluators), Lynn and Mike Eisler, Therese Vasquez, (my twin daughters godmother), Shirley and Bob Walsh and Karen (Lague) Heintz. They were all aware of the severe abuse I had lived under for nearly twenty years and assisted me in my escape (literally).
One physician involved in my court trials and recovery expressed his feelings about the hostile witnesses and religious supporters of my abuser: "Some people go so low that even the slugs have to salt them."
"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
The indifference and apathy I have experienced from many so-called “spiritually minded” Christian people grieves me to this day. Their response to my trauma and abuse is far removed from the meaning of “Christ-consciousness” that their institutions claim to represent. Instead of vessels of love, compassion and understanding, they became my judges, jury and executioner. They are void of spiritual and emotional intelligence.
Due to affidavits and testimony of witnesses and physicians regarding the rapes and abuse I had suffered for years while I was married and during the period of time (1993-1994) while ill and unable to care for myself, Judge Albin Norblad gave me permission to live in hiding from my husband, Marty Warner, for two months with my three youngest children so I was not subjected to further rapes or abuse in the home while awaiting the court hearings. *(I legally changed my name and have lived under a "state address protection program" from my ex-husband since 1999.)
Although these two months (January – February 1996) were stressful, they were a joyful time. My three younger children were with me, including my nursing infant. I was safe for the first time in twenty years; I was no longer subjected to my husband’s abuse or his Christian cult leaders and friend’s intimidation, bullying and abuse. During this time, I passed numerous psychiatric tests, (Dr. Michael May, Dr. Roger Jacobson, Dr. Charles Kuttner), sought counseling and help for my younger daughters and had the support of all my physicians, counselors, friends and custody evaluators. I also attended many court hearings and was subjected to 45 hours of abusive depositions. *I had no contact with Senator Betsy Close because I knew she was a friend of my ex-husband and would support him personally and in court. They suffered from the same extreme Christian legalistic fundamental ideology.
Mrs. Close was aware of the abuse I suffered for years, including the ritual and emotional abuse, and rapes during the period of my breakdown in 1993-1994. After my 8th child was born in July 1995, I shared with her that I needed help and safety. In the summer of 1995, I remember standing on the porch of Betsy Close’s home after a visit with her. Mrs. Close told me I would have to wait for my husband to commit adultery before I could ever divorce him and seek safety. At that time, Betsy Close proclaimed to be a born again, spirit-filled Pentecostal Christian.
My own trusted physician, Dr. Charles South, Albany, Oregon, knew I would not survive another year of the torture and abuse inflicted by my husband. While he cared for me during my 8th pregnancy he told me to go get an attorney and divorce the "son of a bit-h." (His words). I intuitively knew this way of life would soon kill me. Read “Inside the Mind of an Abuser: What You Need to Know
To prepare for the court hearings, I met with Mr. Jon Benson, an attorney working on my case in Mr. David Gearing’s office. He stated, "Kathy, [Coral] you need a criminal lawyer not a divorce attorney. By legal definition, your husband, (Mr. Marty Warner) could be charged with ten counts of kidnapping.
Escaping an abusive marriage is no easy task for many evangelical women, many of whom have pastors
that say physical and mental abuse is no reason for divorce.
One of my favorite authors, Judith Herman, maintains that the function of domestic violence is to preserve male supremacy. Speaking specifically of sexual violence, she says that "it is a form of terrorism by which men as a group keep women as a group frightened and submissive. . . . Perpetrators understand intuitively that the purpose of their behavior is to put women in our place and that their behavior will be condoned by other men 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."
I have long since overcome those fearful feelings. I escaped and no longer support unhealthy church dogma. I learned new ways of thinking that honors my own wellbeing and promotes a healthy society for all.
The crimes committed against me in 1993-1994 are Rape Count I. Oregon law states: sexually using a women who is physically, mentally incapacitated and helpless is RAPE COUNT I as described in Chapter 743, Oregon Laws, 1971, 163.375. Rape in the first degree is a Class A Felony. Husbands are not exempt from this law.
Betsy and Chris Close did nothing; the courts, attorneys, family members, Pastor Ron Sutter and his church members did nothing.
I reported the crimes of battering, rape, child and sexual abuse to law enforcement agencies, attorneys, judges, the Oregon Attorney General, the Governor and the "Inter-American Commission for Human Rights." My story was also presented to President Barack Obama on Mother’s Day 2010.
"To those who abuse: the sin is yours, the crime is yours, and the shame is yours. To those who protect the perpetrators: blaming the victim only masks the evil within, making you as guilty as those who abuse. Stand up for the innocent or go down with the rest.” – Flora Jessop
There are not always two sides to every story. Our determination to pursue truth by setting up a fight between two sides leads us to assume that every issue has two sides--no more, no less. But if you always assume there must be an 'other side' you may end up scouring the margins of science or the fringes of lunacy to find it. This explains, in part, the bizarre phenomenon of Holocaust denial, among other denials, and that river flows through lots of courtrooms.
During the court hearings in March 1996, my physicians and psychiatrists presented letters and testimony to Judge Albin Norblad regarding my mental and emotional well-being and recommended my three younger children (including my nursing infant) remain in my care. Judge Norblad acknowledge had healed from my severe depression 3 years earlier and stated that he was following the recommendations of my physicians.
Tragically, that is not what happened.
Coral Theill and her newborn infant, Zachary David Warner, Independence, Oregon, July 1995
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....
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 desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.
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.
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. Why I March on Mother’s Day
The survival of the court trauma proved more difficult in some ways than surviving twenty years in this marriage because when I finally found strength to try to get out–the help I had depended upon from the law, the court, etc., all betrayed me. Justice did not come.
I continue to long for healthy interaction with my children and miss them more than words can describe. Spiritually, I understand what has happened. I understand money and power buy justice. I rebuild my balance each day by mediation and by accepting the fact that everything for the moment is exactly as it should be because society has willed it so. I continue to pray for the highest good for all. I believe in imminent possibilities, surprises, miracles and "One Fine Day."
Presently, I have not had contact with my children for 16 years, was sued by my ex-husband, Marty Warner, for twice that I earn as a fully disabled woman, was homeless for three years, living in my car off and on, due my ex-husband legally stalking me, i.e., forty-two court related hearings from 1996-2006. In 2004, my ex-husband, Marty Warner, also appealed a court case to the Oregon State of Appeals, suing me for an additional $50,000 for child support. I had no monies for an attorney and was required to write my own legal brief while I was homeless. The Oregon State of Appeals dismissed my ex-husband’s appeal. Since 1995, attorney and court related fees and expenses have amounted to over $200,000.
My passport was revoked years ago due to a $5,080.00 Child Support Summary Judgment my wealthy ex-husband has against me through the Polk County District Attorney’s Office. In 2003, Judge Paula Brownhill ordered that I could not visit, write, phone or send my children gifts.
Many friends, including Betsy and Chris Close, were aware of my husband's, (Marty Warner) rage and violent behavior towards me because I refused to attend the cults he belonged to and would no longer submit to his abuse. (See Spiritual Abuse)
Tashi (Smith) Gremar, teacher, Astoria, Oregon, testifies about the abuse she witnessed in the Warner home, “I became involved in the Marty Warner/Coral Theill case a few years ago when I was still studying to be a teacher at Western, and was hired to help tutor the Warner children. I became extremely uncomfortable working within the home as I witnessed the level of fear both Coral and the children lived with every day.” Read Tashi (Smith) Gremar's testimony of Mr. Warner’s abuse.
"In my role as an advocate for children, I ask you, how can you give custody of children to an abusive man when you now know what effects that choice will have on those children?" - Jack Stranton, Ph.D., "What is Fair for Children of Abusive Men?"
What I learned through these past few decades is that domestic violence, rape, child abuse and child sexual molestation is socially acceptable in our society and often in many church settings. This needs to change!
The journey of healing is a personal one for each individual and not to be judged. It took me a long time to "find my voice." I am thankful for my journey as my past assists me in my writing, advocacy, and gives me a unique overview of the dynamics of the world around me. My collapse in 1993 was from decades of abuse and cruelty, but mostly because my voice and identity had been stripped away at the age of six. My voice was removed before it could ever "form."
I hope by sharing my story, that other women and men who are trapped in similar situations–(and there are thousands of them), will be able to travel the path I have been forced to take a little more successfully. It is terrible for everybody when the truth does not come out. It is terrible for SOME when it does.
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. I have learned to value the horrifying scars of my childhood and past as valuable raw material for soul work.
I remind those around me to not forget the millions of women, men 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.
Domestic violence is a crime. It is a complex problem with roots in an oppressively hierarchical, patriarchal violence-accepting society.
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.
There are individuals (including State Senator Betsy Close) mentioned in my story who refused to acknowledge the horrors of my survival of marital abuse and my cry for help. They became an obstacle to my basic human rights-freedom and safety. I am holding them responsible and accountable for the continued trauma I have experienced throughout the past several years.
In October 2014 Senator Betsy Close and my ex-husband, Mr. Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon, sued a local new publisher that had featured numerous articles on my life story. The articles were deleted per court order. Several of the articles were cited in national domestic violence and child abuse reports and research papers. The publisher and editor had not responded, filed their court papers or paid the court filing fee. The editor was living out of state. Senator Betsy Close and my abuser and rapist, Marty Warner, won their libel case by “default,” not because the articles or my memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark, were “untrue.” While writing my life story, I spent four years documenting my memoir and reviewing all the court transcripts and tapes.
The news publisher had access to substantial court documentation, affidavits, physician’s and counselor’s testimony and State Senator Betsy Close’s hostile audio court testimony as well as dozens of deposition and court videos and transcripts. No testimony or documentation was presented in court. Again, they lost by “default.”
I am requesting that the acts of disrespect, dishonesty and violence against me be acknowledged and resolved. Family violence is not private matter. "Private Violence Film" - Gloria Steinem
I hope Betsy Close will step down from running for political office and seek the professional and spiritual help she needs. Sadly, Betsy Close exemplifies the saying, “If you can’t be a good example, you will just have to be a horrible warning.”
Betsy Close’s testimony in court is public record. For more information on this topic, you are welcome to review my published memoir, BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark
Copies of my memoir are available in Oregon at the Corvallis, Albany, Salem, Dallas, and Roseburg Public Libraries. Numerous audio court hearing tapes, which include Betsy Close's hostile testimony, and my ex-husband and Judge Albin Norblad laughing about the rapes I suffered, will be included in a documentary on my life story.
Read five star reviews at Amazon.com by Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson, Patricia Evans, Author, “Verbally Abusive Relationships,” and Maureen Hannah, Ph.D., “Chair” Battered Mothers Custody Conference, Albany, NY.
"Wings of Love" Half-Way House - Photo Credits, Debbie Dresler, Portland, Oregon
"During the period of my breakdown/depression in the spring of 1994, my husband, Mr. Marty Warner, and his pastors 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." - Coral Anika Theill, BONSHEÁ: Making Light of the Dark
BONSHEÁ: Making Light of the Dark shares my search for freedom and light in a society based on patriarchal religion and laws. It openly speaks about the ideas and beliefs in our society which foster sexism, racism, the denigration of human rights and the intolerance of difference. My documentation exposes the dark side of human nature when all people are not valued. A healthy society must have the courage to address these issues, speak about them, examine them and bring them to light. Indifference encourages, "silent violence"-the type of violence I experienced in my home, in the community, religious circles and judicial system. Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel states, "The indifference to suffering makes the human inhumane."
"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. A victim's first scream is for help; a victim's second scream is for justice." – Coral Anika Theill
Coral Anika Theill is a survivor of childhood sex trafficking, molestation and abuse, rape, domestic violence, marital rape, spiritual abuse, and nearly twenty years of “legal stalking” and judicial injustice. Before her marriage, she was co-valedictorian of her high school class, completed pilot training and ground school (age 17) and worked as a court reporter and legal secretary. She survived twenty years of domestic violence and now lives under a “state address protection program” from her former husband, Marty Warner of Independence, Oregon. Ms. 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 Making Light of the Dark 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. In 2002 she received a Writer's Award from iUniverse Publishing Co. She is also a contributing writer for Leatherneck Magazine and Short Rations for Marines. Her October 2011 Leatherneck Magazine article, "Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma Associated with PTS & TBI," is cited in the U.S. Army War College "Psychological Health Notes."
Coral Anika Theill
Author, Advocate, Speaker & Reporter
Memoir: BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark
BONSHEÁ - Yaqui Indian – Out of the Darkness into the Light