By Coral Anika Theill Salem-News.com
A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its woman are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors, nor how strong their weapons. - Cheyenne Proverb
Courtesy: Coral Theill
(SALEM, Ore.) - Mothers of Lost Children http://mothers-of-lost-children.com and their supporters are gathering at Lafayette Park, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C., in front of the White House for a silent vigil to protest the grotesque human rights abuses against children by family courts. Sunday marks the first March on Washington for Mothers of Lost Children.
President Barack Obama will be presented a booklet that includes numerous stories of loving mothers who have lost custody of their children in America's courts. My own story is included in this booklet. (1)
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 our children and our right to be a mother.
Seventy-five percent of mothers who seek safety from abuse in America will lose custody and permanent contact with their children, especially if they have reported criminal acts of abuse in their homes.
Experts at the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence estimate that more than 58,000 children each year are either placed into dangerous homes or forced to go on unsupervised visits with their alleged abusers by divorce courts that simultaneously deny the children's safe, protective parents access to their sexually and physically abused children.
Many battered mothers who have lost custody of their children will end up homeless due to the ongoing court abuse they are subjected to in America. I know this to be true, as I was homeless, too, due to my ex-husband, Mr. Marty Warner, legally stalking me in Oregon's courtrooms for the past decade, i.e., forty-two court related hearings related to my divorce since 1996.
Unfortunately, even though being aware of this epidemic, talk show hosts and the general news media refuse to address this topic. The court trauma and abuse continues in my life as well as for thousands of mothers in the United States. I often wonder "Does America hate mothers?" (Exception: See Tim King's numerous news articles on this epidemic at Salem-News.com from 2007 -2010)
Many women grow up in homes in which they were conditioned and groomed to be victims. They marry sociopathic abusers, have children with them, and lose custody and/or contact of their children when they become stronger and break away.
"When woman is brought before our man courts, and our man juries, and has no bruises, or wounds, or marks of violence upon her person to show as a ground of her complaint, it is hard for them to realize that she has a cause of appeal to them for protection: while at the same time her whole physical system may be writhing in agony from spirit wrongs, such as can only be understood by peers." - Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard
Author and advocate, Elizabeth Packard, wrote the above paragraph 132 years ago in her true life story and book The Prisoners Hidden Life or Insane Asylums Revealed (1868). Elizabeth Packard was unjustly incarcerated in an insane asylum in the 1860s, because she didn't hold the same ideology and beliefs as her legalistic, Christian husband.) http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Packard
Elizabeth Packard came out on the other side better than I did, since she was set free from her oppressor by the courts, and retained the support of her children. After reviewing her story, it is my opinion that the courts and religious systems have both regressed over the past 100 plus years.
Nothing, nothing prepared me for the horrors that tens of thousands of women, including myself, experience in America's family court system. http://www.ncadv.org/files/Bonshea.php
"Most batterers know they can bring criminal and contempt charges at no expense to the abusers, but they take an enormous financial and emotional cost on their victims. The result is that many abusive men drag on the litigation and file spurious claims openly acknowledging they are trying to drive their victims onto welfare or into homelessness; half of all homeless women and children in the U.S. are homeless because of domestic violence.
"When courts blame victims and fail to hold abusers accountable, they reinforce abuser behavior, subvert justice, disempower the victims, teach children that abusive behavior is permissible and may even be rewarded, and reinforce the cycle of violence. - Joan Zorza, Esq. Read Joan Zorza's entire article "Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation, Denial and Complexity in the Family Court" http://angelzfury.blogspot.com/.../batterer-manipulation-and-retaliation_14.html
"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
Charles Pragnel, Child/Family advocate writes, "The law in the U.S.A. and its implementation by the Courts represents the will and the wishes of the people of America.
It is important therefore that every American is aware of what is happening in their name.
"Yet, while politicians are rightly condemning human rights abuses in foreign countries, they are blind to or are ignoring the human rights abuses of America’s children which are occurring daily in the Family Courts of America.
"These abuses of the Rights of children are their rights to be protected from abuse and exploitation and their right to have their views taken into account and given considerable weighting, when decisions are being taken regarding their future lives."
Mothers of Missing Children
I lost custody of my eight children, including my nursing infant, 14 years ago, per a court order signed by Judge Albin Norblad, http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S48522.htm on March 10, 1996, in Polk County, Dallas, Oregon. (See http://bonshea.com)
William Styron, in his book, Sophie's Choice, expresses some of my spiritual and emotional feelings concerning the loss of my children. He writes, "What Sophie is forced to do is not a choice at all, but is instead a torture without rational foundation, and her experience permanently and irrevocably erodes her sanity and her ability to continue living."
A few summers ago, I watched the news of two missing boys http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=2358844n who were found and returned to their families. My heart was filled with gladness for the parents. I wept while watching their reunion as I know and understand the anguish of losing a child. I thought about the "missing children in my life." I have not had visitation privileges in 12 years or the right to send them gifts or correspond with them. I know where they are and who they live with, but there are no search and rescue teams, police, sheriffs, FBI or other state, government agencies, church groups who care to assist the parent and child in reuniting.
Society accepted the circumstances that I and thousands of mothers have been forced to survive as “normal." Some of those who have deep legalistic religious persuasion http://www.bridgeportcommunitychapel.com 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, Mr. Marty Warner.
One attorney informed me I would need one million dollars for attorney fees in order to ever have contact with my children again. For the right to love and see my children, monies would be needed for legal fees due to my ex husband's legal stalking and ongoing battles in court.
I realize I live in a very sick and twisted society and it hurts.
I find it ironic that America is involved in two wars in the Middle East, and insists that they are improving the women's lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the hearts of tens of thousands of America's mothers are laying on the ground.
Children are Sacred Beings - Not Pawns to be Abused by Family Courts
By the time my children are young adults, the intense brainwashing and proselytizing that they have been subjected to has left its mark. They do not want anything to do with me, the one who sought safety for them years ago. I do not blame them for their feelings of indifference toward me. Many children who live with their abusers suffer from Stockholm Syndrome http://web2.airmail.net/ktrig246/out_of_cave/sss.html. Except for my older son, Aaron, I do not hear from any of my older children on Mother's Day or any other time of the year.
Their pastors and school teachers have, unfortunately, encouraged their hatred and intolerance of me. (Please listen to my mantra by Holly Near, I'm Not Afraid http://hollynear.com/media/mp3s/i.ain't.afraid.mp3
The price for my own safety and freedom 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.
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 the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control.
Dr. Clarissa Estes writes, 'A culture that requires harm to one's soul in order to follow the culture's proscriptions is a very sick culture indeed.' I think this is true. By obeying the Order of the Court, I betrayed my soul, my children and myself. I was forced to make a choice that no mother should ever be forced to make.
The last few years, I have found some comfort connecting with support groups i.e, Mothers of Lost Children http://mothers-of-lost-children.com ," Dr. Maureen Hannah, Chair for the Battered Mother's Custody Conference, http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/, Claudine Dombrowski,http://www.angelfury.org/, Stop Family Violence, http:stopfamilyviolence.org, and Liz Argate, Esq., http://thelizlibrary.org.
There are numerous excellent sites that promote healing, enlightenment and awareness of abuse and exploitation. One of my favorites sites is Sanctuary for the Abused http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.com/ The internet is connecting many mothers who have been battered and abused in America's family court system. Their voices are strong and loud.
Unless we speak out against the injustices in our society, we become accomplices to the individuals and institutions that are an obstacle to women and children's wholeness, safety and wellness.
Our judicial system is a product of the community we live in. The courts represent the prevalent views regarding women and children in our communities. Their judgments are a reflection of the patriarchal religious structure of this country today. The judges are the instruments of the local community "seizing the moment of power" that has been given to them. Although many people were appalled and shocked by the removal of my nursing baby per Court Order, the community stood by, watched and did nothing.
I hope and pray President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden will not only listen to us, but that they will hear us and take action.
"Sentinent without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey
A judge's signature on a white sheet of paper can be a shattering experience for an individual. I believe judges in America will continue to use their absolute power until people wake up from their "huddled fear." When society responds from a higher state of consciousness spiritually and emotionally, they will desire a justice system that uses emotional and intuitive energy.
Until then, our judicial system is best described by the slogan, "America - where the criminal is protected and the victim harassed."
(1) Battered Mothers Take Custody Battles to White House
Upon completion of writing this article, I received a beautiful Mother's Day gift in the mail. Dr. Mo Therese Hannah sent me her newly published book she co-authored with Barry Goldstein, J.D., Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody: Legal Strategies and Policy Issues, published by Civic Research Institute, Inc., Kingston, New Jersey, Copyright 2010, ISBN 1-887554-76-9
“This comprehensive book is a gift to the cause of justice not only for victimized women and children but for anyone who cares about the integrity of law itself. The American legal system has for too long facilitated the very violence it purports to forbid, often allowing abusive men to use the courts to punish women and children who speak out against child sexual abuse and domestic violence. Mo Hannah and Barry Goldstein have created a desperately needed manual that will empower generations of victims to fight back.
My favorite section is the one that reminds us of the obvious: 'Therapy is Not the Answer' to violence. The stories of injustice in this book will shock you, and make you cry--but keep reading. Abusers are hoping you won't pay attention because it will be too painful. Prove them wrong by reading this book again and again and again--and share it with everyone who needs to know the truth.” - Wendy Murphy, JD, New England Law-Boston; author of And Justice For Some
I met Dr. Mo Therese Hannah, my friend and fellow supporter, through the publication of Tim King's Mother's Day article on my life story, May 12, 2007. Please read Dr. Hannah's review of BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark at http://amazon.com
Woman, Church and State: A Historical Account of the Status of Woman Through the Christian Ages with Reminiscences of the Matriarchate by Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1893, reprinted by Arno Press Inc, 1972
"The scope, breadth, depth, and powerful, no-holdsbarred writing style make Woman, Church, and State my favorite book of all that I have reviewed. It has taken academia, and only the most radical, feminist pockets of academia at that, 100 years to catch up with Gage. If this work was published today, it would be considered radical. As I read this work, I laughed, I cried, and I grew angry.
You cannot walk away from this work without having strong emotions - whether positive or negative, for good or bad, is for you to say. Many of the ideas that it contains are I at first considered too radical. But, often, after some reflection, I had to admit that she spoke the truth.
I urge everyone to read Gage's Woman, Church, and State in its entirety. http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/gage/mjg.html
"Peace is Loud" - Pray the Devil Back to Hell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxEvsj80fsE.
(1) NEWS ARTICLES at Salem-News.com on Coral Anika Theill's life and published book, BONSHEA.
May 10, 2009: Oregon Should Consider Coral Theill on Mother's Day - Tim King Salem-News.com Feb. 26, 2010: "The Gift of Healing is Our Birthright - What an Advocate Looks Like" - Coral Anika Theill Special to Salem-News.com
Coral Anika Theill, advocate and survivor is author of "BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark." Her book and articles have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines/soldiers recovering from PTSD.
Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, attorneys, professors and authors. Coral Theill believes a great deal of information exists for survivors. See: 'The Gift of Healing is Our Birthright - What an Advocate Looks Like' - Coral Anika Theill for Salem-News.com.
Coral Anika Theill’s published book, BONSHEA, has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College. BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark by Coral Anika Theill can be ordered at: iuniverse.com, barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com. Read 12 five star reviews at:barnesandnoble.com See published book website: http://bonshea.com Email Coral Theill at: email@example.com
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