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Pre-2008 Posts

Mary Winkler Was Sexually, Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually Abused by Pastor Husband

Mary Winkler, the woman who shot her pastor husband a few months ago and then turned herself in, had been battered and abused by him in every conceivable way, her family and friends say.  She increasingly showed up with bruises which makeup did not conceal.  He kept her from her family.  She didn’t tell when they asked her what was going on.  She didn’t tell anybody right away and hasn’t yet, really.  Her family is speaking up.





92 thoughts on “Mary Winkler Was Sexually, Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually Abused by Pastor Husband

  1. Yeah, but we knew that, didn’t we? Sadly, she’s going to have to have a WHOLE pile of corroborating evidence and unless she gets witnesses in there who aren’t just “friends and family” I don’t know what will happen to her. If she doesn’t have police records, hospital records, which many, many abused women do not, as they are terrorized into not reporting their injuries, it will be her word against the dead man who can’t speak.

    I wish her the best. I truly hope she is aquitted.

    Posted by Ginny | November 21, 2006, 12:49 am
  2. I am not surprised she didn’t ‘speak up’. As her husband/abuser was a ‘respected member of the community’, it is doubtful that anyone would have believed her.

    Posted by stormcloud | November 21, 2006, 1:44 pm
  3. Ginny, in that article I linked to, there are references to some sort of evidence or police reports relating to the way Mary Winkler was sexually abused– lawyers, I think it was, saying it was going to have to come out. Who knows what he did to her. I just hope enough people saw and enough of a record was created. Stormcloud, so true– not to mention, if she told anybody, he’d have hurt her more, and again. And also not to mention the way these guys mess with women’s heads. I have no doubt that she blamed herself at least in part– if she only would have done XYZ, if she wouldn’t have done XYZ, then he wouldn’t have had to abuse her.


    Posted by womensspace | November 21, 2006, 2:18 pm
  4. The children being with his parents must hurt. Who knows what those poor kids are hearing about their mom. Does anyone know about her legal defense fund? Is anyone helping out?

    Posted by peonista | November 21, 2006, 3:32 pm
  5. When I was in the mental health system yea these many years ago, I was *outrageously* lied about by respected male mental health professionals, while I told the truth. They were believed, not me. Though they were respected, I could see them clearly for what they were, and it was always amazing to me that others could not.

    I wish I could write and argue as well as you can, Heart. If I could, I would lay them out the way you have laid out “full quiver” families and the religious right.

    Posted by Branjor | November 21, 2006, 4:11 pm
  6. Yeah, I noticed that. It said something about the state had evidence of sexual abuse, and it’s the state that’s prosecuting, so that was a glimmer of hope.

    Yeah, the scene her father reported between them, where he straight up confronts her and says she’s looking like a battered woman and she denies it, is excruciatingly typical. I did the same. People asked me about black eyes and bruises and I denied any abuse until I got out. Then the whole story spilled. I think “Battered Women’s Syndrome” is understood these days, at least I hope so. Besides, who knows what he threatened, could have threatened harm to the kids if she said anything. Mostly, though, women who are battered are shamed into silence. The whole atmosphere an abuser creates is so crazymaking, so dissociated from normal, that a woman often isn’t able to distinguish whether the abuse is something that is abberrant or if this is who he is, or if there’s something she needs to do differently to create the peace in her home that she craves and sometimes or even often has. The split personality of her batterer confuses her and she loves him as well. All of that combined with religious doctrine of submission of wives, the whole pastor’s wife persona, isolation from supportive members of her family and the conservative Christian suspicion or outright rejection of psychology and feminism leaves a woman like this completely at the mercy of the abuser and the church that supports him.

    Posted by Ginny | November 21, 2006, 5:19 pm
  7. I am delighted her family is speaking out. Too many women haven’t found their “empowerment” yet and suffer in silence. Having been abused verbally and physically, I know I wanted to believe it was “a mistake – an accident,( I was told.)” BS. I finally realized I was being suckered and tossed the guy out – put a shotgun by the backdoor – and told him I would use it. (I meant it too). Subsequently I took marshal arts and self defense for women, and I target practice with various weapons frequently. I also carry a pepper spray that paints an attacker red. That way that person can be found! It won’t be me bleeding and hurt the next time someone thinks it will. For all the young women suffering in silence – SPEAK UP – there is help if you seek it.

    Posted by Marsha J. O'Brien | November 21, 2006, 10:07 pm
  8. I agree with Peonista, it is heartbreaking that her daughters can’t be with her. Why? I hope they can be reunited.

    Ginny I agree with everything you say though I question whether there really is a Battered Women’s Syndrome. It makes it sound like battered women are irrational, when the more closely you look at it, there are reasons for what they do.

    Posted by saltyC | November 21, 2006, 11:13 pm
  9. Heart:
    “..if she told anybody, he’d have hurt her more, and again. And also not to mention the way these guys mess with women’s heads. I have no doubt that she blamed herself at least in part..”

    I think we are both in agreement of the abuser’s possible retribution (it’s DV-101). The self blame (which happens with a lot of DV victims) is probably more so for a pastor’s wife, there is the whole ‘community image’ thing to maintain/uphold. Ginny touched on these points as well.

    SaltyC, yes, it is ‘dangerous’ to use BWS, because it can easily backfire as a defence, primarily it gets associated as a type of mental illness (and the mentally ill aren’t relied upon at their word, see Amananta’s post) and also it backhandedly paints women as helpless, passive, victims. We know that women in these situations are usually far from passive, employ various survival and minimalisation strategies, but are essentially trapped (held hostage to a large degree) in the abusive relationship. This is the element that the legal system (and society) needs to focus on, the inability to leave because of the threat of far worse violence.

    Abusers are no pussycats, they are lying, manipulative, frequently physically violent, frequently far physically stronger/heavier, scumbags. Women are smart enough to know that if they tell, or try to leave, there WILL be a price to pay.

    Further reading on BWS:

    Posted by stormcloud | November 22, 2006, 2:03 pm
  10. Thank you for the link, very interesting.

    One problem I have with saying Ms Winkler for instance had BWS, is the assumption that killing him was irrational.

    Well if we are to take Andrea Dworkin’s call to action seriously, it would mean that women are permitted to use violence as a means of escape.

    Of course I hate violence in all its forms and always look for another way, mainly because for women it’s a losing game; like challenging Bobby Fisher to a chess match.

    But what’s really wrong with violence is that 99.9% of its occurence is to enforce domination by the strong against the weak.

    Ms Winkler wasn’t trying to coerce her husband to do anything. She only wanted to be free of his abuse.

    If people can be persuaded that acts like these are rational and justified, then it is a much stronger defense than a variation on the insanity plea.

    Posted by saltyC | November 22, 2006, 4:15 pm
  11. “I wish I could write and argue as well as you can, Heart. If I could, I would lay them out the way you have laid out “full quiver” families and the religious right.”

    Branjor, you were one of the posters who I really liked reading on the Ms Boards (I was Quine there), I always thought you wrote very well and made good arguments. I hope you do write about what you want to.

    “It makes it sound like battered women are irrational, when the more closely you look at it, there are reasons for what they do.”

    I agree, Salty. It’s self-defence and it’s pretty rational. Going back to the OJ case, Nicole did all the right things: she left him, she called the police on him, but she had no protection. If she’d killed him though she’d be sitting in prison right now.

    Reading this story makes me think that so many women and children live in little prisons, or maybe little Abu Ghraibs, considering that torture is involved.

    Posted by delphyne | November 22, 2006, 4:30 pm
  12. Re: “Battered Women’s Syndrome”

    Coined by Lenore Walker back in 1979, it has become shorthand, really, to sum up the sometimes contradictory things a woman may do while attempting to live with her sanity intact in a situation that is destroying her sanity.

    I don’t like the term myself, but it has proved useful in court. It is permitted as evidence by expert witnesses in 31 states. BWS is understood as a subgroup of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Here’s what I think: living in a home in which one is terrorized on a daily basis, overtly or covertly, creates such cognitive dissonance in one’s mind that it can severely disrupt one’s normal cognitive processes. Temporarily. The conspiring of the legal system with the abuser and against the victim also creates stress and trauma which adds to the victim’s hypervigilant state. These responses DO make sense given the conditions these women are living under, but they are not representative of the woman’s normal state of mind. That is, once living apart from the abuse, she kind of “comes out of” that fog and is able to utilize more of her mind functions rather than those that come to the fore in crisis. A woman in an abusive environment lives perpetually in “crisis mode.” The effect is similar to living in a war zone, all the time, for years on end. The chemicals that are released in one’s brain under such conditions do alter one’s consciousness — the adrenaline, the cortizol, the “fight or flight” responses that are natural defense mechanisms to life-threatening trauma are released on a constant basis in battered women while they are living in the abusive environment. Likewise, these same chemicals are washing through the brains of her children as they witness the violence and are subject to the heightened tension and anxiety in their environment. This is damaging and we don’t yet know how long term the damage is.

    What is seen in BWS as “not rational” is the victim’s belief that she is responsible for the violence, that the abuser is omniscient/omnipresent, that she holds sole responsibility for creating peace in the home, and that she has no other option but to end the life of her abuser. These “irrational” beliefs are based upon systematic, abusive mind control by the abuser, backed up by societal expectations and patriarchal conditioning and assumptions.

    What we’ve learned since the emergence of battered women’s shelters and community alternatives for battered women is that while the incidence of homocide of women by their male partners has remained the same or increased, the incidence of homocide of men by their female partners has decreased. Basically, shelters and services to battered women have saved more men’s lives than women’s because they offer a woman in that situation a nonviolent alternative. Since we know that most battered women who kill their attackers wind up in prison with longer sentences than their male counterparts, the primary benefit to these solutions is to keep women safe, get them out of the violence, and keep them out of jail.

    Battered Women’s Syndrome answers the questions, “Why did she stay?” and “Why didn’t she tell anyone?” to the satisfaction of the patriarchal courts that would rather assume the woman was a perfectly free agent to respond to the tyranny with as much legal protection as a man would have under similar circumstances. We’re not. The cards are stacked against us all the way from the way marriage is set up in this country, to the bias against women from law enforcement, all the way up to the courts.

    It just doesn’t fly to go into court and say, “Patriarchy makes madwomen of us all.” or “Killing him was a sane response to an insane condition brought about by male domination and patriarchal oppression.” Would that were sufficient.

    Posted by Ginny | November 22, 2006, 5:46 pm
  13. Delpyne (& SaltyC) I agree that these actions are wholly rational under the circumstances, syndrome or no syndrome. Killing the abuser is sometimes the only safe way to escape, it’s kill or be killed. Many women do know (rather than think or imagine) how far the abuser will go.

    Unfortunately, some women have to make a pre-emptive strike, catch him unawares, and this is where the self defence laws cannot be used for women in this situation.

    Ginny, I agree about the long term effects of the stressful (hostage type) situation. Although I disagree that ‘living apart’ the woman then returns to her normal state – she has to be out of danger. Many, if not most, women continue to suffer harassment post separation, and it can be a more dangerous time for her. It also depends on how long and how severe the abuse has been, because full recovery could actually take years.

    Interesting that your figures show that shelters have saved the lives of more men than women, it seems to make sense. Perhaps if we publicise this fact we can get men to donate to more shelters???

    Posted by stormcloud | November 23, 2006, 2:02 am
  14. Yeah, it is very hard to kill in the strictest self-defense definition required by the courts. There was a woman who killed her rapist after he had finished raping her and was escaping out a window. She was convicted of murder.

    And it’s not like in the movies: pointing a gun or even having a gun won’t stop someone who’s bigger than you, they’ll just wrestle the gun out of your hands. There was a ridiculous scene in “Sleeping with the Enemy” where Julia Roberts has time to lecture her husband at the point of a gun for a minute before firing and killing him. In real life, if you’re gonna point a gun, you better fire right away or they’ll take your gun away.

    If you have to kill someone always, always say he was about to kill you and there was no choice and if you didn’t you’d be dead, and stick to it. That’s the only way to not have your life thrown away in jail.

    Posted by saltyC | November 23, 2006, 8:33 pm
  15. I completely agree, stormcloud, that the long term effects of trauma caused by abuse is something we’ve only begun to really understand. I, myself, continue to suffer from PTSD even though I have been away from the abuser for almost twenty years. That is due, in part, as you said, to continuing harassment and abuse by him until our son turned eighteen five years ago. I lived for years, after the divorce, looking over my shoulder and enduring death threats and threats against my other children as well.

    I’m not sure if there is any such thing as “full recovery” from being battered and abused for years. It changes you on a very essential level. You can never go back to that person you were before. You just go forward and continue to do your best to reclaim yourself.

    What I meant when I said that a woman will “come out of that fog” after separating from her abuser is just that. The realizations that come fast and furious are both releasing and devastating. She realizes that no, she could not have done anything to control or stop the abuse, that she was not to blame (that’s a hard one and can take years), that she did her best under the situation, etc. For years a battered woman has clung to the hope that she would find that magic combination of words, actions, patterns, or way of thinking that will make things work out between her and her abuser. It is a hard thing to face when one has invested everything she has into someone and something to finally give it up, let go of that hope, and realize she has no choice but to end it.

    In Christian marriages this is compounded by all the doctrinal unlearning and relearning she has to do. She must reconcile her spiritual beliefs to her experience, often standing alone against a community of Christians, friends, family, elders, who continue to try and keep her imprisoned by condemning her, urging her to keep submitting, don’t divorce, don’t give up, keep trying because that’s what God wants her to do. Her getting free often involves a spiritual crisis in which she must reevaluate everything she once held true and solid and sacred.

    That’s what I was referring to. Coming out of the fog does not mean she is ok. It simply means she has begun thinking in ways she hadn’t been while in the seige mentality necessary for survival on a day to day basis while living with the batterer.

    So as for long term damage, yeah, I hear you. I know it. I get so many letters from women who question why, years down the road, they are still struggling with the aftershocks. We all would like to believe that the damage is situational and everything is ok if we’re safe. But it’s not. That kind of damage goes way deep. After years of having to be in survival mode, I believe neural pathways are etched deep. We can’t just “return to normal” whatever that is anyway, we are forever changed.

    Posted by Ginny | November 24, 2006, 5:05 am
  16. Ginny, now that you put ‘coming out of the fog’ as the BEGINNING of the steps of recovery, I do agree. Because it is a long way back. My own situation wasn’t ‘that long’, nor was it particularly physically violent (although a couple of near-deaths), it was after the separation that it really kicked off big time (him hell-bent on trying to kill me). Trying to stay in the land of the living for around 12 months, really takes its toll. Compounded by the fact the police and the law were almost ZERO help. Even now, I consider myself recovered, but I’m still not back to my old self, that’s for sure.

    SaltyC, yeah, agree with you there, if you have that gun, use it – don’t chat about the weather. I thought that movie was crap too.

    As I said, my worst time was after separation, living in fear that either he, or someone he sent, would break in and rape and murder me (his words at one point were to the effect of “not just kill you, but REALLY make you suffer”). I had myself psyched up to kill anyone who broke in, and also thought about ‘evidence’ to prove it was a deathly struggle and that I had no choice. I still have weapons by the bed.

    No, I wasn’t imagining things, he sent around three (drunken) blokes one weekend who tried to force their way into the house, I had a lucky escape and managed to push the guy back out the door (because he had to step up into the house, he was only on one foot) and slam the door. Now, I never open the door to anyone I don’t know. How did I know that it was deliberate and not opportunistic? My neighbour the following weekend said she heard them say “is this the right house?”, so not a random act, confirmed what I had suspected.

    Although, I must admit, when one is in the thick of it, it seems like something out of a movie, and the cops just think you are being melodramatic.

    I’m ‘recovered’, but I still NEVER stop looking over my shoulder.

    Posted by stormcloud | November 24, 2006, 9:03 pm
  17. ***Branjor, you were one of the posters who I really liked reading on the Ms Boards (I was Quine there), I always thought you wrote very well and made good arguments. I hope you do write about what you want to.***

    Hey, Quine, thanks! I am glad you liked reading me and that I managed to make some good arguments on the Ms board. I might have seemed bold but the Ms board actually scared me when I was attacked on it, even from behind my computer. At times like that, I was glad merely that I could still remember the English language!

    Posted by Branjor | November 28, 2006, 2:56 am
  18. Quine, I meant to add: I really liked reading you too!

    Posted by Branjor | November 28, 2006, 3:00 am
  19. Rather than labeling it Battered Women’s Syndrome, I wish the law would just recognize it as a particular case of self defense. The way the law is formulated now, it is very male-centered in the way it defines self-defense. It is mostly covering situations where men are pointing guns at each other. But it does not cover situations that battered women experience. Just because the batterer uses a slow, torturous and long-drawn out procedure to threaten a woman’s life doesn’t mean that her life is not threatened. Why are only immediate threats recognized as being life-threatening, not long term threats that build up over time? Because it is mostly women who are subject to the latter.

    Posted by Kali | November 28, 2006, 3:24 pm
  20. The minute I heard about that shooting I figured that’s what it was. Honestly – it’s one of the only reasons women ever kill.

    Posted by Amananta | November 28, 2006, 7:53 pm
  21. The comments here are very constructive, and very true to what goes on in a relationship where the woman is battered. I was in such a relationship. I was married to the preacher for 30 years. You are confused because you don’t know what is wrong! You think it is you, and not the abuser. You blame yourself, and try to make peace, and on and on it goes. The physical abuse on top of the mental abuse on top of the perfect image you have before the church and the community where you live. Is it any wonder that the woman finally explodes. I know — I was about to explode, but finally got the courage after 30 years, and the realization that he wouldn’t change — to walk out and not look back. That was seven years ago, and I am still scarred by the years of abuse.

    Posted by bettyjstarr | December 12, 2006, 1:04 am
  22. Bettyjstarr, you did the right thing. You’ll become stronger with each year that passes. Everything that has been shared here is a testament to our inner strength once we initiate a step forward. I was not married to a preacher but I was married for 11 years to a person who came from a fundamentalist Christian background and was verbally abusive. I finally left the situation and I had four little girls to take care of. I came from a loving Christian background and I know God led me out of that marriage but my ex’s family blamed me for the entire matter. It was like a brainwashing and it does mess with your head because you begin wondering if there is something wrong with you. My ex in-laws put me through hell because their son could do no wrong in their eyes and their church. Anyway, shortly after my divorce I got into martial arts and it is the best thing I ever did for myself. It made me stronger and more confident.

    My heart goes out to Mary Winkler. Bless her heart. I hope she is reunited with her children soon. She should at least be granted visitation with them. She loves her children and I believe she is still a good mother.


    Posted by Solo-martialarts kid | December 15, 2006, 3:45 am
  23. Today as I watch & hear news of the 2 boys rescued from the abuse/kidnapping,I am thrilled a miracle happened. It also crossed my mind that these young boys might become abusers of some sort from what they received….but as I searched my mail grief and heatache of “preachers that verbally & mentally abuse their wife”,I was lead to this site.
    Yes I am a baptist preacher’s wife of 31 years. I only wish no other woman or man has to go thru any type abuse poured upon them by the spouse. Why they do this-they are a bully,they think everything they do is justified by the scripture-taking it out of context,twisting 99% of every little liberty a wife/woman has to try.once again to turn her into an obeying dog-or anyhing that breathes to be fearful of them.
    The only peaceful relief I have is that my hubby is an evangelist & travels often.Thank God for the relief I get every other week.
    I am not hit physically (at least not in past 15 yrs & do carry a scar to this day on my mouth from his fist).

    I gave up a career w/degree to raise our son’s. Then as hubby got down to giving me $25 for a weeks need’s of 2 son’s while he was away, I started working again,against his will.I had my biz at home to continue raise the boys & gave my focus in life to them being raised normal & having a fun life. While they were young 5 & 6 year olds-hubby removed & destroyed our tv’s, my radio’s my music records & tapes, cut up my sloppy long culottes,kept wire taps on our phones which I found & thought nothing about it at 1st,because I was certainly not having an affair after the hell I was in w/this man. I pretty much feel this way today.Never will marriage be a necissity for me…and after 10 yrs of myself working & making $$,in the mail arrives my license to be renewed & he destroys it & I was unknowing of this. At this date I cannot renew them simply because it cost too much-and he still hands me small amounts of money when he leaves on a trip-last week he was gone for 5 days-I was left $20 on my foyer table.

    My spouse is in his mid 60’s,me mid 50’s.He has been a controller since we married in 1969. If I had not been so young, I would have gotten out then. It is nothing but drama & trauma here day in & day out. I won’t even go to church with him anymore because he uses his cruel mind to talk about me to the pastor & his “circle” of friends, portraying me as a heathen because I will not be the hypocrite he is. I have to question why our God lets him go on & on with his underhanded character & actions.
    I would get out of this-but where would I go?my mom’s…no. I could but then I’d have someone else to order me around. I am the backbone of my family,do all the yard work, all the maintance inside & out of the home & have rental property to tend to,painting,scrubbing & crawling on roof. Do I get the money, hahaha,maybe over my dead body for burial.
    The bottom line is–I have covered / kept quiet for this bastard for so long, I could never tell the entire story,but could in bits & pieces.

    Our children know all about our life,yet I know he would somehow cause a division between us-he tries daily to make the son’s believe something outrageous about me.
    My wish-that a Baptist organization & every religious denomination had a free counsel source-and they would not be bias toward the “godly preacher”,or the female spouse,but the Baptist will never do that for any of us. As my spouse get older, he gets more abusive & finds every wild reason. For example-last week a phone call came in,was from a motel & the party hung up. Did I know who it was-absolutely not,but have been under suspicion and was drilled as if I did commit murder. I was ordered to call the motel & ask to trace the call-they could not,so in his twisted mind, I was guilty of something to do with this-at 7:30 in the morning & I hadn’t had coffee yet !!!.
    Please do reach out and help anyone you know in an abusive relationship.We need you.

    Too bad I’m not the almighty judge, they’d be burning in hell right now.

    Posted by lynnwb | January 13, 2007, 3:31 pm
  24. Lynn– dear goddess, woman! What you have been through! I have known so so many women like you, too. I have one friend who had six children with a man who alotted her $100 per month for food and $25 for clothes. She did it too– by getting stuff out of dumpsters and canning half-rotten fruit and vegetables and gardening and buying 10 yards for a dollar fabric at Goodwill and sewing all her kids’ clothes.

    But you know– the day came when she left this man’s sorry ass. That day came. She’s on her own now, most of her kids are grown. She has her own house. She works as a secretary at a law school in Seattle, and though it’s hard for her, it’s so much better than with him!

    You deserve so much better, Lynn– you deserve a life, your own place, your own room and bed, your own earnings, freedom from abuse. Let me know how I can help– I will do anything I can. I love to help women get free.

    Lighting a candle for you,


    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2007, 6:09 am
  25. I have lived much the same life – married over 43 years, and i never told anyone about the physical, emotional, mental, sexual abuse i suffered.

    Some women just never tell, but let people think they have a normal, happy marriage.

    But, complaining would bring about more abuse.

    Posted by Geraldine Mahaffey | April 13, 2007, 1:00 pm
  26. So true, Geraldine Mahaffey, and I am so sorry. 😦 There are so, so many women like you. SO MANY. So many never tell. They hope for the best.


    Posted by womensspace | April 13, 2007, 3:04 pm
  27. Hello Geraldine and Lynn

    Yes I’ve seen it, in my own family. And when women stick this hell out for 40, 50 years, hiding and covering, people hold them up as proof of the success of marriage.

    Volunteer to battered women’s shelters, write letters to politicians and charity foundations to support them, so there will be options for more women. If you can, now, tell. Tell. Tell.

    Posted by Pony | April 13, 2007, 4:15 pm
  28. Branjor: “I wish I could write and argue as well as you can, Heart. If I could, I would lay them [the mental health system] out the way you have laid out “full quiver” families and the religious right.”

    I think you write and argue quite well, and that what you could write about this would be important.

    …This thread is excellent… I wish more people in the world at large understood Kali’s point:

    “Just because the batterer uses a slow, torturous and long-drawn out procedure to threaten a woman’s life doesn’t mean that her life is not threatened. Why are only immediate threats recognized as being life-threatening, not long term threats that build up over time? Because it is mostly women who are subject to the latter.”

    Posted by profacero | April 13, 2007, 4:27 pm
  29. Matthew Winkler was a pervert who forced Mary to have anal sex, would not stop when she said it hurt, covered his baby’s nose to stop it from crying –what a jerk!
    The look on his parents face while this was being testified was not of surprise, they look like 2 hypocrites, his mother is a typical SNL church lady. Rot in Hell Matthew– Mary, any jury of decent people will acquit you, you have been thru Hell already.

    Posted by Ron | April 18, 2007, 5:08 am
  30. Mary is a victum and is still being victumized! I am sorry she is going though this I want to just reach out to her and help her and I don’t know how. I am setting here watching her testifiy it is just tearing me up. watching this is just bring back all the memories and the pain from years of the same abuse I had a false smile on my face with all the knock downs I had too. What people don’t know we as the abused do let other people know they just don’t see it or don’t believe it. LOOK at this woman JUST LOOK AT HER with her head down I am sure people seen this from her before this in its self is telling every one that sees her I am asamed I made him hurt me. And that is how we feel like we made the man we love hurt us.A few years ago I would had been Mary Winkler For me it got to either he would kill me or I would kill him I told him so too but he kept the beatings going thank GOD he got locked up that was the only way I was free of him. And winklers mom and dad setting there looking holier than thou I have seen that look on my exhusband’s mothers face too when she thew me out of a moving car.And no one can tell me that they arn’t trying to turn Mary’s girls agaist her they should never had those kids all this time.MARY if you can read this I know your heart and what you are feeling I have been there! My heart gos out to You Mary.They have to STOP VICTIUMIZING MARY!! Mary has been beatin down, her will has been broken,Her girls are taken away from her what dose she have left to take from her. JUST STOP VICTIUMIZING THE VICTIUMS!!!!!!!

    Posted by angel poet | April 18, 2007, 3:56 pm
  31. I am stunned into total silence from what I have just read on this website.
    I feel as if I have been beaten, abused, threatened just by reading what the women here have said. Thankfuly I have never met, as far as I know, a man such as they descirbe. But, as they all say, you never really know what a man is like untl you live with them. I know it is no help to ask why they all stay. Why they have children with them. Why they think it is their fault it is happening at all. I would say my prayers are with them, but at this time I question why God allows this to go on.

    Posted by sheila101947 | April 18, 2007, 5:13 pm
  32. I am happy to read that people understand. My father is an abusive preacher, seen by outsiders as “such a wonderful man,” but known by his family to be belittling, physically and emotionally abusive. What these men do is murder — soul murder.

    Posted by matthew | April 18, 2007, 8:18 pm
  33. May the Angels of Heaven stand behind Mary and protect her now that she’s free of this sadistic man who kept her in captivity. I am lighting a candle for you and keeping you in my thoughts today and every day until you are free, and in honor of my mother who endured decades of private Hell just like Mary, only my mother wore down and died before she could get free. Mary, your agony is a symbol for all of us who have lived a secret life of abuse and didn’t have any support from anybody to escape it. Let us all take courage and offer another woman our helping hand.

    Posted by Avon | April 18, 2007, 8:46 pm

    Posted by SALLY AL | April 18, 2007, 9:37 pm
  35. I had a husband like him. We are no longer married. My tolerance level was higher than Mary’s. I feel sorry for her. She should have divorcecd him. I am sure people will be divided on this, but, I think that because of what he did to her, he pushed her over the edge. Hopefully a jury sees past the shooting and realizes what he did to her caused what happened to him. Stupid man and a minister too.

    Posted by Pam | April 18, 2007, 11:27 pm
  36. I can believe everything she has said. My husband was a pastor, and he did some of the same thingsto me. Oh, how he loved his pornagraphic magazines that he kept hidden, and he also wanted to act out his fantacies. He eventually took up with a young lady in our church and left me, and was thrown out of the church. He hoodwinked his daughter and she went with him. My son recognized the truth and stayed with me. I was belittled and accused of knowing nothing about anything in front of the children.

    I hope the judge and the jury can see the truth in her story, as well as understand that she came to a breaking point. She just could not take the abuse and being told she was not good enough. Poor Mary. Won’t someone really see what it is to be broken in little tiny pieces by the man you thought would love you forever.

    Posted by Sharon | April 19, 2007, 12:44 am
  37. Sometimes, this is the only escape that some women have. In this case, her preacher husband would never have let her go and would not have let her keep the children. People like this guy never let go.
    I was in a relationship that was sort of like this one but I was able to stand up for myself and keep some of the stuff from happening. My ex watched porn and did some of the things this poor lady went through. It just about drove me crazy. The only was I was able to cope for 20 years, was that he traveled a lot. When he started staying home more often, I couldn’t deal with it any more. My story is long and complicated and isn’t over yet even though we are divorced. He lives in another state but still owes me money from our settlement agreement. He is still trying to control me. If my life had been as bad as Mary’s, I might have done the same thing. I feel so, so sorry for her. She will need counseling for the rest of her life. I will be praying for her and the family.

    Posted by Linda | April 19, 2007, 12:44 am
  38. The guy just doesn’t jump out from behind a door with a devil costume on. It is not that clear. It is a slow insidious process of abuse. I tried to tell my mother in law for years and finally figured out that she was part of the problem. She created a cruel sadistic narcissist. The things he did were beyond belief. I was terrorized and my emotions shattered. I wasn’t able to sleep at night. He hid things and accused me of losing them. He would ask me to cash a check and then take the money from my purse. Then he blamed me for spending too much. He told the children I was an idiot and a moron. He told me that noone would believe that he did these things. He said noone really knew him. He humiliated me in public. I became a wreck. I couldn’t think my way out of a paper bag. After the birth of my last child I had post-partum depression. My doctor helped me to see the reality of what was happening to me. It is like being under murky water and you cannot see the light at the top. It should be a criminal offense for anyone to be treated in such an abusive manner. Women do not chose to stay. They lose the ability to leave. My thoughts are with every woman and child who endures such sadness.

    Posted by linda | April 19, 2007, 12:50 am
  39. She should have divorcecd him.

    It is not always easy for a woman to escape an abuser — and this one in particular was abusive to others as well, so quite dangerous.

    A woman is twice as likely to be murdered when she is leaving or has left her abuser. Saying that ‘she should have divorced him’ grossly underestimates the danger she may have been in. Pam you seem to show little understanding of DV generally other than your own situation. I also am quite disgusted that you said “My tolerance level was higher than Mary’s”. How the hell can you know that the abuse you suffered was the same, or worse? There is no way. Those two comments you have made usually come from people who are completely clueless about DV.

    Posted by stormy | April 19, 2007, 1:38 am
  40. This poor woman was victimized by a radical overbearing religion. I truely feel HIS parents should be investigated , he learned it from somewhere. These zelots always have something behind closed doors.

    Hopefully she will be set free……

    Posted by Mark | April 19, 2007, 1:48 am
  41. Perhaps women should have their tolerance levels checked before they marry.

    Posted by Pony | April 19, 2007, 2:01 am
  42. There is no way anyone can relate to Mary unless they have lived in a similar situation. These men are sociopaths and narcissits. For whatever reason they truly believe they can treat their wives or significant others in such a way that being abusive physically, emothionally or both is acceptable and ok. When in actuallity, it is insane. In thier warped mind because what they have been taught, Yes, I believe by their parents, that this behavior is acceptable. How warped is that? These parents need to stop hiding their own issues and start helping their children. The ones who hurt in the end are the ex-spouses and grandchildren. There may never be enough therapy. Stay strong Mary. Your children will some day see the truth.

    Posted by erin | April 19, 2007, 5:29 am
  43. HUMmmmm WHY WOMEN DON”T LEAVE I’LL TELL YOU SOME REASONS only from my own experances, Frist off you are shocked the one you love with all your heart just hit you for the frist time and he promises never to do it again you beleive him( over and over again) Then he tears you down little by little you don’t even know when he is doing it until you feel not worth any thing, He keeps you from your family because he knows its one way to control you So now you are alone (you have no one to tell) He don’t let you have real friends its always his friends and most of the time they are just the same as he is so you have no help there, He wiil say he will kill your family ( and your childern) if you tell and it will be all your fault you made him do it with your mouth. He will tell you until you believe it that no one will believe you if you tell any one he tells you he can make them beleive him not you. To make it short you are now a prisioner and you feel like on too you have no commution with no one out side of his family or out side of your own house, You can’t even go to the bathroom with out him saying you can, You eat only after he eats if theres any thing left to eat most of the time you don’t eat for days maybe even weeks.You are not alowed to even look at him unless you want to be beaten, You set there waiting for his next out burst your gut is tight and you are on gard at all times you wounder if some thing you are going to do will cause him to jump up and knock you though the wall. You stay in fear 24/7 As of right now my as I call him my exhusband but he isn’t can find me and finish what he started the last time I seen him he pointed a loaded rifel to my breast and said he was going to kill me. I lost all I had to get away from him I lost my childern, My grandchildern, and a house and ground and my job I had before him. I have my freedom and my life, only thing I need now is a divorce but I don’t have the money and thats why I haven’t divorced my abuser, But I am not scared of him any more. I tell people I am a SURVIVOR I am a PHOENIX that has risen from the ashes of my past.

    Posted by angel poet | April 19, 2007, 1:56 pm
  44. I hope this gives any one will the wonding why the answers.

    Posted by angel poet | April 19, 2007, 2:03 pm
  45. As of right now my as I call him my exhusband but he isn’t can find me and finish what he started the last time I seen him he pointed a loaded rifel to my breast and said he was going to kill me. I lost all I had to get away from him I lost my childern, My grandchildern, and a house and ground and my job I had before him. I have my freedom and my life, only thing I need now is a divorce but I don’t have the money and thats why I haven’t divorced my abuser, But I am not scared of him any more. I tell people I am a SURVIVOR I am a PHOENIX that has risen from the ashes of my past.

    Rock on, angel poet! Thank you for what you have written here. I am in awe of your strength and courage in getting out and getting free, even though your all-too-familiar story brings me to tears, dear God. I wish you strength and peace and continuing courage in building a new and better life for yourself.

    In deep respect,


    Posted by womensspace | April 19, 2007, 3:30 pm
  46. I think it is down right pathetic how people say that they are preaching the word of God..yet behind doors they are the oppostie of who they say they are.They think that just being a christian on Sunday is enough! Matthew Winkler put her through so much abuse physically and emotionally….my mother went through all of that with her ex-husband…there were many times the thought crossed her mind to do what she felt like was her only escape…which was what Mary Winkler did.Physical abuse eventually goes away..emotional stays with you FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!! Mary didn’t plan this..she was just tryin to protect her girls and do what was best…whether it was what was right or not doesn’t really matter….because she can now rest at night in jail or not knowing that her girls are safe and not living with the abusive,no-good Matthew Winkler. Mary just wanted a normal she guilty for that? she did not ask for the life she got! And for everybody out there who thinks she is guilty..put yourself in her position!-being sexually,emotionally,and physically tormented for years,and picture Matthew covering up you daughter or son’s mouth and nose just to stop them from crying so he can sleep! You think about that. What would you have done? Because I can guarentee you that you would do the exact same thing that she did! Matthew is a liar to God,an abuser to Mary and her kids,and a disgrace to all!!! In my opinion burning in hell would not give Matthew Winkler even half of what he deserves!!!!

    Posted by Trena Roberts | April 19, 2007, 5:23 pm
  47. It is so wonderful to see so many strong women speaking out! Abuse is such a terrible thing and it is amazing what it can drive a person to do. We have all seen Mary Winkler as a small, brow beaten, victimized women who doesn’t look to be capabe of picking up a shotgun and shooting her piece of #$%* husband, but truly, Mary is a woman who took all she could and saw no other way out. What is so terribly sad about the situation is that just like so many other abused women, her husband is being made out to be almost godlike and he has her so beaten down, that even in his death she cannot see past blaming herself for all that has gone wrong. As with so many other women she blames herself and feels that she desrves the treatment she received from him and was therfore wrong in taking the actions that she did, she is so brain washed by him. She has been blamed for financial matters because he “trusted” her, but of course he trusted her-who doesn’t trust someone who they have beaten down repeatedly and have terribly afraid of the consequences of displeasing him. Sweet trusting Mary was desperatly grasping for a way out; when she received the fraudulent checks in the mail, she fell for the scam because she was desperatly seeking a way for her and her children to leave. When a woman is in an abusive relationship where the man has total control, right down to the way she dresses and whether on not she eats, how could she leave?! Not only could she not leave for those reasons, but who in town would have believed her since everyone seemed to think so highly of the perfect pastor! I am so sick of women everywhere being abused in every aspect of life! I sincerly hope that Mary is aquitted and that men everywhere will see that this is what can happen when a woman is pushed too far and no-longer will it be tolerated.

    Posted by Imbriumoon | April 19, 2007, 5:39 pm

    Posted by BLOMAX | April 20, 2007, 3:24 am
  49. I am very glad to hear the verdict, as 3-6 years isn’t too bad. I just hope someone allows her to visit her children, so they don’t lose touch.
    I am relieved now. I think Mary had to give up who she was to be Matthew wife, he controlled her and used his position to keep her quiet.
    Too bad Matthew doesn’t know or didnt’practice what he preaches in that Christ can change you from your bad habits…too bad he didn’t have a person in the church to talk to and hold him accountable. People just assume too much when it comes to clergy…when the bible teaches no man is above another and we have all sinned and will continue to, and all God wants is our honesty, as HE doesn’t expect perfection, but pure motives. I am really glad the people from McMinville helped her out while she lived there and no one (except the man who sold the picture of her new years eve) made her feel like a criminal or person that needed to be avoided, they showed her the love of Christ.

    Posted by susie | April 20, 2007, 12:21 pm
  50. You know, in the beginnng it came out that Mary and Matthew were having an argument over somthing involving their daughters along with several other problems. Has it ever come out what the argument involving the daughters was about? I have really wondered if she caught him assaulting or molesting one of the girls and that was what finally pushed her over the edge. It was bad enough that he had done it to her, but he was not going to do it to her daughters. But again, she was and still is so brain washed by him, that she will not come out and say anything against him!

    Posted by Imbriumoon | April 20, 2007, 12:33 pm
  51. WELL THEY SEEM TO HAVE TAKEN THE ONLY THING MARY HAD LEFT AND THAT IS HER FREEDOM . Did you see the smile one the father’s face as he talked to the press! IT sicken me He a preacher himself knows he should have forgiviness but all I see in the mans face is revenge.
    The women that are abused are the ones that get you are so stupid why don’t you leave from evey one.Well why don’t the ones that mock us help us. They set by and watch every thing that happens and never rasie a hand to help. THE WOMEN NEED TO RISE UP AND GET SOMETHING DONE. If we do like they did to get the vote and get our rights to be in the war We just might get something done with our abusers. The abused are the ones always under the micscope never the abuser.I am tried of it as always the one that gets abused is always at fault that is how it is always played out. We need to find away to get something done so we don’t see another woman go to jail for something a man has drove her to do just to have a peaceful life. Women are treated like a cat, dog, not as good as a car, but we are seen as propity just as a house like we belong to a man It really hasn’t changed.Women think it has but not really and women being abused is not a small % it is much larger than people think. because some woman are never seen, They never get to a doctor to be reported as childern may never get to a doctor. And some doctors are abusers them selfs so they aren’t going to help either. If I knew how to get something done I would stand up and get it done. But this seems to be all I can do is try to help though the internet I hope all women that read what I say that it helps them and makes them stronger and encourages them to find away to help themselfs because the only person we have to help us is our selfs.We have to protect ourselfs and our childern no one else will.

    Posted by angel poet | April 20, 2007, 2:41 pm
  52. I’ve been following this trial with great interest. The verdict is a small victory in the sense that at least it was not first degree murder. I’ve known enough preachers, cops and soldiers in my day (you know, the “upstanding citizen” types) to stay FAR away from them. Most of them are abusive sadists who have skeletons in their closets and if he wasn’t already molesting his own daughters it was just a matter of time before he started. She saved herself and her daughters from a monster the only way she could!

    In a society that ALWAYS blames women for family problems she had no other recourse, if she had tried to divorce him he’d have killed her and the kids to keep his abuse and porn addiction a secret.

    Posted by frankie | April 20, 2007, 4:46 pm
  53. So TRUE re Mary trying to divorce him. He’d have been screwed as a “pastor” if all of these revelations came out, and/or if he’d lost custody of his kids. Who knows what he might have done.

    Angel Poet, everything you have said, EXACTLY RIGHT.


    Posted by womensspace | April 20, 2007, 5:35 pm
  54. I am so glad to see so many of you who have suffered like Mary speaking up to support one another! I hope we can find a way to get these comments and this support to her.

    I, too, find Matthew’s hypocritical parents almost intolerable. I, too, think that he must have learned this behaviour somewhere, very likely in his parents’ home. If I heard my daughter-in-law relate what Mary did about my son, I would be so ashamed and horrified that she would have all my support. I find the malign influence that the fundamentalist churches have over peoples’ lives almost intolerable. My thoughts have been constantly with Mary throughout the trial and I am hoping to find some way in which I can show her my support.

    Posted by American abroad | April 20, 2007, 8:44 pm
  55. Even without physical abuse; pornography addiction and emotional abuse are enough to destroy and imprison a woman and break her soul and spirit. While the world embraces pornography and heralds it as “harmless”, “fun”, and “freedom of speech”, others know it for what it really is. It’s a barbed hook, crack cocaine, a cancer that deepends and spreads. It reaches well beyond the addict and engulfs all that surround him in slow painful destruction.

    Posted by Terri | April 21, 2007, 1:34 am
  56. I just divorced my husband for the same thing. People just do not know the devastation that pornography brings about. It is a mistress to the men and they stop having anything to do with their wives. I didn’t even know I had a Biblical reason until after the divorce was final. The porn is the reason for all the issues and if the men are not going to give it up and get help, then women, you need to get out before it is too late. And, yes it also can be generational as it was in my case. The Churches need to wake up and preach against this stuff instead of burying their heads in the sand against this SIN and believing women instead of shaming them for getting a divorce when they do indeed have a Biblical reason. Some of the bigger churches know better and have ministries for such.

    Posted by Trish | April 23, 2007, 11:59 pm
  57. As a man, with a wife and three daughters (and a son), I feel for any woman that lives with a man who is abusive.

    I believe there are ways that such women can be better helped in the future. It takes organization. It takes dedicated effort from a well organized and credible and influential group. If such a group is not helping well enough, then one needs to be started.

    Like the French underground in World War II, there needs to be an active group that can get things done for any woman who cries out for help, and there needs to be a national 800 # that is operational 24/7, so any abused person can call in and be identified and then local persons contact them confidentially to extend her aid. This needs to be used in such a way to prevent it being “stopped up” by counter-measures. That would take some clever person to figure out.

    Doctors (women) need to agree to see such people to document abuse for later use in court. There needs to be federal support for doctors to be paid for such documented cases. People need to be willing to open their homes instead of building expensive “safe-houses” so there can be more places available to escaping persons.

    Legislators need to be influenced to pass new self-defense legislation to cover all contingencies. Lawyers need to be enlisted to draft credible bills for this purpose.

    Abuse needs to be clearly defined in specific words so it can be legally tagged, and can be socially identified for prevention, and or arrest and prosecution.

    Women need to be informed of what to expect in a relationship with a man before they start dating age, and know better what to avoid, and how to avoid it. They need to define what they expect and require in a relationship with a man in clear words so that society can sanction those expectations as a defensible status in a later court battle of any kind.

    Good people need to refuse to support the system if it does not support such measures of putting a stop to abuse of fellow humans in our society.

    I do not know how to get this started, and I fear that I would be suspect because I am a man, but I seriously would like to see such come to pass.

    That is all for now.

    Posted by David Jones | April 24, 2007, 8:31 pm
  58. Thanks for that, David Jones, much appreciated. You’ve pretty much described there what the domestic violence movement used to be decades ago, when it was an underground railroad, basically, for battered women. I agree with you– we do need this again.


    Posted by womensspace | April 24, 2007, 9:42 pm
  59. Women need to be informed of what to expect in a relationship with a man before they start dating age, and know better what to avoid, and how to avoid it.

    Except what are you teaching your daughters to ‘avoid’? 99.9% of abusers are the ‘nicest’ guys when you first go out with them, only once they have you committed in a relationship do they show their true colours.

    So, guys to avoid = ‘nice guys’
    That only leaves the scumbags.

    Not a great choice. You may want to rethink the basis of your ‘talk’.

    Women don’t get caught in these relationships because of bad decision-making. Abusers are the most two-faced people on the planet.

    Posted by stormy | April 24, 2007, 10:25 pm
  60. 1. “what are you teaching your daughters to ‘avoid’?”

    2. “99.9% of abusers are the ‘nicest’ guys when you first go out with them, only once they have you committed in a relationship do they show their true colours.”

    3. “Women don’t get caught in these relationships because of bad decision-making. Abusers are the most two-faced people on the planet.”

    (from Stormy)


    1. Wasn’t thinking of what anyone but experienced abused women can teach young girls. No one else knows what they know.
    2. Concur.
    3. Concur.

    My thought was to attempt to “wise up” young girls with more “savvy” from previously abused women to define what is a better model of male/female relationships than currently exists in present nonworking “marriages.” That was what I meant.
    To replace the current nonworking marriage concepts, there needs to be a working model that can be taught before dating age. And since women are more vulnerable as victims, let them become the most educated earlier than the young men, so they can have more advantage than they now have, with an improved model for female/male relationships that can help limit even the possibility of some of the existing social circumstances that abusive men can hide behind.

    For instance, if an abused woman were ever willing to enter another relationship with another man, what are the expectations/demands/safeties/guarantees/or what ever that she would need to help assure that a man would not have a societal advantage over her in the relationship and so the woman can receive all to which she is entitled? That is what I guess might help form the basis for an improved female/male relationship, but I am only suggesting a possibility in an effort to help.

    Posted by David Jones | April 25, 2007, 12:08 am
  61. That is all for now.

    Posted by David Jones | April 25, 2007, 12:11 am
  62. There is something that I’m a little bothered by in the phrasing here.

    David Jones said:

    “[t]hey need to define what they expect and require in a relationship with a man in clear words so that society can sanction those expectations as a defensible status in a later court battle of any kind.”

    Did anyone else’s victim-blaming radar go off? I think this was very well intentioned; the wording is bugging me.

    What that sounds like to me is: women need to define their expectations, so that when men abuse them, they have a leg to stand on in court, because society will have accepted that women’s expectations of the relationship, as formerly documented, have been violated by the abuser.

    What my privileged-to-unprivileged translator is telling me is this: in order to help women who end up in abusive relationships, we need to create an environment in which women are treated as regular human beings, i.e., that they have rights just like everyone else, and that when those rights get violated, that the law (as an expression of society) is there to protect women as well as men (in the literal sense of ‘as well as’: to the same extent, equally well, etc.)

    Is that what you were intending to say, David? If not, would you please clarify this?

    I would add this:

    1) Teach all children the signs of abusive behavior.
    2) Teach all children how not to be an abuser.

    This conversation is bringing up many, many thoughts in me, mostly fraught with thorns. I’m going to stop for now, and listen some more.

    The short version is this:

    Setting examples of healthy, respectful behavior == good.
    Expecting any group to do all the work in fostering respect == bad.
    Making society fair to people of all groups == all of our jobs.
    Sharing experience == good.
    Fear-mongering == not productive.

    Posted by nightgigjo | April 25, 2007, 3:16 am
  63. I think I am not welcome here. I was trying to be a friend, and supportive.

    I am beginning to feel victimized myself.

    My words cannot be good enough. I am sorry. I will leave you all alone.

    Forgive me for trying.

    Posted by David Jones | April 25, 2007, 7:17 am
  64. I think I am not welcome here. I was trying to be a friend, and supportive.
    I am beginning to feel victimized myself.

    David you have received two pieces of criticism here, and ‘feel victimised’. I think you should actually try being a woman for 24 hours, that way you can experience ‘the joys of being wrong [as dictated by media, law, men]’.

    The “forgive me for trying” is a typical male behaviour when things haven’t gone his way, it is a well-used guilt technique to get women to say “I’m sorry….” and re-bolster your ego. That technique won’t work here, as many of us are experienced in dealing with men and see right through these techniques.

    If you are to explain to your daughters ‘what they need to know’, the guilting technique is definitely one of them.

    Rather than going off in a sulk muttering “those nasty wimmin just don’t like menz” why don’t you read here more? Because it is a fact that most of the feminists 1) don’t hate men and importantly 2) consider men to be equal human beings. However, with that status of equal human being, or adult, we will NOT bow to childish tantrums (because that is what the guilting technique is all about). There are quite a few men here and elsewhere that ‘get it’ as far as the feminism thing goes.

    If you think I’ve been unfair to you here, would you actually expect those same words (“Forgive me for trying“) to be exchanged between you and your male work colleagues? No it wouldn’t. “Sorry, I fucked up…” or a variation thereof is to be heard. I’ve just given you your first lesson in how to spot sexist behaviour (i.e. would the same words/event occur in a same-sex environment?)

    As you have three daughters there is a strong chance that within their lifetimes one is likely to be the victim of rape or domestic violence. The statistics have hovered around one in four (for both) for a while, but there is now indication that rape at least is now becoming one in three women will become victims of it within their lifetimes.

    Further reading you can also go here:
    (look at the Posts by Category on the left hand side of the page — there is even a Feminism-101 to get you started)

    Posted by stormy | April 25, 2007, 8:25 am
  65. National Domestic Violence Hotline : 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

    They can speak with you in any language. They can refer you to resources and help in your local community. They will listen. They will believe you.

    Posted by Virginia | April 25, 2007, 3:04 pm
  66. Stormy: Abusers are the most two-faced people on the planet.

    Oh, that is so true. If only they told us right off, on the first date, that they’d not be satisfied until they’d destroyed our spirits and broken us down to nothing, well, we could decline the offer, now couldn’t we?

    The verbal and emotional abuser I just ended a relationship had been my friend for over two decades before. Like the rest of his friends, I had no idea who and what really lurked under his skin. That is, not until we became romantically involved. I didn’t see it happening at the time, but he began his smear campaign against me from the moment we consummated the relationship so that today, even if I tried to tell his and our mutual friends what really happened and what he truly is, they’d never believe me.

    David Jones, I think the best thing that you can do for your daughter is to assure her that she can always come back home, it doesn’t matter if she’s 19 years old and single or 45 years old and married with five kids, she can come back home. And if the day should ever come that she tells you that her significant other has been abusing her, don’t even bother to ask her how he’s abused her, especially if you think he’s the greatest guy in the world because that is the persona of the abuser. Simply believe her and tell her to come back home.

    Posted by CoolAunt | April 25, 2007, 4:53 pm
  67. Wow CA. That is unbelieveable, two decades of knowing him, but yes, not until they have you either trapped or committed to the relationship do they show those true colours. The majority of them are very careful not to let onto others what they are really like. Hence DV victims come off looking like crazy people, and are rarely believed — only by women’s shelters and others who have been through it.

    The other day a woman came to my door collecting for a charity. We got chatting, and ended up swapping a few stories of “stoopid things our abusers did”. Was a laugh, but we were both at that stage of ‘far behind us’, certainly wouldn’t do it with someone with fresh wounds or still in it. Was just a bit of bonding, and I guess to let each other know that we weren’t alone in having been through this.

    Posted by stormy | April 25, 2007, 5:48 pm
  68. Sorry Cool Aunt. 😦 And that was a great advice to David Jones. There are a whole lot of families who won’t open their arms to women who have been abused and need to come home for a while; their attitude is, the women made their bed, let them lie in it, tough luck.

    I’ve been thinking about how we teach our daughters about abusive men. Of course there are red flags, warning signs, I’m working on a post about that. But there really is no way to know for sure whether, ultimately, a man will be abusive. There are men, for example, who are just the greatest men in the whole world so long as a woman needs them, or more accurately, so long as they believe a woman needs them. But if that should change and she becomes strong, independent, begins to spread her wings, the nice guy can become abusive very quickly because now he’s afraid, threatened, out of control. Her needing him gave him a sort of upper hand that he doesn’t have once she doesn’t need him in the same way.

    For what it’s worth, what I would like to see with my own daughters is, I would like them not to share living quarters with men and not marry men. Ever. Never. I would like them to have their own jobs, their own homes, their own bank accounts, and with all of that, the ability to connect with men, or not, out of a situation of strength and on their own terms, always with their own place to go to. That still isn’t absolute protection against abusers, of course, but it’s a start. For one thing, you weed out leeches that way, guys who are dependent or who would exploit a woman. You eliminate power disparities which are based around money and possessions, for the most part, because each person has his/her own money/place/possessions, you don’t have the deal of someone giving up his or her life/house/income/job for the sake of another person. There is freedom for the couple to spend as much or as little time together as they want. There is no mixing of lives such that the lives have to be legally untangled if thing go wrong. This way would seem to maximize a woman’s freedom, and most importantly, it would weed out guys who are afraid of independent women, who are controlling, because it would be very difficult for a man to control a woman given this type of situation.

    A man could still be abusive, but it would be more difficult.


    Posted by womensspace | April 25, 2007, 6:05 pm
  69. Stormy and Heart, I thank you so much for not beating me over the head with the red flags and why didn’t I see the red flags and the red flags are always there and blah blah blah red flags blah blah blah. Yes, many times there are red flags. The truth is, however, that the red flags aren’t always there, visible.

    Another truth is that many of the so-called red flags aren’t really red flags of abuse at all and could apply to anyone, even people who aren’t abusers, myself included. For example, I have really no relationship with my family of origin. In my case, that’s not a red flag of an abusive personality. Instead, it’s a sign that I’ve got enough sense not to hang out with people who are toxic to me, people who are abusive toward me. That’s just one example of many in which the so-called red flags can be applied to anyone and everyone.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is thank you for not blaming me for being abused. My abuser blamed me for plenty. Trust me on that one.

    Posted by CoolAunt | April 25, 2007, 9:50 pm
  70. I used to wake up in the middle of the night with his hands around my throat. I didn’t recognize his eyes at those moments, but I know the face well enough and the hands. He was my husband and my pastor. Sometimes he wanted sex. There was no saying, “no.” He didn’t want to penetrate me, at least, he simply wanted to use me to masturbate. He never admitted he remembered these incidents in the morning.

    He needed to control everything. He complained when I visited my family, was rude to my family when they visited, listened to my phone calls, and read my mail before I saw it. He wasn’t usually physically abusive, but he threatened to kill himself when I disappointed him. No one knew. To say anything bad about him would have hurt the whole church.

    Once, when I was supposed to have surgery (fertility), he got angry with me and drove away while I was trying to exit the car at the hospital. Luckily, I was only dragged a few feet. There were some cuts and bruises, but I cleaned myself up in a bathroom before I went to admitting. My dress covered everything visible anyway. After surgery, though, they asked me about my injuries when I woke up. I said I fell in the parking lot. Everyone had to know I was lying, but I doubt there was ever any record that this happened. It was a chance to speak out, but I didn’t yet.

    Later, I did have a child. What had always been good enough for me was not good enough for my son. I had a way out, too. By some quirk, it had always been fine with him that I had a career. Perhaps it was because I made a good income. Perhaps it was because it allowed him to get to know the other women in the church better while I was gone during the day. The discovery of his affair with one of these women led him to require hospitalization for depression, and he was unable to return to the ministry. No longer in the public eye and having a good income of my own, I was able to take my son and leave. He threatened to kill himself, of course, but he didn’t.

    I don’t know what I ever did to deserve the break that allowed me to get away. Most pastor’s wives in this situation don’t get that kind of opportunity. When I think of Mary, I think, “There but for the Grace of God….” I pray she is able to put her life back together and return to parenting her little girls. Being away from them must tear her heart apart.

    Posted by Cheryl | April 26, 2007, 1:08 am
  71. CoolAunt, with the ‘skilled’ abuser, the red flags are almost invisible. With mine there were only two, and as you say, could easily be written off for non-abusers, as none of us are perfect, or have good family connections or whatever.

    Heart, ages ago I did write a bit of a spotter’s guide. Don’t know if I still have it as I changed computers and some of my older files are messy.

    Posted by stormy | April 26, 2007, 1:45 am
  72. Stormy and Heart, I very much look forward to reading the red flags or signs of an abuser that either or both of you put together. I think that the signs listed by a pro-woman woman, one who has been a victim of partner abuse and who doesn’t have a desire to blame women, will be a valuable must-have for every woman (or for this woman, at least).

    Cheryl, I’m so glad that you got away from that monster. Like you, I think “But for the grace of God go I…” about many, many of the situations that other women find themselves in. At one time, I was smug. I thought that I was smarter than other women or was more morally rightous. Now, though, I know that I’m quite ordinary and but for the grace of God go I.*

    *Those who don’t believe in a god can replace the “grace of God” with luck, Karma, good fortune, the chaotic universe, whatever. The point is that I’m not special or smarter or morally superior. I’m just fortunate that what has befallen other women hasn’t been my lot in life.

    Posted by CoolAunt | April 26, 2007, 12:48 pm
  73. My abuse started when I was a baby I was 3 years old the frist time I can remember My mother wouldn’t help me I remember being the blame not my abuser( don’t that rip your panites) and it has stayed with me all these years I am 46 now I have lived with abuse all my life so if there was any red flags I wouldn’t have no ideal the flags was red, white, or blue my memories of my childhood are all of my abuser and what he did and what my mother did. I seen him abuse my sister( but she says it didn’t happen) My sister told my mother I was having sex with my abuser You know what she did? my mother thown me down on the bed and ripped off my panties and checked me( it was painful) my mother told me it was my fault how could that be I was 3. my whole family says it didn’t happen I know it did. people tell me small childern won’t remember what happened to them yes they do I do.he started again when I was 14 and tried to start it again after I was in my 20’s at that time I told him to leave me alone. people just don’t under stand what other people go though in there lives. But it seems to come back on the one that has been abused like one posting I have read here that you made your bed now lay in it I have had those words said to my face by my father and family. Every time I say something about abuse I am told I am a man hater. I am not a man hater. but I won’t take nothing off a man again.

    Posted by angel poet | April 27, 2007, 12:06 pm
  74. I think a lot of these churches give men the right to abuse these women the way they and that is just wrong. Poor Mary has been to hell and back and I hope she has her second chance at life.

    Posted by Christine Golding | April 30, 2007, 12:11 am
  75. The problem with Mary Winkler is compounded by the fact that so much of her abuse was silently condoned by the Church. How can it be wrong if “church people” aren’t up in arms? I hate that mentality, but having been in an abusive relationship which was condoned by a church, I know it is true. I had asked for pastoral counseling, and I was basically told “sorry, women are to submit to their husbands, so it’s your fault”. I can see exactly why Mary felt she had no choice. She couldn’t leave him without having him seen as a martyr, “poor pastor Winkler, stuck with that hussy of a wife”.
    After years of abuse, she felt it was the only way out. I left my “Christian” abuser, but I had to leave town because regardless of what I had to say, it was “poor him”.
    I’m happy now, and frankly, I would NEVER consider another “good church-going” man as a partner. I’ll take kindness, love, and consideration over that ANY day. I doubt Mary Winkler will either.

    Posted by Rebekah | May 2, 2007, 3:36 pm
  76. Is anyone watching Court TV right now? The account of the death of the 8-year-old Josef Smith at the hands of his fundamentalist parents is simply harrowing!

    They said their parenting practices are partly derived from their membership in the Remnant Fellowship Church, a Nashville, Tenn., based group that encourages parents to physically discipline their children and maintain strict dietary control.

    Heart, your powerful “I name the patriarchs” entries have been echoing in my head while I’ve been watching this trial, as they did during the Winkler’s trial.

    What with the Mary Winkler trial, the Phil Spector murder trial, and now THIS sordid case, lately Court TV has been “patriarchy on parade”…

    Posted by MrSoul | May 2, 2007, 7:51 pm
  77. Again, this is a classic case of fundamentalists cloaking abuse in “tough love”. It’s one thing to tough love, quite another to abuse to the point of murder. “Maintain strict dietary control” probably means deprivation. Note that church “encourages” parents to physically discipline. I would love to know where they get the support from the Bible to abuse children. I’ve looked. I can’t find it anywhere.

    Posted by Rebekah | May 3, 2007, 5:56 pm
  78. Thank God !!! This terrible crime against Mary Winkler and others has been opened up for all to see
    My father was a preacher of the same finatic non-denominational so called only true church… he was from the same era as Matthew Winklers Grand father… My father abused four older sibiling sisters and myself some told to no avail and some were silent for fear of the abuser!!!!!! the happiest day of my life …was the day in my mid teen years when he died…

    Yes my life has been full of bad choices partly due to this sick man, but i am nearly 50+ years later with lots of prayers thearpy and love of my children making better choices

    You know that apples dont fall to far from the tree so i am praying that the ones working on the custody really scrutinize the future guardians of these precious littlle children

    I LIKE THESE LITTLE GIRLS HAD THE PERFECT FAMILY FROM THE OUTSIDE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by JULIE | May 6, 2007, 6:50 pm
  79. I found this site by doing a Google for Mary Winkler. I, like Julie, feel for Mary in a very personal way. I am in the same church. I have a very famous father/preacher in this church (also the same generation as Matthew W.’s grandfather)who abused me physically and emotionally all my childhood (continuing the emotional abuse until a personal crisis two years ago and now, he appears to have changed into a nice guy…is seeing for the first time a LITTLE of how it feels, and I do believe is trying to change–but I am careful to keep my emotional distance). I, too, like Julie, had the ‘perfect family from the outside’. My sweet Mother was abused by my father all her married life, from age 18 until now at age 69. At one point she considered suicide, told me (I was 30ish) and I encouraged her to leave. She said, “No, it would hurt his position.” But I did get her into counseling…that helped for a while as she stood up to him and he KNEW at least one other public person knew *about* him. But after awhile he wore her down again…she is in precarious remission of a rare cancer which I believe was brought on by my father’s unrelenting abuse of her. He still continues being hateful and mean to herl I saw it last Christmas, I had not been home in nearly nine years…I think it’s ‘just a habit’ with him but it broke my heart afresh for her She is so sick…And oh, he makes everybody think he is SUCH the fine, Christian loving husband. I guess, really, who am I fooling? He’s not changed…not to me, if he’s still mean to Mother…he’s maybe decided to pull back a bit for some reason (I mean, justification!) only known to him.

    Then there’s me: I have married three times, the first to someone I sat next to in chapel, at a well-known college in the church, for three years (you TRULY cannot know they are abusers until you live with them!) and who began abusing me after three months of marriage. I stayed with him for nearly nine years of increasing hell; had my one child with him…my precious daughter…prayed for adultery to take place so I would know it, so I could divorce him and remarry ‘someone kind’…He did commit adultery, I did divorce him and a few years later married the second abuser. He certainly appeared ‘kind’, but it wasn’t even one NIGHT before he started in on his cruelty…I stayed with him for nearly three years and then because of the last straw, that he was looking at my little girl with lustful eyes, I left him. My parents helped me both times to leave these men. But my father kicked me out with my daughter after the first divorce, saying “I can’t have you here in our house.” I think probably it was because I grew some guts and was talking back to him. I also threatened that if he started treating my daughter the way he did me (she was three at the time), we would go on the street. He believed I would, so he stopped being mean to her. I found an apartment thru Section 8, all was going okay, and then I met this second abuser thru a newspaper ad. My parents…well, they told me I was crazy to go out with him. I’m sure I was, but my father was so controlling and so critical of everything I did…and I wanted to find someone, who would love me. That’s really all I ever wanted. And how I’ve paid for that yearning!!

    My third and present and last husband…I met online in a Christian chat. Again, he seemed so wonderful. I married him six months later and have been with him nearly nine torturous years. I made the mistake of telling a Christian woman friend recently, just the tip of the iceberg, and she said, ‘oh, you should leave him, you should go to a woman’s shelter, call me whenever you need to talk…’. I was like, “Well, THAT was dumb of you, of course she’s brainwashed like the rest!” My dd is very strong and though she is still in the same church with me, she does not have the rosy view of it she once did. Once she got old enough I told her a few things about abusive men, including her grandfather, her dad (whom she wised up to pretty quickly after the divorce) and my second husband. I continue telling her, to stay in college (she’s still in our hometown going to school), get a good job and keep her job…no matter what…I dropped out of college and have never been able to go back…nor do I want to, I don’t think after three husbands and a father full of abuse that I have the brains to do college anymore. I haven’t told her about the abuse of my now-husband; it would break her heart and there is nothing she can do. I can at least spare her that much. I can’t do anything for me but I can make a journal and I am doing that. My plan is to give it to her at Christmas and tell her, make her promise not to open it until after I’m gone.

    I have had to make excuses pretty recently in our congregation as to why we haven’t been there…I can’t say, “well, he’s been terrorizing me again and I just couldn’t get it together enough to fake things in time for church service this time!”… or “He shoved me up against the wall just as we were going out the door and I couldn’t stop crying in time!”…As he says all the time, “You know nobody’s going to believe you,” and he’s right. I know it.
    I’ve known it for most of my life…my abuse from my father started when I was two…I can see it in my mind’s eye so clearly. There is no hope for me. I know that too. I am living proof that the brain is permanently damaged by abuse. I have also been–in the past nine years–nearly raped by a Baptist pastor, and ignored by people I had thought were my friends there (the usual blame game, “You must have done something to deserve that”…); emotionally and physically (nearly starved over a period of two months’ time due to withholding of money for food) abused by another church of Christ minister who was, I had believed, a dear friend of mine…but when he was in a position to help me and this husband in a desperate situation financially, he extorted and blackmailed and withheld food money he had promised. It is a terrible thing to be at the ‘cruel mercy’ of an evil man.

    I have two girl cats who I love dearly, and I think if it weren’t for them I’d have committed suicide. (I have attempted once already with this man; we didn’t have the kitties then, I obviously didn’t succeed. )They hate my husband and always try to protect me when he raises his voice…they have actually bit and scratched him up pretty good, with blood streaming down…they use their bodies as barriers between him and me, and have actually saved me sometimes, because he doesn’t like to be bit and scratched up and although he enjoys terrorizing and brutalizing me, sometimes the pain my kitties give him isn’t worth it. 🙂 That does make me smile!

    I can’t drive due to deteriorating health reasons and I am afraid to attempt to leave. I have concluded from my own one-woman study that I married all these men because they were just like dear old Dad…in one way…and somehow I knew that…felt that was all I deserved subconsciously…
    I really wanted to escape first Dad and then the succeeding abusers (and I’ve only told the tip of the iceberg of all the abuse I’ve suffered), but I couldn’t cut thru the charm factor until it was too late.

    Maybe it’s a bit of both, huh?

    I’m 49 years old and I really wish I’d NEVER MARRIED. Except there wouldn’t be my sweet daughter, who is a delightful person…but still, she has been thru so much pain and suffering and deprivation in her own life…but there’s no use in saying, “I wish I hadn’t.”

    My dear Mother always quotes this bit from Sir Walter Scott:
    “Of all the words of tongue or pen,
    The saddest are these: ‘It might have been’.”

    I really want to write Mary…I so much feel for her…my heart breaks for her and I have cried many tears and sent many prayers for her. She is my sister in experience in the deepest level. There but for the grace of God could have gone myself, or my Mother…truly…I have wished many times in my life, and particularly now, that I could be strong enough to destroy my husband.

    Thanks for all your supportive and concerned thoughts, my friends who have been where I am and who are so caring.

    Julie, my heart is with you, and you are my sister on the deepest level too.

    There is nobody in the church that I can remotely think of…who would believe me or support me…I know how it works. It’s the men who run it. Not Jesus, the way He meant, and it’s HIS church! You know that verse about “there is neither male nor female…in Christ Jesus?” As a preacher’s daughter I’ve heard that a lot but it’s really just brushed aside. There’s gonna be a lot of surprised men when they find that women are going to Heaven, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for listening to me.

    Posted by Ellenoir | July 9, 2007, 12:50 pm
  80. Ellenoir,

    I listen to you with tears in my eyes. Thank you for coming here to be with us. You have come to the right place!


    Posted by Mary Sunshine | July 9, 2007, 2:15 pm
  81. As he says all the time, “You know nobody’s going to believe you,” and he’s right. I know it.

    You know, Ellenoir, you are probably so right, this may be true in your church, but I believe you! And all of the women here, all of us believe every single word you say. Some of us have been right where you are, I sure have. And I know as sure as I am sitting here that there is so, so much you haven’t said, and probably so much that has happened that you can’t even bear to think about, let alone say, a lot that you’ve forgotten, because that’s how we survive this kind of hell. I always say, fundamentalist women are the strongest women on earth. That’s a good thing, and you know, that’s a bad thing. 😦

    And you know, though most people in your church would not believe you, probably none of the men, there are a few who might believe you, and they are the women and children who have suffered and are suffering as you are. They’d believe you and would probably be so relieved to hear they are not alone! Just as you would be! The risk we always take in telling is, we won’t find these people, because in this world, the women and children are such, such, such very very fine actors and actresses! There is no way to tell who is being raped and beaten and driven into madness and whose life is serene and peaceful, because everybody pretends. 😦

    There are a couple of lines from a song that I used to use as a sig line, sung by a musician whose music healed me when I left my old world. Ah heck, I’m just going to post all the lyrics. This song has meant so much to me.

    Don’t be afraid
    Close your eyes
    Lay it all down
    Don’t you cry
    Can’t you see I’m going
    Where I can see the sun rise
    I’ve been talking to my angel
    And she said that it’s alright

    I’ve always had to run
    I don’t know just why
    Desire slowly smoking
    Under the midwest sky
    There’s something waiting out there
    That says I’ve got to try
    I’ve been talking to my angel
    And she said that it’s alright

    This town thinks I’m crazy
    They just think I’m strange
    Sometimes they want to own me
    Sometimes they wish I’d change
    But I can feel the thunder
    Underneath my feet
    I sold my soul for freedom
    It’s lonely but it’s sweet

    Don’t be afraid
    Close your eyes
    Lay it all down
    Don’t you cry
    Can’t you see I’m going
    Where I can see the sun rise
    I’ve been talking to my angel
    And she said that it’s alright

    Talking to My Angel, Melissa Etheridge

    I’m glad you’ve shared your story with us, I feel honored, and I will continue to pray and to light candles every day, every night, for you, for Mary, for your mother, for all of the millions of women throughout this world who are suffering and feel there is nowhere for them to go! It’s not your fault! You didn’t deserve any of it :”( There’s nothing wrong with you that you dared to believe charming men, that you dared to trust, that you dared to love, to try again! That takes guts, that takes so much strength. We all want to love and be loved, there is no shame in that, there is no reproach in it, how do we live in the world, how do we survive without loving and being loved? You aren’t damaged, you aren’t broken, I think you see very, very clearly and that you are incredibly brave!

    And yes, we women who have suffered in this world, we relate on the deepest level to Mary Winkler, don’t we? She is our sister and we can’t but stand with her.


    Posted by womensspace | July 9, 2007, 5:30 pm
  82. I’m just trying to find out more info on this…but did anyone at the trial besides Mary testify that Matthew Winkler used porn and abused her? If he did, that’s terrible…but how do we know it wasn’t a cooked up story by the defense to get her off the hook? Were the children ever interviewed…other members of former community or friends that knew him? I’ve been around church of christ people and they are not a radical, controlling group or cult. Mary could have left and gotten a divorce…she didn’t have to blow him away…and yes I’ve never been in her situation, but we can’t all blow our husbands away because we are in a bad situation or get caught stealing and kiting checks. Anybody have any real evidence from the trial besides Mary’s testimony…?

    Posted by jan | July 10, 2007, 6:56 am
  83. Normally I don’t allow comments like yours through, jan, but in this instance I’ve decided to.

    The bottom line is, the jury believed Mary Winkler’s testimony. The jury would not have believe her if the defense “cooked the story up,” because she would not have been able to testify consistently to what was not true. The jury found her testimony credible and believable, which is the way our court system works. The jury heard all the testimony, including testimony from her daughter, her husband’s family, and others and believed Mary. A police officer, in fact, testified that Matthew Winkler was a troublesome, violent kind of a guy, as did at least one neighbor.

    How is anybody going to testify that Matthew Winkler “used porn and abused” Mary? Abusers like this guy, a pastor of a fundamentalist church, do not use porn and abuse their wives publicly in the view of family, friends, and congregants. In fact, rarely do abusers do what they do in the sights of anyone but their victims. That’s what feminism has been all about — believing women when they tell us what men have done to them in secret, in our bedrooms, in our homes where it was just the two of us, and forcing courts and institutions to take what women say about the way they have been terrorized seriously.

    No woman just up one day and “blows away” her husband. She is tormented, tormented, tormented until she is not in her right mind. Mary doesn’t remember shooting the gun. As to the “check kiting,” bullshit. She got caught up in one of those endless scams where people e-mail you and play on your sympathies. She’s a good and decent person and was desperate — she either felt compassion or saw a possible way out or all of the above. In any event, all of that went away, didn’t it? Which tells me in the end, she made good on whatever checks were at issue.

    I just wish all of the rich white boys sitting in CEO seats who are ripping off banks and all of us (indirectly) would do the same.


    Posted by womensspace | July 10, 2007, 12:46 pm
  84. I’ve just found your site – actually through a friend who was trying to post and couldn’t. Heart – you are right on the money in so many ways. I’ve just skimmed some of these comments – but I just had to respond to jan’s statement about Church of Christ. I have been around a lot of Church of Christ in my time and they are an extremely radical, fundamentalist, controlling group of people, with some churches bordering on cult status. They are very patriarchal – the man is the only one in the family that has any say. I believe every word this lady says, and figure there is much much more we’ve never heard about. Keep up the good work. We need more people to highlight these issues.

    Posted by renae cobb | September 14, 2007, 1:59 am
  85. I saw Mary on Oprah.

    To understand Mary, you would have to have been in the same situation. I was. I chose to not have children. I aborted my baby, because I couldn’t let her come into the life I was living. I finally left when I knew he could kill me by accident. It occurred to me that I really didn’t have to die, I could just try to leave. So I tried and tried, and finally made it.

    Mary had three children. She knew she wasn’t safe, and they weren’t safe with this Jekyll and Hyde. When she saw him put the pillow over her baby’s face, she saw that he would treat her babies like he treated her.

    Thank god she had a real jury of her peers.

    Posted by Murn | September 17, 2007, 12:41 am
  86. I was in such a rush to speak up for Mary, and was so glad to find this site, that I didn’t take time to read the letters. I’ve just read a few and feel compelled to write to Ellenoir.

    Dear Ellenoir,

    I understand, I lived the same life. I did finally meet a healthy person for my third marriage. We have been married 16 years. I mostly feel happy all the time now. I’m always in awe that I feel happy.

    I was raised Catholic. My first husband had posed as Jesus Christ for a religous calendar.

    I was so ashamed, almost paralized, to be getting a second divorce that I called a psychologist for help. I had to make my body do it, ask a fellow co worker who to call, then make the call. It was amazingly difficult, but the shame was so painful, I had to do something.

    After listening to the answers I gave to his questions, my wise psychologist recommended that I not choose anymore. It was clear I chose men who felt like my childhood home. He said I should just get myself healthy and healthy men would come to me. So I gave up men completely and worked on having a happy life without them. It was certainly less embarrassing than what had gone on before, and I got to like it a lot.

    I could go on and on. What I most want to say to you, Ellenoir, is please don’t give up. You are young. You are intelligent. You have a loving relationship with your daughter. Get the best professional help you can. Do it for your daughter. Ask friends and co workers who they think is best. Then set up a schedule, and go every time.

    Someone said that the work I did in my generation, my children would not have to do.

    Please trust me dear. I’m 59, been there done that. My fifties have been the happiest years of my life. You know how to begin, just take the first step.

    Always on your side

    Posted by Murn | September 18, 2007, 8:19 pm
  87. Jan, it’s because you’ve never been in her situation that you can say with all honesty and without a drop of meanness or woman-hating that Mrs Winkler had other options. I used to say and believe those things, too, about women who resorted to violence agains their abusers. That is, until I, the woman whose father used to boast laughingly had *balls larger than either of her brothers’*, the woman who used to take no shit from any man, the same woman who left a live-in boyfriend of 10+ years on the discovery-day of his cheating, found herself in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. Even with all of that strength and boldness that I had been (in)famous for in the 40 years of my life before hooking up with Abusive Asshole, getting out of the relationship was extremely difficult.

    The first difficulty was realizing that I was being abused because he didn’t hit me. Because of church doctrine, Mary may have had a difficult time with that, too. Then, there was the difficulty of summoning up the strength, which seemed to have been sucked out of me by Abusive Asshole. Or maybe it was just lying dormant. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it was, at least I had had it. Mary may never had been so bold and strong, or may never had realized she had the potential to be. Another advantage that Mary didn’t have was that I didn’t marry Abusive Asshole. Mary, on the other hand, is a Christian woman whose abusive asshole husband was the preacher at the frickin’ church! (Also part of the reason that it may have taken her some time to realize and identify that she was abused.) I had no kids. She has three. Further, I saw Mary on tv, standing next to a couple of men and she’s tiny!, unlike my 5’10”, 145lbs plus intimidating stare (from the Sicilian side of the family). And still, even with all the advantages I had going into it, I’d been crippled by the abuse I’d endured in that short relationship.

    I tell you, until you’ve been in an abusive relationship yourself, you just don’t know how helpless the victims of abuse are made to feel. The abuse itself, the very thing they need to get away from, is the very thing that renders them paralyzed, that zaps every tiny scrap of belief that they ever had in themselves. Paralyzed by fear and robbed of self confidence, they can’t *just* leave or at least they don’t believe that they can. They lack the internal resources.

    Posted by CoolAunt | September 19, 2007, 3:27 am
  88. Things happen for God’s reason.
    Mary Winkler happened for us all that is all women.
    My mom was there, she managed to survive. My siblings did not. They see mental docters, on medications and are not happy. I have a thirty two year old marriage of mental and oral abuse. I feel as if I can not get out. So I smile and sit in church like the rest of them all.
    God will bless you Mary
    I love you and so does my mother
    Thank you Mary Winkler

    Posted by Donna Walthall | September 27, 2007, 2:17 am
  89. Donna, there are so many like you! I was like you, though I got out, after 19 years. We are a huge sisterhood. The day may come when you are on your own at last. We will be here for you then.


    Posted by womensspace | September 27, 2007, 3:09 am
  90. ((( Donna ))) ((( Heart ))) ((( Donna’s mum )))

    All of you fill my life with love.


    Posted by Mary Sunshine | September 27, 2007, 1:00 pm
  91. if you want Christian counseling, Chuck Lynch, Living Foundation Ministries, Blue Springs, Missouri. He understands mysogonist and narcissistic behavior in fundamentalist men in the Christian church. Wow, a male Christian counselor who “gets it”. Don’t fear, just find help that pulls off the mask and calls lies what they are.

    Your values are not wrong, but your interpretation, your views of what is acceptable toward Christian women, and what God expects of you and for you are skewed. You have been hurt, abused and controlled long enough, so rise up and don’t let oppression exist in your lives any more.There is something better. You don’t need a hero, be your own hero. God gave you what you need, look around, ask for help, don’t give up, don’t dwell too much on your own faults and surround yourself with others who lift you up, leave the manipulating control freaks behind. God did not plan this for you.

    Help may even come from unexpected places, don’t rule out those you have seen as “of the world” because sister, they may understand more than “the so-called church” and often are more compassionate. Trust the Holy Spirit who is whispering to you about freedom from sick relationships, not those who would keep you in them.

    Posted by teri | September 20, 2008, 1:05 pm
  92. I understand from my own experience, and it is difficult to distinguish what is abuse, if you grew up where it was the norm. I thought because I was a woman, involved in leadership in a “bible believing” church, I was safe. No, my church leadership groomed my husband for elder-ship because he gave a lot of money and had a successful business, and teared up when trying to share his story. Surely, that is a sign of a godly man, right? Or is it? It is amazing how duped people are by that illusion of a good life. I watched men oppress wives, children and other women in the church, and saw many suffer for it, including my own family. You have to get to the point where you get the right perspective, not easy when you are surrounded by misogynists (men who hate women) or people who have control issues. They are often drawn to conservative churches, because they are able to perpetuate their sick behavior and can find support for it there. I won’t go to another fellowship like that anymore, although I would say my core beliefs have not changed, because I don’t want anyone like that to influence my life any longer. Now, if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, I call it a duck. And if I experience patronization on any level, I am learning to call the person out.

    Posted by teri | September 20, 2008, 3:32 pm

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