I vowed I wouldn’t write another post about the Mary and Matthew Winkler case until something new and substantial came to light. It appears that has happened. I’m not one to say “I told you so” but I did tell you so!
ABC News reports an interview with Mary Winkler.
In an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America,” Winkler’s family said she killed her husband because she was abused.
“Physical, mental, verbal,” said Clark Freeman, Winkler’s father. “I don’t know how she took it. She’s a stronger individual than I am.”
Freeman says the abuse became more apparent the last three years of Winkler and Matt’s marriage.
“I saw bad bruises. The heaviest of makeup covering facial bruises,” Freeman said. “So one day, I confronted her. I said, ‘Mary Carol, you are coming off as a very abused wife, very battered.'”
But Freeman says she denied the accusations.
“[She] would hang her head and say, ‘No, daddy, everything’s all right. Everything’s all right.'”
Friends say Winkler didn’t talk about the abuse, but her growing fear of her husband was obvious.
“One Sunday, Mary came into the church and I looked at her and she had a black eye,” said Winkler’s friend Rudie Thomsen.
Another friend, Amy Redmon, said it was clear who was in charge in the relationship.
“He was an authority figure, and he made the decisions basically. It was obvious,” Redmon said.
Sisters Say Winkler Is More Like Her Old Self
Winkler’s sisters, Tabatha Freeman, 25, and Amanda Miller, 24, told “GMA” that she seemed caught in a difficult situation and that they weren’t sure how to respond.
“We didn’t know if it could get worse if we were to confront [it],” Miller said.
Freeman and Miller also say that Matt kept Winkler from seeing her family.
“As these years went on, she seemed to be nervous to show love towards us,” Miller said. “Now it’s back to the old Mary [who] loves us and doesn’t care to come and hug us and gives us a kiss on the cheek.”
Winkler’s attorneys say there are also indications that Matt may have sexually abused her as well.
“What went on behind their closed doors is going to have to be told,” said Winkler’s attorney Leslie Ballin. “Some of what we’ve got from the state of Tennessee touches on sexual abuse.”
What’s striking to many outsiders is how accepting and supportive the majority of the community has been to Winkler.
That sense of forgiveness, community members say, stems from the town’s Christian roots and from its tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Winkler’s daughters are currently living with Matt’s parents.
“She misses her daughters, but she’s staying busy,” said Miller, of her sister. “She’s the loving Mary we used to know.”
There is no joy in having my suspicions confirmed – except that so many COC readers condemned me quite vehemently for even considering that abuse might have been involved in this case. Maybe the light that will be shed on this issue via the Winkler case will wake up some people, and maybe it will help more women get the courage to free themselves from the clutches of the COC doctrine.
Perhaps it is because I didn’t grow up in the COC that I could so clearly see and feel the inequity in the COC churches I attended. COC women would tell me how they were treasured in the church – and yet the obvious facts and behaviors negated their words. That type of clash between reality and perception is a recipe for psychosis.
Any religion that skews its interpretation of Scripture in order to delegate half its members to second class status is dangerous. The general attitude of the COC is one that attracts men with a predisposition to abuse because they can then back up the abuse (whether verbal, emotional or physical) with their Biblical interpretation.
I can guarantee you that there is a lot of abuse that is never reported because the women believe they “deserve” what happens to them because they’ve lived the COC teachings their whole life. They believe they’re not as worthy as men. They feel bound to defend it and declare that what is obvious is not true.
Before the Winkler case happened, I really didn’t feel that negatively towards the COC. I knew that I could never attend one of their churches again, but that was the extent of it. However, I wrote a post immediately after the murder happened, and I was bombarded with COC folks condemning me for what I wrote. For each question I had, they kept repeating the same old arguments that apparently the church teaches everyone – even when the arguments made no sense whatsoever. And when I’d point out the inconsistencies, they’d just repeat the same thing again.
Women kept telling me how they don’t feel like second class citizens in the church – despite the fact that they can’t speak in church, can’t teach a class that has men in it and can’t serve in any leadership capacity that might possibly in any way make them “over” a man. Apparently the “masculinity” of COC men is a fragile thing indeed. It is a sad, sad religion.
When all the facts of this case are finally in the open, I hope it will make the people in the COC take a close look at their doctrines and make some changes.
Other posts on the Winkler Case: