Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feature News Article

By Allison Stains
The Record Herald
Sat Jan 31, 2009, 07:58 AM EST
Waynesboro, Pa. -

Naomi R. Butler Arthur’s voice is unfaltering as she reads a poem depicting the loss
of her innocence.

Arthur is originally from Baltimore, MD, and has lived in Waynesboro for more than 30 years.

After suffering years of abuse, Arthur penned her experiences and other related entries in a series of poems contained in “Arising from the Insanity: The Written Works of Naomi R. Butler Arthur.”

Innocence lost

“Abuse,” Arthur noted, “comes in a variety of ways: sexual, mental, emotional, physical - I think that I suffered from all of them at one point.”

Arthur has suffered from abuse most of her life, beginning with the physical and sexual abuse she received from her father. He was a minister, she explained, but also had a dark side.

When Arthur was 13, her mother brought a 43-year-old friend and evangelist minister, Frank Arthur, into her life. Naomi Arthur and her sister, who was two years younger, suffered sexual abuse from Frank while he also was having a sexual relationship with their mother.

“She kind of turned me over to him — more than 30 years my senior,” she explained.

At 15, Arthur became pregnant and was married to Frank before having their child. She never finished high school.

“I felt powerless,” she said.

Getting away

The physical abuse didn’t stop with her father or husband.

“I suppose that once the circle of abuse begins, it continues,” she said. “Someone has to break it.”

By the time she was 26, Arthur was the mother of five children — and knew she needed to get out of the marriage. “I had to leave him five times ... as I look back, I can understand why it took so long. I had five children,” Arthur explained. “I was told ‘those children need a father’, that I couldn’t do it alone. I thought I was doing it (staying) for the sake of the kids.”

It took a violent outburst from her husband to motivate Arthur to finally leave.

Arthur said she took her children to her pastor’s house one night after her husband became enraged.

The next day, Arthur returned home with a friend to gather money so she could buy food for the children. She approached the house and made her way to the bedroom to retrieve cash from under the mattress. Frank became violent, hit Arthur with an ax handle and threatened her life. When she and her husband were in court, the judge asked him if he would have reacted the same way if he could do it all over again. Frank said ‘yes,’ finalizing Arthur’s break from the relationship.

“I had to gather all of the guts I had, all of the strength I had to get my kids to safety,” she said.

Arthur moved with her five children to Waynesboro in 1975. In 1990, Arthur attained her GED while raising the children.

Years after leaving her husband, Arthur says she still contends with depression, sadness and regrets elicited from the abuse.

“My kids have been there for me — they’ve been my pot of gold,” she noted.

Her children, Yvette, Joseph, Lora, Rebecca and Kenneth, live in surrounding areas.

Arthur said she has forgiven Frank, who died a number of years ago.

Penned emotions

Arthur began writing about her experiences a little more than 10 years ago as an outlet for her emotions in the healing process.

“Abuse does a lot to people — a lot that they don’t realize,” said Arthur.

Her first poem, “Surviving the Insanity,” details the sequence of abuse, control and freedom and was written while she was watching a documentary about Janis Joplin.

“I felt inspired to write to express some of the pain,” she explained.

The book is divided into nine sections of 65 poems touching on topics such as depression, religion, family and love.

Plans for publishing “Arising from the Insanity” were put into motion in June when a friend from her church asked to see the poems Arthur had told him she had written.

The friend also was an employee at PublishAmerica in Frederick. He took them to work and the company accepted the poems as they were. Arthur did some self-editing and the book was soon published.

Arthur’s biggest hope is that she can help others suffering from abuse.

“No one has the right to control your life — that’s your job. My heart goes out to anybody who feels like they’re trapped.”

She hopes her experiences and the book will be catalysts to help others.

“If I can help one person realize their worth — if I can help someone find the strength and courage to get out of an abusive relationship, then it’s worth it,” she said. “I just want people to know there’s hope.”

More information

“Arising from the Insanity” is available online at

For more information on the book or Arthur, e-mail her at:

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