Dear Domestic Violence Advocates,
My name is Jennifer Collins. My mother was a battered woman 20 years ago. After my father beat her up (AGAIN) and fractured my 4 year old brother’s skull at the same time, she did what she was supposed to do (and told to do by child protection) and she left my father. Somehow my father was able to get unsupervised visitation with me and my brother. When we confided in our mother that he was still hurting us she just couldn’t bring herself to force us to go alone with this monster. Our father went back to court and actually got custody. At first we weren’t allowed to have any contact with our mother at all. Then during a court supervised visitation I showed her the bruises on my back and bottom and told her and the supervisors that my father was still hurting us. Visitation was somehow terminated again.
My mother tried everything possible to protect us and when the legal system failed us over and over again she ‘kidnapped’ us (actually we ran away to her.) We fled the country and were granted asylum in the Netherlands. We are the first Americans to ever be granted asylum in another country!
We lived in secrecy for 14 years until two years ago when we were found by the FBI. We were terrified! I contacted every organization I could think of and followed up on every referral I was given. Even if we didn’t fall under your specialty or jurisdiction you took the time to help, listen, support or send me in the right direction.
Last year my mother returned to the United States to face charges. All of the kidnapping charges against my mother were dismissed. She pled guilty to one count of Contempt of Court to which she bravely replied “I admit to having contempt for the court which failed to protect my children!” We returned to the Netherlands and are living in exile until my little brother turns 18 (only one more year to go!)
When we return to the United States I am determined to help children who are in the same position that I once was.
I just want to thank you for all your help and to remind you that sometimes there are happy endings.
With my love and gratitude,