Children should not have to run away from America in order to escape child abuse.
Article by Gayle Trent, Examiner.com, September 15, 2008
Jennifer Collins’ mother Holly was forced to take her children to the Netherlands to escape their abusive father. Holly took Jennifer and her brother into hiding in 1994 after the children reported abuse by their father. Declarations from doctors, social workers and psychologists confirmed the children’s claims and recommended against the children being in their father’s care, but the family court judge ordered the children be placed in the father’s custody. Desperate to protect her children, Holly fled with them to the Netherlands, where they were provided with asylum after an international court found it would be too dangerous for the children to return, and Holly was declared a human rights refugee. When the FBI located the Collins in 2008 to pursue federal kidnapping charges against Holly, the Netherlands would not extradite, and the charges were later dropped.
Jennifer, now a 23-year-old psychology student, hopes to teach the public the dangers of not believing children who report abuse, and describe the failures of family courts to properly protect abused children. She says: “Children should not have to run away from America in order to escape child abuse.”
She was in San Diego on September 14 to present her story at the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma’s (IVAT) 13th International Conference. Collins was awarded a Medal of Courage by the California Protective Parents Association for her bravery in speaking out about her ordeal in order to help other abused children.
Eric Hickey, PhD, IVAT Board Chair of the Board and Director of the Center for Forensic Studies at Alliant International University , comments, “Jennifer’s story and that of her family illustrates the power of surviving domestic abuse. We welcome her to the IVAT Conference.”
Psychologist Joyanna Silberg, Ph.D, of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, also presented at the conference, pointing out how the Collins family’s case is typical of system failures throughout the country.