An extraordinary documentary by Garland Waller, called No Way Out But One, told the story of Holly Collins, an American woman who fled the United States due to domestic violence and sought asylum in the Netherlands. The video above is a shortened version 13 minutes. The full film was screened at the Battered Mothers Custody Conference which took place last weekend in Washington, D.C.
Holly and her two oldest children were beaten by Collins’ ex-husband. A court in Minnesota acknowledged that they were abused. But the judge said that Holly Collins was crazy because of the abuse and the children were safer with their father. Holly was granted only supervised visitation. The children were afraid of their father, so eventually they ran away. They met up with Holly, and the family went on the run—pursued by the FBI.
Those two children, Zachary and Jennifer, are now young adults, also poised and well spoken. Jennifer Collins is executive director of Courageous Kids, a network designed to help children come forward to talk about family court abuse. She graciously expressed the family’s gratitude during an awards ceremony, in which the conference honored Els Lucas, the Collins’ Dutch attorney, and the people of the Netherlands for doing what American courts wouldn’t do protect them.
Some of the mothers at the conference had their children with them. One girl, who looked to be 12 or 13, spent most of the weekend looking down, with her hoodie pulled low to cover as much as possible of her face. I saw Jennifer Collins, the survivor, talking to this child for a long, long time. I’m sure she was offering words of encouragement.