The Holly Collins Case: Why battered women stay with their abusers!

Written by Jennifer Collins H/T Maria DiBari

Why do Battered Women Stay with Their Abuser? – The Holly Collins Case

Zachary, Jennifer & Mom in usa 1992LOOK

Zachary, Jennifer & Mom in usa 1992LOOK

It is incomprehensible that as a result of the Order For Protection, which was granted and forbade Mark Collins from abusing his wife and children, the father was simultaneously granted unsupervised visitation with the very children he abused. This girl, barely a woman couldn’t understand the ramifications of the family court system. Holly Collins sought out the Child Protection Investigators who forced her to take her children away from their abusive father and went directly to the Child Protection office in a panic begging them to protect her children. “This is why I stayed” She wept “At least I could protect the children MOST of the time. Now my children have to go alone with him and there is no one there to protect them.” The child protection desk agent was sympathetic but explained that once this battered woman took actions to protect her children and left her abuser the case was then transferred from Juvenile Court to Family Court and it was her duty as a mother to get the family court judge to protect her children.

In the meantime Holly’s young children would return from court ordered visitations battered and bruised. Holly’s little boy was treated by their pediatrician for injuries sustained from his father’s abuse. The doctor’s report documents the bruises to the young lad and clearly states “Mother will be alert for abuse potential situation.” For 5 more years Holly Collins was alert and vigilant to protect her children but time after time and one court hearing after another Mark Collins somehow managed to convince the judge that Holly was trying to “Alienate” him from his children’s lives. Eventually a family court judge instructed Holly to take the children to the Boston Children’s Hospital to be evaluated by the Child Abuse Trauma Team and he simultaneously ordered a custody evaluation. Both Dr. Eli Newberger and the entire investigative team at the Boston Children’s Hospital found that the children and their mother were severely abused by the father. Back in Hennepin County the Family Court Investigator also confirmed domestic violence but conceded that Holly’s fear of her husband was (although unwittingly) indeed interfering in the children’s relationship with their father. And just like that custody was reversed to the very man who terrorized, beat and battered this woman and her children.

Holly eventually fled the country with her children and was the first American citizen granted asylum in the Netherlands. After 14 years in hiding she was found by the FBI. After a lengthy investigation ALL international and domestic kidnapping charges were dismissed. When questioned by reporters in the lobby of the Minneapolis Court House Holly Collins responded that the biggest mistake she ever made was leaving her abuser.

Is this really the message we want to send to abuse victims?

Holly Collins – The REAL Story is Released!

Garland Waller has produced an amazing short documentary about what REALLY happened in our case. Her web site No Way Out But One and the original documentary can be found at:

 The web site for the powerful new documentary film No Way Out But One tells the remarkable story of one woman’s effort to save her children from a life of abuse.

In 1994, Holly Collins ‘kidnapped’ her children and went on the run. An international fugitive who was wanted by the FBI, she eventually became the first American to ever be granted asylum by the government of the Netherlands, based on claims of domestic violence.

Holly Collins’ story is unique, but her struggle is a representative symbol for the thousands of women who must deal with the maddening injustices of a family court system that sentences an estimated 58,000 children a year to live with or visit with their abusers.

The web site has the 13 minute short version of the film. Work is now underway to do additional filming and to expand it to a feature length film. The site also has helpful links to a wide variety of resources for those who may find themselves in a similar custody crisis.

Take a look, let us know what you think. If the link above does not work, just copy and paste this address into your browser:

 For more information about our case you can follow my web blog:

11 Responses

  1. My daughter is in a somewhat similar situation in PA. She left a man who has been abusive towards her, and her son for the last nine years. Her son is not his biological son and there was no marriage or adoption. 7 years ago, she had a daughter with this man. He was a medical student when she met him and during that time he was arrested twice in two different States for domestic violence. The last arrest finally woke her up to the fact that she need to get herself and the kids out of this relationship, but because she has a daughter with this man, the State would not allow her to leave the State without his permission. She has always been a model mother to both children, and he has been very abusive toward her son. She was usually able to “run interference” to protect her son, but he almost committed suicide last summer because of the constant mental anguish he was experiencing at his hands.

    She went to court last month in a custody battle and to get permission to leave PA and move to MA where she has a teaching license and will be able to support the kids. The abusive father is now a full-fledged doctor with plenty of money to hire lawyers.

    During the trial, the judge heard the children beg to be able to go with their mother. They told him how this man would get drunk, neglected them, and abused them. They told about how they saw him beat their mother. My daughter testified that he attempted to rape her, and he even admitted on the stand that he did do that, but he called it “putting the moves on her”.

    The judge did allow my daughter to leave the State, but gave the abusive father 50/50 custody of BOTH children, even though one was not even his and who, at the age of 14, begged the judge not to force him to be a part of this man’s life. The judge even wrote in his order that he realized there was domestic violence and abuse in the family and even though he saw reports that the counselor at her daughter’s school had reported her father for abuse, he decided that he felt the children should “continue with the positive influence they can receive from the father.”

    The judge is also forcing the children to live with their father in PA during the entire summer vacations, but allows my daughter only three weeks of that time. The judge also gave this abusive man the entire Christmas vacation with the kids and their Spring breaks. And he also gets them for one long weekend per month. So, my daughter will be miles away from them and cannot protect them.

    Child services wouldn’t even investigate this abusive man because they didn’t see bruises or marks. The report told that he would sit on my little granddaughter until she couldn’t breathe and he would kick her. He just laughed and told my daughter that he is a doctor and would be sure never to “leave marks”.

    This is what the family court system is like in this country and I thought PA was one of the worst. It looks to me like there is no such thing as “Child Protection”.

    Sorry for the long comment, this is so fresh for our family since this has all been decided just a couple of weeks ago. We’re all devastated.

  2. My God in heaven- the family courts are all nuts! Some pedophile or women hater somewhere with plenty of money has paid them off!
    This is the most disgusting story but it is not an unusual one!
    I hear the same story over and over again and each time it shocks the life out of me!

    Until – we – as women wake up and stick together and fight these courts as an army of 52% of the population we will continue to loose in Family courts!

    Women act as if we are a minority- we have no power because we act like we have no power.

    IMAGINE what would happen if thousands of us showed up in these courts and thousands of us put this so-called doctors name online and drove his patients away! IMAGINE if thousands of us made this so-called father- and the judge and court accountable ?

    I imagine it everyday and yet women just sit by and do nothing until it happens to them or their daughters.

    Women are murdered, children are kidnapped- injustice to the majority and our children and it is in our hands to stop it- if only – OH IF ONLY we would unite and do it!

    I am so sorry for your situation- I would gladly join the march – if only women would march!

    How old are these children now?

  3. So sad. Women let this happen, we accept it. I know a young woman who hates a particular female family court Judge. When she was a teenager she begged this Judge to not force her to visit her abusive father. The Judge (female) said you have no choice in the matter, I don’t believe he is abusing you. She celebrated her 18th birthday, not because she was now 18, but because she was now free to no longer forced to spend weekends and vacations with her father.

    My own daughter, and her father wasn’t physically abusive, more abandonment issues, and verbally abusive when he did show up, was so thrilled when she turned 18. She petitioned the court to allow my husband, her stepfather, to adopt her. The judge started off that he had never had an adult petition for adoption in his Court, this was very unusual. She was so worried during the hearing that he wasn’t going to allow the adoption (as were we all). Imagine our relief when he declared he was thrilled that this young lady felt so strongly toward the man who actually raised and nurtured her, that he was proud to grant the adoption.

    We went through 15 years of a see-saw of emotions of her father showing up randomly threatening to take her (and he did once, to Alaska – FBI was of no help, nor the local police, but the threat that I contacted the FBI was enough to get her back [thankfully]) when she was 5 or so. He refused to pay child support, he refused to sign adoption papers.

    The happiest day of my life was the day she finally got what she wanted, to be the daughter of the man who actually raised her and guided her into the wonderful young woman she is today. The surprise party that night of all our friends, her friends, there to congratulate her was the best.

    As for her father, she was 18. He still doesn’t know she has the last laugh, she dumped him. She hasn’t taken his calls since she was 14, and has no intention of taking them now. Gives me hope in this world. Children can walk away and live a healthy, happy adult life. I did everything I could to protect her and keep her away from him … she took the final step and cut the ties forever. (And it’s just not fathers, there are some mothers out there who need to be cut off too.)

  4. Thank you for sharing a happy ending story with us- it is heart warming to hear compared to the millions of stories that end tragicly not so well.

    Imagine a judge telling a child they have no choice in the matter?
    What are we coming to in the land of the free?
    Women and children have few rights- and you are right- it is because we are not united and as women we alone are allowing this to stand and we alone can stop it!

    Let’s keep talking and urging !

  5. “How old are these children now?”

    My grandchildren are 14 and soon to be years old (next month).

    This is very recent, the court order came down just a couple of weeks ago.

    As much as I would LOVE to destroy this doctor’s reputation, it wouldn’t do much good to try. Even though he has been arrested and jailed three times for domestic violence, it has no effect on his record with the AMA. They do all they can to protect their doctors. In fact, there was a recent article about that in the Chicago Tribune about a month or so ago.

    When he was arrested in PA last year, it was his supervisor at the hospital who met him at the police station, managed to bargain his conviction down from domestic violence to “harassment” and then paid his fine for him. I guess the PA courts are comfortable calling what he did to my daughter as “harassment”. According to my grandson’s testimony before the judge, “He hit my mom hard on the side of the head and then picked her up and threw her to the ground.” My daughter, due to the stress she was under with his constant abuse was down to 72 pounds. He weighs about 210 and is a black belt in martial arts. He told her and my grandson that he can hurt them without leaving marks.

    This is the man who the judge felt was a “positive influence” on my grandson and who deserves custody rights even though he is not the biological father. Because of his rights as a “father” now, he is able to be in constant contact with my grandson’s school and his records. He uses that as a way to find something wrong so he can “punish” him. Since this man has been given these rights (it started before the trial when he was automatically given 50/50 back in October) my grandson is failing 8th grade. He was an average student before that.

    My grandson had made a noose and was ready to hang himself in his bedroom last summer (before my daughter was able to get away from this monster), and he has said to his counselor at school that he would kill himself if forced to stay with this man who forces him to call him “dad”. The judge knew this and still handed him over.

    I agree, we as women need to stand up, but I don’t know how. Another reason that we are treading carefully and why I am not pursuing going after this guy’s reputation is because my daughter is not out of PA yet. We want to get her safely to MA and wait the six months to get the jurisdiction changed to the MA courts in hopes that they are safely away from PA. Her lawyer even told her, she would have a better chance there than in PA because this corruption in the family courts of PA is so prevalent.

    All you have to do is sit in the waiting room of the child support court to hear the horror stories of what happens there. Or, sit outside the family court rooms and listen to the lawyers dividing kids up like cattle. It’s enough to make you ill.

    Oh…and the child support is another thing. This guy makes $25,000 a MONTH and he is barely paying anything. He never paid her anything when she left and the three months he was behind was tacked on to his monthly payments so he wouldn’t have to pay too much upfront….they didn’t want to “burden” him with too much at once. He has not paid her one dime in the last two months, so she has to go back to court again to get the money. The State could not garnish his wages because the hospital refused to cooperate with the State. My daughter isn’t even working because she lives in rural PA where there are no jobs and she is forced to live in York county. If she wants to get a job in the closest big city, that is Harrisburg which is an hour drive. She would never be able to come home in time to pick up her daughter from school. Since she is not getting the child support needed, she cannot afford to get a sitter. There is no bus service for my granddaughter to their home, so she needs to be picked up. It’s a nightmare. Meanwhile, that asshole is out buying expensive cars, traveling, and living like a king.

  6. Ooops….first line of previous post I missed something. My granddaughter is soon to be 8 years old next month.

  7. The 14 year old only has 4 years – but the 8 year old has 10 – that is an eternity.
    We need to get women to volunteer in every state to go to court!

    That needs to be my next goal- gather groups of 250 women in each state that will go – no matter what – that will go to court with a sister!

    Imagine what changes will happen if word gets out that every woman goes to court with an enterage of 250 sisters across this nation!
    We can strike terror in the hearts of men- the courts and the system!

    We can do this – we must!

  8. Freemenow-

    No, I’m not a nun…it’s a long story, a nickname given to me “Nunly” led me to start a blog called “Bad Habit” and I use nun pics in a lot of my blog posts. Most of my blog is about religious issues (I’m a Catholic) and some politics…and then there are just day to day musings. I put my blog on hiatus while I was going through all this stuff but I will be starting it up again soon.

    Some of my loyal readers know about the situation, why I was going on hiatus, but others don’t. I’m not sure what to do with this. I’m not sure if I should start with a blog post and discuss this–or if that would bring in my personal life to closely. I’m really torn.

    There’s no doubt that this is a message that needs to get out, and I was so surprised to see this blog quite by accident as I was surfing through some political sites. I’m taking the next few days to think about this….I don’t want my blog to go to this one subject because I live with it every moment of my life as I worry about my daughter, grandchildren, and the immense amount of money my husband and I have spent on lawyers, travel back and forth from Chicago to PA, etc.

    Maybe you have some suggestions? If I do write about this, I would also like to link to this blog and mention your quest to fight for the rights of abused women and children.

    Thanks so much for this running dialog, I appreciate the outlet and I think your blog is the greatest.

    Take care…

    • You may also consider that blogging under your own name and blog may give fuel to the enemy- please feel free to come and blog here under a pseudonym.
      We can always use another good writer – a passionate advocate and we even have a radio outlet that you can sound off on anomalously.
      You did not find me by accident and I was not just sitting here by accident either!

      We are all potential tools waiting to be picked up and put to work or we are just worthless objects lying around doing nothing

      Think about it!

  9. I will definitely think about it! Thank you so much for the invitation.

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