Who is Jennifer Collins - American Refugee

When I was a little girl I told my mother that my father was abusing me and my brother during visitation. My mother believed me and my brother because she was also abused by my father and she witnessed my father beating my brother and fracturing his skull. After my parents divorced the judge couldn’t understand why my mom was still so afraid of my father. Court transcripts reveal that the judge described my parent’s custody case as: “I have seen him and I have seen her. She was shaking like a little bird and I thought she had just been beaten with a belt. Then I found out they have been divorced for 2 years and that is not the behavior of someone who has been divorced for 2 years.” He ignored evidence that my fathers abuse to my mother and her children continued and even escalated after the divorce.

Even though several judges found my father to be abusive the judge presiding over the custody case chastised my mother “It’s about time you get over the abuse!” The court determined that our mother’s fear of our father was interfering in his relationship with us and the judge reversed custody of me and my brother to the very man who was abusing us.

The worst day of my life was when I was 7 years old and the court officer pried my fingers off of my mothers dress. I was kicking and screaming "Mommy help me!" when he handed me over to my abusive father. My father’s abuse continued and all contact was severed with our loving mother. The abuse was unbearable but it was even worse to loose our loving mommy.

Eventually we were allowed to have minimal supervised visitation with our mother. During the court supervised visitation I lifted my shirt to reveal the welts, bruises and strap marks on my back and bottom. I told my mother and the supervisors “He is still hurting us!”

The supervisor gasped then scolded me “You know you are not allowed to talk about those kinds of things anymore!” After 18 months and 8 days in our fathers house my brother and I couldn’t take the abuse any longer. We ran away from our fathers’ house to our mother.

It was very difficult but our mother (who was only 28 years old) found a way to smuggle us out of the country. We made it to Europe where we were apprehended and arrested for inadequate travel documentation. We were put into a jail cell with our mom and baby brother. My mother applied for asylum in the Netherlands and we spent 3 years in refugee camps until we finally won our case in 1997. We are the first Americans to receive asylum in another country!

After 14 years of living in anonymity we were found by the FBI and suddenly woke one morning to news crews camped outside our home in the Netherlands. My mom returned to the United States to face criminal charges and all kidnapping charges against her were dismissed. She refused to apologize to the judge and pled guilty to one count of contempt of court to which she replied “I admit to having contempt for the court which failed to protect my children!”

My mom was permitted to return to the Netherlands and we are living in exile waiting for my younger brother to turn 18 (in 5 months) so he will be free from the judge in Minnesota. At the American Consulate office in Amsterdam we have undergone the re-identification process and our American citizenship has been reinstated. I just received my first American passports a few days ago.

After sixteen years of exile we are finally preparing to go home!

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