My big brother spoke out at the 2011 Battered Mothers Custody Conference 2011. It took a lot of courage. I am so honored that he is my brother.
Hi, My name is Zachary and I'm the oldest son of the infamous Holly Collins. I've been asked multiple times to speak my mind concerning this subject and until now I've been pretty successful in turning each of these requests down. My sister Jennifer has wanted to save the world ever since she was a little girl. I'm afraid I'm a bit more selfish than that; all I've ever wanted is to obliterate my past from memory, though admittedly this hasn't solved all of my problems either.
Ever since it was revealed that we had been hiding in the Netherlands, I assured myself that I wouldn't be discussing any of my experiences with the public. No matter how many speeches and appearances my mother and sister would be making at conferences such as this one, I didn't feel threatened by their increasing popularity, because I wouldn't be sharing any of my emotional crap.
Of course, in the back of my mind I knew that I would eventually have to break this promise to myself. Since the load of BS directed at my sister by certain male figure-heads (who won't have the honor of being named in this speech) my Big Brother instincts told me it was finally time to lend little sis a hand. Mind you, I'm not saying Jennifer NEEDED my help, so don't anyone go getting me in trouble. I don't quite know how to go about dealing with an ignorant male chauvinist, and anyhow I think Jennifer meant for me to share something that most of you could relate to, instead of getting down on the same levels as those...
One thing I do know about is anger. Ever since I was old enough to grasp the concept of anger, it's been eating away at me. I never really stood a chance. I had been exposed to this miserable emotion from such a young age, though it didn't consume my being till the day that custody of my sister and I was awarded to my abusive father. Ironically, rather than vent my rage at the bastard who installed this heinous trait within me, I blamed my mother for every bad thing that happened from then on. 'If she wasn't capable of protecting us , then she never should have promised she would in the first place... the liar!'
I'm a grown man now, and intelligent enough to know that my mother isn't to blame for the actions of a corrupt court-system or a hot-headed coward, but it's not that simple. As a child I was taught that it was acceptable to take my anger out on those who couldn't protect themselves, while I was simultaneously taught that I should never, ever, ever talk to my mother that way... or my sister... or my dog... or my Nintendo. But I wasn't going to cry every time I got a funny feeling in my toe. Crying made me sad, and that made me angry. But I wasn't allowed to get angry! So eventually I learnt the art of bottling it up.
When you've been holding as many bottles as I have, for as long as I have, you drop a few from time to time. Sometimes you drop a lot, and that's when a hurt and confused sibling is left wondering how spilling a drink can trigger an explosive fit of cursing. With so much experience in the matter you'd think I'd learn a thing or two. And all I can come up with is "I'm sorry", "I know its wrong", "I can't help it". My mother one day lovingly explained to my younger brother who is autistic, that "Zachary is having a bad day because he also is kind of autistic. Sometimes he just doesn't understand why he's angry." No one like me deserves such a convenient excuse, but I couldn't think of a more perfect explanation for those who'd think it inconceivable that a 6 year old could be so angry that he would repeatedly bash his own head into a wall.
This is not to say that there's no hope for me, or for any of your angry little boys and girls. The psychologists and therapists who treated me as a child, a teenager and a young adult, I hate them all, but thanks to them I've been able to recognize my anger and control it to a certain degree. Because of my mother and the people who helped us I have a wonderful life and a loving family. And I have a beautiful and understanding German fiancée waiting for me in the Netherlands, whose only flaw is that she still doesn't know that I don't deserve her.
I can't help any of you get your children back, or compare in the slightest to my sisters determination and generosity. I only hope that these words have given you some understanding as to why you have such an angry child. I hope these words will help you to understand that you are not to blame for these crimes committed against your families. But most of all, I hope you realize, when you finally get those kids back, that eventually they will stop blaming you and, eventually they too will understand why they USED to be so angry.