Jennifer Collins Reflects on Battered Mothers Custody Conference 2011

On Saturday afternoon January 9th 2011 I sat in the living room of our family home in the Netherlands intently listening (via the internet) to my mother giving a live presentation at the Battered Mothers Custody Conference in Albany New York.

As I watched my little brothers and sisters cheerfully distracted in a board game I was engrossed by my mother’s words of how she sacrificed everything she had to rescue her two fragile children from abuse. My mother’s words rang in my ears as the headset muffled the laughter from my siblings. My youngest sister is exactly the same age that I was when I was being severely abused by my own father. I looked at her tossing her hair as she laughed carefree at our brother’s jokes and I remember how different my life was at that age. Life was hell back then. My father was beating me and my brother, and even worse we thought that our mother had abandoned us.

I listened to my mother profess how hard she tried to rescue us and it still surprises me today because it doesn’t coincide with my own memories. I remember doubting and yet believing at the same time my father and his wife as they insisted that if our mother really loved us she would come get us because Lord knows that they didn’t want us. I remember crawling underneath my bed and pulling out a crumpled piece of paper I had hidden which had a copy of my mother’s handprint. I would lie on the floor with my little hand on the carbon copy of my mothers and muffle my cries for my mommy. I would sing songs she taught us and pray to God as she instructed but it eventually got to the point where it was futile. I watched my brother deteriorate, loose faith, shut down emotionally and become full of anger and hate.

I listened to my brother's words through the headset as he spoke after our mother explaining how he is still coping with his anger. I choked back the tears as he recalled his childhood memories of blaming our mother for every bad thing which happened to us and I cringed when he called her a liar because “if she wasn’t capable of protecting us then she never should have promised she would in the first place.”

When I hung up the phone I realized how lucky we were to get away. How distant that world of abuse and betrayal was from the life our mother stole back and recreated for us. Here I was safe in Holland and I realized that we were given a second chance. I feel indebted to my mother and I so desperately want to honor her courage by being a voice for other children who are not as lucky as my brother and I were.

As my mothers attorney said in his follow up after my mother and brother “once a child has been abused there is no justice” The abuse can never be undone. But we can prevent it from being compounded.

I still haven’t found a way to articulate how devastating the family court's actions were to me and my brother. It is inhumane to rip a child out of a loving mother’s arms under the guise of “restoring a father’s rights.” The misdirected law reforms should not be about whether a father (or a mother) has a right to be in their children’s lives. It should be about children having the right to be safe, happy and secure.

Being abused as a child was devastating but being ripped away from our mother, having the contact with our primary parent severed and the maternal bond we shared destroyed is what has damaged me most. I am determined to find a way to be a voice for the child I was and for the children who are now...

~Jennifer Collins
CA3 - Children Against Court Appointed Child Abuse

No comments:

Post a Comment