July 30 2011 - Happy Gotcha Day Holly Collins!

Today is our anniversary. 17 years ago my mother rescued us from our abusive father. We celebrated our freedom in a refugee center in Europe. I recently found the letter my mother wrote commemorating our first anniversary. It is a nice tribute to this hero who saved my life. Thank you mom!

June 30 1995,
Dear Loved Ones,

Merry Christmas! Seasons Greetings. Happy Birthday and warm wishes for all the other holidays we missed throughout this past year. It is our one year anniversary of freedom – how terrific! Life is truly wonderful! Aside from missing all of you, our lives are full of happiness and healing. We want to share our celebration with you. We hope you find comfort in our yearly update…

Personally I am learning to confront, accept and then let go of the past. I am emerging strong and remarkably sane. Again it has been confirmed that my children are not lying about the abuse and I am really not crazy. I guess I am still dependent on professionals to help me define reality. I always knew my children were telling the truth, but now I actually believe in my own sanity as well. I am beginning to enjoy life and I absolutely adore being a whole and complete mother again. I find great comfort in observing my children’s recovery. Their resilience is amazing. Zachary and Jennifer are transforming from scared, insecure, abused children into happy, self confident “normal” kids. Christopher is thriving being spoiled by his doting older siblings. As a family we are picking up the pieces of our shattered lives and therapeutically putting them back together one small step at a time.

I have to admit that this year has had its difficulties. When I was reunited with my children Zachary exclaimed in utter terror “If my Dad catches us he will beat us!” From that moment on any reservations that I had about my decision to flee were replaced by my obligation to protect my children. Jennifer and Zachary have repeatedly asked me why it took me so long to save them. The horror stories they have told me about the continued abuse fill me with terror and rage. I struggle with Zachary’s anger, Jennifer’s vulnerability and my own guilt for having left hem in danger based on my belief to uphold the law. I am embarrassed to think of how ignorant and na├»ve I was to have such a blind faith that justice, under those circumstances would prevail.

I can not go into details about how and where we are residing, but I can say that we have been given legal protection. We have a wonderful lawyer who found a legal way for us to live a safe, relatively “normal” new life. This situation is only temporary until my children’s safety can be guaranteed or until the Minnesota Court catches up to us and challenges this order. With all the trouble the Hennepin County family court system is having, it looks like we we’ll be safe for a while. Judge Porter’s publicized conflicts have only strengthened my case. As a family, we have decided that our priority is living as happily and as long as possible without getting caught. We are proud that we have made it this far. We managed to buy time. The children are getting older now. They can not be ignored any longer. Their voices have finally been heard. Please be reassured that I know now more than ever that I made the correct decision. Regardless of the consequences that I face in Minnesota, it is worth this past year along. For again, I have given my children life.

As I recollect over this past year I can not help being pulled back into the past. The terror of being battered still haunts me. The memories I once fought and refused to acknowledge are now bitter reality. I am still tormented by the actions of the court officers which nearly destroyed me and offered my children up for sacrifice. Someday they shall be held accountable. It is difficult to let go when I know that they are still destroying the lives of battered women and abused children. The legal justice system has to change. Women should not be further persecuted for being victims of abuse. Children should not be used as pawns in attempts to continue the cycle of domestic violence. Everyone, especially children have the right to live free from violence and fear.

I hope you understand why we cannot send pictures or have any other contact with you. We miss you all and we love you very much!

With Love, Holly Ann, Zachary, Jennifer and Christopher

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