Womens Forum - The Holly Collins Story

Tuesday, 14 June 2011 02:12 Jodi Beck ..

Dear Friends,

My dear friend and colleague, Garland Waller, is an Emmy-winning producer, professor, and best of all--all around great gal.

Over the years, Garland has shared with me the incredible story of an incredible mother, Holly Collins, who became a fugitive of this country in order to keep her children safe (read Garland's blog below for the amazing details). This story has now become No Way Out But One, a Telly Award-winning short form documentary. Telly Awards “honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web."

I could not be more excited for Garland, who's relentless commitment to bringing Holly's story to light has been nothing short of Olympian, and for Holly, whose story is now being developed as a full-length documentary.

And with that, dear friends, I offer you the words of my friend, Garland Waller:

Let me ask you this…..What would you do if someone hurt one of your children? What would you do if it were an ex-husband? I mean really, what would you do? Go to court? Well, not so fast…..

There is a little known and dark secret that a lot of women don’t learn about until it’s too late….until they are fighting over custody in an American family court. And it’s a real shocker. Family Court judges often give custody to fathers who have committed acts of domestic violence and have harmed the children. In fact, it is estimated that 58,000 children a year are ordered into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce. I know. It makes no sense.

“No way,” you say.

Well, as my daughter says, “Way.”

The fact that this happens with such alarming frequency is why I am producing No Way Out But One, an independent documentary. The film focuses on the remarkable story of Holly Collins, who, in 1994, kidnapped her three children to protect them from a life of abuse. Now we all know kidnapping is wrong...usually. But ask yourself what you would do if you were Holly. There was clear medical evidence that her ex-husband had fractured her son’s skull and had broken Holly’s nose, and despite that, the family court in Minnesota gave full time custody to the ex-husband. When Holly was allowed to see the children, in supervised visitation, they would beg her to take them away, to get them out of there. Really, you have to remember that Holly was a young mom and a battered woman who had done nothing but try to protect her children. In desperation, Holly took them and fled.

Hunted by the FBI, Holly went on the run and fled the country. She eventually made it to Amsterdam. There, she became the first American to ever be granted asylum by the government of the Netherlands on the grounds of domestic violence.

She lived a quiet, low profile life for the next 14 years, until the FBI agents came calling. Their plan was to return Holly to the United States to face kidnapping charges. That changed after they interviewed her now grown children. Jennifer and Zackary told the agents that far from being their kidnapper, their mother was their savior and their hero. In fact, for the details, you can check out Jennifer’s blog.

Eventually, all charges against Holly were dropped, except one: contempt of court. Holly readily acknowledged that after all she and the children had been through, she did indeed harbor “contempt of court.”

No Way Out But One weaves other stories of women who, in trying to protect their children from abuse, landed in jail, were fined, or were barred from seeing their children. So even though the film focuses on Holly’s story, it will also expose a national scandal – that loving mothers can and do lose custody of their kids every day in America’s Family Courts.

My husband, Barry Nolan, and I are producing this independent documentary on a wing and a prayer. We are now using Kickstarter to raise completion funds.

Personally, I hate to scare people. But what is happening in the family courts is alarming and the system needs to change. Until the system changes though, women who love their children and who might end up in family court, need to be aware of some of the pitfalls.

Garland Waller
Garland Waller Productions

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