By Jueseppi B.
No Way Out But One tells the story of an American woman accused of kidnapping her own children, who fled the country and became the first American woman to ever be granted asylum by the government of the Netherlands, due to domestic violence.
No Way Out But One follows on the groundbreaking work of producer Garland Waller’s previous award winning documentary Small Justice. The earlier film examined the failure of the family court system to protect children from sexual abuse. No Way Out But One exposes the other grave failure of the courts—that men who batter wives and beat children can and do get custody. This failure, the secret shame of the American court system, is virtually ignored by the mainstream media.
No Way Out But One is based on extensive interviews with Holly and her family, medical professionals, lawyers, and child advocates. Filming has been completed in The Netherlands, Boston, Washington DC, and New York. The producers have culled through thousands of pages of court and medical records, unpublished journals, news reports, family photos and videos. The producers also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI for Holly’s files, which resulted in the identification of nearly 1,000 pages of material.
In a world that has been shocked by Jerry Sandusky/Penn State, Jerry Seville/BBC, Boy Scouts and Catholic Priest abuse, it is a sad commentary that courts can and do ignore sexual abuse and give custody to abusers. No Way Out But One seeks to expose this injustice by telling the powerful and compelling story of Holly Collins.
In 1994 Holly Collins became an international fugitive when she grabbed her three children and went on the run. It all happened because a family court had ignored Holly’s charges, the children’s pleas, Holly’s broken nose, Zackary’s fractured skull, and other medical evidence of domestic violence. The family court in Minnesota gave full custody of Zackary and Jennifer to Holly’s ex-husband. It was at that point that Holly came to believe she and the children had No Way Out But One.
In what has become an incredible saga, Holly eventually fled the United States. For awhile, she lived beneath the radar, hiding on Indian Reservations, in Mexico and Guatemala. With three children and no passports,incredibly, she made it to Amsterdam where she blurted out a plea for asylum. The fact that she was fleeing domestic violence and would not be protected if she were returned to the US seemed ridiculous at first. But Holly had come armed with documents – legal and medical. At first, she and her children were treated as refugees, living in a refugee center with other poor souls fleeing violence torn hell-holes from around the world. Living shoulder to shoulder with people learning to use indoor plumbing for the first time in their lives, Holly and her kids made the best of it. At least they were safe.
Holly became the first U. S. citizen to be granted asylum by the government of Netherlands. She lived a quiet, low profile life for the next 14 years, until the FBI agents came calling. Hoping to return Holly to the United States to face kidnapping charges, 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.
Holly and all her kids – this spring in Holland
Eventually, all charges against Holly were dropped, save one: contempt of court. Holly readily acknowledged that after all she and the children had been through, she did indeed harbor “contempt of court.”
In September of 2011, Holly and her children returned to North America.
No Way Out But One – Official Trailer
NO WAY OUT BUT ONE is a documentary film about Holly Collins. The FBI called her a kidnapper. But her kids called her their hero.
A TRUE STORY OF FIERCE LOVE
AND BLIND JUSTICE
No Way Out But One is a documentary that tells the story of Holly Collins, an American woman who was driven by fear, love and desperation to kidnap her own children and go on the run in order to protect them from a life of abuse. Wanted by the FBI, Holly left behind everything she owned and everyone she knew in an effort to keep her children safe. She became an international fugitive, eventually making it to Amsterdam. After spending 2 years in a refugee camp out in the middle of nowhere, living shoulder to shoulder with other desperate souls fleeing violence torn hell holes around the world, Holly became the first American woman to ever be granted asylum by the Government of the Netherlands, due to domestic violence. Though it focuses on the desperate measures that one woman felt she had to take to protect her children, it also exposes the problems that protective parents and vulnerable children are facing nearly every day in courtrooms across the country.
After the family had been living quietly in the Netherlands for 14 years, the FBI found them and came calling. By then the children had “aged out” of court supervision and they told the FBI that, in their eyes, their mother was not a kidnapper, but a hero, who had saved their lives. Eventually, all charges against Holly were dropped.
Today, Holly’s children all thrive. They are warm and gracious and caring. And Holly and her kids are preparing to return to America.
No Way Out But One follows on the groundbreaking work of producer Garland Waller’s previous award-winning documentary Small Justice. It examined the failure of the Family Court System to protect children from abuse. It is the secret shame of the American Court system and one that is virtually ignored by the mainstream media.
No Way Out But One is based on extensive interviews with Holly and her family, medical professionals, lawyers, and child advocates. Filming has been completed in The Netherlands, Boston, Washington DC, and New York. The producers have culled through thousands of pages of court and medical records, unpublished journals, news reports, family photos and videos. Our Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI for Holly’s files, resulted in the identification of nearly 1,000 pages of never before seen material.
The Larger Picture: Exposing a National Scandal
No Way Out But One tells the story of one woman and her family but it is emblematic of a much larger heartbreaking national scandal. In Child and Family Court systems across the country, those who abuse their children are all too often awarded custody of them by the very courts charged with protecting them.
It is estimated that 58,000 children a year are ordered into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce in the United States.
Holly’s case is by no means an isolated example. View some of the interviews producer Garland Waller conducted at the annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference.
As it stands today, the Family Court System is far too often a dysfunctional and dangerous place for children. It is a system desperately in need of change.
About The Collins Family
Holly Collins didn’t want to run away. In fact, she put it off until she could not live with herself unless she protected her children. She KNEW these children she so loved were being abused while in the custody of their father. They told her. They told the court supervisors. They told the guardian ad litem. But the Minnesota family court gave the father custody anyway.
“I just thought if you told the truth, you know, you would be believed. I always just told the kids, just tell the truth, so when the court didn’t believe us, I started going through all of our records.”
Holly had records of legal documents, medical reports, as well as pictures the children drew which clearly showed abuse.
No Way Out But One explores how Holly, a battered woman lost custody of her children. After a judge gave her ex-husband full custody, it’s easy to see how Holly would have been desperate.
It is important to acknowledge that kidnapping is crime. And the legal consequences for those convicted of kidnapping charges can be grave indeed. Holly will also be the first to tell you that their life on the run was hard on everyone. And she is aware that in a post-9/11 world of increased airport security, she and her children would never have made it out of the country. But to this day, Holly says her biggest regret was waiting as long as she did to take her children and run. She has other regrets of course. But then, just ask her to tell you about her children – all of them – and her face lights up.
Jennifer Collins was the early inspiration for this documentary. Garland and Barry heard her speak at the Battered Mothers Custody Conference in 2009. Barry’s article was published in E Pluribus Media.
Jennifer’s story, her memories, were so moving and so powerful plans were made shortly thereafter to begin work on a documentary.
Jennifer speaks in No Way Out But One of going to supervised visitation to see her mother after the court gave her father full custody.
“I was told on several occasions that I wasn’t allowed to talk about what my father was doing to us…I showed up for example once (at a supervised visitation) with bruises. And I showed my mother and I got in trouble. They (the supervisors) said, “No, no. You know you’re not allowed to talk about those things anymore and if you do then you’re not allowed to see your mother.”
Jennifer was in elementary school at the time.
Today, Jennifer is the Executive Director of Courageous Kids, which helps other children who have been abused speak about their abuse so that they can begin to change the system.
Jennifer’s blog has details, facts, and pictures about her experience of abuse, being on the run, living at the refugee center, and speaking about her life today and some of the challenges she still faces.
Zachary spoke out for the first time at the Battered Mothers Custody Conference in 2011.
“I would like to say that never since we left did I feel like I was kidnapped. Actually when I kid I thought it was quite ridiculous when we heard that they were charging my mom for kidnapping her own children. Taking them away from an abusive father….it seemed completely ludicrous to me. That’s one thing I’d like to get clear.”
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