After 14 Years Hiding her Children from a Violent Father, Mom will Receive Medal of Courage at IVAT Conference

San Diego, CA: After hiding for 14 years to protect herself and her children from their father, Jennifer Collins will be in San Diego September 14 to present her story at the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma's (IVAT) 13th International Conference. Collins will be awarded a Medal of Courage by the California Protective Parents Association for her bravery in speaking out about her ordeal in order to help other abused children.

Collins, now 23, is back in the U.S. after hiding with her mother in the Netherlands following a custody battle that left the children at risk. Jennifer's mother, Holly, took Jennifer and her brother into hiding in 1994 after the children reported abuse by their father, declarations from doctors, social workers and psychologists confirmed the children's claims and recommended against the children being in their father's care, but the family court judge ordered the children be placed in the father's custody. Desperate to protect her children, Holly fled with them to the Netherlands, where they were provided with asylum after an international court found it would be too dangerous for the children to return, and Holly was declared a human rights refugee. When the FBI located the Collins in 2008 to pursue federal kidnapping charges against Holly, the Netherlands would not extradite, and the charges were later dropped.

Jennifer, now a psychology student, hopes to teach the public the dangers of not believing children who report abuse, and describe the failures of family courts to properly protect abused children. She says: "Children should not have to run away from America in order to escape child abuse."

Eric Hickey, PhD, IVAT Board Chair of the Board and Director of the Center for Forensic Studies at Alliant International University, comments, "Jennifer's story and that of her family illustrates the power of surviving domestic abuse. We welcome her to the IVAT Conference."

Psychologist Joyanna Silberg, Ph. D, of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, will also present at the conference, pointing out how the Collins family's case is typical of system failures throughout the country.

About IVAT: IVAT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected by violence, abuse, and trauma by providing professional training and information dissemination on a local, national, and international level.

About Alliant International University: Alliant International University is a private nonprofit WASC-accredited university celebrating its 85th anniversary this year. Founded in San Diego as Balboa College, Alliant now includes the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) and the former United States international University (USIU). CSPP counts roughly half the licensed psychologists in California as its alumni and is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

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