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American (Battered) Woman and Her Children Receive Asylum in Europe

Reader comment on item: Seeking Asylum from Western Countries

Submitted by Hanna T (Netherlands), Mar 23, 2007 at 20:32

I am still ashamed to admit that I was a battered woman.

The Hennepin County Judge (in Minnesota) found that domestic violence occurred, but decided that I was too damaged from the abuse. On the record he labeled me as "a scared little bird" and "a woman in a shell." The judge determined that it was easier to monitor my ex-husbands physical abuse to the children than my potential emotional harm and awarded him custody.

In 1994 I fled with my children (son -11, daughter -9, son -1) to protect them from physical abuse from their father.

I decided to go "underground" and eventually fled the United States. I was apprehended in Holland because I could not provide proper travel documentation. An intense legal battle with the Dutch government lasted three years and we were finally granted a residency permit and humanitarian status in the Netherlands.

(Apparently we are the first Americans to be granted Asylum in the European Union.)

After 13 years of living in secrecy, we have recently been found by the American authorities.

I am awaiting the legal repercussions for my actions. There is a warrant for felony deprivation of parental rights in Minnesota and a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. I am refusing to return the children and myself to the United States.

Of course I can prove the abuse! I have overwhelming documentation of abuse towards myself and my children; medical records, police reports, restraining orders, etc... My children are almost 24 and 22 years old and are able to speak for themselves now regarding the abuse they endured. My 14 year old son was never subjected to abuse and now faces the possibility of being extradited back to the United States.

We are hoping that the Netherlands Central Authority will continue to protect my children.

I also hope that my case can help other battered women protect their children.

Submitting....

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