“Handle Me With Care”: A look into the mission of Sandra Collins
By Diamond Hunt-Coleman
Senior Outlook Writer
Sandra Collins is the executive director of ‘I Heard Your Cry’ Foundation. Through her foundation, Collins collects dolls to hand out to victims of domestic violence in hopes that one day they are able to see themselves in the face of those dolls.
When Collins was young, her father gave her a doll that she would never forget. “The box read ‘Hold my hand and I will walk with you’. For years I didn’t know why he gave me the doll but after becoming an advocate I see the message clearly.”
As black and white as it may seem, domestic violence is one of the most gray areas a person can face. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) nearly 20 people per minute become a victim of domestic violence and are afraid to report it. Sandra Collins was once in that number.
“I was married at 18 and faced verbal, mental and physical abuse,” said Collins.
According to the United States Department of Justice, domestic violence is defined as “ a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”
While some of the signs of domestic violence are very obvious there are many that aren’t. One of the most obvious signs that an individual is in an abusive relationship or in a relationship that can escalate to abuse is fear of their partner.
“If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive,” said Collins.
Domestic abuse generally begins with threats and verbal abuse and escalates to violence. While physical injuries such as black eyes or bruises may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. It can often lead to the decrease in self-worth, the increase of anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone.
According to Collins, the idea to give victims and survivors of domestic violence dolls came to her in a dream and thus “Handle Me With Care” dolls was started.
Verricka Lamb and her foundation, One Saddle Club Inc, partnered up with “Handle Me With Care” dolls to bring awareness to domestic violence in Valdosta, GA. One Saddle Club Inc. collects dolls as well as toy trucks to give to children dealing with domestic violence situations.
“I`ve been working with Sandra for the last two months and it has been a pleasant experience,” said Lamb. “ I believe that her program brings the attention to domestic violence that is needed.”
With the dolls that are donated to the foundation, victims and survivors are urged to look at the beauty of the dolls to see the beauty in themselves. They are urged not to define themselves by the worth of the doll but to remember that each doll is unique and has been through something just like they have.
“As a domestic violence victim I understand,” said Collins. “The thing about dolls is that they all have their defects that we might not see right away. Some might have more toes or might have gotten bruised in production but at the end of the day they`re still beautiful dolls. The same goes for those dealing with domestic violence.”
Collins believes that the best advice she can give someone in an abusive relationship is to create an escape plan and build a support system.
Ultimately victims must remember that they are not responsible for the actions of their abuser and remember to love themselves.