Now she tells about the saga of her losses and recovery in a poignant, honest and riveting book, “Destruction of Innocence, A True Story of Child Abduction.”
The book is intended to convey not only a message and a warning, but also rays of hope. Written in the style of a memoir, the chapters do not always follow the sequence of events in chronological order, but the unraveling of details takes on the feeling of a complex James Bond thriller.
West Kerr County resident Rosalie Hollingsworth lovingly holds a photograph of her daughter Triana, then 7 years old, who was kidnapped twice. Triana’s first abduction by Hollingsworth’s estranged husband lasted eight months; the second, four agonizing years. The ordeal of her return each time is documented in the new book written by Hollingsworth, “Destruction of Innocence, A True Story of Child Abduction.” Photo by Irene Van Winkle.
Writing the book was an ordeal in itself for her, Hollingsworth said, and she has laid out the story bluntly.
In addition to her daughter’s abductions, Rosalie reveals her own sad childhood, of betrayal and abuse that left her both vulnerable and determined.
As an adult, Hollingsworth suddenly found herself trying to cope with the twisted manipulations of her first husband, Franco. He swept her off her feet like a prince in a fairy tale, only to snatch away the one thing she loved the most.
In the book’s introduction, Hollingsworth details the cold and frightening statistics about child abduction:
“One child is reported missing every 40 seconds. … Of millions of children, an appalling 80 percent are parental kidnapping victims. Angry, jealous, fearful and, in some cases, deranged parents defy the law, stealing their children and disappearing. In the wake of each kidnapping are untold stories of despair and agony. After one year, over 50 percent of these cases will remain forever unsolved. This is the story of my daughter, Triana, who was twice taken from me. In the first abduction, my estranged Italian husband took our one year old baby and fled to Italy … Six years later, he kidnapped her again, disappearing with her into the remote jungles of South America.”
The book is filled with details of how Triana was dragged from one country to another, as her father changed identities like a chameleon, and the dangers she endured from predators of every ilk and shape.
Retelling her story still hits a raw nerve with Hollingsworth, even though Triana’s second abduction ended more than 25 years ago. It may be that some of her emotions will never be totally resolved, but perhaps become less jagged.
Asked why she finally decided to write the book, Hollingsworth said, “I was angry at myself for being naive, for having trusted this man who took my child. I was angry at Franco, Carmen (his mother), Kitty (his second wife) and the government — at every person who had not helped me locate my child or stood in my way of finding her. I needed to deal with this anger and writing helped me deal with most of it. I don’t know if I can ever forgive Franco for what he subjected my daughter to — it is just too painful to this day.”
Hollingsworth wrote at night when the house was quiet, but often found herself walking away from it when the thoughts and memories became too painful.
When she first met her husband, Franco, he appeared seemingly out of the blue, Hollingsworth said, and “I was dazzled by his devotion. He was diabolically charming and proposed to me after just six weeks.”
Franco, who came of age during WWII in war-torn Italy, was spoiled by his old-world Italian mother, who had tolerated his father’s debauchery. But he was also polished and well-educated, and to someone of his practiced cunning, Hollingsworth was easy prey.
What Hollingsworth found out only too late was that he had a temper that raged often and unexpectedly with jealousy, creating a constant firestorm in their relationship.
When Triana was only a year old, she was spirited away from their home in California by her conniving father and taken to Italy.
After eight agonizing months, using her own ruses and subterfuge, Hollingsworth was able to bring Triana back. For years, Hollingsworth parried with Franco over custody, and then, when she least expected it, the nightmare that had haunted her once again repeated itself.
The second time around, her ordeal took four years, scouring through the wilds of South America, as authorities and even church figures were not only ineffective, but also blocked her path.
Every time Hollingsworth tried to enlist the help of others, it seemed to fall mostly on deaf ears. It was only through her own courageous perseverence, and the help of several “guardian angels,” that Triana was eventually brought home.
During the intervening years, Hollingsworth met and married another man, Stan. He brought his own sons into the picture, adding a layer of complication. The couple then had another child. It was while she was pregnant with Tisha that the final drama unfolded, making it even more precarious and volatile.
The debris left behind in the wake of traumatic events to Triana, Hollingsworth and other members of the family is immeasurable and will never be completely tidied up.
Triana is left coping with low self-esteem. Over time and with counseling, she has made progress, Hollingsworth said, but she is still left with difficult challenges.
However, Triana has brought her mother a wonderful gift in the form of a son, on whom Hollingsworth dotes, as she does all her grandchildren.
Younger sister, Tisha, has three of her own boys and stays in touch, as do some of Stan’s sons.
Reflecting on the aftermath, Hollingsworth said, “Someone asked me out of all the things that happened, what did I learn? All I can say is that none of it was worth the loss of my child and what she went through. To me, true knowledge comes from good things, and this wasn’t a good thing.”
For children who are rescued, her advice is for them not to blame themselves for trusting the parent who abducted them.
Today, Hollingsworth’s greatest consolation are the children and grandchildren who beam back at her from the many photographs she has placed around her home. They are her next generation of treasures, and she joyfully basks in their glow.
Hollingsworth said she wrote the book to bring greater attention to the issue of child abduction. In the 1970s, the government was of little help, but, she added, “Today we have the government getting involved, along with all kind of alerts and publicity to kidnappings and child abductions.”
The other, and more important part of her message, she said, was to parents of abducted children.
“Do not give up the search. Do what you have to do to locate your child. Use every resource you can possibly find. Contact every person you know who could help. Don’t give up.”
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