Child & Family is private non-profit human and health service agency that has proudly served children, families, and seniors throughout Rhode Island since 1866.

Featured Story

Collete Ann Rinkel

My name is Collete Ann Rinkel. I was once a victim, but I am now a hero.

In 2021, I almost lost my life to my abusive partner of 8 terrible years. That relationship not only took my self-worth, but it also took my soul; I was a shell of a human and tried to end my own life because of it. I accepted the way he treated me for so long because my father was mentally, verbally, and emotionally abusive – so I almost looked for that in people as a young girl.

I left my family home at the age of 18 with my abuser, the horror at what my reality became is still something that I have not processed and am struggling with daily. After I had my second child, I gained a lot of weight, my abuser used the insecurity I had developed about it to discourage me from the hope of being loved by anyone. I was at the lowest point in my life, and I was going to attempt to end my life again, but the voice of my mother in my head – who passed when I was 16 years old – said “Your babies need you, fight”. So, I decided to get healthy for myself, and for them.

I began eating healthy and working out every day. I started my weight loss journey in July 2021 at 177 pounds. I lost 55 pounds, in three months. But, that’s not the miraculous part, reaching my health goals gave me the courage to leave my abuser. In October of 2021, he plead guilty to domestic violence charges. Although I am still in this fight to find a happy, healthy Collete, I get closer to her every day.

We all have the strength, power, bravery, and fight to be our own heroes. But I am here today to spread hope because there are resources for people like me and my past self, in even the darkest times and the most isolated moments.

For me, the biggest shift was when DCYF stepped in due to my abuser’s arrest. I know for a fact that my mother shined her light down on my babies when she sent Child & Family to my home and we began working together each week.

I was assigned this incredible woman named Gina and she was there with me through it all. She was with us as we lost our home due to my abuser’s arrest, homelessness, and the battle up until finding supportive housing. Without her help and the help of FCCP, my babies and I wouldn’t have a home to call our own. We wouldn’t be finding our time to thrive and making the strides we have.

April 4th, 2022, we got our sanctuary, and we will never stop fighting alongside Gina and the FCCP. And a big shout out to my supportive housing director, Heather. They are our heroes, and we want to say we love you and thank you.

Today I am my own hero because I claimed back my body from that abuse by pouring my heart into getting fit. I created my very own routine that is easy to follow and very effective. I am now studying to become a physical trainer.

I helped start a wellness week with Supportive Housing where we do weekly yoga, kickboxing, walks to the park, and support groups.

I now see the brightness of the future for my children, and I thank you.


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