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Can DPS take me away if I'm not being physically abused?

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  • Can DPS take me away if I'm not being physically abused?

    Hi. My name is Cass and I live in Arizona. For years now, I have put up with my parents constant emotional abuse of me. When I was younger, I assumed it was normal. When my friends found out I was being severely grounded for eating the last poptart, I found out it was not. I will be 17 in two weeks, and I've longed and planned for the day when I can finally, finally leave my mom and dad behind- almost three years ago, I got a job and have saved up. I was recently accepted at NAU along with a few of my best friends, and we plan to move in together. I've saved up enough for rent for a few months, and have plans to get furniture and such from relatives when my friends and I actually get the apartment. I also recently applied for FAFSA and am waiting on news for that. However, despite me being closer than ever, I still have 7 months left before I graduate, and time passes by slowly when your mother takes away your books and notebooks and devices and locks you in your room, letting you out only for the bathroom and an occasional meal. I just can't stand it anymore, but it's not like my parents can be arrested. They haven't physically or sexually abused me, and I don't think you can be taken away from your family for emotional abuse, right? Not to mention, my mom is a social worker herself, for Southwest Key. She told me if I told anyone, they'd never believe me over her. Do I have any legal options that will let me leave my family now, short of emancipation? My best friend's family, who lives right next to our school, has offered me one of their spare bedrooms if I need it.

  • #2
    Hello there,

    Thank you for reaching out to NRS and having the strength to share your story with us. We are sorry to hear about your situation and what you’ve been dealing with. Ideally, home would be a place where people feel safe, loved, and valued, and you do not deserve to be treated that way. It is very courageous of you to reach out despite the circumstances.
    The short answer to your question is that as far as we know, there are not many legal avenues for you to leave your parent’s home without their consent legally. Although NRS is not a legal agency, we can try to give a general idea of possible outcomes if you were to run away. As you are considered a minor in your state, you are still under your parents’ guardianship, therefore at any point when you are gone, they are legally within their rights to file a runaway report. Being a runaway is a status offense, and while you would not be charged with a crime, if police came across you, they would probably return you home. Guardians could also potentially press charges against people who took you into their care for “harboring a runaway;” these charges would be misdemeanors, but still criminal offenses. If you were to go to people you trust, or leave because you felt that would be best for your well-being, some things to consider would be guardianship, school enrollment, how you would take care of your needs (eating, sleeping, healthcare), and how you would care for your safety if something were to happen. If you were interested, we also offer conference-calling as an option, where we would mediate a constructive conversation between your parents and yourself in order to reach an understanding.
    Although emotional abuse is not often treated with the weight it deserves, you do deserve to live in a home where you are valued. If you were interested in reporting your abuse, the National Child Abuse Hotline (Child Help) accessible by phone at 1-800-422-4453, could give you more information about what that process may look like. They also may be able to tell you more about the likelihood of DHS getting involved.
    If you would like to talk about other resources and support, feel free to call our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or use our Live Chat.
    We hope this information was helpful and take care.
    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)
    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YourOpinionMattersToUs

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    • #3
      Thank you very much for your response. I still have the support of my friends, and I'm sure I'll be able to bear with this for half a year keeping them, and the fact that my abuse is not as bad as it could be, in mind. Again, thank you, it helped simply knowing someone out there could hear my struggle and respond, and to know definitively that I was not alone.

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      • ccsmod6
        ccsmod6 commented
        Editing a comment
        We are happy to help! Please don't hesitate to reach out to us again if you find yourself in need of help/support or if you just have some questions/concerns that you think we might be able to answer!

        Take care,
        National Runaway Safeline
        [email protected] (Crisis Email)
        1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)
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