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i am 17 and want to run away. what does that entail

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  • i am 17 and want to run away. what does that entail

    i’m seventeen years old living in georgia and my sexual abuser has moved back into my house. i have told my parents what he did to me, and they do not believe me. i do not want to report the crimes to the police, at least not while i live with my family. it is extremely hard to even think about, reporting it would destroy my mental health. there is no safe way for me to sort this out. i have a home in place that i am planning to go to. what can my parents do legally to keep me here? can the family who is offering to take me in be charged? could i be charged with theft for taking my car, phone, or personal belongings (all of which my parents have bought) how would i be able to enroll into a new school? im dual enrolled into a college, im not sure how to carry that over. also, what are my rights? am i able to get child support until i am 18?

  • #2
    Hello,

    Thank you for taking the time to contact us here at NRS and we appreciate you sharing your situation with us. We want to encourage you to take whatever steps you feel are necessary to stay safe. It is not okay for your parents to welcome your abuser back into the home. You have a right to feel safe and you deserve to be believed about the abuse. We want you to know that you are not alone in this. It's understandable you would not want to report to child protective services or police while still living with your parents, but this is an option for you. For additional support dealing with this trauma as well as talking through your legal/reporting options, you can speak with an advocate at the National Sexual Assault Hotline, www.rainn.org.

    While we are not legal experts, we can speak generally on the concerns you brought up. Your parents are your legal guardians and legally responsible for you until you turn 18. This means they do have some control over where you live. While your parents are legally obligated to provide for you in terms of housing and basic necessities, they are not responsible for giving you financial support if you leave home without their permission. If you do decide it is safest for you to leave, there are some risks involved to be aware of. Your parents can report you as a runaway to the police. Running away is not illegal, but it is a status offense. You would not get into any legal trouble for this, but your parents can have police return you home if you are found. In most cases, police do not actively search for a runaway. It would be up to your parents to notify police of possible places where you might be staying. If your parents do not know where you are or who you are staying with then it would be much more difficult for them to enforce a runaway report. In the event that you are found, there is a risk that whoever you stay with could be charged with a misdemeanor called harboring a runaway. From what we know this is not very common and it is not used to punish someone who is simply providing a young person with a safe place to stay. If whoever you are staying with is honest and complies with police if they find you then charges are unlikely.

    You can take your personal belongings and phone with you without concern for being charged with theft. Even if given to you by your parents they would most likely be considered your belongings. If your parents are paying for your phone service, they are not obligated to continue to do this. If your car is registered in your parent's name and their names are on the title then they could attempt to report the car stolen to law enforcement. Taking your car with with you would be risky.

    Your right to an education as a homeless or runaway youth is protected by a law called the McKinney Vento Act. You might be able to enroll in a new school without consent to a guardian. You can go to nche.ed.gov to find the McKinney Vento Liason for your area and learn more about what your education options are. We are not sure about how you will be able to continue your college courses or what challenges might arise. The Mckinney Vento Liason might be able to give you more information on this and you could also speak to an advisor either at your current school or at the college. We would also suggest obtaining your ID, social security card, and birth certificate if possible before you leave home. These are important and are necessary for things like getting a job. It is possible to get replacements/copies of them but some states make it very difficult or even impossible until you turn 18. You can go to nn4youth.org for more information on getting an ID. There is a state-by-state field guide for this.

    We hope this information helps. If you have more questions or you would like to talk more about your situation, please do not hesitate to reach out again. We are available for immediate support 24/7 by phone at 1-800-786-2929 or through live chat at 1800runaway.org.

    Stay strong and stay safe,
    NRS
    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)

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