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Need information to help a friend.

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  • Need information to help a friend.

    Here is the situation...

    I've recently returned home from college to learn that a younger friend of mine (16 years old) has been threatened repeatedly by her dad with being whipped, slapped and punched. I do not know the background leading up to these fights and according to her it seems to be small things that set him off, like coming home moments after a curfew.

    This is a relatively small community where most people know each other well or at least in passing. I've contacted other parents within the community who grew up with her dad who have all agreed that he has a temper problem and was a heavy drinker.

    Her mother has custody but has allowed the daughter to live with the father because the mom doesn't want to deal with her. The mom has no sympathy for any part of this situation.

    She ran away from home two days ago and went to a friends house. The police were involved and told her she must return to her dad's house by the next morning, and told the mother of the friend she was staying with that if she felt threatened again she may leave the father's house.

    She returned to the home the next morning to another one of his spells of anger and he told her to leave if she didn't like it there and that she could sell herself on the street for all he cared. She left the house to avoid his angry outburst as the officer indicated she could. She hid at another friends house today and was informed that the police were searching for her and that she had been listed as a runaway and needed to return home.

    I told her it was best that she turn herself in to the police department and explain the situation. Tell them that she felt threatened and did not feel safe at either parent's home.

    The police told her she had to choose a parents home to return to and that the only alternative was if the mom agreed to release her in to the temporary custody of someone she felt more comfortable with. The mom refused and she was returned to the mother's home and told that her mother had requested she be taken to a boot camp facility the next day.

    I don't know what she can legally request or how she may petition for temporary alternative custody...or really if that is an option for her at all.

    Any information on this situation would be helpful.

  • #2
    Re: Need information to help a friend.

    Thank you for contacting the National Runaway Switchboard. It sounds like your friend is going through a very difficult time right now and it’s good that she has someone to support her right now. Hopefully, we can provide some resources that will be able to assist both of you during this time.

    We’re sorry to hear that your friend is having such a scary time right now with her parents. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe in their own home and she isn’t right now. You stated that your friend’s mom has custody of her but that she resides with her dad, which is an abusive situation. It sounds like your friend has tried to leave the situation several times but has not received much support from the local police. Do you think your friend would be interested in emancipation? This is a process that many states have allowing a youth to become responsible for themselves before they turn 18. Generally, they have to be working and able to financially take care of their needs. You or your friend can contact us at 1-800-RUNAWAY and we would be able to give you resources in your state that could further explain or start the process for her.

    You also said that your friend was told by police that she had to choose a parents home to stay at. That must have been very difficult for her to hear since she had told them she was feeling unsafe at both houses. Has your friend ever filed a report with Child Protective Services about the abuse? If she were to do that, they should do an investigation and make a ruling based on what they find; they may also require that her parents attend counseling, that she be removed from both of their custody, etc…If she is scared about making a report on her own, she can talk to someone at her school and they will be able to assist her. Or she can call us here and we can help her with making a report also.

    If, for any reason, CPS won’t take a report or the situation continues or gets worse, there are other agencies that would be able to assist her. One of them is called Justice for Children and the other is Childhelp USA.

    Childhelp is a confidential and anonymous hotline that can also help with making an abuse report. They also answer questions about abuse and may be able to help her find a safe place to go. Their hotline number is 1-800-422-4453 and their website is

    The other agency, Justice for Children, is very similar to Childhelp. They can help your friend find legal advocacy and develop solutions to remaining safe. Their hotline number is 1-800-733-0059 and their website is

    You or your friend can also contact us here at any time. We are confidential and anonymous; we can help her file a report or possibly find somewhere safe she can stay. We can be reached at 1-800-RUNAWAY and are available 24 hours a day.
    It sounds like your friend is a very strong person and hopefully, somebody will be able to help her remain safe. We wish you the both the best of luck with everything and hope to hear from you soon.

    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)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!


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