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16 and I wanna leave help

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  • 16 and I wanna leave help

    I am a 16 year old living in Washington state. I really really want to get out of my parents home. I looked into emancipation, but that wouldn't work for me. They are emotionally abusive and I've had enough of it. I'm really about to pack my bags and go, but I just want to know about the legal problems. I know for a fact that they will call the cops and I want to know what would happen from there. Will they be actively looking for me? Will I get arrested? I honestly just want to leave and I don't want any legal troubles at the same time, help.

  • #2
    Hello and thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline.

    Living at home can be tough. From what you say, it sounds like you are approaching a stress level where something needs to happen – we are glad you found us. We are here to help you in any way we can, even if that’s just a listening ear for support. No one has a right to hurt you physically, mentally, or emotionally, no matter what is going on or what happened.

    If you leave home without permission from your legal guardian, you would be considered a runaway. At that point, your guardians almost have a responsibility to notify the police that you left (they could get in trouble with ‘neglect’ if they don’t!). They would give the police your identifying information, like your name, age, and may even provide a picture. What happens after the police have taken the report would depend on that police station’s rules. Some may go out and look around for you; others may just take the report so they have you in their system. We can’t give you a concrete answer because we are a national hotline and every police department has its own protocol for how to handle a runaway report.

    We are non-directive here, meaning we don’t tell anyone what to do, but we do want you to be informed. If you do decide to leave home without permission, and the person who lets you stay with them knows you are a runaway, they could get in legal trouble with what’s called ‘harboring a runaway.’ This is a charge that your parents have a right to file against anyone who lets you stay with them while you’re a runaway.

    Again, we don’t tell anyone what to do here, but if leaving is something you feel is best for your situation, we’d rather have you safe and off the street. We have a database of runaway/homeless shelters that we could search to see if anything is in your area. That way, you could leave home but not put any friends/family in any potential legal danger.

    Is working on your relationship with your parents a possible option? If your situation could benefit from being more open with your parents, we have a Conference Call service that will allow both you and your parents to speak to one another with one of us on the line. That way, each side can express/explain their side without feeling attacked or judged. We advocate for both sides during a conference call, ensuring both sides are able to speak openly and be respected.

    Thank you again for contacting us. We encourage you to call in to us at 1-800-RUNAWAY if you feel comfortable. We are nonjudgemental, confidential, and 24/7/365.

    Stay safe,
    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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