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Can I leave home if my mom abuses me emotionally?

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  • Can I leave home if my mom abuses me emotionally?

    I'm a 16 year old person from a small town in Maine USA and I'm turning 17 in January. I've lived with only my mother for most of my life. I had come to the realization a few months ago with the help of my ex step-father and my aunts, that my mother was being emotionally and verbally abusive. My mother's sister had understood how my mother gets into these "rage modes" generally seeing them targeted at my mother's boyfriends, and no one in my family was surprised I had attempted to remove myself from my mother's home, albeit shocked at the extent her anger went and how deeply it affected my own mental illness and self-hatred. I would talk with my ex step-father, who would assure me that my fear that I was making up the abuse was unfounded, and would even share with me his own feelings on the situation. She takes almost every unpleasant or inconvenient action I make as a personal attack on her, most of which are actually just "ugly" symptoms of either my depression, anxiety, or ADHD (i.e, staying in bed all day, overdue schoolwork, panic attacks/crying in front of her, messy living space, chores unfinished due to lack of motivation/energy). She's called me lazy, a liar, a manipulator, and (my favorite) a degenerate, and has even left a pack of razor blades on the counter next to the groceries I was expected to put away. Seeing as I have a long history with self-harm she is definitely aware of, it was extremely distasteful. My main questions regarding how I wish to handle getting out of this situation are;
    1) Can I leave home legally in Maine before I turn 18?
    2) Can I be forced to go home if my mom doesn't hit me?
    3) Can I cross statelines to stay with family who will take care of me?
    4) If I go to a shelter or live on the streets, is there anyway I can finish high school?
    5) Do I/the shelter/the cops/my family have to tell my mother I've runaway, and if they do, do they have to send me back home?

  • #2
    Hi,
    Thanks so much for writing in. It sounds like you’re in a scary situation with your mom and we want you to know that you absolutely never deserve to be treated this way. You deserve to be loved and cherished, especially by the person who is supposed to care for you.

    It sounds like your mother’s “rage moods” make you feel unsafe and may potentially be considered as abusive. Leaving a pack of razor blades for you knowing that you have a history of self-harm may also be considered neglectful and abusive. You might consider reaching out to the National Child Abuse Hotline; this hotline can help talk you through the process of reporting abuse and what that might look like. Their number is 1-800-422-4453. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you might consider reaching out to a teacher, guidance counselor, or even someone at a religious center. Any one of those people would be considered “mandated reporters,” meaning that they are legally required to file an abuse report if they hear anything about abuse.

    You also mentioned that you have a long history of self-harm. We’re so sorry to hear this, but please know that there is help. You might consider visiting the website To Write Love on Her Arms, twloha.com, which is a great self-harm resource.

    In response to your questions, while we aren’t legal experts, we can speak in generalities. If you are under 18, you are still a minor and need permission to leave home. While running away is not illegal, it is considered a “status offense” that does not stay on your official record. If you do leave home, your mother would have the right to file a runaway report; if the police are able to locate you, they might bring you back home. However, they might not return you home if there are allegations of abuse. You might consider calling your local police non-emergency line to ask about their definition of abuse. You might consider asking your mother if you can stay with family; if you are able to get permission, there should be no trouble legally. All of this is assuming that your mother will file a runaway report. If she doesn’t do this, generally speaking police will not be looking for you. During this time, you can still be arrested for things like stealing food, etc; in this case, police may arrest you and contact your guardian.

    In regards to education, homeless youth are entitled to an education through the McKinney-Vento Act. Most schools should have a homeless youth liaison. You can contact the liaison at the school you plan to attend. They will be your best resource.

    If you’d like to talk about your situation more specifically, brainstorm your options, or locate specific resources (like contact info for your homeless youth liaison), feel free to reach out to us 24/7 at the National Runaway Safeline. Our number is 1-800-786-2929.

    Best of luck,
    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)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YourOpinionMattersToUs

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