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17, PA, questionable permission?

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  • 17, PA, questionable permission?

    Hello. I am 17 years old, and have been dealing with some... major family issues, to say the least. I turn 18 on the first of November, and was wondering about the 'runaway' laws in my state. I'll give a little more information, in the hopes of recieving some more accurate advice and information.

    I currently live with my mother, and my dad has visitation rights. My mother works a lot, and goes out a lot, and that's about it. I'm left to take care of my 3 year old baby sister and the 5 bedroom house that my mom financially struggles to keep. She lets the bills fall through the cracks instead of giving up cigarettes, alchohol, bar nights, and daily runs to the store for a hot cup of coffe instead of making it at home. Long story short: she has her priorities backwards, but won't change a thing. I have gone to people (adults) in and out of my family, and even my dad has tried to talk to her about this, but she only gets defensive, hurt, and very, very angry with me when anyone tries to talk some sense into her. She gets angry with me for doing my schoolwork instead of cleaning the house, when she has a day off and does nothing but sleep in due to a hangover, and has no problem with screaming at me and her baby things like "I can't f*****g raise these kids" or "I ought to shoot myself in the head" or "I seriously wish I had no kids!" When the 3 year old (that SHE decided to have with a constantly-relapsing crackhead) wakes up earlier (and crankier) than expected.
    We have gone months without groceries because she "forgot" to fill out and turn in some required paperwork for food stamps, months where she would go out to eat with her drinking buddies and I would scrounge for food for the baby, I've gone days without eating. Eating is painful for me anyways, because I have fillings that are just falling out since I haven't been to a dentist since before the baby was born. (I currently have a tooth that, if I don't fill it with some special goo that my kid sister got for her braces, would be literally tearing up the inside of my cheek) i get headaches daily, crippling migraines at least twice a week, which have gone unchecked for a very long time to the point where the only medication that will take it away is Ibuprofen. About 1,800 mg worth for a mild headache.

    Things aren't much better at my dad's. I cannot force myself to have a conversation with him about anything without crying, so I just don't. Anytime I do, he takes extreme measures, such as talking to my mom directly, telling her exactly what I told him and when (though oftentimes blowing it out of proportion), to which my mom directs all of her anger onto me. Also, my kid sister, who was mentioned before, lives with him. She has a tendency of doing anything she can as "innocently" as she can to tear doen my emotional walls and make me feel like a worthless human being, then getting me yelled at for it. She is mentally unstable (as described by psychologists in the many mental hospitals she has been in in the past year) and has tried to convince me to participate in self-harming activities such as cutting, and overdosing on medication. (She asked me one day if she was a trigger, if seeing her cut made me want to again, since I have a very short history of it, and when I responded with "No, because I don't want people to see that on me, it's not who I am so it's not what I want people to percieve of me." She responded with "Well just do it on your legs, they won't look there.") So I hope you understand that it isn't healthy for me to be around a person like that.

    Long story short: Mother shoves all her parental duties on me and refuses me the chance at a healthy teenage life, all while abusing my mental state, and at my father's I would be susceptible to my sister's unhealthy "advice" and other emotional abuse.

    I turn 18 on the first of november. That means I would have to wait exactly 17 weeks from today, or approximately 4 months to move out legally. But I honestly cannot wait that long. I'm at my breaking point, almost seriously contemplating suicide to escape this circle of hatred that's centered itself around me.

    My mother went to the hospital today complaining that her shoulder hurts. They told her it would go away, and sent her home. (she often complains about small things, so this is believable.) She got angry with me when she got home for asking how it went, and said "Go move in with mike, I don't care!" Which prompted me to search the web and see if I could. (Mike is my boyfriend, we've been together for over 3 years, and have plans for me to move in with his family when I turn 18 anyways, which his family is excited for, they love me and are even including me in their search for a house) This is my best "way out", because with them I would be able to get a job, finish school, have extracurricular activities, and save up money for a car and, eventually, an apartment or even a house with Mike. And if things don't turn out well for Mike and I (which I understand happens, and can happen to anyone) I will still have some money and something to start a life on my own from. I will not return to my mother's care, or my father's.

    So my questions...
    If I leave, can my parents have me forcibly returned to their care? Or since I'm so close to being 18, will it be okay?
    Will what my mother said have any effect on what they do if my father tries to have me forcibly returned to him?
    Can I, in Pennsylvania, with this little bit of consent, move out and live with my boyfriend and his family?
    Will him or his family get in any trouble for this? (He is two months older than me, turning 18 mid-september)

    Thank you, anyone, for your help in this matter. I just want the chance at the normal, healthy life that I believe I deserve.

  • #2
    Re: 17, PA, questionable permission?

    Hi there,

    Thank you for writing to us here at National Runaway Safeline (NRS). We understand it takes great courage to reach out, and we appreciate you sharing a little bit about what’s going on. It seems there is a lot that you are faced with right now and you’re feeling like leaving is one of your only options. You ask a lot if important questions, and it seems you want to know some information on runaway laws. It's great that you've reached out to explore some of your concerns and possible options.

    While we are not experts on the law, 18 is generally the age that an individual may leave home without parent permission. If you are under 18 and leave home, your parent/guardian may file you as a runaway and you may be returned home. Also, those you stay with may run the risk of being charged with harboring a runaway. For more specifics on the law, the local non-emergency police or legal aid may better answer legal questions.

    We are here as support to help through this challenging time. We can best help by phone or chat as NRS is unable to respond more than twice by email to assist you. If you would like to talk more in detail please call or chat soon.

    Our contact information is 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929); (click on the chat button).

    If you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately.

    Be safe and take care,
    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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