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Can my 16-year-old sister move in with me?

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  • Can my 16-year-old sister move in with me?

    I'm 35, and my 16-year old sister lives with my widowed step-mom (her mom; my dad is deceased) and her mom's boyfriend. She was sexually abused in the home by another family member, and is now being pressured to testify against her wishes. She also identifies as bisexual and atheist, but has been pressured to go to the boyfriend's church twice a week and was berated until she chose to tell them that she was no longer bisexual or atheist to avoid more harassment. Her mom also told the church about the sexual abuse against my sister's wishes and the church is also involved in pressuring her to testify. How difficult would it be to have her move in with me? I'm married, have two children, and am financially secure. Her mom and the boyfriend are not financially secure and have been borrowing money and accepting financial gifts from both of their parents to have enough money to survive. My sister also has unconfirmed suspicions that the boyfriend is doing drugs.

  • #2
    RE: Can my 16-year-old sister move in with me?

    Thank you so much for reaching out on behalf of your sister. It sounds like she has been through so much, and it is good to hear that she has you to love and support her. Nobody deserves to be sexually abused, and being pressured to testify when she doesn’t want to sounds very frustrating and scary. One really great resource for all survivors of sexual assault or abuse is RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network). You can call them any time 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673, or go to RAINN is the National Sexual Assault Hotline and has a lot of services, support and resources that you may find helpful.
    Your sister deserves to have her sexual identity and her atheism respected, and it sounds like being forced to go to the boyfriend’s church is adding stress to an already bad situation. It is good to hear that you want to provide her with a safe and stable home. 18 is generally the age that an individual may leave home without permission from their parent or legal guardian. Since your sister is 16, if she leaves home without permission, her mom may file a runaway report with the police, who might search for her and force you to return home. Running away is not a crime, however you could get into trouble for harboring a runaway. Another option may be for your sister to look into emancipation, or for you to speak with a lawyer about your options to get custody. We can provide legal aid resources to you which may help you understand your options. You can call us any time, or pass our number along to your sister. We can talk through all your options and come up with a plan to deal with your situation. We are looking forward to hearing from you soon, and wish you the best of luck.
    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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