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Leaving Home at 17

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  • Leaving Home at 17


    I’m not the one wanting to leave home, but I’m writing this for my friend who is. At home, she isn’t abused, but she is always being yelled at and is sometimes placed in uncomfortable or unsafe situations. An example would be one time when her father drove their family home drunk, even though she and her mother are licensed drivers. She hates it at home but doesn’t want to run away to a shelter to try to make it on her own because she knows she won’t be able to. However, my mother offered for her to stay at our house for the remainder of the year. My mother said she would only do it if my friend had parental consent, as she refused to harbor a run away. Well, my friend asked, and it went down terribly. Her parents called her ungrateful, banned her from coming near me, and are even threatening to take her to court. (For what, I don’t know. No crime has been committed. She hasn’t left home.) Her relationship with her family has been severely damaged and it’s making her life twice as hard. I’ve looked at emancipation, but it’s a hard process and I doubt she’d get parental consent or even be able to prove that she can support herself financially. Is there any other way for her to leave home legally? If not, any recommendations on what she can do to make life a little easier? For reference, we live in Florida.

  • #2
    Hi, thanks for reaching out to NRS on behalf of your friend. It sounds like you are very concerned for her and her well-being and want to be able to give her some options. She is really lucky to have a supportive friend like you in her life while she deals with this difficult situation.

    Although you and your mom sound like you are much more capable and willing to offer your friend a safe place stay than her parents, your mom is right that she could be at risk of being charged with harboring a runaway. Your friend's parents could also have her returned home by the police in the event that she leaves without parental consent (although running away is not a crime). Even though her parents' behavior is not physically abusive in the sense that they are hitting her, things like driving drunk could still be considered a threat to her safety. Your friend can make a child abuse report to get a social worker involved. Something to keep in mind though is that it would be helpful to have proof like video/audio recordings of when her parents put her in danger to serve as evidence. The national child abuse hotline can provide more information about this and offer your friend support (800-422-45453).

    You and your friend could talk with another adult that she feels comfortable opening up to. Having a safe place to talk about her situation at home might help her think of some options she had not thought of previously. Once your friend turns 18, she will be able to leave home even if her parents do not approve. One option could be for her to find ways to emotionally support herself until that is possible. A school guidance counselor could be an option for support for her, so that she feels as if she has an advocate and an adult she can trust.

    We are here 24/7 by phone and chat (800-786-2929 ; if you or your friend would like to talk more about her situation and explore her options.
    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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