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17 and leaving

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  • 17 and leaving

    I'm a 17 year old that lives in Washington, I'm wanting to move out because my mother is deciding she doesn't want to live with our step dad anymore. She is trying to live in a small apartment with my three sister, her grandson, and me. She works a minimum wage job at taco bell and will not be able to afford to live in any appartment. I will not have my own room, and I will be going to a school where I don't know anyone. She says that she is going to make me work to help raise my little sister but I know that if I try to work and go to a different school I will not be able to graduate. I have a place to go live in Oregon with my fiancée and I want to go do my senior year of high school there. I am not in any immediate danger when leaving can I go without the police forcing me to come home?

  • #2

    Hello and thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. It makes sense that you do not want to live in that type of environment and that you need to prioritize your goals and welfare. Unfortunately there is not really a way to run away without any risk of being returned back home.

    While we are not legal experts, we do have a great deal of experience working with runaways. It is not illegal to run away. Your parent/guardian could file a runaway report on you but this would NOT mean that you would get arrested or charged with anything. It typically does mean that the police could return you home if they encountered you and that would be that. Some police can be more understanding about what is going on at your home. In our experience, police will oftentimes return the youth back to their guardian almost no matter what. Police typically do not actively search for a runaway youth. However, they will go where the parent/guardian directs them if they know where you are staying. Additionally, police can sometimes be more lenient about runaway situations the closer you are to 18. You can attempt to calmly, respectfully, and persistently deny them consent to touch you or take you anywhere, and they may give up on trying to return you home. They also may not, in which case you should comply with what they tell you to do for your safety.

    If you want to talk more about what is going on and what options you might have, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-786-2929 or chat us at

    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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