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Moving Out/Leaving Home Day After I Turn 18

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  • Moving Out/Leaving Home Day After I Turn 18

    I'm currently 16 living in a house with my mother, father, 10-year old sister, and 9-year old brother. Around 13, I found out about my parents smoking addiction. They smoke weed and cigarettes and they do it 3/4th of the day. They force me to clean and cook and care for my siblings and verbally abuse me if I make one common mistake. I've rendered myself useless and incompetent and have gotten myself in a constant cycle of toxic relationships with the desire to be wanted/loved by someone. Last October, my mother took my phone (for the second time. I had just got it back that March after she took it for another few months.) Due to the trauma I've endured, I find it very difficult to be alone and dependent on myself. I had just met the closest group of friends I knew and just got in a relationship when my mother took my phone the first time. I couldn't speak to anyone and she kept me isolated from the world. My close friends and I planned to move in together and I suppose my mom didn't like that. She is planning to keep my phone for as long as it takes until I change my mind, so I figured I'd just leave. I've been saving money for the apartment we wanted to get and some for school (although I don't see myself doing it anymore.) I want to leave the night I turn 18, so that I can head to Texas and be with them. Is this okay? I wanted to leave a note, telling my family why I did this. I've thought about some other choices, as in my friends come get me (they will both me 18 too) or I just take my car and drive the 10 hours there in the dead of night. Could they take the car because they bought it for me? Could they track me this way? I was also thinking about getting a new credit card before I leave to pay for gas, etc. Could they track me by my credit card? If I could get advice on a plan to take, that would be nice. Each day here is slowly breaking me and it's so mentally draining. The only reason I'm hanging on is because I finally see myself going somewhere with my life, and without my friends, I don't think I could see it any other way.

  • #2
    Hi there,

    Thank you for taking the time to write us here at NRS and we appreciate you sharing your situation with us. You have had to take on a lot of responsibilities at home and it sounds like you have been a primary caregiver for your siblings. It was not okay for your parents to put you in this position since they are the adults and it is their job to be the parents. You mentioned that your parents would become emotionally abusive at times and some of the things you mentioned could be considered neglect. Being able to identify that all of this has taken its toll on your mental health and acknowledging the trauma you have experienced takes courage and resilience. It is understandable you would want to leave this environment and prioritize your well-being and happiness. You deserve to have a healthy and supportive environment to grow in.

    While we are not legal experts, we can address some of the concerns you have. The age of majority in most states is 18. The exceptions to this is Mississippi(21), Alabama and Nebraska(19). This is the age at which you are considered a legal adult with the legal freedom to choose where you live. If you leave home as a minor (under 1, however; your parents can report you as a runaway to the police. Running away is not illegal, but your parents can ask for police to assist in returning you home.

    Once you turn 18 you are free to leave home and your parents can not legally force you back. How much communication you have with your parents after you leave is up to you and what you think will be best. It could be helpful to leave a note or send a message that you chose to leave but that you are safe. Having a solid plan about what you are planning on doing might be a good idea so that you can think about what will and will not be possible and work for you. Considering certain factors and aspects for your plan might help you make your decisions about your next steps: where are you going to be living, what's your role in the house, are you going to be working/going to school, will you be paying your share of the bills/rent, a back-up plan in case your living arrangement does not work out and you need to leave.

    If your car is registered and titled in your own name then you could take it. You would also want to make sure you set up insurance for it under your name as well. But if your car's title or registration is in one of your parent's names as the owner of the vehicle then they could report it stolen to law enforcement. You will want to find out if you legally own the car or not before taking it with you. Because you are currently a minor, your parents likely have access to any bank accounts or credit cards that you have. When you turn 18, you can open your own bank account and apply for credit cards in your name only. This way your parents will not have any access to your funds or be able to see your transactions. If possible, it would be smart to obtain your ID, birth certificate, and social security card before leaving. These are essential for working and living independently. If you are not able to get these from your parents, you can find instructions for how to get copies in this field guide by the National Network for Youth.

    Taking this step toward independence can be a huge step to take and we want you to be as safe as possible when making your decision. If you would like to talk more about your situation and explore your options, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. We are available for immediate support by phone at 1-800-786-2929 and through live chat at

    Stay strong,
    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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