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18 Year Old with Questions Before Running Away

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  • ccsmod15
    Hi there,
    Thank you for writing us at the National Runaway Safeline. We are sorry to hear of the distress you, your siblings, and your stepmom are enduring at home, and we hope to help in the best way we can.
    It is important you know, first of all, that neither you nor any member of your family deserve to be harmed mentally or physically. If the danger is ever immediate, we encourage you to call 911. You mention having been in contact with CPS multiple times in the past, but there are is no limit to the amount of times you can file an abuse report. If you have questions or concerns about what this will look like, you can always reach out to Child Help at 1-800-422-4453.
    This may be a strong place to start if your intention is to separate from your family with your younger siblings and eventually gain custody. Technically, without parental consent, and without an active abuse report, you may be charged with harboring runaways if you were to leave and take your siblings. But with CPS investigation of abuse underway, your siblings may not only potentially be removed from the home, but you may have a stronger case for a protective order and ultimate custody. As to the finer details of your questions, we are unable to answer with certainty, as we are not legal experts.
    You might consider reaching out to a Youth and Family Legal Aid Service to ask some of these questions. In the State of California, you can reach out to Legal Services for Children at 415-863-3762. They may be able to talk through some of these issues with you.
    You are incredibly brave for doing what you are doing, and we commend you! We want you to know we will be here for you along the way. Please reach out: 1-800-RUN-AWAY.

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  • Guest
    Guest started a topic 18 Year Old with Questions Before Running Away

    18 Year Old with Questions Before Running Away

    Hi, this is my situation:

    I am 18, turn 19 in April, and I live in California. I am living with my abusive dad, and I am pretty sure that he is domestically abusing me, my 4 younger siblings, and my stepmom. I have thought about running away from home since I was about 7 years old because that was the year that I started to realize that the way my dad has been treating me is not okay. My parents divorced when I was very young, and my mom is currently living in a hotel with her parents, so I don't think I should bother them and run away there. My dad also knows that I have always preferred my mom over him, so I fear that he might harass her if I leave. My grandma (on my dad's side) has also been very controlling and domestically abusive like my dad, and in November 2020 she sold her house and was originally going to move somewhere else with her daughter and grandson, but at the last minute she moved in with my family. She got into an argument with her daughter, so that is how she ended up with us. She has caused so many problems for my family, is a complicated and judgmental person who assumes the worst in every person she meets, and she's always thinking about other people's deaths (who are way younger than her), when she is 68 years old. My dad has always made me feel worthless, lazy, and stupid, and I lived a very sheltered overcontrolled lifestyle. He always made me think that my problems are nonexistent compared to the problems he faced while growing up (living in a bad neighborhood). It has taken me over a decade to realize that the things I have gone through while living under his roof are, in fact, valid, and now I just feel like it's getting harder and harder each day to keep living here. Him and his mom (my grandma) have kept my siblings and I away from my mom and her family for the dumbest reasons. For example, he blocked my aunt from my phone and Instagram account because we would send each other memes and video chat a lot when in reality, I would call her to vent and rant about my problems and she would listen to me. My dad has also kept my stepmom's entire family away from her, and he didn't even let her attend her father's funeral last year (it was not a covid-19 related death). I have been wanting to seek counseling or try to get help for a few years, but I was too afraid to say anything to my dad because I was a minor and do not want him to have any access to anything I could say to a therapist. I was originally waiting until I graduate high school to go to a college that's not too close to home so that I could dorm and seek help through the campus, but unfortunately, the pandemic happened, and now I am taking my college courses online. My dad knows that my stepmom and I do not feel comfortable with my grandma living with us because of all the hurtful things that she's said/done to us, but he ignored us and still let her move in. My mental health, as well as my stepmom's, has been deteriorating since she moved in, and it has gotten to the point where my dad has gotten into really huge, scary arguments with us over what may seem like really little things to an outsider's point of view, but to me, anything we say or do can have a huge impact on his behavior towards us. One of the most recent big incidents occurred on December 15th, 2019, when he got into an argument with my stepmom about one of my brother's behavior in front of all of my siblings and I, and it led to him pushing my stepmom in the kitchen. At the time, I was taking a class that trained me to become an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), so I knew how to help her, and it wasn't until I spent almost an hour pleading with my dad that he finally took her to the hospital under the condition that I agreed to lie that she had just slipped and hit her head in the kitchen. Before we left the house, my dad called my grandma and aunt to help him cover everything up in case the police came, and they ended up watching my siblings. When we went to the hospital, the doctor told us that my stepmom had a concussion and amnesia from the incident, but later that night, I told her what really happened. Since then, she has found out about other health issues that have stemmed from that incident, such as hearing problems and pain on the side of her hip that hit the ground. In December of 2019, a social worker from CPS came to our house and asked us all questions. None of us were really allowed to answer some of those questions truthfully because my dad was sitting right next to us the entire time. Before the social worker left, she gave my stepmom her business card, so hopefully it’s still useful. A few weeks after that, the same social worker showed up to our schools and tried to speak with us again, but my dad scared us and said we’d all get separated if we didn’t say, “I don’t feel comfortable speaking unless my dad is present”. Since that day, we haven’t had any other encounters with CPS. Today, he got really mad at us, and I was afraid that he was actually going to physically hurt us. Thankfully, he did not do anything to us, but I had my phone ready to dial 911 in case it got to that point. I have tried for so long to just move past everything and try to be okay with this situation, but it's getting really hard. I am seriously considering running away to a close friend's house with my stepmom, my two half half siblings (ages 5 and 7), and if possible, my sister (age 13). Before we leave, we want to be sure that we have everything planned out. The only money that we have is the extra financial aid that I have saved up because my stepmom has no financial freedom, but we are worried about a few other things.

    These are my legal questions:
    • How much money does it cost to get a restraining order against my dad? My dad is a very angry person, and he has harassed my stepmom's family in the past, so we are trying to take some precautions by looking into getting a restraining order.
    • Will we get charged or fined if we take 3/4 of my siblings? The only thing that has prevented my stepmom from leaving in the past is that she wants to have full custody over her children. We also want to take my sister because she is Autistic and the only ones who have ever really taken good care of her are my stepmom and I. We don't feel comfortable taking my 17 year old brother because he has always disrespected my stepmom and has proven to be very untrustworthy; we fear that he will tell my dad.
    • How strong does our evidence need to be in order to get full custody? I have a journal entry from the day that my dad pushed my stepmom, and some old photos of my dad's messy beer cans from one of the nights that he got really drunk. He doesn't drink everyday, but when he does, the amount of alcohol he consumes, as well as his behavior, is scary.
    For now, those are the only questions that I can think of, but if there is any other information that I should know of, please let me know. Thank you in advance for reading through all of this and for answering my questions.
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