No announcement yet.

Running away from abusive home in MA?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Running away from abusive home in MA?

    My mom's been an alcoholic for a long time, she's not active right now but she threatened me with physical harm and began to move towards me brandishing a rake while she was threatening me for being disobediant. She's also been verbally/emotionally abusive for eight years, and has driven in the car with me and several of my friends drunk on innumberable occasions. I've thought about running away thousands of time, I think I have a viable court case, and I know I have places to go and a way to get there. My question is, is it legal to run away from an abusive home in Massachusetts, and what would be the consequinces if it wasn't? Would I be sent home?

  • #2
    Re: Running away from abusive home in MA?

    Thanks for contacting us via our bulletin boards. It sounds like you’ve been dealing with a lot at home for a long time now. We’re so sorry to hear about the way your mom treats you. It’s probably really frustrating and scary at times. We’re glad you felt comfortable to reach out to us and we’ll do our best to share with you some of the information that we know about running away. One thing that’s important to note is that we don’t have any sort of legal background, so we can’t give you specific legal information or advice. Also, laws vary from state to state, but we do know the general procedures.

    You mentioned that you’ve thought about running many times before. It sounds like you have a plan and people that you feel will support you if you do leave. When it comes to running away, it’s not usually considered “illegal”. It’s a status offense. This means that you’re not allowed to do it because you’re a minor (under 1. Legal guardians have the right to call the police when their youth runs away and file a runaway report. This report goes into a national database, meaning that if law enforcement finds a runaway youth anywhere in the USA they can run the youth’s name and see that they’re a runaway. If the youth is picked up close enough to home, they are normally returned home or held in the station until a parent/guardian can pick up the youth. If the youth is picked up farther from home, they are usually placed in a youth shelter or juvenile detention center until transportation home can be arranged. Most often, once a youth is found there are not any other consequences for leaving other than being returned home. However some states do have procedures that come into affect if the youth becomes a habitual runaway (leaves multiple times) as well as court petitions that parents can file that may have more consequences for youth that runaway. Again, this all varies by state and in the end it’s up to the individual police department’s discretion.

    However, you asked if it was “legal” to runaway from an abusive home. There are absolutely organizations set up to assist youth when their home life is unsafe. But these agencies have a very specific procedure they go through in order to determine if the home is safe or not. Meaning, as a young person you can’t (legally) just decide your home is unsafe, leave and never have to go back. If you were picked up for being a runaway and you said your home was abusive, more than likely the police would contact Child Protective Services to get involved. They’re the agency that determines if a home is safe or not for a youth. Once they get involved, they do an investigation. CPS can determine that a house is not safe, in which case they would attempt to locate a safe home (relative, shelter, foster home). They can determine that there’s conflict in the home, but not enough to remove the youth. In this case they would likely hook the family up with local services (counseling, family mediation) to help them out. And then they can also determine that they can’t find any evidence of abuse. This usually results in the case being closed. If you wanted to look more into this as an option, we’d be happy to talk to you directly about calling them. We can also help you conference a call to them if you decided you wanted to make a report. If you wanted to call them yourself, the hotline number for MA is 617-566-0858 or 1-800-792-5200. It may also be helpful to contact Child Help USA, they’re a confidential and anonymous hotline that is specifically there to assist people with questions about abuse/neglect. They have a hotline 1-800-422-4453 and a website

    Some states also have what’s called emancipation. This is where a youth petitions the local courts for the rights to become their own legal guardian. It’s usually a fairly long process in which the youth has to prove they are capable of caring for themselves financially, physically and socially. The youth’s parents are usually involved in this process. It also often requires a lawyer. From the information we have, it says MA doesn’t have a formal emancipation process but that a youth can file a petition with their local Probate or Family Court and the local judge will decide if emancipation is an option. We have a bunch of legal aid services listed, but they’re all specific to certain cities/counties.

    It’s great that you’re doing research before you make any decisions. We’d be happy to talk to you more in depth about what you’re going through and possible options. We’re not here to tell you what to do, but rather to listen to you and assist you in figuring out a plan that you’re comfortable with.

    One other agency that may be helpful for you to look into is Ala-Teen. This is a support network for children of alcoholics. They have a website:

    We hope you’re able to figure out a plan that works for you. Please feel free to call us anytime if you want to talk further, need helping finding local resources or help calling local agencies.
    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!


    • #3
      If one is 17 but turns 18 in 3 month, but their family is getting more abusive, and they are scared to go home, can they go to a friend or relatives house without being sent back to the abusive home?


      • ccsmod15
        ccsmod15 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there,
        Thank you for writing to us here at National Runaway Safeline (NRS). We understand it takes great courage to reach out, and we appreciate you sharing a little bit about what’s going on. It seems there is a lot that you are faced with right now and you’re feeling like leaving is one of your only options. It seems you want to know some information on runaway laws.
        While we are not experts on the law, 18 is generally the age that an individual may leave home without parent permission. If you are under 18 and leave home, your parent/guardian may file you as a runaway and you may be returned home. Also, those you stay with may run the risk of being charged with harboring a runaway. For more specifics on the law, the local non-emergency police or legal aid may better answer legal questions.
        It sounds like you’re quite overwhelmed by things at home right now and you mentioned being harmed. We’re sorry you’re going through this. You don't deserve to be hurt in any way. If you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately. You may also be able to report any mistreatment to CPS. Child Help USA 1-800-422-4453 is an organization that helps protect minors from being harmed. They can tell you more about how CPS could respond to your situation. If you ever need assistance calling out to CPS to make an abuse or neglect report please call is at 1-800-RUNAWAY.
        Often, having a safe space to share how you’re feeling may bring a variety of solutions previously not thought of. You are not alone in this. We want you to know that we are here as support to help you through this challenging time.
        If you would like to talk more in detail please chat soon through our website (click on the chat button) if you are unable to call in. We unfortunately cannot give advice as we are non-directive. You know your situation best
        We hope to hear from you soon.
        Be safe,
    Previously entered content was automatically saved. Restore or Discard.
    Insert: Thumbnail Small Medium Large Fullsize Remove  
    or Allowed Filetypes: jpg, jpeg, png, gif