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  • Running away with girlfriend

    Hi, I'm nineteen years old and live in the state of... with a sixteen year old girlfriend, (soon to be seventeen), and we are contemplating running away for her sake. Let me start off by saying that she has a somewhat rough life at home. She is sometimes abused by both her mother and her father for various reasons, this is something that only I know and something that she wishes I didn't, as she hates even talking to me about it.

    There is really nothing she can do as far as filing a report goes, because on the outside the family looks perfect, they reguarly attend church and things of that nature, like I said, I'm the only one outside of her family that knows what actually goes on. Her mother has called the police twice on her father because he has threatened her (his wife), but they have done nothing, obviously she is not going to call them on herself or her husband though for abusing her child. And if she was moved out of the home, she doesn't want to live with any of her immediate family as they have similar ways. This abuse doesn't happen all the time, only when they find it "necessarry," these being times when she gets in trouble at school or something, but still, abuse is never "necessary" or "warranted."

    Now for the reason for running away. About three weeks ago, my girlfriend was caught shoplifting from a store. I was with her and so she was released into my custody since I am of age. She received a letter in the mail last week stating that she had a meeting with a juvenile judge or something to that effect, and it be required that a parent or guardian attend with her to discuss the incident. She has not told her parents about her shoplifting or anything because she knows the consequences and because we won't be allowed to see one another any longer. So I will be attending the meeting with her in the hopes that they will find me able to attend rather than a parent. My defense if they ask why a parent is not present is that I was considered a guardian the night of the incident and she was released into my custody, plus the letter she got did not state "legal guardian." Hopefully this will work as I have been praying every day since the incident that all will turn out well.

    However, if it does not, we are planning on running away together, we will be out of state. Obviously neither of us want that to happen and I pray that it doesn't come to that, but I've always told her I would protect and do anything for her. I have my family and friends here and a job and all, but I know it would be easy to get a job and support us where we would be going. I apologize for this being as long as it is, and it probably could have been summed up a little shorter, but I wanted you to get the full story behind this so as to help best in your reply. What will happen to her, to me, if we move to another state. It would be for at least another year, until she's eighteen and emancipated. Will the cops in the other state pick her or me up. Can they legally search us out and find us. If and when we move back when she's emancipated, will there be trouble waiting for either of us. Can they do anything to my family or friends to find out where we went of anything like that, because I couldn't just leave without telling my parents what was going on, but they've always been supportive of me and the decisions that I make. I'm just trying to get the full effect and everything straightened out so I'm totally prepared for whatever may happen. I don't want anyone in my family to get in trouble or get hurt. And most of all I want my girlfriend to be safe.

    Thanks in advance for any and all help that you can give me on this issue, it is greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Running away with girlfriend

    Hello,

    Thank you for finding time to contact us here at the National Runaway Switchboard and we hope we can be of service to you in this time of need. It sounds like your girlfriend has a good friend she is able to confide in and we are happy that you are serious about helping her find out what her options are and what resources are available out there. It is good to hear that you are concerned for your girlfriend's safety since that is one of our main concerns also. We do not usually give legal advice because we are more crisis intervention focused but you are welcome to call local legal services in your area to find out what sort of rights your girlfriend has and what you can do to support her with her situation. It is certainly not fair that she is being treated that way by her parents despite their intentions to hit her. It is illegal to abuse a child and while we are not in the position to define what abuse is, it is usually up to Child Protective Services to investigate and source out what is happening to her. We are not sure if she has any intentions to file a report, although you stated that her parents look good from the outside, but it something we are able to help with if she wanted us to file with her.

    We are crisis intervention workers and that makes us mandated reporters but we are legally expected to file reports if she was to offer us names, numbers and address of parents but if she is not willing to do it, she is welcome to call us to just talk about how she is feeling and to know what her options are. We are very confidential and anonymous and no one is going to know what we talked about. We are here 24 hours a day to take her call and you are welcome to call too. The issue you brought up about getting her release into your custody, we are not sure how that works in your state and we are certainly not sure how to advice you on what to do about when she is due to show up to court. It is probably best to call your local police to see if this is something you could do on her behalf.

    Generally, when someone runs away when they are due to show up for court, it could lead to more trouble to avoid a court order and a warrant could be placed on her. When someone under the age of adulthood runs away (adulthood varies from state to state) it is usually the legal guardians who has the right to file a runaway report. You have to remember that it is not a crime to runaway from home but once a report is filed, you recieve a status as a runaway until you return home voluntarily or brought back by the police. This brings us to the most important issue that you are concerned with; the person who enables the minor with running away and provides her shelter can be held accountable for harboring a runaway. This is one of charges that can be brought against an adult who keeps information on a runaway from the authorities. Now, this is not a say that you are going to be harboring her in the traditional sense, like if she was to run to your house and stay there for some time. We are not able to say what laws you are going to be breaking here but it is best to be careful with what charges her parents might bring because you do not want her parents to allege that you forced her to run and since you are an adult, it is something you have to be careful about.

    We do hope it works out for her in court so she is not compelled to run. But if she do decide to run, it is probably not going to affect her much when she returns at 18 since it is not a crime to run away. However, if she runs with a warrant on her from court, if she did not show for it or if she is held to do community service for shoplifting, it is probably not the best thing to run to avoid these obligations. On the issue of emanicipation, it does take some time but if she was able to prove that she was able to take care of herself it is something that could happen for her. It also depends on the city you live in for emancipation, the laws around it, and in terms of cops coming to look for you, some do; but it is not likely that they are going to go from door to door to locate you unless they were certain and it depends on how your girlfriend handles her court situation before she runs. It is likely that the runaway report could get revoked when she turns 18 but it is best to check with the local police. The only way your family can get in trouble was if they withheld important information of her whereabouts or if they were helping to harbor her but if they are not involved they are not breaking any laws. It is good that you do have supportive parents and you need to confide in them to help figure out what is best of everyone. We are here to help you and your girlfriend if you find time to reach out to us by calling us at 1800runaway. You are welcomed to call Justice for Children at 1800-733-0059 to find out what rights she has also. We wish you two the best of luck and look forward to hearing from you soon.

    -NRS
    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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