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  • My girlfriend needs my help

    Hello. I don't really know how to start this. I'll start with an introduction. All names used in this post will be 100% fake names, but will be used for convince sake. I, myself, will be called Jack. I'll refer to my girlfriend, whom we'll get to in a moment, will be called Alice. Alice and I are both residents of the state of Missouri.

    So, I'm 17 and Alice is 16. She has been my girlfriend for two months, but we have been very close friends for much longer than that. Alice comes from a very large family, and is a middle child, albeit the oldest of the house for the most part. Alice turns 17 in August. This is relevant because, depending on the information I'll continue to gather, it could change things. Because Alice's family is so large, Alice has basically been left to fend for herself in most aspects. Her parents show her no attention unless she acts out or it's required for school, both of her parents have given her some semblance of emotional abuse, and despite not giving her any real attention, her parents treat her like a caged animal. She wasn't allowed to attend a normal high school until this current school year, and was homeschooled before this. She's not allowed to have a cellphone, she's not allowed to drive, she's not even allowed to have friends over at her house. This is the case for all of the kids, in fact. The kids are all treated like that until they turn 18 when they can move out and manage themselves. They can't have their own lives, and it ruins those kids. The older ones, the ones who've already moved out, seem to have handled it better. However, the younger kids show signs of neglect in social skills and haven't been properly taught about authority. The kids consider the parents the authority, and nobody else. They don't listen to the older siblings, especially Alice, and in fact bully and abuse each other, again, especially Alice. Alice is clearly the standout member of the family. She dyes her hair, she listens to music they consider "weird", so on and so fourth. Basically, Alice is being abused from all sides. Her parents abuse her emotionally, her younger siblings abuse her emotionally and sometimes physically, and nobody in her family is capable of helping here.

    So here's where I come in.

    I'm seriously considering helping her escape from her current home life. My home, whom I still live in with my parents, has a spare room. I've told Alice several times that, in cases of extreme emergency, she could come to my house where she could have a safe and caring home. I don't think it would take much convincing to talk my parents into letting her stay, but what I'm worried about is the legality of the situation. If Alice were to run away, I'm extremely concerned that my parents could legally get into trouble. I've done some brief reading, and it seems harboring laws are more lenient in Missouri than they are in some other states. However, I'm no legal expert and can't say this for certain. I don't want my parents to get into legal trouble for a decision I'm making. I'm also wondering if there are any ways around the harboring law. I know, for example, that Alice could be emancipated if, say, she and I got married. That being said, I'm not doing that. That would in of itself be a seriously difficult situation, one that I'm not prepared for. However, that was just meant to provide an example.

    I'll attempt to wrap up everything I just wrote into two sentences. My girlfriend's home life sucks and there's nothing she can currently do about it. Is there a legal way for me to help her escape from her current home life and find her someplace safer, be it my house or someplace else?

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and hopefully respond to it. I look forward to seeing your responses. If there are questions regarding the situation, please feel encouraged to ask and I'll answer to the best of my ability.

  • #2
    Hello,

    Thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. It sounds like you and your girlfriend are going through a difficult situation right now and we’re glad that you have reached out to us for additional assistance. While we aren’t legally trained here, we can definitely try to find you some additional resources and information for your current situation.

    It sounds like your girlfriend is in a tough situation and it is great that you are trying to support her. Nobody deserves to be physically or emotionally abused like that especially by their own family. In regards to her running away, since she is still a minor, her parents can file a runaway report and she would be brought back by police when found. If she did run away and stayed with your family, your parents could be charged with harboring a runaway, it really depends on the local police. To our knowledge only the parents of the run away can press charges against another family when they are not giving accurate information on a youth’s whereabouts. So basically if they were helping them hide from the police and covering up for them.

    In terms of emancipation, Missouri does not have a formal statute for the emancipation of a minor but it does state that a minor has to be at least 16 years old in order to be considered for emancipation. Other information that we have regarding emancipation is that you can also become a legal adult if you enter a valid marriage with parental consent, serving on active duty with the US Armed Forces, or has written consent of emancipation from parent or legal guardian. Having a solid plan about what you plan to do if you were emancipated might be helpful because that would be something that a judge would look at when making that decision. . One resource that we can refer you to is some general legal aid in Saint Louis, Missouri that you can talk to someone about. They are can be reached by calling (314.340.6904). If that is not your city, maybe that can refer you to one that is closer.

    If your girlfriend would also want to find out some information on abuse reporting, she can reach out to the National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4453) or visit their website at childhelp.org. Another good option available to your girlfriend is someone to talk to, about the current situation, like a school counselor or you could call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-877-726-4727 for referrals to counselors in her area. They also have a website at samhsa.gov for more information.

    Again, we know how difficult it is to reach out and we are so glad you contacted us for help. If you or your girlfriend need more resources you can always contact us directly at 1800-RUNAWAY (786-2929), we are here 24/7 and toll-free and we would be glad to help in any way we can. We also have a chat service available from 4:30 PM-11:30 PM (CST), 7 days a week. We’re here to help, here to listen. Good luck!
    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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