How To Run Away From Home Masterpost
Ordinarily I’d just push y’all to the main blog, but the likelihood of clickthroughs from Tumblr is low, and I think this is really important information for a lot of folks out there in Tumblrland. This post is LONG.
Here’s the most important info from the HTRAFH series I posted on OSG this week. The OSG proper posts are linked throughout the text.
Where are you going? Who can help you? What do you need?
Not only do you need to pack a bug-out bag with some or all of your life necessities, but you need to be emotionally prepared for the fallout.
This is not an easy decision, and it should not be made lightly. Being completely independent and unsupported by your parents is fucking hard, which is why >70% of runaways go back home within a day. People doubt you and belittle you, it’s hard to get systematic support from schools or social workers, and you’ll be in therapy basically forever. It sucks. But it can be worth it.
Leveraging your freedom with the emotional and social consequences of being parent-free makes running away and life after being kicked out really difficult. When you commit to getting out, you have to make a lot of uncomfortable and difficult decisions that center on: which is worse.
- Which is worse: living in a homeless shelter or feeling like a hostage of your family?
- Which is worse: getting a crappy job or being financially dependent on family members who use money as a form of control?
- Which is worse: uncomfortable conversations with police and social services or enduring abuse?
Make a Plan
What should you plan? How do you even get started?
The most important things you’ll need to know how to find are: housing, money, and support.
If you had to get out of the house in two minutes:
- Where can you go?
- How can you get there?
- What would you do the next day? The next month?
- How can you get food?
- How can you get money?
- What else do you need?
- How can you keep from getting dragged back “home”?
- Who can and will help you stay away?
Come up with a concrete plan that covers those things. If you can, come up with alternate plans in the event things don’t go the way you thought they would. Your friends’ parents may be generous to let you stay for a week, and they might even feed you when you’re there, but you need to think beyond that.
You can’t live off of other people’s generosity forever. Couch-surfing and crashing with someone rent-free must be a temporary part of your plan.
You’ll want to find long-term housing, whether it’s with a shelter, a hostel, or a transitional living program. At some point you will need money–for shelter, food, health, and fun. Find ways to make a living, even if it’s doing something as passive as taking surveys and watching videos on your phone.
Talk to people. See which friends can help you out, and who can point you in the direction of case workers. Call shelters and social services to ask for help. Apply for grants and financial assistance. You never know who is willing to help until you ask them.
If nothing else, know where to find a homeless shelter and food bank.
Pack Your Bug-Out Bag
What’s a Bug-Out Bag?
It’s a bag that’s ready and waiting for you when you need to get out–whether it’s a temporary relocation or a permanent escape. It’s a term used by the preppers but it’s also used among runaways and throwaways as a bag that has the bare essentials for striking out on your own.
Chances are, you can’t fit everything you need in a single bag–and even more likely, you won’t have access to the things you need to put in a bag. But figuring out exactly what you need is the key to planning a bug-out bag and your immediate future.
When I left home, I had an extra pair of pants and my wallet with a few dollars inside. I didn’t have a phone or a debit card or anything. Now I have a hoarded 300-square-foot apartment–living proof that if you keep pushing through, you will eventually have the material objects you need.
But if you can make a bug-out bag, find a safe space (or several safe spaces) and gather the essentials. If you’re in an abusive situation where your possessions and privacy are strictly controlled or monitored, you’ll have to be extra sneaky.
Good places to hide stuff:
- between the mattress and box spring
- underwear drawer
- coat/pants pockets
- bottom of a clothes hamper or trash can
- an air vent
- friends’ houses
- sticks of deodorant
- old pill bottles
- book/binder safe
- potted plants
- battery compartments of electronics
What do you need in your Bug-Out Bag?
Anything that you might need or want if you had to get out of the house in less than five minutes. Here is a one-page printable checklist for pre-packing your bug-out bag:
edit: As a youth who was kicked out in a time before cell phones were ubiquitous, I neglected to include a phone on this list. However, if your parents pay for your phone, it can be cut off at any time or be used for blackmail against you. If you can spare the $10, get a burner phone at Walmart for emergencies.
Who Can Help?
What kind of things do you need on your Bug-Out Bag info list? Think about what you’ll need once you’re on your own. Money, food, housing, medical care, emotional support…
Keep a list of all of the people and places that can give you that so you know where to go in the middle of the night. These can be:
- family members of friends
- your own sympathetic family members
- social services/child protective services
- the police
- domestic violence centers
- food banks
- employment offices
- college financial aid offices
- the library, which can put you in touch with all of the above
Seriously, I cannot emphasize the last one enough. Your local public or school library has so many regional-specific resources available for you if you just ask. If nothing else, the library is a good place to stay during the day when you have nowhere else to go.
Note: These links are mostly US-specific because that’s where I live. A quick Google search for these service keywords and your country or area will go a long way in finding supportive providers.
Crisis Hotlines and Chat Support
Most crisis help lines can help you out when you plan to run away from home by searching for shelters and case workers for you, or just by talking through the reasons you want to run away from home. They’re a great resource to have on hand when you’re feeling lost.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: resources and support for domestic violence crises
- Crisis Text Line: text-based support and counseling and links to additional chat- and hotlines
- Crisis Call Center: hotline and text line for youth in crisis
- Boys Town: counseling and assistance hotline for youth in crisis
- Youth America Hotline: hotline and chat line for youth in crisis
- Thursday’s Child: directory of hotlines, text lines, and chat support for youth in crisis [inexplicably has autoplay music]
Abuse Reporting and Recovery
Whether you’re trying to become emancipated, press charges against your parents, or you just need help with the emotional fallout when you run away from home, these organizations can help you find the resources that work for your specific situation.
- American Bar Association: find legal help whether you’re pressing charges against a parent or you want to know what your rights are when filing for emancipation.
- Cornell University Law School: information about the emancipation process
- Safe Place Program: counseling and resources for youth in crisis
- Child Welfare League of America: resources and information for crisis youth placement
- Family and Youth Services Bureau: family violence services
- Prevent Child Abuse America: resources for youth in crisis
- Specialized Alternatives for Families & Youth of America: resources and information for reconciliation, foster care, and the juvenile justice system
Shelters gain and lose funding all the time, so it always helps to search for what’s still open in your immediate area. These websites and organizations can help with that search, but again: libraries are often safe spaces and the staff there know what’s in your neighborhood better than a stranger on the internet.
- Homeless Shelter Directory: a map and listing for local shelters and transitional housing programs
- 40 to None: find shelters that are explicitly LGBT and youth-focused
- Covenant House: shelter and transitional housing services across the US, Canada, and Latin America
- National Coalition for the Homeless: resources and shelter listings
- HUD Exchange: resources and information for homelessness
- Homelessness Resource Center: information, resources, and training materials for homelessness
- Family and Youth Services Bureau: youth homelessness programs database
- National Center for Homeless Education: local and state services
- Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network: counseling and shelter information (Chicago)
- National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth: educational assistance and resources for homeless youth
- National Center for Homeless Education: educational assistance and resources for homeless youth and adults
- National Network for Youth: information and resources for homeless youth
Transitioning to Independence
Many of the homeless shelters and youth programs listed above have transitional housing programs, but here are two good resources for getting help transitioning to independent living when transitional housing programs aren’t available.
- Help When You Need It: connects you with local providers for financial, food, and housing assistance
- Year Up: transitional living programs that get you employed and housed within a year
Health and Wellness
Many homeless youth struggle with receiving adequate health care on the streets. These two sites help connect you with general and mental health services in your area, but they are by no means exhaustive lists. Search for free or tiered-payment clinics in your area for local providers.
- Health Resources and Services Administration: find clinics and health services in your area
- Mental Health America: map of available mental health clinics
General Youth Support
Most helplines and providers focus on immediate problems such as homelessness or abuse, but youth who run away from home have any number of other issues to deal with, from dating to drugs to staying in school. These organizations help supplement the day-to-day drama you have to deal with. Many larger cities also have youth centers, so be sure to search for what’s in your area.
- Boys and Girls Club: outreach and after-school programs, as well as counselors and case workers who can connect you with local providers
- ReachOut: information and advice for common issues facing youth today
- YWCA: programs and services for at-risk youth
- CenterLink: LGBT-focused community and youth groups
If you have any additional resources to add to this list, please reblog them or send me an Ask and I’ll update the list here and at OSG.