We like to share stories from our crisis call center in order to illustrate the runaway and homeless youth experience. Our next story focuses on Ahmed.
Our youth crisis call center and online connection center hears many stories from both youth and parents. We like to share some of those stories in order to illustrate the runaway, homeless and at-risk youth experience. Our next Runaway Reality story focuses on Ahmed.*
Ahmed, an 18 year old from St. Louis, MO reached out in the middle of the night through the chat program. Ahmed was having a difficult night. Earlier that day, his grandma had talked to him about coming home late from school. Ahmed wasn’t having it and things quickly escalated. His grandma accused Ahmed of not caring about the family or his future. Ahmed had gone outside and didn’t come home for a few hours.
“I just needed to get away”, he wrote. “Things were getting ugly and I didn’t want to hear it again.”
Ahmed connected to Blake, the frontline team member in our crisis call and online connection center, because he wanted to vent. Blake made sure to give Ahmed space to share everything he was feeling. This kind of fight happened all the time and Ahmed was exhausted. His grandma just couldn’t get over that Ahmed wasn’t a child anymore – the pressure was getting more overwhelming by the day.
“I don’t even know when it started, but things just have gotten so bad – I just want to leave. How can she treat me like this? I mean, I don’t come home after school because I don’t want to see her.”
Blake could feel the hopelessness through the screen. “You know, Ahmed, it sounds like you’re looking for some more independence – that makes a lot of sense. It’s normal to think about leaving home and about making a life.” Hopelessness begins in isolation. Blake wanted Ahmed to know that his feelings were normal and healthy.
“The problem is I don’t have anywhere to go and no way to support myself if I wanted to leave.”
Ahmed was feeling alone and trapped. He struggled because he didn’t know what it meant to live on his own and to create his own story. Blake reflected on the conversation – “To me, it seems like you want to leave but aren’t sure about how to make that happen. We can figure out ways together to make sure that when you leave, you have a way to support yourself.” Ahmed was relieved to move from focusing on the arguments with his grandma to establishing goals for himself.
Ahmed instinctually knew what he needed. “I know I need a job and I need to finish high school. I already have an idea of who I can live with.” By being given the space to think through a plan, Ahmed was able to put into words his path to independence. Because Ahmed reached out to vent, he was able to voice his needs. Blake made sure that Ahmed had the number to Job Corps (www.jobcorps.gov) to explore job training and independence.
“There is power in identifying our needs, Ahmed. You seem like a powerful person to me. Good luck, and know that we are here to support you through this.” said Blake.
If you are a youth in crisis or know someone who is, please consider contacting the National Runaway Safeline today. Call toll-free at 1-800-RUNAWAY, or send us an email or use our chat function on our website, 1800RUNAWAY.org.
*Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.