Janet used NRS’ live chat service to find a way out of a physically and emotionally abusive home environment. Here is her story on dealing with abuse.
Janet’s Runaway Reality – Dealing with Abuse
The National Runaway Safeline (NRS) exists to help youth find solutions to different situations that are compelling them to run away from home, such as dealing with abuse, but sometimes circumstances change after a plan is formulated and the communication ends. That was the case with Janet*, who had used NRS’ live chat service to find a way out of a physically and emotionally abusive home environment. In that first interaction, Janet had decided that she would stay with her boyfriend’s family, but she quickly became uncomfortable with this course of action when the chat ended.
Janet feared that her father would come to her boyfriend’s house and cause issues for his family if they offered her sanctuary, so she returned to NRS’ live chat for help in formulating a new strategy to get away from her harmful home. NRS’ frontline team member, Carmen, responded to the chat, and she was able to direct Janet to a National Safe Place youth shelter that would provide her with somewhere to stay without jeopardizing the well-being of people she cared about. National Safe Place is a common resource used by NRS’ liners to help youth that are committed to leaving home, and Carmen served as the bridge between Janet and the best alternative to her current situation.
“We don’t do anything without the chatter’s permission and we don’t try to influence their decision; we try to be as nondirective as possible,” says Carmen. “If youth are set on running away as the only way that they know they’ll be able to be safe, then we don’t try to intervene and make them feel like that’s a bad decision. With this chatter, I offered that if she wanted, we could call a youth shelter to see if they could pick her up at a public location, we could do that. She definitely wanted us to do that, so we did.”
The National Safe Place worker was driving in her car when Carmen contacted her; she was very willing to meet Janet at a store by her house (the meeting has to occur at a public location). Janet first decided on a nearby Wal-Mart as the meeting place, but then she was concerned that she would be seen walking down the highway by her father’s similarly abusive girlfriend, who was potentially driving home from work. This made it a time-sensitive matter, and she needed to find a solution fast if she was going to leave immediately.
Janet ultimately decided to head to a nearby church that wasn’t on her dad’s girlfriend’s way home, and the National Safe Place worker was able to meet her there. Janet’s story makes it clear that a youth’s struggle doesn’t end once the conversation with NRS ends, which is why NRS is available 24/7 for youth that need further assistance after their initial contact. It’s always better to reopen lines of communication than to go forward with a plan that may not actually lead to a youth’s safety. NRS’ liners are committed to working with callers and chatters until the right solution is found, no matter how many times they need guidance.
Carmen has been an NRS frontline team member since 2015.
*The youth’s name and details have been changed to respect anonymity.