Runaway Reality – Tiana’s Story
Tiana*, a 16 year old from New York City, called because she was thinking about leaving home. Tiana and her mom had not been getting along for years. She said that a couple of years ago she was placed in foster care for a few months because her mom had physically hurt her.
“I thought foster care was rough, but living with my mom is worse,” Tiana said.
Tiana wasn’t happy with anywhere she had lived. When NRS volunteer, Jamie*, reflected on how a lot of people have let her down in the past, Tiana commented on how true that was – “All I’ve wanted is to live in a place where I can focus on myself and school. I don’t want to leave home, but there aren’t any other options.”
This is a common experience – Tiana is not alone. Many times, young people take steps to protect themselves by getting support from child protective services only to find that they are unable to have adequate authority over their own lives. The disappointment can be overwhelming. Jamie understood this while talking with Tiana.
“You’ve done so many things to make sure that you are safe and supported – it sounds like you feel there haven’t been many improvements. That can be really difficult,” Jamie said.
Tiana wanted to make sure that if she took steps to leave home, she would have more say as to what happened in her life – in a place where she wasn’t hurt or ignored.
One option discussed with Tiana was to go to a youth shelter in NYC. Once she arrived, she would contact her grandma – someone Tiana trusted – and come up with a more long-term plan. She believed that her grandma would be able to talk with Tiana’s mom to work to calm things down in the house.
“So,” Tiana thought out loud, “If I leave home for a couple days and surround myself with people I trust, there might be a way forward.”
Jamie offered to call the shelter with Tiana to make sure that the intake worker understood the plan. A three-way conversation was held and Tiana was able to voice to the shelter what it was she needed. With Jaime, the intake worker and Tiana all on the same page, Tiana felt she had a solid plan in place – a plan that she had authority over.
“Count us among your supporters, Tiana. Let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you,” Jaime said as the call was coming to a close.
“I will! Thank you for your help.”
If you are feeling like Tiana did – like the steps you’ve taken haven’t worked out the way you were hoping, please don’t hesitate to reach out. The National Runaway Safeline’s crisis services team are here for you to talk through what steps you can take that will work for you.
If you are in crisis, reach out to the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-786-2929, or through NRS’ website via live chat, e-mail or public forums 1800RUNAWAY.org. We offer 24/7, free, confidential support through our crisis services.
*Names and identifying details have been changed