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On a particularly crisp fall evening, Beth left her class, stopped by a coffee house and prepared for her volunteer shift at the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS). Beth sipped her latte unaware that her very first hotline call that day would change her life forever.
Living with my mom and my stepfather was difficult. My stepfather came home every night drunk and would beat my mom up. My brother and I didn't sleep well wondering if we would be next.
When Winnie, an NRS front line team member, initially took Roberto's call to 1-800-RUNAWAY earlier this summer, she was concerned. Roberto was having trouble telling his story. After reassuring Roberto she was there to help, and promising him that NRS was a confidential hotline, the 15-year-old relaxed enough to start telling his story.
Q: Why did you leave home?
A: I left home because like I was tired of rules, um and I don't really like to abide by rules because I was a hardheaded person, I didn't really like to listen to anybody else. I felt like I could do what I wanted. Which, like you know what I'm saying, I was fed up. Plus also I was tired of doing everything around the house. Like, my mom she was working and she didn't clean up to, and my brother was working, but he wouldn't do shit. But I got tired of it. And I never went back home; I was like, for real. Pretty much I just got tired of the whole thing, other people just being lazy. I was like doing everyone's work, cause I didn't have no job at the time.
Paloma came to Promise House when she was in high school. Frequent runaway episodes defined her life at that time. Although she attended a private Catholic school, she was many times sleeping in the school's football concession stand, on top of buildings in Deep Ellum, or walking around all night to avoid witnessing abuse at home.
Nick is a 16 year old living in YouthCare's Shelter Program. Nick has been in and out of shelters since he was 13 years old, when his mother asked him to leave home. He has been living on and off in shelters and on the streets for three years.
"My name is Natasha. My life started out rough as a child. At the age of four or five my sister was sexually abused by my father. My mom went to Texas at that time because her mother was sick. When she arrived back home all three of her kids were placed into foster care. . . "
Mike came to Brahma House headstrong and unhappy. He and his mother had moved here from Korea, and he quickly became a typical American teen. He wanted the freedom to do things with his friends, just like other kids his age, and continually challenged the limits his mother set for him.
Lydia was hysterical when the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) frontline team member took her phone call to 1-800-RUNAWAY. "I could feel her shaking through the phone line," recalls Marisa. It took a few minutes, but by building rapport and listening carefully, Marisa was able to get Lydia to open up.