Why do they run away from home? Witnessing the ongoing abuse of a parent or experiencing child abuse, threats, or actual physical and sexual abuse are all too often the cause of youth running away or being forced from their homes. A life on the streets often exposes them to additional risks or victimization. What they have seen in an abusive home environment or experienced on the street is often repeated by the youth themselves in their own relationships. Because homeless youth have so little control over their lives, using violence in relationships may be a way of trying feel more in control. Runaway and homeless youth often have little or no support systems and those being abused in a relationship may find it more difficult to leave their abusive partner if they have no one to help them understand what is happening and the options available to them.
Who is the Toolkit for?
This Toolkit was developed by and for advocates in the runaway and homeless youth (RHY) and domestic and sexual assault (DV/SA) fields to help programs better address relationship violence with runaway and homeless youth. The Toolkit organizes information, resources, tips and tools drawn from the wealth of information gathered when the two service systems were convened through local collaborative projects funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The FYSB Initiative, which brought together domestic violence programs and runaway and homeless youth agencies to address relationship violence among homeless, runaway, and street youth. In this Toolkit, DV/SA providers will find information designed to increase their understanding of runaway and homeless youth and the network of programs and services working with them and, conversely, RHY providers will find resources on intimate partner violence and the programs and networks that provide protections and support to victims of violence. An increased understanding and dialogue between these systems at the service level can result in improved services overall.