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Woman accused of 'triggering' autistic teenager's rage attack at bday party; won't pay for damages. AITA? UPDATED 3X

Woman accused of 'triggering' autistic teenager's rage attack at bday party; won't pay for damages. AITA? UPDATED 3X


When this woman feels wrongfully accused of triggering her friend's autistic son's "rage attack" and won't foot the bill for the damage, she asks Reddit:

"Am I in the wrong for not paying for damage I did not cause?"

A while back, I attended a birthday party for a nine-year-old girl, Rebecca. She had several female friends/cousins there. A close mutual friend (Lucy) brought her 14-year-old son (Trevor).

He is on the spectrum and acts out physically but he's very bright and communicative when he isn't angry.

This is well known in our friend group and we try to deal with it for our friend's sake as she is a single mom. When I say that Travor acts out physically ... at the party, he flipped the table when he saw that the birthday cake was 'girly' and not his and smashed/kicked a couple of the presents.

He also knocked over the grill full of cooking food when his mother gave him a gift to open from her that he didn't like. We had to order pizza after that. (She always brings him a gift when they attend a birthday party for another kid because he will pitch a fit if he has to watch another kid open a gift when he has none.)

Anyway, his outburst scared all the little girls and they decided to go into Rebecca's bedroom to try on the many costumes/princess gowns that she had received as gifts. They wanted to dress up and put on a 'parade' for all the attendees after they got ready.

A little later, I went to the bathroom and Trevor was banging on the bedroom door, demanding to be let in. I told him that he couldn't go inside because the costumes wouldn't fit him and the girls were changing their clothing.

I told him it wouldn't be appropriate for him to be in there and that he should go back out where the party was happening and let the girls play.

Well, he lashed out. He damaged the bathroom door, the bedroom door, the drywall, and had to be dragged away from me by two men. Trevor is 6'2 and 275lbs. His mother, Lucy, blamed me for it and said I should have let him play with the other kids because he's 'innocent.'

I reminded her that Trevor shouldn't be in a room where little girls are changing their clothing and that the girls were scared of him because he damaged the cake and was banging/kicking the door.

I told her she needed to consider their comfort and they weren't comfortable around him. I also reminded her that he had been suspended for inappropriate touch more than once.

She said this was a teachable moment about inclusion but I was adamant that NO boy that much older than those little girls should be with them when they change clothing. She told me I was ableist and awful and left with her son. We haven't spoken since and it's been really awful.

Fast forward, the holidays came and went and Rebecca's parents had to go through working with their homeowner's insurance to repair the damage. They sent Lucy (Trevor's mom) a bill for the deductible and she forwarded it to me.

She says that I caused the damage and should pay because I'm the adult and her son is simply an innocent child who wanted to play and I had no right to stop him or parent him or tell him he couldn't do something.

I absolutely refuse. It's not that much money and I feel bad that it's come to this, but I do not feel that I was wrong. I've known Trevor since he was born. I babysat him from birth until he was ten and it became too much for me.

My husband and I were named his godparents when he was born. It's not like he's a stranger that I was just bossing around for the fun of it. He knows me. And he had no business going in there with those girls. Am I wrong?

Then OP provides her first update:

Someone asked about the damage that was done. Here's the rundown: Bedroom door kicked off frame and holes kicked/punched through so that has to be replaced. Bathroom door kicked off frame and holes kicked/punched through so that has to be replaced.

Toilet tank lid was tossed into the big mirror over sinks so that has to be replaced. Toilet tank lid broke the edging on the granite countertop so that has to be replaced. Drywall was damaged in hallway and bathroom from fists flying so that has to be replaced.

The wallpaper in the bathroom and hallway is different and discontinued so new has to be installed. All the trim around the doorways has to be replaced. Toilet tank lid damaged the lights over the mirror so those have to be replaced.

Toilet tank lid put deep gouge in hardwood floor so two pieces need to be replaced. It happened so fast I couldn't even believe what my eyes were seeing.

OP's second update:

I didn't feel like it was my place to disagree with Lucy about her parenting techniques and what would/wouldn't work for Trevor when she was the one taking him to specialists and hearing their advice ... not me.

I thought my unwavering love and support would be more valuable to them both than any uninformed opinions I could give because I do NOT know how to raise a child on the spectrum.

So I (and everyone else in our friend group) have followed her lead and it has lead up to this point. We're all very aware that we've helped enable this.

As I've stated multiple times, I take full responsibility for helping create an environment for Trevor to be raised in that clearly isn't working. It took THIS to make us see just how volatile, unpredictable, dangerous, and in need of serious help Trevor actually is.

It's been a giant wakeup call for every single one of us. We took Lucy's word that distracting him was the only option when he would melt down instead of using his anger/frustration as teachable moments. We're all incredibly aware that his failures are also our failures.

I'm the first to admit that, due to their circumstances, our friend group has always made special allowances for Trevor and Lucy. We 'circled the wagons' so to speak when Lucy's husband was sentenced to prison for unspeakable crimes against them both.

It absolutely clouded our judgment and made us too tolerant and this has made us all realize that. We should have stepped up much sooner instead of trying to help by using methods Lucy gave us that clearly were not working. While we thought we were helping and being a supportive community ... we were equipping them both to fail.

I no longer feel safe in ANY way being around Trevor and I refuse to let Lucy somehow try to normalize a giant teenager being in a room with little girls who are changing their clothing.

That's my hard line in the sand. It was more important in that moment to get him away from those little girls and let them have the space to breathe and feel safe than anything else.

It wasn't intended as a reward but a distraction. It was done to get him away from those girls and out of the way so we could try to repair the bedlam he had created. It was all about calming the girls and trying to salvage what we could to make Rebecca's day better.

Making a scene and kicking Lucy and Trevor out would have further agitated Trevor and upset the girls further. In that moment, distance was the answer.

Also. I did advocate for the girls! To the point that I had a PTSD flareup (I was assaulted by a home intruder a little over 10 years ago in my own home) that I still haven't fully recovered from ... I stood my ground and advocated for those little girls. Nightmares I haven't had in years have come back.

I'm not making ANY excuses anymore - I was explaining to someone what happened up until this point because they wanted clarification. I'm saying that because of his past (and his mother's) ... we HAVE made excuses and let him get away with things we shouldn't have in the past.

But this has been an eye opening wake up call for everyone (apart from one or two in our friend group ... and Lucy) and my husband and I are still grappling with our own mistakes as Trevor's community/support system and how to move forward. We love Lucy and Trevor. Dearly.

They're more than friends ... they're family. We love them. This has been incredibly traumatizing for us because we KNOW that we allowed it by being enablers.

So, we have guilt and anger at ourselves. We're trying to suss out how to move forward and apply what we've learned from this and ... if we even want to.

OP's third update (with more info about Trevor's father):

We've all been friends for 30+ years. Rebecca and Trevor have grown up together. Trevor was the first person in our group to hold her when she was born. He was five at the time and called her 'my sweet litty baby' for years.

Our friend group (until this event happened) would get together at least 3-4 times per month, often more. We've all gotten used to Trevor's outbursts -- including Rebecca (but her birthday friends were not and were justifiably scared.)

We all step up and try to help when it happens because Lucy is alone. Why? Because Lucy and Trevor were in a situation I won't go into details about but suffice it to say ... Lucy's husband/Trevor's father will likely never get out of prison.

So yes, we have put up with a lot because we were there for that and no one should endure it. We've accepted things that most people would likely walk away from.

Trevor is my godson and Lucy and Trevor lived with us for many years (4 years to be exact) when he was small while she got back on her feet after her husband was sentenced.

Since this happened, our friend group hasn't been together much and Lucy hasn't been around me at all. Or Rebecca's family. So, it's just a mess. A big giant mess.

Trevor's dad is in prison and will probably never get out. He did some tremendously awful things to both Lucy and Trevor and I think that's why we all have kinda ... circled the wagons around them ... since Trevor was little. And why we've put up with way more out of Trevor than most people would.

When Trevor acts out (and it's so commonplace that we're used to it) we always distract him with something else. Distraction is the only effective thing we've ever found. Show him a new toy. Show him something in a book.

Sing a song to him. After he knocked over the cake and grill, Rebecca's dad took him into the den and let him play a new game on the Playstation to calm his rage/screaming/punching. Trevor is a big gamer and so into it that he will usually play for a solid hour or two.

He was left in the den with a soda and the game and we had taken turns checking on him a few times and he was fine. But when I went to use the bathroom, he was pestering the girls.

Someone mentioned that he's big enough to hurt Lucy. She's been hospitalized twice and once was with broken bones. However, she didn't say it was Trevor who caused it. It was recommended to her years ago that she find a place for Trevor but she won't hear of it.

He is a very gifted child - his math skills are unreal and he can hear anything musical and sing it with perfect pitch while playing it on guitar or piano and he's never had lessons.

She can't have any other children and I think she feels guilty for how his life was with his father for years. It's abundantly clear that she can't/won't teach him better, though.

When I say she's a close mutual friend ... I mean we've been friends for 30+ years. Close friends. Our group is tight knit and while we've had spats before ... we always come back together and get over it.

I honestly don't know how we'll get over this or if I even want to at this point. It's just too much. I love her and Trevor both dearly but this is unreal.

Rebecca's parents are aware that Lucy sent the bill to me. They've said they will NOT accept money from me and if Lucy doesn't pay, they are willing to take her to civil litigation. It's not a HUGE sum of money, but I think it's the principle at this point. I've agreed to testify if it comes to that.

Let's take a look at some of the top responses to OP's post :

wlfrw8 writes:

Not wrong. She was wrong for bringing an uncontrollable 14 year old boy to a 9 year old girls birthday party anyway. She was wrong for not having taken him home after the first outburst.

She was wrong for not watching over him continuously after he had already begun damaging things. You were trying to stop him from creating more damage than he already had because she wasn't doing her job as a parent.

Sounds like she brings him to these things so someone else will take over her duties as parent and give her a breather. Sounds like it's time to start distancing yourself when he's going to be around.

It's going to get worse before it gets better. Since he's also been getting kicked out of school wouldn't be surprised to hear that authorities will soon become involved in their lives and lives of anyone associated with them.

kidenstorm6 writes:

Absolutely not. He doesn't pull that shit because he's autistic, he does it because it works. His mother lets him get away with murder and rewards him for it. Throwing a tantrum at parties doesn't lose him the privilege of going to parties, it earns him presents.

He terrorizes little girls and destroys things, and his mom blames you for protecting them. If you and your friends don't start setting boundaries and not letting him come along, it will only get worse.

My grandma adopted a kid with these kinds of issues, and pulled these same stunts. He stopped trying to with me when he discovered that I'm more than willing to push back.

He tried to steal my headphones at one point, so I grabbed his wrist and held it in place... that was the first and last time he tried with me. He's in jail now for attacking my aunt and cousins.

baldbieb writes:

not wrong. she is doing a poor job parenting her son and needs to be teaching him boundaries instead of catering to every demand. he is autistic, so of course he needs accommodations and understanding, but he already has a track record and is now big enough to be dangerous when he physically lashes out.

if something isnt done to address this behavior soon he will do more than property damage, he will hurt someone. i wouldnt have let him in the room with the girls whether they were undressed or not- if he got upset at them who knows what couldve happened.

the bill is not your problem, it's lucy's. she made this bed by letting trevor's behavior get this bad. she might think she is being a good mom but her approach is clearly not working.

Looks like OP is NTA here. But is she being too harsh on her friend's parenting? What do YOU think?

Sources: Reddit
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