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Teen Balks When His Stepsister Demands He Cover Up His Scars To Assuage Her Triggers

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Nowadays, people are often very open about asking others for help in avoiding their mental health triggers. But where does the line get drawn between a reasonable request and one that is simply too much to ask?

That’s the dilemma a teen on Reddit faced when his stepsister asked him to cover his burn scars. So he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the name Forsaken-Succotash-9 on the site, asked:

“AITA for not covering my scars despite knowing how they affect my step-sister?”

He explained:

“so I (17M[ale]) have a large burn scar on my arm and shoulder. it covers my whole upper arm and shoulder and some of my lower arm, it was from an accident a few years ago.”

“the past few days have been really hot where I live so I’ve either been wearing short sleeves or I’ve been rolling up my sleeves. and today my step-sister (20F[emale]) came to visit our dad. I walked into the kitchen wearing shorts and a hoodie with the sleeves rolled up.”

“when my sister was younger and she was living with her mom, the house next to her’s caught on fire. the houses were attached, and their house also caught on fire but they got out and were fine. but still, it was a very traumatic experience for her. she can’t go near fire or shell freak out (understandably so).”

“she saw my scars and told me to roll my sleeves down, I told her no. she told me that I know about her history with fire and that I should be more considerate. I told her that she should be more considerate considering it’s my fu**ing body.”

“she called me a dick for using the whole ‘my body, my rules’ thing and that she just asked me to roll my sleeves down.”

“I grabbed a drink from the fridge and went back upstairs, thinking back on it I kinda feel like TA. I know how fire and fire-related things affect her, and rolling my sleeves down wouldn’t have been that hard. so AITA?”

“EDIT: I’ve had a few people come into my DM’s asking about my accident. I know you guys mean well and just want all the info but it is something that is really hard for me to talk about. so i would appreciate it if you could not ask me those kind of questions.”

“EDIT 2: I know I said I wouldn’t and technically I’m giving them what they want, but the DMs I’ve been getting at too much, and the questions I’m being asked are too invasive and I just want them to stop (also my post is over a day old so not many people will see this).”

“basically what happened, my dad had some friends over and they were smoking in the shed (with the door open) because he has a no-smoking rule in the house. after they went inside, I went to grab something from the shed.”

“I accidentally knocked over a set of draws and one of the cigarettes wasn’t full out and landed in a bag of hay (i had rabbits at the time). the draws I knocked over had landed in front of the door and closed it, keeping it shut, I couldn’t move them. you can probably imagine the rest. my dad ended up having take an axe to the door.”

“this may sound odd, but the fire wasn’t the traumatizing part for me, it was the being trapped. that’s why I don’t mind showing my scars (it still took me a while after they healed) but struggle talking about it (i got some pretty invasive and accusatory DMs about this point).”

“I’m fine around fire, but I now have really bad claustrophobia and can’t stand being locked in any kind of room.”

“I don’t mind people talking about this in the comments, but please keep it respectful and please don’t DM me about it.”

OP’s fellow Redditors were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this interaction based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And they thought OP’s sister was way out of line.

“NTA. You are completely correct, your body, your rules. She’s asking you to be uncomfortable for the sake of her comfort — which is not okay.” —Macaroni_Rascal42

“hopping on to add that while having triggers and being triggered due to traumatic events is understandable and does not make her TA, part of coping and understanding those triggers it to know and manage them. not actively doing so is the issue here and asking you to cover up or go away is not managing anything.”


“I would think having your shoulder and upper arm burned would be a more traumatic experience than seeing your neighbour’s house burn. Especially since no one was hurt. He shouldn’t have hide his scars from anyone. It is his choice.”squidiot10

“Her trauma doesn’t negate your trauma. Your scars can from a heat/fire related incident too. She’s not allowed to make you feel shame because it reminds her of something that scares her.”SugarSugarBee

“NTA – she’s “traumatized” over a near miss, but has no consideration for someone who wasn’t that fortunate?”

“Time for Miss Thing to grow up.”el_grande_ricardo

“NTA, she’s the a**hole. You’ve been actually scared by the thing she’s now afraid of. She should bond over it with you, instead there’s some weird ass power struggle she’s playing. Tell her to back the fuck up. If your mother/father intervene, stand by your guns (no pun intended).”jimbajomba

“NTA. I have very noticeable scars on my face and if someone ever asked me to cover them because it gave THEM trauma?!?! I’d laugh in their face and tell them to eff off. Your trauma from actually being burned trumps her trauma from coming through a fire unscathed. She deserves no consideration for her ridiculous request. The scars are a part of you.”puppyjito

Hopefully OP’s sister can learn to manage her triggers better.

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.