How should I respond to aggression

I had an argument with the adult son of someone I have known for many years. He became angry and proceed to scream at me several times that I’m a f#@!ing c&^t. At the same time he was coming at me as if to assault me. I find this sort of language and thuggish behavior very offensive - it reminds me of the terrible abuse I received at school from bullies.

Although this young man is 25 years old he is still like a teenager. He never finished high school and has never held down a job. He lives with his parents. The reason for this appears to be that he is just plain lazy and selfish. His parents are successful business people and have spoiled him.

I also live in their house although I will be moving to another place in a couple of weeks. But I wonder how I should now respond. He now behaves as if nothing ever happened.

But I do not feel that I can forgive him, not for the offensive language nor the threat of physical violence. And since I will be maintaining a relationship with his parents even after I move I will come across him quite a bit.

I do not want to let this sort of behavior go unanswered but know not how to respond. What can I do?

Did he escalate to these screaming fits in the presence of his parents?

We need to know more about this behavior. Has it happened before? Frequently? Do you think he could be resentful of your presence in “his” house? Was this an argument that escalated? Did he accuse you of doing something, or failing to? Did you accuse him of something?

I’ve lived with them for the last 3 years and known them for 15 years.

I worked for them when their previous business was taken by receivers and was the only member of staff not to abandon them. I then went with them to South Korea to help with a new business and then came back to Australia and stayed in their apartment. They came back several months after I did. Now I work for another company but still do work on the side for them in exchange for accommodation.

During the years they were struggling I struggled with them and have even worked for no more than room and board.

Now they are successful again and have just opened several new businesses. One is a cafe / staff canteen that they took over just last week.

They somehow managed to pursuade their son to work in the cafe as a barista. I think they bribed him with a gift of an expensive car. They sent him to barristar school and then put him to work as the only barista they have.

He did well for a few days but on Wednesday reverted to his old form. He would not get out of bed, did not want to do the job anymore. His mother was almost hysterical and actually in tears because there was no one else to do it. His response was to just shout at her to leave him alone.

I was very alarmed at what he was doing. If he didn’t go to work then the cafe could not open. The cafe is obligated under contract to be open from 6am to 3pm Monday to Friday as it is located in the head office of a major national corporation.

I told him that he should do the right thing by his parents and meet his responsibilities like a man. The argument progressed with each of us becoming angry. I told him he was a lazy, selfish little bastard******* after which he responded as described above.

I have seen him behave aggressively like this toward his parents before but it is the first time it has been directed at me. It’s also the first time I’ve seen any hint of physical aggression from him - it’s usually just angry shouting, swearing and demands for his parents to give him more money.

I’ve known him since he was about 10 years old. He was a truly lovely little boy, but turned into an asshole when he became a teenager.

******* He is.

So this whole performance was done in full view of his mom as well as you?

Bleh. His parents are enabling him. Bribing him with a car to take a job that they gave him? How about bribing him with “Pay rent or find someplace else to live”? (Also, who hires only one barista? What happens if said single barista gets sick?)

Anyway, my thoughts on how to deal with it: keep your head down until you can move the hell out. If you interact with the parents in the future, if they request to meet in a space where you know this kid will be too, tell them flatly that while you’re happy to maintain your relationship with them, you won’t choose to be in the same room as someone who physically threatened you. Maintain your relationship, but maintain your boundaries too. He doesn’t have to be there when you see his parents. You can meet up with them on neutral territory like their office or a coffee shop.

This has the added bonus that if the parents see someone setting hard boundaries with this kid, they might figure out that they can do it too. :stuck_out_tongue:

On the other hand, if the parents won’t accommodate this perfectly reasonable request, well, that tells you something too. It’s not like they don’t know what he’s like and could possibly genuinely think you’re making shit up.

Oh, and if he ever gets physically in your face again, call the police. Once is a fuck-up. Twice is a pattern.

For the record, I think you were way out of line. You butted into another family’s business. You shouldn’t do that.

It sounds to me like you were offensive to this man and he offended you back. If anything, you should apologise for butting into something that wasn’t your business, and leave the issue of his behaviour out of it completely.

However, for your actual question, ‘how should I respond to agression’ the answer is most certainly not ‘with agression of your own’. If anything, lower the tone of your voice so that the other person has to quiet down to hear you. Don’t argue with the person, simply and quietly state that you won’t deal with them while they are shouting at you. If they continue to shout, then walk away.

Cool indifference.

He’s angry at himself, not you. He’s blaming you for him being a complete wanker.

I second Shirley’s opinion, with a side dish of: The next time you fear for your physical safety – that’s assault. Call the cops at once.

He seems volatile, his parents seem like enablers to his laziness and volatility, it’s a good thing you’re moving out very soon.

BTW: If I remember my Italian correctly, the masculine term is baristo. You’d think that the overpriced coffee shops would know this.

This, and it’s none of your business how he interacts with his parents, that’s for them to work out, not you, stay out of it.

If you can’t abide bullies, move early, go stay with another friend, or take a bed at the YMCA. But mostly stay out of their business, even if you’ve lived there for years, even if you’ve known him since he’s a boy, even if you’re like family and motivated by concern for the parents and you owe them a great debt. Still not your business, even if the parents are looking for your input. Do yourself a favor and don’t delude yourself into believing you have a place in the dynamic, you don’t. Step back and keep your silence, even in the face of him bullying them.

My first thought is to say, very quietly “Why are you yelling? I hear perfectly well. There is no need to scream it.” Then “What’s with the name calling? Can’t we stay with the issue at hand?”

If he is threatening you with physical harm, leave immediately. Don’t put up with that shit.

From her account, it seems like she started calling him names first.

You called him a bastard and didn’t expect him to cuss back at you? Grow up.

If you honestly think he intends to assault you, then you should call the police. But you can’t cop to being offended by his language when you used the offensive language first, any more than a woman can cop to being surprised when the guy she hit first hits her back. Don’t dish out shit if you can’t take it back.

FWIW I agree that he sounds like a little shit, but moreso it’s none of your business. He’s the epitome of a predictable outcome of terrible parenting.

If the parents are enabling him as much as you say, then they will defend him from any accusations you make against him. Thus you are in a no-win situation.

Just let the matter drop and avoid the guy as much as possible. If you bring this to the parent’s attention they will feel the need to defend their son and how the way they parented him as well.

Yes, it’s all a big shame, but what the hell did you expect putting yourself in the middle of this nonsense. You seemed genuinely shocked that an immature man child screamed at you after you called him names and shamed him in front of his parents.

Whether he deserved it or not is entirely immaterial, you started it, and now you’re all in a big kerfuffle about his being “aggressive” toward you and what you will, or will not, tolerate.

Some people, especially women, seem to have a difficult time understanding that if you stand up to a brat or a bully (male or female) and get in their face, they will generally respond with aggression. It’s their way of interacting. The storybook tales about all bullies being cowards at heart is nonsense. The fact that you’re older than he is, and female is not some magical force field that will protect you. You stepped up to a dangerous, tantrum throwing, adult brat in a scenario where no one had your back. You’re lucky you were not injured.

Stop being outraged at the son. He is simply an immature fool with supine parents. The parents that have tolerated this behavior are the real problem.

You need to beat feet and get out ASAP.

It’s not your responsibility that his parents are enabling him acting like a little cunt. You are employed by them, and happen to be a friend due to your long tenure as an employee. You’re not his father. Offer the mum support if she comes to you after, but you’re not there to tell him how to act, unless it’s on the job and he’s pulling this shit AND you’re his manager.

Otherwise butt out.

Kick his ass.

If you can’t/won’t, you’re just a F*****g Fa****!

Of course he did. His parents have for the last 25 years. In their family, this type of hysteria (think of the mother’s reaction) is ‘normal.’

It seems, Imasquare, that you’re pissed off because the sacrifices you have made for this family do not make you ‘family.’ That your age does not garner respect. Your role as the ‘fix it’ gal produced no result in this scenario.

I doubt that you really feel as threatened as you say. If that were the case, you wouldn’t still be there. I think that you’re angry that it now appears that you have no credible currency in this house of hysteria and chaos.

Taking his behaviour personally is just another game, really, so someone will notice your indignation. He probably calls his mother a “fucking cunt” too; that it reminded you of schoolyard bullying is something you have to work at - not him.

It’s an uncomfortable situation to have been in. It’s unfortunate that it happened to you. It cannot, however, have been unexpected, given what you’d just witnessed with the mother.

This does not sound like an environment where sanity is king. I hope your thread was therapeutic, and I trust you will consider that the amount of displaced anger about the place is maybe not confined to him.

Don’t be aggressive, if you don’t like aggression. Don’t be verbally abusive, if you don’t like verbal abuse.

Leave today. Deal with the unfortunate circumstances in your life that occur. They are your problem. He will be their problem. People die in these absurdly pointless arguments.

In the next instance when you find yourself confronting someone aggressive, rather than seeking to overcome their aggression, seek not to contend. There are things in the world that are worth fighting for. If what you are going to fight for is not worth a few years in prison, then move along. There are enough folks in the world who are assholes; don’t become one because you think you are right.


I had a co-worker who was constantly insulting me.
It got to the point where I spoke to his boss and basically told him “you have an employee who cannot control his moth”.
I’m interested to learn how others have handled this kind of (attempted) intimidation.

Using asterisks doesn’t really hide your homophobia here. Instead of trying to pretend what you’re saying isn’t homophobic, please refrain from posting homophobic remarks.


twickster, MPSIMS moderator