family scapegoating book

Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed: A Book About Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA)

Because it’s not about what’s wrong with you. It’s about what happened to you. And it has a name…”

Rebecca C. Mandeville, MFT

It can be painful – even traumatic – to experience family betrayal.  Trying to get past it and attempting to sort out your feelings and establish a path forward can be complex and challenging, to say the least.

Children and adults who are scapegoated by their family are betrayed by those who are supposed to love and care about them the most.  It can be confusing, shocking, and angering, and many adult survivors struggle with disenfranchised grief and even complex trauma (C-PTSD).

When trying to find your way through difficult and impossible-seeming situations and events, you do not have to deal with it by yourself.

My approach to FSA Recovery

My FSA Recovery Coaching™️ practice is informed by my experience as a licensed Psychotherapist specializing in childhood trauma. As a coach, I am committed to meeting the standards, ethics and guidelines set forth by SAMSHA and follow their recommended six key principles of a trauma-informed approach.

To learn more about my international online FSA Recovery Coaching services, including my session and package rates, visit

Scroll down to learn more about ‘Family Scapegoating Abuse’ (FSA) and my FSA Recovery Coaching™️ services.

2021 Eric Hoffer Book Awards Finalist

My book on what I named Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) is available in both Digital and Paperback formats on Amazon and most online Book Retailers. You can also ask your local bookstore to order the paperback (print) version from the Ingramspark catalog.

Common Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) Experiences

Below are some common experiences reported by my scapegoated adult clients and FSA research survey respondents:

  1. You may identify as being ‘codependent’ or ‘highly sensitive’ and ‘empathic’; alternatively, you may be understandably self-protective because of hurtful dynamics with your family and will not tolerate any mistreatment from others; you may be quick to cut people off if they behave disrespectfully or inappropriately toward you because of betrayal trauma(s) experienced in the past.
  2. You may have difficulty expressing your feelings because at a very young age you learned to be careful about revealing too much of yourself as it would be used against you by family members. As a result of stuffing down (repressing) your feelings, you may experience various physical ailments, struggle with addiction and/or codependency, anxiety, depression, and/or obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
  3. You are made to feel solely responsible for the quality of your relationship with a parent, primary caregiver, dominant sibling, or others in your family; if there are ‘problems’ in the relationship it is viewed as being your fault, no matter what.
  4. If you attempt to share your side of the story or disagree with the version a dominant family member is putting forth (including via a ‘smear campaign’) you are labelled ‘a liar’, ‘crazy’, and/or ‘emotionally / mentally ill’, resulting in your being caught in a ‘double-bind’ (i.e., damned if you do, damned if you don’t) situation.
  5. One or more family members have been physically, emotionally, or mentally abusive toward you (including ‘gaslighting’ you, i.e., denying, distorting, and twisting events to show themselves in a better light at your expense).
  6. Extended family members or even non-family members are informed that you are a troubled, ‘problem’ child / adult child, are difficult to deal with, or cannot be trusted or believed, resulting in their scapegoating you as well (and feeling justified for doing so).
  7. If you try to inform others within or outside the family of the maltreatment or abuse you were/are experiencing (as a child, or years later as an adult), you are not believed and the abusive offending family member will deny their behavior (often via a ‘smear campaign’ whereby you are once again “a liar” or emotionally / mentally defective).
  8. You are objectified and dehumanized in various ways, e.g., you are labelled as ‘difficult’, ‘too sensitive’, ‘dramatic’, ‘a liar’, and are even described in those terms to others – in your presence (e.g., “Janie was such a difficult baby, she has so many emotional problems”) – even to perfect strangers or friends / partners you may introduce to family.
  9. You may be accused of ‘faking’ a genuine illness by scapegoating family members (nuclear and/or extended); this may be done to your face or via a covert ‘smear campaign’ designed to discredit you or deny/minimize your illness.
  10. You blame yourself for any relationship difficulties you experience as an adult, fearing that there is something innately wrong with you and that you are somehow damaged and defective. This, along with being treated as ‘less than’ and defective by your family, may contribute to intense feelings of desperation, hopelessness, and despair.
  11. You have struggled with anxiety, depression, and/or ‘imposter syndrome’, and may suffer from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, betrayal trauma, as well as unrecognized disenfranchised grief.
  12. Your family minimizes or ignores your personal and/or professional accomplishments. No matter how highly regarded you may be outside of your family-of-origin, to your family you are essentially a “fake” and have somehow managed to fool everyone by pretending you are something that you couldn’t possibly be (e.g., a successful, healthy, high functioning, respected in your profession, etc).
  13. You may have had no choice but to reduce or even end contact with one or more family members to protect your own mental / emotional health, yet you question yourself for this decision and/or feel guilty, ‘bad’, or ‘wrong’ for doing so.
  14. You are ‘the client that cannot be helped’, i.e., you have consulted with various health professionals but no clinician or counselor is able to help you figure out why you feel the way you do or get to the heart of the matter so that you can heal at a deep, core level. Standard ‘Talk therapy’, mindfulness-based practices, and/or medications help a little, but not much.

How many of the above experiences do you relate to? Were you surprised that these experiences are often associated with family scapegoating abuse (FSA)?


There are several ways to purchase my best-selling book on what I named ‘Family Scapegoating Abuse’ (FSA):

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(Kindle and Paperback)

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Use the below Universal Book Link (UBL) to purchase from your preferred online retailer. If you’d like your local book retailer to carry the paperback version of my book, you can ask them to order it from the Ingramsparks catalog.

Learn More About Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA)

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Rebecca C Mandeville MFT

Rebecca C. Mandeville, MFT is an internationally recognized family systems expert. She has been serving clients in her private practice as a Psychotherapist and Recovery Coach since 2006. She specializes in trauma-informed and transpersonal approaches to healing and helping ‘Adult Survivors’ recover from the negative effects of being raised in dysfunctional / abusive family systems.

Rebecca began describing and defining what she later named ‘Family Scapegoating Abuse’ (FSA) while serving as Core Faculty at the world-renowned Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. She is a pioneer in researching and writing about the overlapping symptoms of family scapegoating abuse (FSA), complex trauma (C-PTSD) and betrayal trauma and the devastating impact and effects of multigenerational trauma. Her career is now dedicated to helping family scapegoating abuse survivors and mental health practitioners understand the unique challenges FSA survivors face, as well as developing efficacious FSA treatment and recovery pathways.