Scapegoat Recovery 10 Unspoken Family Rules

Scapegoat Recovery and Recognizing Damaging Unspoken Family Rules

A Warm Welcome to Our New Subscribers!

During this time while I am serving as a care-giver to a loved one following major surgery, I’ll be posting videos on subscriber questions and suggested topics as this takes less time than writing articles. All of the below videos have closed captions – which I double-check to ensure they are not word salad.

I’ve posted three new videos for you to check out when you have time – Chapters are included beneath each video both here and on YouTube in the video description. When you click on a chapter, the video will start at the time indicated.

🔥 TRIGGER WARNING: All videos on my YouTube channel address scapegoating and psycho-emotional abuse and could be activating. Viewer comments may be activating as well.


Video One Description: Did you know that dysfunctional and narcissistic families live by a set of UNSPOKEN RULES that SUPPORT your being scapegoated? The research I conducted on what I named family scapegoating abuse (FSA) suggests that families that scapegoat are also governed by a *very specific and insidious* set of rules. This video reviews TEN RULES that are evident in families that scapegoat one of their own, as revealed by my research on what I named ‘family scapegoating abuse’ (FSA).

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:02 – Three concepts dysfunctional families are governed by
  • 02:30 – Power, false narratives, reality distortion
  • 03:19 – Love for sale
  • 04:20 – Fawn/submit/defer
  • 05:24 – Injustice and righteous rage
  • 06:06 – Empaths and intergenerational trauma
  • 07:47 – ‘Scapegoat’ / ‘Golden Child’ split
  • 08:53 – DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender
  • 10:30 – Feelings must be stuffed
  • 11:44 – Deny painful realities
  • 12:35 – The price the scapegoat must pay to ‘belong’

Video Two Description: THE REPAIR FANTASY of Scapegoated Adult Survivors: When you end contact with your narcissistic family, do you wonder if one or more family members will one day have an epiphany and realize they have hurt you and treated you badly – even abusively? Will they feel sorry or feel remorse for what they did, and reach out to you to make amends? Psychotherapist and Family systems expert, Rebecca C. Mandeville, discusses what scapegoated adult survivors can expect when they step out of their dysfunctional narcissistic family system.

  • 00:00 – Intro and subscriber question
  • 01:50 – Narcissistic family system as cult system
  • 03:08 – Narcissistic abuse co-occurring with family scapegoating abuse
  • 03:59 – Narcissistic families and false narratives
  • 05:00 – The shared distorted reality attached to the FSA target
  • 06:40 – Why caution is needed if family reaches out following no contact
  • 07:52 – The ‘Repair Fantasy’ versus reality
  • 08:52 – The Myth of “always” and “never”
  • 10:14 – “Closed” systems versus “Open” systems

Video Three Description: BIZARRE SCAPEGOAT REALITIES – Episode 2: Has this happened to you? A family member frequently displays inappropriate, hurtful, egregious behavior (they may be cruel, sarcastic, dismissive, or they engage in excessive drug or alcohol use, etc); yet, when you are at a family gathering, the family focuses on YOUR behavior and deems YOU as being the “problem” family member. Sound familiar? For an adult survivor of family scapegoating abuse (FSA), this is a common occurrence, and this insidious form of ‘invisible’ abuse can ESCALATE and INCREASE as you become HEALTHIER and begin to stand up for yourself and set boundaries. In this video, I explain why this can happen in dysfunctional or narcissistic families – And it is ESPECIALLY likely to happen if you are the family Empath.

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 00:56 – Subscriber’s bizarre dysfunctional family experience
  • 03:11 – When the scapegoat is seen as “the problem”
  • 05:06 – The unspoken rules of dysfunctional family systems
  • 06:20 – Truth in dysfunctional or narcissistic families
  • 08:40 – Functional family systems versus dysfunctional ones
  • 09:32 – ‘Radical acceptance’ of painful, confusing realities
  • 10:08 – Distorted perceptions that are unlikely to change
  • 10:47 – What leads to the breaking of ties
  • 12:36 – Choosing your environment – and who is in it

11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hello Rebecca
    I have been on the journey for many years to learn about Narcissim, and subsequently being a victim of abuse as the Scapegoat (in a family with Covert Narcissist mother, and ‘Malignant’ Extrovert brother who is the golden child).
    There is more information available now, fortunately – as it was a long and lonely road, trying to come to terms with no option than to walk away from family to protect my health, and little written on how to ‘survive’ from a life a trauma caused by family dysfunction.
    I think what has transpired within my family would ‘sadly’ be excellent as a case study for students! I was the 100% devoted daughter, as opposed to my brother, who did nothing to support my folks (father now deceased). The final outcome is that I have been robbed of my inheritence by my brother who achieved Power of Attorney upon my dad’s death, against Dad’s clear wishes). All monies were misappropriated. My mother of course would not consent to the Golden Child being investigated. Have since found out there was a Bond paid and monies hidden from Govt, which I will try to contest upon hear death.
    Brother successfully managed a smear campaign with Nursing Home etc, and visits with my mother are by apptment, under supervision. He claimed I was abusive.
    Under the circumstances, I have completely distanced myself from it all.
    I have no hope of maintaining any contact with any family whatsoever. Being family minded, this is nothing less than tragic. Fortunately my husband is my greatest support.
    I am 67 and have worked hard to move past a life of abuse. Still a work in progress.
    The story is long, involved and very ugly.

    Your videos are truly amazing. Thank you!

    1. Kim, I am so terribly sorry to hear your story. I have been reading how this is not uncommon. Siblings end up drinking so much of the kool-aid for so long, trying to protect their position and exploit ours, that they are saturated with the poison and cannot see past the fantasy and false narrative. We never have been a human being, but always an object to manipulate for their benefit and avoid dealing with their insecurities and emotional demons.

      If they do not manage to convince parents when they are alive to cut us out, they maneuver after death to separate us from our inheritance, legally or illegally, controlling the narrative as our parents did. When funds are in a trust instead of a will, our rights can easily be even more subverted. Living through the abuse is criminal enough, but then, to suffer the added injustice, and after our parents are dead, is an unspeakable crime.

      I have been trying to prepare for the same to happen to me. My mother already denies my inheritance from my father, saying I’m not entitled until she dies, while she meanwhile controls the trust and refuse even give me copies of the documents. I have been trying to find an attorney, but no one wants to take up the case, not as long as my mother is alive and the dirty deed may not yet be officially a done deal. Emotional/narcissistic abuse has little standing in the U.S. state courts and the small handful of attorneys I found with expertise with narcissism practice mainly in divorce courts protecting children.

      But wouldn’t it be great to see a branch of probate law that can bring justice for those of us who have dealt with so much injustice our entire lives, and the many who have had our lives ruined?

      I wish you good fortune and success in your efforts.

      1. I agree. I’d like to see this become a specialty area in probate law. I can’t even count how many people I know – clients, friends, FSA research respondents, blog and YouTube subscribers, etc, who have gone through similar things. A few have written to me after I told them to seek legal help letting me know they were able to get their rightful inheritance but only after a lawyer got involved who could deal with the scapegoating (and greedy) siblings.

    2. Hi Kim, thank you, and what a blessing to have your husband supporting you, it can make all the difference in the world. Thank you for sharing a part of your FSA story. “Tragic” is a word I use often when discussing this form of family abuse.

  2. Regarding your video on Unspoken Rules, I find these helpful when trying not to go crazy when certain behaviors are directed at or expected of me– “Oh, yeah, that’s why this is happening.”

    I’d like to suggest another. No. 11: We are not allowed to need anything. This is related to No. 9, suppressing any negative feelings or emotions. But it goes farther.

    When my husband died at 36, after two years fighting cancer, I got zero support. My family adored my husband and rallied with offers to help when he will ill. But they considered their job done with the funeral. I even had one say sister shout at me, “You, you, you! It’s always about you. What about me? When my boyfriend broke up with me? I didn’t see everyone come running to give me any support.”

    My company ran into financial trouble and lost 30% of its business in the recession of 2017/2018. According to my family, it wasn’t due to the worst economic downturn since the Depression which caused record job losses, record bankruptcies, and record business closings. It was because I was “incompetent” and “mismanaged my company.” I didn’t deserve help.

    I managed to hang on and rebuild much of what was lost. Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 during my industry’s peak season and we had quite a few business cancellations. For a cash shortfall that totaled all of $15,000, my father walked into my house and barked “File bankruptcy!”

    Nice family! :>) 😏

    With regards to No. 5, unresolved trauma can be epigenetically passed on, up to three generations forward. There is a fascinating book on this phenomenon, “It Didn’t Start with You,” by Mark Wolynn. It is about inherited family trauma and how it can affect members of future generations.

    Thank you for sharing these.

    1. Hi Rae, thank you for sharing this part of your story with us. Although these first 10 ‘rules’ were research driven, I have quite a few more that have been suggested by subscribers since the video came out this morning. There will definitely be a ‘More Rules…’ video coming soon. Wolynn’s book is an especially good one for scapegoat’s who identify as family Empaths to read. It is incredible to me that the great Family Systems theorist Murray Bowen was talking about ‘multigenerational transmissions’ half a century ago. So much good stuff there; one of the reasons I am doing all I can to bring Family Systems theory and research back into the conversation.

  3. I am in Australia, which may have different laws to US.

    Feel for you. The laws certainly need revision.

    I plan to seek out a No Win No Pay law firm when the time comes.

    Good luck …. I treat it as though I have lost my $350,000 legacy, and to recoup anything is a win … and in the meanwhile I will drag out contesting the estate. Small payback for my horrid brother who has always spent money he did not have, like a millionaire

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