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Dirty Secrets: The Hidden Truth of Mobbing and Betrayal Trauma in Families That Scapegoat

grief young black woman sitting near wooden wall and crying

In the labyrinth of family dynamics lies a dark underbelly often veiled by the facade of harmony and love. Betrayal Trauma, Family Mobbing, and Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) are three interwoven phenomena that thrive in the shadows of familial relationships, leaving deep scars on the psyche of those ensnared within their grasp. Drawing from the insights gained via my pioneering research on these types of insidious dysfunctional family dynamics, FSA adult survivors are now able to unravel the intricacies of these experiences, shedding light on the complexities that underlie familial betrayal and abuse.

Understanding Betrayal Trauma and FSA

Betrayal trauma, as verified by the research of Dr. Jennifer Freyd, transcends mere emotional hurt, delving into the realm of psychological trauma inflicted by parents upon their children. These acts of betrayal (which can take many forms, as described in my chapter on Betrayal Trauma in my introductory book on FSA, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed), shatters the foundation of trust, leaving child victims and adult survivors of FSA stranded in a desolate landscape of disbelief and disillusionment.

Unlike overt forms of abuse, betrayal trauma operates insidiously, and can even at times be camouflaged beneath the guise of affection and intimacy. My original research on FSA emphasized the profound impact of such trauma, often manifesting in symptoms of Complex Trauma stemming from breaches of trust that act to break familial bonds.

Unraveling Family Mobbing: The Collective Assault

As mentioned in a recent article on this same topic, family mobbing is a collective onslaught on a particular family member whereby the dynamics of power and control converge to target a chosen individual within the family unit. My original FSA research shed light on the mechanisms through which this phenomenon unfolds, revealing how alliances are forged among family members to marginalize and ostracize the designated target – typically the child or adult child in the ‘family scapegoat’ role.

Fueled by envy, insecurity, or unresolved conflicts, family mobbing inflicts deep psychological wounds, eroding the victim’s sense of self-worth, self-identity, sense of belonging, and ability to trust others. My research at the time underscored the pervasive nature of mobbing dynamics as related to the phenomenon I eventually named Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA), which is typically perpetuated across generations within a given dysfunctional (or narcissistic) family system. (Article continues below)


I Just Released a New Video on Family Mobbing – Watch It on YouTube Here

Family Mobbing Scapegoat Abuse

Understanding the Impact of FSA: The Exile Within

Central to my exploration of Family Mobbing and Betrayal Trauma is the concept of Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA), wherein an individual becomes the receptacle for the family’s unresolved traumas and dysfunctions. My research and clinical work with families that scapegoat and FSA adult survivors seeking to heal from these painful dynamics revealed the intricate dynamics that conspire to designate a scapegoat within the familial hierarchy.

Whether borne out of a need for catharsis or a means of preserving familial cohesion, FSA exacts a heavy toll on its victims, relegating them to a perpetual state of exile within their own family-of-origin. My efforts to shed light on the reality of FSA underscores the systemic nature of this form of abuse, highlighting its role in perpetuating cycles of abuse and dysfunction across generations.

Within the tapestry of familial betrayal and abuse, one may discern the complex interplay of various factors that shape individuals’ experiences. From the dynamics of power and control to the legacy of intergenerational trauma, my FSA research elucidated the multifaceted nature of these phenomena.

In emphasizing the intersectionality of this form of trauma and abuse, we must also acknowledge how factors such as gender, race, and socio-economic status intersect to compound individuals’ vulnerability to abuse within familial contexts – something I see lacking currently in the bulk of ‘self-help’ content available publicly. This oversight can also result in FSA adult survivors feeling not only ‘exiled within’, but excluded and exiled from self-help offerings as well.

A Public Call to Illuminate the Shadows

While my FSA research served to unveil the shadows that cloak familial betrayal and abuse, it also illuminated pathways to healing and resilience. By reclaiming agency and cultivating a sense of self separate from familial projections and expectations, survivors of betrayal trauma, family mobbing, and FSA can begin to chart a course toward healing.

The insights gained from my research on FSA underscore the importance of therapeutic interventions that validate survivors’ experiences and empower them to rewrite the narratives that have long defined their sense of self – what I call transcending (or releasing) the damaging ‘scapegoat narrative’.

As a society, we are called to confront the shadows that linger within the folds of familial relationships. Few wish to believe that abuse happens in families, but it does – both covertly and overtly. ‘Invisible’ (psycho-emotional) forms of abuse must be recognized for survivors to be able to access the help they most desperately need, and for Mental Health professionals to be able to receive the training they need to help them – something that is in short supply today.

By shining a light on the ugly reality of Betrayal Trauma, Family Mobbing, and Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) in families, we honor the resilience of survivors and amplify their voices in the quest for justice and healing. This has been my life’s mission for the past 20 years, and I hope to continue on in my quest to raise awareness about the impact of these forms of trauma and abuse on FSA adult survivors.

On a related note: Although I have not mentioned this publicly before, you might be surprised to learn that I am unable to advertise as a sponsored brand on Amazon because I use the words ‘family’ and ‘abuse’ (family scapegoating abuse) on the cover of my book. My introductory book on FSA is therefore deemed unsuitable for advertisers.

I face this same issue on YouTube. I must appeal every video before I can post it to overturn the decision to demonetize or restrict my videos due to they’re being initially rated as not being ‘suitable’ for advertisers due to ‘controversial’ content. It is only due to my paying channel members’ support that I am able to continue posting videos there. (If you’d like to learn more about this situation I’m facing on YouTube, and/or about how you can support my efforts to provide free public education world-wide on FSA, go here).

In my opinion, this aversion to advertising / monetizing content that directly addresses family abuse should concern us all, as it serves as a form of censorship and may inhibit content creation on this subject, a subject that desperately needs to be discussed and shared within public formats.

To those of you who continue to be an advocate for my work on Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) via your subscriptions to my free and paid content, know that your support is felt by me, and sincerely appreciated.

Something for us all to celebrate: My work on FSA continues to spread far and wide – My most recent FSA Questionnaire just passed an expert review with flying colors and will be used in Zambia in a research study on University students Mental Health as related to family scapegoating dynamics in a Doctoral Fellowship study there. It will just need slight adjustments to accommodate for, and address, expected cultural differences.

7 thoughts on “Dirty Secrets: The Hidden Truth of Mobbing and Betrayal Trauma in Families That Scapegoat”

  1. Ruby

    Family Scapegoat here of severe lifelong Narcissistic Abuse. My family is a combination of Socio/psychopaths and also warm, kind, treated Bipolars. Bad combination. I am the remaining survivor. Just introducing myself in your blog.

  2. Deb H

    I wish I could sit with you for days. I am recently just realizing what I’ve gone through all my life, and am so confused, as I’ve been told it was always “me”. I am in therapy, but not for FSA.

    1. Rebecca C. Mandeville, MA

      Hi Deb, many therapists are willing to read my book on FSA, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed (it is clinical and in part research-based); this may then give you a common language to discuss what may have happened to you in your family.

  3. Anne

    The above two sentences are confusing. How do I get to a website menu? It would be nice if you just included the link in the above statement. /// Thank you for this topic content. I hope to be able to actually read your content. This note talks about the fact that you have created content. ///I wish you perseverence in jumping through the required hoops to post and share your content.

    1. Rebecca C. Mandeville, MA

      Hi Anne, can you let me know if you received my article via the Newsletter or as a blog notification from WordPress? If the former, I neglected to include the link to my menu, which I apologize for. Given you are now here, my website menu is located in the menu here at the top right of the screen. I’ll include the direct link next time. Busy day yesterday.

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