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What Is Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA)?

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Did you know scapegoating can happen in ANY type of dysfunctional family system – NOT just a narcissistic one? – Scroll down to learn more about Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) and my introductory book on FSA, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed

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Rebecca C Mandeville Fsa Scapegoat Expert

Rebecca C. Mandeville, Founder of Family Scapegoating Abuse Education™

Rebecca C. Mandeville is a licensed Psychotherapist (LMFT); Certified Complex Trauma Treatment Professional (CCTP); and author of the best-selling book on family scapegoating dynamics, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed: Help and Hope for Adults in the Family Scapegoat Role – a resource that has helped tens of thousands of scapegoat abuse survivors around the world. She is also an internationally recognized Family Systems expert. Learn more about Rebecca’s academic and professional background by visiting her LinkedIn page.

People will say a book has changed their lives. I always thought that was an exaggeration, but thanks to your book, I’m now one of those people.

– Mary P., YouTube Subscriber

Scroll down to learn more about Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) and my book, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed

Family Scapegoating Abuse Can Happen in ANY Type of Dysfunctional Family

Despite the devastating consequences to adult survivors, scapegoating in families remains an under-researched, poorly understood dysfunctional family process. If you’ve experienced any of the below, you may be the ‘identified patient’ or ‘scapegoat’ in your family:

  • Your family has a ‘story’ about you (what I call the ‘scapegoat narrative’) and via this ‘story’ (which is typically promoted and repeated within your nuclear and extended family) your character is distorted; your ‘faults’ are magnified and emphasized; and your poor treatment by those who scapegoat you, malign you, and psycho-emotionally abuse you within your family-of-origin is (in their minds) justified.
  • You have been rejected, shamed, blamed, or bullied by family members. Any feelings you have about this are dismissed, diminished, or denied.
  • You’ve been the victim of a family ‘smear’ campaign designed to discredit you, defame you, or destroy your reputation.
  • You’ve been called a “liar”; a “faker”; or “crazy” by one or more members of your family.
  • You’ve been called “too sensitive”; “dramatic”; or “difficult” by one or more members of your family.
  • Your accomplishments and successes are ignored and go unacknowledged by your family.
  • You feel frustrated, angry, or confused due to feeling rejected, shamed, blamed, or bullied by your family-of-origin.
  • You have considered cutting ties with one or more members of your family to protect your mental and emotional health.
  • Your family members imply you “fake” or “make up” injuries and illnesses.
  • You suffer from anxiety, depression, impostor syndrome, and/or betrayal trauma and complex trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms.
  • You experience ‘triggers’ and are emotionally activated around your family-of-origin, which typically is a result of long-standing complex trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms and what I have named Family Scapegoat Trauma (or FST) symptoms. Continued below book purchase options…

Where to Purchase My Book on Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA), Rejected Shamed and Blamed

family scapegoat book

Purchase This Book on Amazon (U.S.) (Amazon has the Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover version) – OR you can purchase it INTERNATIONALLY at These Online Book Retailers (including Amazon).

It’s been rewarding to see the interest in my work on family scapegoating abuse (FSA) growing steadily since I published Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed nearly three years ago. There can understandably be resistance on some people’s part in regard to accepting the fact that some processes related to FSA may at times be unconscious; however, it has been my experience that this is a critical piece of information for adult survivors of FSA who grew up in a dysfunctional, versus narcissistic, family system, as it validates the reality of their having been harmed by this form of insidious ‘invisible’ abuse.

In Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed, you’ll learn about:

  1. Why family scapegoating behaviors qualify as psycho-emotional abuse in highly dysfunctional and narcissistic families.
  2. Aspects of my research findings on what I eventually named ‘Family Scapegoating Abuse’ (FSA) and more recently, ‘Family Scapegoat Trauma’ (FST) to educate both adult survivors and interested Mental Health professionals on this poorly understood dysfunctional family phenomenon.
  3. How a systemic defense mechanism known as the  Family Projective Identification Process (which is similar to a shared family ‘psychosis’) can fuel family scapegoating abuse in DYSFUNCTIONAL family systems. In NARCISSISTIC family systems, scapegoating can be fueled by a narcissistic family power-holder who controls and creates the ‘scapegoat narrative’ used to demean and diminish you within your nuclear and extended family – and beyond. The pathological Family Projective Identification Process may or may not be at play in a narcissistic family system.
  4. Why family scapegoating abuse adult survivors should be clinically assessed for complex trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms and engage in trauma-informed treatment pathways under the guidance of a licensed, trauma-certified Mental Health professional with Family Systems training.
  5. The inter-play between family scapegoating abuse; the family projective identification process; intergenerational trauma; toxic shame; betrayal trauma; and complex trauma (C-PTSD).

Scroll down to learn more about Family Scapegoating Abuse

What Readers of Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed Are Saying…

“As a clinical social worker, I enthusiastically recommend this book!” Amazon reviewer

“Very good book on an oft-misunderstood family dynamic.” Amazon reviewer

Life-changing read! I am 64 y/o and have had an adult lifetime of therapy, counseling, spiritual guidance, support groups, and/or self-help reading to try and put to words or find definition of what I knew I felt, or why I responded the way I did, or how I could ‘see’ how I was ‘viewed’ or treated by family. This little book – with its easy read and understandability – answered so many of my questions and gave me more insight into the why’s of it all than any other resource, ever. I am more at peace with myself after reading this book – which I will re-read and, am sure, refer to often in the future – than I ever have been. I seriously feel I can now move forward with new comprehension of my family’s dynamics and sense of self. I HIGHLY recommend this book; can’t say enough good things about it. Amazon reviewer

Thank you thank you for writing this!!! As a therapist I could rave about this book for ages and have recommended it to all my clients. Having also gone through these experiences personally, I can also attest to the amount of validation this book offered that has helped me heal more so than many many therapy sessions. It was clinically sound, well researched and trustworthy in its empirical sources and framework. I just wish I could get my family to read it so they could see the damage that they’ve done! Though the book explains really well why that won’t ever be possible. An absolute must read!! – Amazon reviewer

“Now everything makes sense!” – Blog Subscriber

Your book offers healing that I thought would never be possible! ” – YouTube subscriber

“My psychologist gave me your book to read. I finally could understand what happened to me in my family and now know what to do to recover from it. Your book literally saved my life!” – YouTube Subscriber

“If you think or know you’ve suffered/are suffering from Family Scapegoat Abuse, run – don’t walk – to the add to cart button. This book is clear & concise & informative & ACCURATE…I felt like the author completely described my life. After reading this, I feel understood…and empowered to heal and finally kick this scapegoat role to the curb. I wish anyone else who has dealt with this a life free from such a painful, pervasive issue. I am certain you’ll find this book extremely helpful.” Much gratitude to the author :) Amazon reviewer

“Finally, a book written by a licensed clinician who has worked as a Family Therapist. Your insights on dysfunctional families that scapegoat are invaluable! ” – YouTube Subscriber

This is an excellent book for patients or practitioners. The author shares her extensive experience working with and studying toxic families and how to recover from the experience. This book is a must have for anyone treating those from dysfunctional families or family members themselves. Melissa Petty, LMSW

What is Family Scapegoating Abuse?

A survival strategy is a way of getting out of childhood alive. Frank Jones Sulloway

Family scapegoating is an insidious form of “invisible” abuse that is difficult to recognize. Because scapegoating can happen in any dysfunctional family system (not just a narcissistic one), it is critical that adult survivors understand what type of abuse they are trying to recover from

I have been treating scapegoated adult survivors in clinics and in my private psychotherapy practice for over 20 years. I’ve also used my clinical and academic research findings on what I named Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) to help survivors recognize and release the damaging ‘scapegoat narrative’ associated with the family ‘identified patient’ role.My orientation as a transpersonal/humanistic licensed practitioner also serves to provide clients with unique ways of exploring their role as ‘family scapegoat’ and how they might both transcend and transmute this role, which is often rooted in intergenerational trauma.

Family scapegoating and its effect on children and adult survivors has been grossly overlooked and under-researched in the Mental Health field. By naming this form of ‘invisible’ abuse Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) and identifying its features, adult survivors, clinicians, and coaches may now use a common language and descriptive terms to describe a type of abuse that is often insidious and subtle.

My book, Rejected. Shamed, and Blamed: Help and Hope for Adults in the Family Scapegoat Role, is recognized as a pioneering work in the field of Family Systems. This introductory guide focuses on understanding the traumatizing aspects of family scapegoating dynamics in your dysfunctional family-of-origin.

I have greatly appreciated the many emails and blog comments I’ve received from readers all around the world thanking me for giving this particular form of psycho-emotional abuse a distinct and descriptive name – one that distinguishes it from ‘narcissistic abuse’ – as not every family member who scapegoats is a narcissist, nor are all families that scapegoat narcissistic family systems. I’m heartened to know that so many of you have found it helpful to have a clinical (non-DSM) term to describe your painful and confusing family experiences. Watch my video on this same topic to learn more:

FSA can lead to Complex Trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms and what I named ‘Family Scapegoat Trauma’ (FST)

When neither resistance or escape is possible, the human system of self-defense becomes overwhelmed and disorganized. Each component of the ordinary response to danger, having lost its utility, tends to persist in an altered and exaggerated state long after the actual danger is over.

– Judith Herman, 1992

During my research on family scapegoating dynamics while serving as Core Faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now called Sofia University), I observed certain patterns of individual and systemic behavior specifically affecting those who were in the role of scapegoat child or identified patient in their dysfunctional family system. l later named the harmful (even traumatizing) phenomena such children and adults are subjected to in relation to family scapegoating dynamics and processes Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA). More recently, I began to identify the overlapping symptoms of FSA and complex trauma (C-PTSD), as well as betrayal trauma. I’ve recently named this particular constellation of trauma symptoms related to family scapegoating abuse Family Scapegoat Trauma (FST). (Continued below…)

Family scapegoating processes are insidious. Those who are the target of family scapegoating behaviors often have difficulty describing what is happening to them to others. Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed validates the experiences of adult survivors who are suffering in the ‘family scapegoat’ role. Topics covered include:

  • Intergenerational Trauma (aka multigenerational trauma or ancestral trauma)
  • Distorted Family Narratives
  • Betrayal Trauma
  • Disenfranchised Grief
  • Toxic Shame and the False Self
  • Complex Trauma (C-PTSD) Symptoms
  • Family Scapegoat Trauma (FST)

To learn more about family scapegoating abuse (FSA), you may purchase my introductory book, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed. Thank you to all my readers who helped make this a best-seller at various popular online book retailers since its release in 2020. I no longer advertise or promote this book so if you find value in it and know someone who might benefit from reading it, please consider linking them to this website. You can access my YouTube Playlist here.

PLEASE NOTE: This website is focused on FSA Education. If you reside in the state of California and are interested in my licensed Psychotherapy services, visit this website.


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