I’m sharing a short video clip excerpted and re-worked for my own use from a PSA I was asked to create for a Mental Health organization regarding the effects of family scapegoating abuse on children and adult survivors, as identified via my FSA research. To facilitate sharing, I have started an FSA Education YouTube channel and will be adding videos covering critical topics related to family scapegoating abuse as time allows.
Family scapegoating abuse (FSA) is a horrific form of ‘invisible’ (psycho-emotional) abuse fueled by an insidious family projective identification process. Unfortunately, even psychoanalytically-oriented therapists may not be familiar with the family projective identification process unless they have received in-depth training in Family Systems theory; hence, they will not be able to provide this critical piece of psycho-education to clients suffering from symptoms of FSA. In this article, I explain the family projective identification process, and why understanding this form of systemic projection can bring relief to the adult survivor of FSA.
One of the things that keeps survivors of family scapegoating abuse (FSA) stuck and unable to progress in their recovery is the fantasy that if they can say the ‘right’ thing to the ‘right’ person within (or connected to) their family-of-origin, the fact of their abuse will be acknowledged and validated. Tragically, this is unlikely to happen. But this does not change the truth of what happened to you, and your truth deserves to be both told and then heard and validated by people who have the capacity to care.
Dysfunctional family systems are ‘closed’ systems that resist integrating information that threatens the accepted family narrative. Family members who have scapegoated you will rarely accept responsibility for their actions, despite how egregious their mistreatment of you has been. Below are five reasons why you are unlikely to ever receive an apology from your family for their shameful treatment of you.
A family that is dominated by a dysfunctional or narcissistic parent may result in its members living under a set of unspoken ‘rules’, rules which benefit the parent at the expense of their children’s well-being. The research I conducted on what I named family scapegoating abuse (FSA) suggests that dysfunctional families that scapegoat are also governed by a specific set of rules. This article reviews ten rules that I have identified as being evident in families that scapegoat one of their own.
Recovering from the traumatizing aspects of family scapegoating abuse (FSA) is an individual process and each FSA adult survivor’s healing journey will be unique. But no matter the recovery route you take, you will want to first ensure you build a strong foundation for recovery by addressing symptoms of complex trauma (C-PTSD).
For the child victim of family scapegoating abuse (FSA), the ‘scapegoat story’ created by one or both parents (which the entire family invariably adapts and accepts unquestioningly) can negatively impact their mental and emotional health. When a parent is a malignant narcissist, the abuse the child experiences can be extreme, resulting in complex trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms secondary to grave psycho-emotional distress.
In the twenty years I have been working with adult survivors of family scapegoating abuse (FSA), one issue that typically becomes a ‘stuck’ point in their recovery journey is the sense of grave injustice they experience in regard to the wrongs done to them within their family-of-origin – Injustices that have never been acknowledged or validated. By anyone.
There are very few clients who enter my FSA Recovery Coaching practice who are not suffering from traumatic shame (also known as ‘toxic shame’), as well as a variety of complex trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms – something I discuss at length in my book, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed. While traumatic shame creates a sense of social isolation, complex trauma itself fragments us and leads to self-alienation, leaving the adult survivor of family scapegoating abuse (FSA) feeling intensely alone and unsupported.
As we learn more about Complex Trauma (C-PTSD), it becomes increasingly clear that family scapegoating abuse (FSA) can lead to the development of C-PTSD symptoms, which are often misdiagnosed and mislabelled by Mental Health Professionals if and when the FSA adult survivor seeks therapeutic treatment and support.
Are you on Twitter? I don’t post much there, but I’ve been so moved by all of your comments on my latest post, Learn To Be Done, that I started the hashtag #DoneWithFSA on my pinned post created today. If you’d like to help raise other people’s awareness, I invite you to visit my Twitter…
One of the most common phrases I have heard from clients over the past 20 years practicing as a licensed Psychotherapist and certified trauma-informed Coach is, “I’m done!” “I’m done” can mean many things. Therefore, my first question is always, “What are you done with?” Are you done with fawning and submitting as a means…
A question I am often asked by clients and readers of my book, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed, is whether or not family scapegoating abuse (FSA) is conscious and intentional or unconscious and unintentional. My answer is that it can be either or both, and that nothing is simple or black and white when it comes to this uniquely complex family system process.
One of the more baffling and incomprehensible aspects of being scapegoated by family is being the target of mentally and emotionally abusive behaviors; reacting to the abuse appropriately (e.g., expressing hurt, confusion, anger, setting boundaries, etc), and then discovering that the person who committed the harmful or abusive acts views themselves as the victim – not the one they harmed.
As you consider how being the victim of family scapegoating abuse has changed your life, you may use the following suggestions and questions to guide you. Do be aware that thinking and writing about something so painful may be difficult for you. Pace yourself and don’t feel that you need to complete your FSA Victim Impact Statement in one sitting…
It is difficult enough to bear the burden of traumatic childhood experiences and its long-term physical, emotional, and mental effects. For adult survivors of family scapegoating abuse (FSA), this difficulty is magnified by the fact that their reports of abuse or trauma are typically denied, dismissed, and invalidated by their family due to their being in the ‘identified patient’ role…
Many people are familiar with Kubler-Ross’s ‘Five Stages of Grief’, which are Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression; Acceptance. In my model for family scapegoating abuse (FSA) recovery (which I will expand upon in an upcoming book), I use the term ‘radical acceptance’ versus ‘acceptance’ to describe a late-stage healing concept that is critical to the FSA adult survivor’s full recovery from systemic family abuse.
In the narcissistic family system, the needs of the disordered parent take precedence over the needs of the dependent child, resulting in narcissistic abuse. Family members are not cherished individuals to be loved; they are instead ‘narcissistic supply’ whose only purpose is to serve the infantile, primitive psycho-emotional needs of the narcissistic parent.
It would be nice to believe that when children turn into adults they are somehow magically released from the ‘family scapegoat’ role. However, this is not at all the case. In fact, many individuals who come to me for therapy suffer from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) due to continued family abuse that has resulted in them feeling psycho-emotionally paralyzed and worthless – even suicidal.