Wow RC Mandeville. You seem to hit the nail on the head every time. Thank you SO much!!
So kind of you to comment, Wendy, glad you liked the article!
Do you think it is possible to fully recover from being the family scapegoat? If not, what will remain?
Hi Julian: Thank you for your comment / question. My experience has been that we can definitely heal and recover – but we will always have scars. Which only increase our ability to feel compassion toward self and others.
Thank you very much. What do you men by scars? (I just would like to know this so I know what I will have to live with).
Hi Julian, I’m working on a book right now that will be discussing all of this – including the kinds of (invisible) psycho-emotional scars that can result from scapegoating. I also just now released a free handbook that briefly reviews scapegoat dynamics and how to heal and recover from being in this role. So just go back to my home page and you will see how to get the handbook and the book I am currently writing there! – Best, R.C.
I am crying reading this, im 56, I am the family scapegoat. first in my childhood and it carried into my own family to this day, I can hardly do, say, think or feel anything right, im a mess according to most family members if not all, I really dont know anymore. I went to mothers day brunch with my son and his wife they invited me, we had a student staying with us that was interning at my husbands company and when my husband and I got up to go to the buffett my son and daughter in law told this student (who would only be in my life for 6 weeks) he should not get too close to me, that I was crazy, mean and a narcissist. He was shocked and bewildered why they did this and it happens with any and every person im around, they go to extremes to do this to me, but they smile to my face. Its insanity I know moms who were drug addicts and did terrible things who have family that forgace and love them….ive done nothing like that, im not perfect Ive made miatakes and ive paid dearly for them and everyone elses too, I dont know why this is happening to me. Or why my daughter wont defend me in the family she is the only one that feels bad for me….now theres a name for this, ive tried so hard to be what my family wants me to be and ive failed miserably at all of it. I dont want to live anymore, my 10 ur grandson calls me crazy grandma, wierdo, and when I retreat to my room hurt and emotional they all say see all he did was joke with her….. It never stops, I cant get off the crazy train. Thank you for this validation, im overwhelmed with emotion right now, it may have saved my life literally.
Hi Jill, so glad you reached out. You seem to be in a lot of emotional pain (understandably) – It may be that you would benefit from receiving dedicated support from someone who understands dysfunctional family roles and dynamics – likely a licensed family therapist would be best. Do you have resources or ways to access therapists in your area? If not, you might try an online service like Betterhelp or TalkSpace. Also, I just now added ways to access my free handbook and also to be alerted of my book release on Amazon. If you go back to my home page you will see how you can get the handbook now and be notified of my book release and pre-order information.
Thanks f’or posting this RC. It took me so long to read through the article completely as my mind kept trying to distract me. I was surprised when I read paragraph about being ‘untreatable’. This has happened to me recently. The therapists I’ve wound up with just don’t get it. I don’t normally comment on facebook and twitter as my family and friends will see it and they’re all part of the problem. I’m glad to belong to your closed group on facebook where I can share what’s on my mind (when I’m ready).
I am so glad you found your way to my site (and other resources I offer). I hope to educate clinicians as well as suffers of scapegoating and narcissistic abuse symptoms via these resources, as well as the book I am currently working on. I look forward to getting to know you better in our group! If you know of other ‘silent sufferers’ who are ready for deep recovery and healing, please feel free to share my resource link here with others. I’ll be adding dedicated Narcissistic Recovery resource links soon as well. Link to resources here: https://linktr.ee/scapegoatguide Best, RCScapegoat & Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources
I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was about 7… I’m now 28. I’ve been suicidally depressed since I was 4. I have always been the family dumping ground. I don’t understand how I’ve never heard of this before… I have 14 of the signs.
Feel free to contact me directly, Leona, I may be able to provide you with more resources related to what I term Family Scapegoat Abuse (FSA).
For anyone feeling suicidal, please visit the 24 hour Suicide Hotline at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-8255.
tesla’s mustache, i hit 15 of these marks, i’m a teen and i was just accused of faking OSDD-1b but my parents and i’ve been really struggling with why i might have it. i’m realizing that a lot of the things my parents do to me aren’t normal.
Although having gained sobriety that lasted 17 years, when my mom went into dementia, my father and sister really battered me, and my father actually did cut me out of his Will. I broke down and drank, after all those years of having beaten that addiction. I now cannot stop. I guess I don’t want to stop, because nothing else dulls the pain of these final insults. Now, Dad is dead. My siblings do not speak to each other, and certainly not to me. I am now 61, childless and divorced, and due to the pain, kept digging for information until I found the words “family scapegoat” and all my questions have been answered. However, at my age, there is no hope for me to begin to lead a “productive, fulfilling life”. There won’t be a relationship for me. (I did, however, become a successful oil painter, and creating has been one of the most fulfilling joys in my life.) My “toxic shame” can never be alleviated or removed. Therapy has not worked…. I believe in God, in the goodness of God. And so I cannot understand how a loving God would have allowed my father and sister to have wrecked my life in such an irretrievable way. I isolate, (now) drink alone, and am slowly killing myself. I attributed my past sobriety to God removing the compulsion. I refuse to blame my relapse on myself. I don’t blame God, but I am disillusioned, and full of guilt and shame over that.
Your feelings are very understandable, Karen. Coping with injustices that can never be made ‘right’ is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in recovering from family scapegoating abuse (FSA). Not sure if you have the link to my Psych Central blog – I wrote an article recently about the ‘Just World’ fallacy. I am wondering if you have already joined AA (?) Drinking can indeed be a form of passive suicide, as you seem to already understand. FSA is not an easy thing to recover from, but it is possible, provided that trauma symptoms are properly assessed and treated – and the therapist (or ‘coach’) is genuinely ‘trauma informed’ and meeting standards set forth by SAMHSA – something that often does not happen, sadly. Link to my blog, here: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/scapegoat-recovery/
Thank you for your work. I am a scapegoat, (now a senior citizen).
I find an ally in your work.
You’re most welcome, Cathy!
I just read your insightful book. It’s so reassuring to read that others recognize and understand the dynamics and deep pain of being scapegoated. Thank you for your work! I have an appointment with my therapist next week, but she’s not as well versed in these issues as I would hope. At least she’s someone to vent to during a particularly difficult time following the death of my mother and the associated cruelty of my sisters.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I’m glad you are finding my book helpful. You might invite your therapist to read my book – It might help them better understand your experiences and other clinicians have written me to tell me it was very informative and aided them in understanding and helping their scapegoated clients. I wish you the very best in your healing journey.
I appreciate your posts and your obvious knowledge of scapegoating. You have helped me get a better grasp on this insidious practice, which I now understand was my role in the family. Thank you. This is an interesting story you refer to about Tessie. I am very disappointed that you have chosen to blame the Trump administration, referring to it as the villagers who have no feelings towards the dying Tessie. If anything, the virus lays squarely at the feet of the Pelosi Democrats, who conjured the COVID19 virus to destroy the booming Trump economy. You speak as one who does not have all the information, only the details the media deems prudent to parcel out. Most people who have found you are seekers, and long for and desire the whole truth. It appears that you are scapegoating the Trump administration, which doesn’t help prove your point. But maybe it does.
Thank you for adding to the conversation, Cathie. I’m glad to hear you’ve found my work helpful. Given my partner is a highly regarded anti-viral scientist with decades of experience making life-saving vaccines, I had the advantage of understanding the deadly nature of the genome of this particular coronavirus early on and do not believe it is something that Pelosi or anyone else could conjure up (although I believe both parties politicized it, to the detriment of all); I therefore have to disagree with you on this one. I always invite and encourage respectful debate. Your point is an intriguing one – Who is scapegoating who? Each side has their own belief system and perspective, so the waters can get muddy, indeed.
This season has given me the distance I needed to go through a thorough detachment from my family and I don’t feel sad or a need about not gathering with them anymore. Whereas, last year, I would have had many emotions about gathering before a holiday, like dread, anxiety, fear and longing for relationship. Now, I would much prefer to meet with whatever small “new” family I have created during this time. I know who loves me now! Thank you for the helpful guide. I can’t 100% avoid it forever, I suppose. I frankly don’t think they miss me either. LOL. It’s terrible the awful travail so many of us have to work through to carry on some semblance of family and belonging. A strange no-contact was imposed on us this past year. I hope it helped many find perspective and heal from family of origin emotional abuse!
Wow…..this is incredible……After my divorce in 2016, my siblings sided with my ex wife, helped her to get divorced from me, and to this day, five years later, they remain friends and have not talked to me. It was HELL. and it is a pain I truly would not wish on anyone. Further, my brother played a major role in the parental alienation my ex played on me with our son. Frankly, I do not know how I made it through! But today I am out of it and your writings, dear Dr. Mandeville, helped me to heal.
It is mind-boggling that this could happen, Omar, but sadly, I see this in my practice often, as mentioned in the article – Being judged, shamed, blamed, and betrayed by one’s own family, as well as disbelieved, with one’s reality dismissed, invalidated, and discounted during a time of great need. If you haven’t read my book, ‘Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed’, you might want to, this will give you additional encouragement and support, as well as greater understanding of what I named FSA (family scapegoating abuse).
Dear Dr. Mandeville — I just ordered my copy from Amazon! Thank you very much for recommending your book. I will read it. And THANK YOU for understanding — your validation matters a lot.
Yes I was told repeatedly it was my fault my mother did not love me
This explains yet another layer of what happened to me, within my family. I had two Martyr carers, my mother & grandmother, and there were some pretty insane narratives that they spread around about me. Thank you, for another well written piece, that helps me to connect another dot from my past.
I’m glad you found the article helpful, Paula. When you’ve lived it, you know it…Being able to name it helps us to both understand what happened, and how to deal with it (and heal from it).
Thank you Rebecca! A wonderful reminder of what we can do to value and care for ourselves.
You’re very welcome, Deborah, thanks for taking the time to comment.
Awesome article, Rebecca. As I read it the question that came up for me was… what’s the opportunity cost for staying in a situation where you are being abused? Our mental health is not for sale. 🙂 While the process of becoming independent from the abuser is often about financial independence, there is also, at least for me, just a fear factor in general of stepping outside of what is “allowed” and fully directing my own personal narrative. Even though I’m an adult and I know I should be the only one that decides these things… I’m still scared of only one person… my mother! When you’ve given over your authority for so many years, there are a lot of emotions that come up when stepping outside of that authority… even though you can rationally understand it is the best thing to do. Like the inmate who may get used to jail and find it hard to leave! It must be done, and yet it is terrifying to implement. Wish me luck! Ha! To anyone reading this who is going through scapegoat abuse, you are not alone, and I’m sending you love from my heart to heal and transcend your temporary situation. Do whatever it takes to find a path to freedom.
Wise words that will no doubt help many, Amanda. Clearly you have what it takes to go all the way in your healing!
Your writing is very clear and sensible and I encourage you to continue and i look forward to reading your new blogs and to sending them to my children for their edification.
Thank you, James. You might also want to read my book on FSA, ‘Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed: Help and Hope for Adults in the Family Scapegoat Role’. Most major online book retailers have it in both paperback and digital form, including Amazon.
I can relate to Julia’s family “loving” her husband, in that following my divorce, though my family did not malign me, they continued their “lovefest” with my ex-husband despite his abuse of me. How I can really relate to Julia now, is that my son, who was always close to me, began behaving toward me in a verbally and emotionally abusive way after he became engaged to his wife. He refused to talk to me about the abuse or go to counseling with me to repair our relationship. My family fully supports him in his unwillingness to talk to me about the problem, denies he is doing anything wrong, and tells me that I must have done something to cause him to be so cruel to me. My son and his wife now have a daughter who I’ve never been allowed to meet, but who my family knows and spends time with. My son and I have been estranged now for 8 years. My family denies my son and daughter-in-law’s abuse of me, though every single therapist or mental health professional I’ve consulted with tells me that I am being abused. When I told my sister how hurtful it was to me that my family never stands up for me and continues to have a relationship with my son, dil, and granddaughter, while I am being excluded, my sister accused me of being selfish and says the most shocking, hateful things to me while telling me she loves and supports me. I don’t feel loved or supported and have now, through therapy, learned that my family has been scapegoating me for my entire life. It has been, without doubt, a difficult recovery. For my own self-preservation, I ultimately chose to go no contact with the rest of my family, and since that decision and I am finally making my way to a more loving life.
I am so sorry to hear you went through this. Indeed, scapegoating can occur from the adult child’s end toward a parent as well. I’m relieved to know you found therapists who ‘get it’ and understand how to help you. I do hope you had a chance to read my introductory guide on what I named ‘Family Scapegoating Abuse’ – It will give you further paths to explore in therapy, no doubt. Best of luck to you in your journey of healing and recovery. Link to my book here (it is also available at most major online book retailers in digital or paperback form): amazon.com/Rejected-Shamed-Blamed-Adults-Scapegoat-ebook/dp/B08GPVSDDV/
Another excellent and insightful article Rebecca. Thank you so much for bringing this subject out of the darkness. As a recovered family scapegoat who reads a lot on cptsd and codependency, I can honestly say that you are the most spot on commentator on this aspect of familial abuse. Your every sentence has me nodding in agreement and feeling gratitude and validation from your words. You manage to compress complex and disparate feelings into succinct statements that hit the nail right on the head. Please don’t be discouraged by lack of comments as it takes time for your website to start ranking well on the Google results pages and for word to get around about your specialty in this field. I certainly recommend your pages on the Quora groups I interact with, and I am sure other blog subscribers will do the same.
Your articles have been key in helping me to understand the mechanics and effects of family scapegoating abuse, as well as helping me to consolidate the ‘real’ reality of what was going on in my family, along with my own inner experience of it. Thank you again, and please do continue to enlighten us with your laser-like vision on the subject.
What a lovely, thoughtful, and heartwarming comment, Andrew. Nice to meet you here, and I am so pleased that you find my writings helpful. I’m guessing you know about my book on what I named Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) – Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed – and I hope you found this informative as well. Wishing you the very best in your recovery journey!
Thank you for sharing your expertise. I so needed to read this article today .
I will never ever go to any more family gatherings. EVER! I’m in complete support of Dr. Rebecca’s “no contact” option. When you’ve had enough, then that means “enough is enough!” This is very easy to do, once you get used to it. Plus, you save yourself from having to deal with others who will never change.