12 Steps to Breaking Free from Being the Family Scapegoat

 

Scapegoaters are insecure people driven to try and raise their own status by attempting to lower the status of their target

 

by Glynis Sherwood

Did you grow up having doubts about your self esteem or personal worth?  When things went wrong in your family, did you tend to be the fall guy?  Do you find yourself encountering recurring disrespect from friends or colleagues?  Do you feel unsure of yourself and/or have difficulty experiencing trust in relationships?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these statements, you may have been scapegoated by your family.  The term ‘scapegoat’ refers to a family member who takes the blame for difficulties in the family.Scapegoating is a form of bullying.  Family relationships profoundly impact our identity and how we view ourselves.

How to Tell if You Have Been Scapegoated:

  1. You are held responsible for family problems, conflicts or challenges, even if they have nothing to do with you. Other people blame you for their actions.  You may end up feeling a lot of shame for being ‘the bad guy’, and/or anger for being blamed for negative family dynamics.
  2. You are attacked and disbelieved if you tell the truth and ‘blow the whistle’ on negative and/or inappropriate family dynamics.
  3. There has been a history of one or more family members being verbally, emotionally or physically abusive towards you.  Other family members seem to accept or look the other way when you are bullied or aggressed against like this.  You may feel like the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

  4. You find yourself repeatedly being accused of behavior the scapegoater is engaged in. For example, a family member repeatedly yells at you, and then accuses you of being abusive, or being thoughtful and then told “all you care about is yourself”.

  5. You act out the negative ‘expectations’ of scapegoating such as not living up to your potential, or getting into relationships with abusive people because your self esteem is has been damaged.

  6. Being the mentally healthiest family member, but being accused of being sick,bad, etc.

  7. Occupying the role of family outcast, and being treated with disdain or disgust by family or yourself.

  8. Your achievements are belittled, minimized, criticized and rejected.

What’s Going On In Families That Scapegoat

Families that are shame or fear based are not healthy.  Often in these families you will find evidence of abuse, neglect, addiction, betrayal, mental illness and insecurity.  Dysfunctional families either lack insight or find it threatening, and actively repress it through scapegoating those who want to understand and change negative dynamics.  Scapegoating is a “projection defense” that allows scapegoaters to keep up appearances. In other words, by making the scapegoat look bad, it takes attention off the real problem.

Many families who resort to scapegoating are headed by narcissistic parents who lack personal awareness, and empathy for their target, as in their eyes, the target is there to serve their false image.  So the purpose of scapegoating is to allow families to carry on unhealthy behavior patterns, and maintain myth of normalcy, without having to look inward or take responsibility for a toxic environment.  To the outside observer – and possibly the Scapegoat – these families seem crazy making and delusional.

Who Gets Picked to Be Scapegoat

The Scapegoat doesn’t get picked randomly or by accident.  Usually they are either sensitive, unhappy, vulnerable, ill and/or the outspoken child or whistle blower.  In other words, the scapegoat is the child
who refuses to look content or stay silent in the unbearable atmosphere created in the family home.

How Scapegoating Impacts the Target

Scapegoats almost universally experience low self esteem or lack of self worth.  The major problem is
that they suffer from an Identity Disturbance, as the target confuses the myththat they are bad, with the truth.  This is usually a lie and the truth is that Scapegoats are being abused by being taught they are ‘bad’.  Scapegoats tend to struggle with chronic insecurity, as they never feel safe or believe they are loved.  They can also fall into a‘Victim’ role, and unconsciously repeat their scapegoating by gravitating towards unhealthy behavior or relationships at work, school and their private life.

Scapegoats often have trouble feeling safe in relationships – especially intimate relationships – due to the betrayal of trust in their family.  They can also have challenges managing emotions, and find they either feel overwhelmed by feelings and anxious, or shut down and not know how they are feeling.

How To Break Free From Scapegoating

  1. Understand that what you have come to believe about yourself as family Scapegoat – i.e. that you are bad, weird, inadequate or defective – is not the truth.  In fact it’s likely a lie that was created to prevent family members from acknowledging their own troubles, thereby avoiding taking responsibility for both their behavior and the need to change.

  2. Locate and trust your ‘Inner Owl’ – that wise part of you that knows you have been mistreated and will no longer willingly allow this abuse from others or yourself.

  3. Recognize that feelings of shame, guilt and self blame belong to the perpetrators, not you as target.  You are simply a dumping ground for their bad feelings.  To change this you need to start standing up to the notion that you are at fault.  You will likely have to begin with yourself, learning to question and reject seeing yourself as ‘bad’.

  4. Get to know your true self.  Identify exceptions to the negative stereotype you have been saddled with.  In other words, pinpoint what is good, likeable or at least adequate about you – your character, values, actions, etc.  Write down your good traits – you will need to be reminded of this alternate universe, which is the truth about you, especially if you start to fall back into the habit of feeling bad about yourself again. Understand that getting better – and feeling better – is a learning curve, and you may slip a few times before you gain solid footing

  5. Figure out what you might be doing – consciously or unconsciously – that gives scapegoaters the idea that it’s OK to abuse you.  Determine how to change any behavior that draws you into the Victim role.

  6. Stop trying to win the favor of abusive and uncaring family members, co-workers or ‘friends’.  Anyone who engages in this type of inappropriate behavior has personality problems, especially a parent who did not love their child.

  7. Don’t expect abusive family members to apologize or make amends.  They will likely blame you more if you attempt to hold them accountable.

  8. Start asserting your right to be treated respectfully with family and other people who try and abuse you.  E.G., “The way you just spoke to me now is not acceptable, and I never want to be talked to like that again”, or “If you want to have a relationship with me, you will stop the angry outbursts, name calling, accusations, etc.”  Know that you may not be heard or respected by aggressive people.  The point is that you hear and respect yourself!  Don’t do this until you are ready to follow through with your commitment to yourself.

  9. Accept that you may never have a healthy relationship with your scapegoater(s).  This may involve limited or no contact with those who are determined to continue to abuse you.  You may experience feelings of grief.  Work through the painful feelings, and get support if needed.  This pain is much less harmful than continuing to allow yourself to be abused by anyone.

  10. Get in the habit of treating yourself with kindness, caring, compassion, appreciation and acceptance.  Practice viewing yourself as a person of worth and lovability.  This will likely feel weird at first as it is unfamiliar.  But even though it is unfamiliar, treating yourself in a loving manner is never wrong.

  11. Understand that it will take time to learn how to love and appreciate yourself.  You have been trained to be overly self critical and may believe you are defective.  Be patient as this false image gradually crumbles.  Get counselling to help you overcome this painful legacy, and find your true self – the strong, valuable person you are meant to be.

  12. Practice what you preach with others… Break the cycle

 

Like this Article?  Read more articles on Scapegoating here


Need help overcoming scapegoating?   Check out my Scapegoat Counselling page

Counselling is available in person in Vancouver BC or by Skype Videoaround the world.

Glynis Sherwood – MEd, Canadian Certified Counsellor, Registered Clinical Counsellor, specializes in recovery from Scapegoating/Bullying, Low Self Esteem, Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Addictive Behaviors.  My services are available in person in Vancouver BC, or Toll-Free across Canada by Phone or Email.  I look forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve the life you want and deserve!

  • Alice27

    I don’t think you’re being unfair. Part of the manipulation is them wanting you to believe you’re the one causing the problems. Like we are damaged somehow. Your story is a lot like mine, but I also have a sibling who can do no wrong.

  • Pipkins2t

    ” IMO, your loss of the support and sanctuary of family is a completely legitimate reason to grieve”. I don’t know how to grieve, or what I am actually grieving for. I had time to think about the process of grief, and intellectually I know a part of me would like to grieve for the ‘person’ I once was, i.e. a sister, a daughter, an auntie. That ‘person’ was a very good person, kind, loving, giving, trusting. To a large extent that ‘person’ in me has died. I am still a good person, however, very few individuals ever get close enough to see that part of who I am. I miss the open heart that I used to hold. I have a legitimate reason to grieve, yet I remain unable to identify a single focus for such strength of emotion. My experience of choosing no contact has taught me that not only did I walk away from my biological mother & siblings, I also walked away from the ‘person’ I had become in order to please them. I left the person they had created me to be behind. At times I struggle to accept the responsibility of who I am now and that the who I am now is of my own making. No excuses. No naivety. No innocence. No ignorance. No, definitely no excuses. Today I stand as *(Christian name) a mother, a friend, a lover, an employee. My identity a creation of what I choose to make of this life.
    Yes, I need to grieve for the loss of individuals, hopes & broken relationships, but I also need to find a way to lovingly let go of the sister, daughter & auntie that I once was.

    • Desertcatn

      I feel for you, I had to let go of my family and it isn’t an easy road; still finding my way. I had a lifetime of pain lifted from my heart, this last Summer, but must maintain the no contact or the pain returns. Hang in there, I don’t know how it happens, but eventually you will heal! Best wishes!

      • Thanks Desertcatn for bringing up the positive side of No Contact. Although there can be a lot of fear and sadness for people going this route, for those who believe it’s necessary, no contact frees up mental space to focus on creating the life and relationships you want and need, including the absence of abuse!

        • Desertcatn

          Thank you for your articles on this subject, Glynis, they really do help!

          • Great to hear that my articles have been of help to you Desertcatn. All the best!

      • Pipkins2t

        Thank you Desetcant and anyone else who empathises with words shared here. This may sound irrelevant, however, I am certain it is not. I have two adult sons, each having treatment for mental health conditions; bi-polar & autistic traits combined with bi polar. I am a support worker for carers for those who support someone with mental health conditions. Since my last post I have pondered my words and those returned, or the perceived ‘ silence’.
        I am strong enough to hold my own pain.
        I am strong enough to begin the lessons I require in self compassion. Only then can I truly support those who are on a similar path to my own.
        I have yet to shed tears for the losses that I will always hold in my heart, however I am blessed to hold them there, for I can see how far away from ‘madness’ my sons and I have travelled.
        I hope to complete my Masters Degree in Education this year, and I am gladly relinquishing a long academic life/career in education to pursue an offer to pursue training as a counsellor/psychotherapist.
        When you have stood found yourself in the pit of despair, rejection, self loathing and confusion, you will not leave any soul who feels likewise alone, be that person your own child or stranger.
        No one in this life deserves to die alone.
        This site has been an invaluable tool in my own learning and I cannot thank those who contribute there honest and heart felt emotions and thoughts here, enough. You have all helped me through the darkest of times and helped me see just how far my sons and I have come.
        I hope to continue to contribute to this page as life unravels new paths for me and mine to travel.

  • Annette Ross

    I have been the family scapegoat. It took counseling to help me understand it and family dynamic I was born into. Sadly, always looking at myself and wondering what I did wrong and wanting to please, I realized I had surrounded myself with those who would pick up where my parents left off. I have spent the past four years trying to dig myself out from underneath the weight of being the scapegoat. Had I caused the issues? Do I owe them an apology? I was hurt, I was angry, I felt duped and unloved. I reflected on my own outbursts and wondered if I was truly who they claimed I was. I finally decided to face my actions that could have cause them pain and I made apologies. Yes, I made apologies, all I can do is face my own actions and I knew I had not been 100% in the right. When I did this, I was finally able to let go. I owned my part, my abusers did not and it was so plain to me then. I was able to walk away without guilt or questioning myself any further. My life is about me now and while my abusers may always see my as fault, the one thing I know is that they are not facing themselves and their own actions that caused me to walk away.

    • Thank you Annette for sharing your experience. Both positively and negatively, when you apologized you were calling the bluff of family members who were abusing you. I agree that we all need to take responsibility for our actions, and our healing. Sadly, scapegoaters usually will not. Glad to hear you are feeling at peace with yourself due to your ability to be accountable and neither continuing to stay in an untenable situation nor hanging on to what you are not responsible for. I hope other readers here will take strength from your story.

      • Elaine Stackhouse

        I agree. This is where I am now. I realize certain of my behaviors have contributed to the scapegoating. I don’t say caused because it began when I was very small child. However, as I grew older I certainly had some reactionary behaviors and was hyper sensitive so I took offense to most everything. There were other areas I contributed to the treatment. I will never say I caused it, but I also will not claim that I am completely blameless. There are certainly things I could have done differently and improved on. I have tried to admit those things as I go along, but currently sister and I only speak via text and short calls regarding Mom’s condition. We haven’t physically seen each other in over a year. I have tried many times to try to mend the fences with her over the years, but it just never works out. Our personality are oil and water and I think my mother did a lot of triangulation with my sister. Parents also had set up a dysnamic of one child being good (sister) and one child being bad (me). Doesn’t exactly encourage a sisterly loving relationship. My sister carries many of the narcissistic traits my mother does and also I suppose from having been the family favorite. It’s just not possible for me to have a relationship with her and I wonder if we ever will. It’s okay. I am making peace with that. Even if in my own mind I take ownership for the part I play. It’s more about forgiving myself and learning to love myself at this point.

  • PJ MCGILLICUTTY

    It doesn’t sound like you’ve dealt with these types before Tommy. Rationality doesn’t work with these folks. Usually makes the sitch worse….

  • PJ MCGILLICUTTY

    Nice!! You have trained your son well!! Sounds like you have successfully stopped the cycle of abuse with your family- SO RARE!! Pat yourself on the back a bunch!

  • You are so right PJ, scapegoating can extend outside of families and infiltrate friendships. Usually this means that there is an ‘inner scapegoat’ that needs to be confronted and challenged if this pattern is to change. Seems like you are starting to make some great strides with your insights and and more assertive mindset that stems from knowing you deserve better.

  • More great insights PJ, and what’s even better is you are starting to take action based on treating yourself more respectfully. In the end this will separate those who are willing to treat you respectfully from those who refuse to abandon abusive behavior, and you can make decisions about who belongs in your life based on that distinction.

  • Ruthie

    Keep the faith!

  • Z Sha

    I think she ruined it all trying to be too controlling. You both are equally to blame anyway. Distance yourself.

  • Rubinis_K

    I too was the scapegoat of my family. I cut off all communication with my mother, brother, and sister. Best decision I have ever made. I humbled myself and apologized for everything they have ever accused me of, yet I never received any acknowledgment of how they have hurt me. That experience showed me that they were incapable of taking responsibility of their actions and their misery and misfortunes never had anything to do with me. They truly don’t know how to love themselves, therefore will not ever be able to love me. I just simply could not allow myself to be abused any longer.

    The blessing in disguise from this experience is, after letting my family go, I was able to truly feel the deep love my husband, in-laws, and dearest friends have for me. I was so busy trying to receive love from relatives who weren’t capable of giving it, that I couldn’t appreciate the love that was so freely and unconditionally given to me by my friends, husband and his family. The love was so overwhelming and deep when I took my focus off my abusers.

    And another blessing from cutting all ties with my family was the overflowing forgiveness I now have for them. This is the most I have ever loved them. I had to release them and cut contact in order to heal, forgive, and love them…from afar.

    I hope this might help someone else who is thinking about breaking contact with their dysfunctional family.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and experience Rubinis_K. I think it’s tremendously helpful for people to hear that in order to be able to recognize and receive love, you have to stop focusing on those who can’t or won’t give it to you. In essence, by taking your power back – the power to not give abusers the right to define your worth, and ironically something they will never do – it is an act of self validation that sets the stage for more love to come into your life.

    • Highland26

      I am doing this now, but it’s very lonely as I don’t have any family to speak of.

      • It can be a lonely path Highland26. I wish you an abundance of other people in your life who will appreciate and support you.

        • Elaine Stackhouse

          Very helpful advice Glynis.

      • Pipkins2t

        Highland, please accept the following as a statement of support and understanding. Yes, we find ourselves understanding the meaning of loneliness, however, during these times we are invited to learn to comfort ourselves in a way that we always craved from others, and failed to receive. There is no denying the sense on loneliness that you so rightly speak of Highland. Please take some strength from knowing that you are learning how to comfort self.
        When you emerge from the darkest of days, you emerge stronger. The sense of loss may never go away, but we find ourselves better equipped to manage our losses, little by little.

        Kindest regards
        xxx

        • Elaine Stackhouse

          Higland26, I do understand. I am rather no contact as much as possible. It’s hard because I stated my sister accepts my adult sons and I have to hear how they went out to dinner and treated lovingly and accepted knowing that I am not. We have a very small family. Only 1 sister, my mother, and a couple of cousins we don’t see often. My husband’s family is across the country. So I basically have my two adult sons, my granddaughter, and my husband. I am glad however the scapegoating has stopped with me and my sister is not scapegoating my sons – as much as I am hurt that i am still enduring it. My mother is in hospice and so I have to maintain some form of contact with my sister. IT’s mostly quick phone calls and more often texts or my oldest adult son relays information. My sister and I have not physically seen each other in over a year! I suspect we will at some point because my mother is moving in with my sister, but they reside out of state. I guess I am writing to just say I do understand the loneliness. My husband has some friends from his former church before he moved. We get together a couple of times a year. This is where I felt the difference in being with people who loved, respected, and accepted you for who you are… Maybe you could try to joint a church or connect with friends who love and accept you for you are. I know it’s difficult if you don’t have this support system in place. I don’t make friends easily and if I didn’t have husband to help me along I would struggle more. I hope you can connect with some people who value you for the person you are.

      • pierce singleguy

        I know how you feel. Highland26

    • Elaine Stackhouse

      i totally understand what you mean. My husband was also a scapegoat in his family. Not his immediate nuclear family but in the extended family. Basically, his mom, sister, and husband were scapegoated and barely tolerated. My husband has contact with his aging father and sister via phone as they are cross country, but he does not really speak to any extended family. He has been a tremendous support and he was the one who really made me see that I was being scapegoated. My husband had a loving church family and some people he stayed with during a rough patch in his life. When we meet up with them and go out to dinner I finally realize what it feels like to be loved and accepted. It feels so wonderful to feel you are wanted and appreciated. Not singled out and criticized constantly. I wish things were different in my nuclear family, but at nearly 50 years old I don’t hold much hope that my sister and I will be able to forge a relationship even though she and I are literally all the family each has left from our birth family, besides our spouses and kids. She does have in-laws. My in-laws are cross country. Sister and I have never gotten along – not since we were very small children and even then our friendship consisted of her very often bullying and being cruel to me. I agree cutting contact has been integral in my healing.

  • Lady LaLa

    Thanks. My only issue is I live with my father and am his caretaker so I can’t escape it all together at the moment. But I’m no longer speaking with my abusive, gaslighting, scapegoating brother. I’m done with the toxic nature of that relationship. After my father passes away, I plan on moving far away from my family. I’ve hoped for too long that the dysfunction would improve and I know there are people out there who like me for me and don’t relish in the opportunity to criticize my every move in a hypocritically self-righteous manner. Thanks for the article!

  • Wounded Eagle

    First, I would like to say that I have read through quite a few post and it has brought me a sense of security; that I am not the only one, and this sort of thing does happen to people. My life with my immediate and even some extended family and how I was ostracized and scapegoated has been happening for over 8 years… It started in the end of March 2007 when I was misdiagnosed as bipolar following a hospitalization for a marijuana induced psychosis. My extended family wanted me to accept that I was bipolar and needed to take pills the rest of my life. I tried to explain the situation and many of my extended family members do not talk to me because of this… My immediate family consisting of my mom, dad, and brother have been a trauma laden family since really I was a toddler. I remember Christmas Eve of 1988 as a 4 year old boy; mom and dad were fighting to the point of pushing, shoving, strangling and even a knife getting pulled out of the butcher’s block, until my grandpa said “you get your god damned hands off her!”… I was crying and even pushed my mom and dad back together so that they could make up and give each other hugs.
    Years went by, and there were always outburst with my mom and dad fighting. I would occasionally engage with my dad and verbally fight with him… It became a routine thing for us all to fight…. My dad has continued to tell me that “I am a fuck up, that has smoked dope and been to the god damned insane asylum!” what has made it worse is that my dad, brother and now mom are all saying that I am a problem to the family… When I counselled with a “money hungry” family therapist, she tried to tell me that a complete disconnection with my family would not be good, and ultimately that is a big “no no” in psychology… So I am at the cross roads a bit, but I feel comfortable with going ahead with a complete disassociation, because of the very stories that I have found on this blog – Thank You!

  • Elaine Stackhouse

    I am 48 and I always knew my sister was favored and that I could never seem to do nothing right. My parents would light up like Christmas trees when my sister came to town and they ran their entire schedule around her visits. They expected me and my family to do the same thing. We were supposed to live to accommodate my sister’s visits and our own schedule was never taken into account. If we could not make an event my mother would become enraged and badger us that we “must” come. I used to put it down to my sister living out of state and I lived close by. However, there were other many more insidious issues going in my family and I was in very deep denial myself, my brainwashing was such that I didn’t really recognize my family was scapegoating me. I felt something was off and I was treated differently, but my eyes were not opened to how much so I was being scapegoated.

    When my grandma passed away, she had 4 antique chairs. My parents selected two. There were two left – one for each daughter – except they gave them both to my sister. When I asked my father about this and said I would have liked one of my grandmother’s chairs he insisted he promised them to my sister. I was stunned. I said “you have two adult daughters and two beautiful chairs why would you promise both to one daughter and none to the other?” That just didn’t make sense to me. I have two sons. I would never give two of something to one son and nothing to other. I do try to be fair in my treatment of my sons. My father just pursed his lips and would not answer me. Anytime I would question on that event I never received an answer. My sister later stated she didn’t know I wanted one, but when she found out she didn’t offer to give one to me either, lol.

    I think however small this event might have been a light bulb went on and I sort of started looking back at all the messages I had received as a child and as a young adult about my place in the family. I remember when I was very young, about 5 or 6, the same grandmother who had passed away was going through all her lovely bone china and crystal with my sister and I. As little girls we were not allowed to touch these things, but I was enamored by all the delicate china, pretty patterns, and cut crystal. My grandmother kept saying this goes to my sister and that goes to my sister and so on. Finally, even as a small child I finally asked “Well why does my sister get all of these and I don’t?” The answer was “She’s the oldest” End of story. The message was so final. She’s the oldest so therefore she gets everything nice and I get what is left over. This is a message that been repeated over and over in my family through the years. Just by virtue of her being older she automatically got preferential treatment and I got what was left. It was no fault of my own. I didn’t get to chose my birth order. I can remember even as a child feeling angry, jealous, bitter, and helpless. Most of helpless. I remember there being no fight in me really. I knew even as a child this was very, very wrong and very unfair, but all the adults in my world gave me the same message “Sister gets the best – you get the rest” – if I was lucky I got the leftovers. Sometimes it was nothing at all. However, the family would never admit this outright as with the chairs. There was no valid answer for why I didn’t get one so I was met with silence and ignored .

    When I was 30, I had a failed marriage and was a single mom of two sons. One of whom had high functioning Autism. This was a low point in my life. While my parents helped to support me and even helped me financially they never missed an opportunity to tell me about it and brow beat me about it. They made sure I knew what a burden I was. When I would ask them to babysit so I could go out and do something for myself such as a yoga class, my father would criticize me and say “Why don’t you go out and do something where you can meet someone” Really, all he cared about is that I found another husband to take my burden off of him. He didn’t care for my emotional or mental health. Yoga helped my anxiety and it made me feel better… but that was not worthy of my time.

    My father would also angrily give me a tally of how much money he had given me over the years and tell me that money should be substracted from my inheritance because my sister (who was happily married and living an upper middle class lifestyle) didn’t get that kind of help from them.. However, she didn’t need it, and if she had I would not have begrudged her of it. I just used to imagine my father sitting there with his calculator and keeping a binder with totals of all the funds he had given me and how much he resented it, as if life was not hard enough for me I was made to feel like a low-life. My children were small. MY youngest had autism. I was exhaused. I was dealing with real emotional trauma, poverty and fighting battles trying to get my son the services and help he needed medically and in school. Despite reminding me about how much of a burden we were my parents insisted on continuing to do so even when I told them to stop. At one point, I was going to let my house go and possibly file a bankruptcy. I honestly at that point would have rather filed a Chapter 7 then to continue to be reminded what a loser and a burden I was. I had endured it for years.

    The fact was I was not a loser or a slacker. I worked a full-time job and went to school part-time making straight As on top of parenting two kids alone – one with special needs. I took care of a house, mowed lawns, did the repairs, shopping, laundry, and played both mother and father to my sons. I look back now and marvel at how I even was able to do it all. My parents only helped me financially just enough to get by. So we were constantly just at the poverty level with no hope of getting out I hoped schooling would be the way – but I could never take more than 2 classes at a time due to all I had going on. I felt trapped and while I needed their help I hated their help. I hate that they made me feel the low-life and burden. I hated that I was treated different when honestly some of things I was doing the average person would not be able to do. It was rarely recognized.

    As time went on, I was severely depressed and my anxiety had morphed in full fledged panic attacks by this point. I was desperate to get out from their thumb and constant criticism. I was tired of being reminded what a burden my sons and I were to my parents. I was tired of hearing all the stories of how wonderful my sister was and her life was and how she was perfect.

    My sister and I had little to no relationship which isn’t surprising. We never have. She always was the older sister that was far to busy with her own life and friends. I tried many times to reach out and seek a relationship with her, but it just never worked. She very clearly basked in the light of her superior position in the family. She loved when I was underfoot. I don’t say that as resent, but even my husband noticed it. She was truly unhappy if something good happened in my life. If something good did happen to me (such as when I met someone and got engaged after 15 year as a single mom) she hated it. She was disinterested in the wedding plans even though she agreed to stand up as my maid of honor. She found fault in the dress I had selected so I let her select her own style. I didn’t mind what she had chosen so I went with it, but the day of wedding she complained that dress was not right. She almost bailed on our rehearsal dinner and rehearsal. when I stated my niece had never been in a wedding and needed the rehearsal she stated “She’s a smart girl she’ll figure it out”. You could honestly seen the resentment on her face when she found out I was engaged. I could never figure it out. she had a nice life. She was married. She lived an upper middle-class lifestyle. The point was she was not happy unless she was up and I was down. She liked it when I was down and out, as it had always been. She didn’t like that fact my life was changing for the better.

    When my husband was offered a great new job in a new city, she also resented that and was not happy for us at all. she became angry when I talked about my husband’s new job or the new city. I lived for years at poverty level. Now my husband was making as much as her husband and we were relocating to a nice new city that was a place people traveled to and vacationed to. I was overjoyed. She never congratulated us.

    It just became so obvious to me that the place my family enjoyed me being was down and out and underfoot.

    When my father passed the scapegoating and differential treatment became worse because my mother was even a worse offender on her own. My dad actually was somewhat of a buffer and would usually have tinge of conscience at some point and try to smooth things over and even apologize on occasion. Not so with my mother. After my father passed, I had had a disagreement with my sister where she very intentional and did not include my family in a family holiday/event. in fact, she went out of her way to make sure we didn’t know it was happening and were not invited. I was upset with her and she went and told my mother all the details. I went over to my Mother’s house with my husband for a visit. My mother was so enraged that I had the gall to argue with and upset my sister that she screamed at me and at one point flew across the kitchen table to point her finger in my face. My husband and I were stunned. I totally thought she was going to hit me. I was 45 years old at the time. This was the real turning point for me. I could no longer excuse away their behavior and continue to blame myself. It took almost physical violence for me to get it at 45 years old that I was indeed the family scapegoat and I was being abused My husband had been trying to tell me that since he met my family but I continued to downplay it.

    Since I live closest to my mother my sister says I have to be the one to care for my mother now that she is ill and elderly and basically housebound. Dear Sister who resides out of state says “That’s just the way it is..” GRRRRR. No compassion. I guess I shouldn’t expect any as it’s never been given before.

    My mother is critical of me and verbally abusive to me at times as I try to meet her needs and It’s sheer hell having to be the one to do everything for her. At this point, my eldest son has stepped in because while he loves his grandma dearly, but he too clearly sees that my mother is abusive to me and insights panic attacks in me and that it’s not healthy for me to be the one to car for her.

    I wouldn’t wish scapegoating on my worse enemy. IT’s a horrible, horrible thing to do as a chlld or an adult. I was not allowed to be who I was. My self esteem and very essence of self was stripped away at such a young age. I grew up with little to no self esteem and feeling everything was my fault. I tried most of adult life to win my family’s favor but I always fell short and was never good enough in their eyes. It led to picking an abusive spouse (first husband) who also verbally abused me and constantly cut me down. It led to me never believing in myself and constantly beating myself up. Telling myself I was the “ugly” sister and I was stupid and a burden to everyone. It led to debilitating panic attacks and depression. I am finally starting to heal. At some point I would love to get counseling and most likely need it but we do not have mental health benefits on our insurance. Someday I will have to pursue this because I do truly feel it will help me cope with all this.

    At 48, I finally have found the strength to stand up for myself with the help of my loving husband. He is the first person who called my family on their behavior and right from the start said I was being scapegoated. He has even stood up to my family on my behalf. Unfortunately, because of that my relationship with mother and sister is very strained. I am learning to take my power back and distancing myself as much as I can from my mother and sister. I wish I had a loving birth family, but this one will never be it. They are toxic at least to me. It hurts they are loving to each other and I find it hard still to not blame myself.

    They twist things to suit themselves and again blame everything on me and that I misperceive things or am too sensitie. My mother and sister gang up together and support one another. My sister insisted my mother has never mistreated her.. .I believe her. I am sure she has not. My sister is the golden child and favored so why would she mistreat her?

    For so long I allowed them to brainwash me into thinking it was ME. That it was me making it all up in my head. It took having my husband plainly lay out what he was seeing and the fact that my older son (adult) also sees it as well. He says he hated family get togethers as a child because of the way my family treated me -his mom. He began to be scapegoated to a certain extent as well but to a lesser degree.

    I no longer do any holidays with my mother and sister if I can avoid it when sister comes to town. I have as little contact with boht as possible. I feel it’s the only way to heal myself. My sister says I will regret and live with guilt for forsaking my mother. I can’t even begin to respond to that.

    • Hi Elaine – It seems that getting distance from your scapegoating family and having the support of a loving partner have made a big difference for your psychological well being. I wish you all the best on your healing journey.

      • Elaine Stackhouse

        My mother is in hospice. She is no longer being abusive to me but my sister is another story. She and I hardly speak except through my mother and my adult sons. Strangely, my sons are not scapegoated. My youngest is close in age to my sisters son and the cousins are friends. I think this is why he escaped. The oldest WAS scapegoated for being tattooed and looking “Thuggish” and made fun of and greeted with “Yo-yo, what’s up” as a mocking of his style. He had a baby with his GF 7 months ago and suddenly to my sister he is the “best Dad ever” And she fights tooth and nail to get contact with my granddaughter (who ironically lives with me as my son and GF and baby are living with us temporarily). She will talk to both my sons. Go out to dinner with the, be their friends on Facebook. I unfriended her and my mother on Facebook after one too many snide comment. My sister had my nephew but me on a restricted list. I used to be able to see my nephew’s content. Suddenly I could not. So it’s strange my sons are totally accepted and greeted warmly at family events, but I am the person non grata. Now mother is moving to live with my sister. On one hand I am very relieved. It will take some pressure off me as a caregiver and it’s obvious my mother prefers my sister. However, it will make it very difficult to for myself and sons to visit with her out of state. I would not feel comfortable staying with my sister for a visit as we once did years ago. Eventually, sis and I will have to settled an estate together – that should be FUN! (sarcasm intended). Yes, having a supportive partner has helped, but my healing is very much in an open wound process. I still feel very hurt and wonder what it is about me that caused them to treat me this way and no one else. I mean literally NO ONE in the family is treated this way. I realize it’s their issues not mine. I do think I was too much of a doormat for many years. As a single Mom very much dependent on families help for most my adult life I tried not to rock the boat too hard. I bit my tongue and went along to get along. If I did push back it was WWIII and there would be immense ganging up and pressure on me to stop and conform. Now that my father has passed and my mother is basically in hospice that strength has lessened. However, sister does whatever she can to carry the torch of scapegoating on. To the point of trying to embrace my adult sons and their families but still leave me out and ostracize me as much as possible. Not a fun way to live, but again, I do believe once my mom has passed the contact with my sister will be very limited if not null. We live two states away and the tie that was mutual was our aging parents.

  • Elaine Stackhouse

    Also in my 40s. I always knew something was off. I always knew inherently I was being treated differently than my one sibling, my sister. I knew there was favoritism and I was not the favorite. I knew my parents were critical and controlling of me. I knew I blamed myself for everything. I had no to low self-esteem. I chose a marriage partner at 19 as a way to get out from my parents thumbs, but I chose someone who was emotionally abusive and cut me down the same way my parents did. I spent years as a single parent – in a way back under my parents thumb as they helped keep me afloat with 2 young son – one who had special needs. I self loathed. I was told what a finanicial burden I was. I worked full-time and went to school part-time getting straight As, but never completed my bachelors degree as I was so exhausted in trying to keep it all going. I gained a bunch of weight – I comfort ate. I always had anxiety but didn’t realize what it was. It morphed into panic attacks. I began to have PTSD reactions before get togethers with my family or holidays .A nasty comment on my weight or some aspect of my personality was always made. I always came home hurt, holding back tears. It hurt the most when my oldest a 15 years old asked me what I allowed my family to treat me this way. He also was angry and told me years later he hated holidays for having to watch helpless how I was treated and by extension how he felt about himself because in picking on his mother it was picking on him and his family that he loved. I thought I was doing the sons a favor by making the peace and bowing down to bullying in mistreatment so that they could have a relationship with their aunt and grandparents, but instead I hurt my sons more by letting them see me abused. So much of this I have not fully seen until my 40s. I was for lack of a better term so brainwashed to feel I was the one at fault and I was inherently bad and damage person I just kept trying to seek my family of origin’s approval. My father valued education and the only morsel of praise I received was when I was getting straight As in college. I tried to thin down not only for myself, but mostly for them so I would be as thin and accepted as my sister. I kept thinking if only… if only I got my degree then they will love and accept me. If I only slim down .. then they will love and accept me. If only I can find another husband and not be a single divorced Mom … then they will accept me. If I can become financially set … then they will love and accept me. First, I failed at many of these goals because they were not truly for me but for them. I did get straight As ,but couldn’t keep up the pace. i did lose weight, only to gain it back. I did get married… but thank God I married a man who supported and loved me, but he was not financially. But, even when I did find some measure of achieving these goals it was never enough. For awhile I might get a little praise, but I was still scapegoated. I still didn’t love myself… My entire sense of self worth was wrapped up in my family of origins opinion of me. I still, to them, was never good enough. Now I make goals for myself. I am trying to heal from many years of scapegoating that I used to excuse as my own fault. It’s a process. I wish I had realized earlier.

  • mom2mkld

    I am 50 years old and just now finding out that this has been happening in my family since I can remember. I always wondered why I felt so terrible about myself and why I am so critical of myself, yet I make excuses for everyone else’s bad behavior. I even apologize for things that are not my fault. I have suffered panic attacks and severe clinical depression for the past 19 years. As a kid, I wasn’t really happy and could never look anyone in the eye. I have wondered for years what is wrong with me. This scapegoating behavior in my family towards me is what is wrong with me. I do not know how to have a relationship with my mother or my oldest sister, because they were, and still are, the scapegoaters in my family. My dad was the alcoholic, although my mom was so good at denying it and covering it up, I never knew until my sister told me. I knew he had problems when I was an adult and out of the house, but never knew he had problems when I was a child. He was always just aloof and uninvolved. There were lots of secrets and lies and I was always the bad person. I still am. Even at his death this past March, I was blamed and yelled at. That is what really shocked me about my mother. She basically had him euthanized because she didn’t want to take care of him. He was not a dying man. He was murdered and we all had to sit there and watch them do it. While he was in the hospital, my mother told me twice that she resented him — then she had him euthanized. The next day I called her and she screamed at me because my husband and I prayed with my dad before the hospital staff killed him. The next day, she put on an act in front of my oldest sister and my two daughters as if I were not being compassionate towards her. My mom and I were on the phone and I was trying to explain how it hurt that she had yelled at me and hung up on me the day before when I only called to help. She put on a big act and cried and said, “please stop doing this to me” and got everyone mad at me, except my one daughter who sees through it all, but won’t stand up for me. I am so tired of being in this role. I want to have good, healthy relationships with my mom and sister, but I do not know how to do it. I need to get healthy myself and they just play head games with me and pull me down. This is tough.

    • You’ve been through a lot of heartbreak mom2mkld. I completely understand that you want to have healthy relationships with your mom and sister but it sounds like this is not possible as they won’t let you. This is the sad reality of scapegoating, and it seldom gets better. Most people find that for their own peace of mind they need to create more distance from family who are mistreating them. I’d encourage you to read my article on no contact for some other perspectives that may help you.

  • pierce singleguy

    Greetings,
    All I can share to my fellow goat’s is this. be strong fight for your rights and live in peace and never give up, because we are the true light that guides “those that are truly dark”. WHERE NO BETTER OR WORSE. “but we are who we are…… where scapegoats we are stronger because we were predestined and chosen to be. firm believer here. some give up and throw their lives away others fall and bring others down with them but if your willing to love yourselves and forgive yourself and your enemy’s in heart you are no longer their puppet. I wanted and would of given my life personally to feel loved by those that turned their back on me from infancy up till now to others that I do not know that judge me. u see guys your not alone when it comes to being considered the common denominator in a dysfunctional group. take it with you to your last breath and don’t look back ever. I use to fear death and cry but now I know I will be at peace knowing I will die alone waste away without any real surviving family. I give them the so called WE’ s in my life” credit there for toughing me up. the pain and isolation labels loneness anger silent tears rage shame despair will only destroy you if you give up. Don’t give in and ever give up to your enemies. love them forgive them and peacefully grief accept it and walk away its all we can do. “no life lasts forever” somebody calls me crazy a jackal or an Butt today I ay its not easy being a cast ironed bull it took years of careful training on your parts. don’t hate me because you always have from birth. I shook them all off there more to my life than people that judge you and abuse you negatively for their own gain or game. I love each on here and my prayers are with all of you. please pray for me. as well. my special appreciation to the site Mgr. Sherwood. your works are industries and may god bless you. you are helping and healing guiding people to come out and talk real life~. G Washington State.

  • pierce singleguy

    I wanted to make a difference, even now it seems pointless or hopeless and that’s where I found my redemption and true salvation, I am comforted knowing I will leave this earth having fulfilled my true legacy. I was rejected labeled outcasted, shunned, hated because I am strong like all of you. We are the lights that never go out when all around us seems Dark. we can spread our light unto the darkness.
    G. WA state

  • I hear your wisdom and your pain cpt n3m0. It’s good you have chosen to pull away from this abusive family situation. I understand that you feel very alone. This is a very difficult transition. But you have started to take the right steps if you want to regain your sense of self worth. It is so important to stop participating in traumatic relationships if you are to begin to heal. If possible I’d recommend you start seeing a counsellor who can support you through this challenging time. Hang in there.

  • April First

    I Lived this all My Life … Took On Scape Goat Black Sheep and more … I am A Street Minister and Psy /Theoleogy Major … I have Video’s on UTUBE … HOLY GROUND STREET MINISTRY … That Speak’s on this … And … Delivered FROM Alcohol and drugs’ 26 yrs … NO DESIRE … I AM Also … A Survivor of ABUSE … From … Alcohlic Family for Generation’s … My Video’s are Spirtial … NOT RELIGIOUS … Jesus Said … Be Not like The RELATION PHARISEE’S … There is DYSFUNCTION Churche’s too … Been There … ON TV AND OFF … Mentally and Emotionally stealing people’s money … Love to you all … xo … WRITE ME … ON GOOGLE … Or … My Facebook … VIDEO’S Are A Must Watch …

  • Karen

    I am 70 years old. My parents are 96 and 94. I am the oldest. My sister and brother are the golden child. I have been the scapegoat my whole life. I cannot begin to tell you how badly I have been treated. My sister and brother love being the favorite and can do no wrong. Try as I might I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Now my children are being treated as outsiders. Sad to say but I wonder if life will be better when my parents are gone.

    • Sadly Karen, many scapegoated people feel this way when abusive parents die. It can feel like relief to know the hurt is finally over.

  • Justfinenow

    I am the youngest of 7. I took care of my parents for 10 years before my divorce. My father was in a nursing home and my mother lived at home. I would take her to doctors appts, shopping, to see my dad and be there anytime of the day or night if she needed me. I would go to my dad’s doctors appointments, go to all the events at the nursing home, he call and I would bring him what ever he needed, I would take him out to eat and sometime just go see him and just talk about life. My parents made me in charge of their will. They told me I would see a whole other side of my siblings and to be aware after they were gone. All of my siblings and where close. I seemed to be the one they leaned on to talk to…. I kept their secrets because most of the time they just needed to let off steam. I was the first one they would called first when tragedy hit our family. They wanted me to tell our parents and the other siblings. After my But after my last parent died, my mother… all changed. I still can’t believe how they act. They went through the family home taking things and feeling justified. Ifor I mentioned something I would like… it was a family meeting but yet when someone else wanted something they just took it. I decided that nothing in the house was worth what I was being put through. The few things my parents gave me mean the most to me. I now stay away from them. I go to family get togethers still but don’t put myself out there. I love them all but just don’t like them anymore.. I feel sorry for them. They back stab each other and still make up stuff about me. It’s sad ,

    • A painful situation. Sounds like you did what you needed to do JFN.

      • Justfinenow

        What you wrote that it will feel like grief… it does. Thank you…. you confirmed what I thought in my heart.

  • Pipkins2t

    I’m not quite sure if I can put into words the image I have in my mind at this time…………………Something, somehow, at sometime, eventually ‘clicks’. So subtle you would be the exception to the rule if you could perceive ‘it’.
    Imagine your ‘family of origin’ as a static object that you stand directly in front of; they loom so large you see no way round them, through them, across them, nor can you dig below and beyond them, Retreat is not an option.

    I invite you to know imagine the same image only this time you stand on a conveyor belt that is slowly moving backwards:allowing you distance at a speed you control.

    I am not sure how that ‘conveyor belt’ happens, nor do I need to know the reason why.
    That conveyor belt has brought me to a point where I can see the ‘drama’ for what it was. None of us are blameless. We all played our part.

    I no longer have a role to play. Nor do I desire one.

    Love for a better word gifts us space, time, compassion and understanding from which we can heal.

    Better to have one who rode the conveyor belt than a whole family who remained stuck, with no where else to go.

    • Very creative approach to distancing from the pain of toxic relationships!

  • SSmyheart

    I grew up in a unstable home of addiction. We never knew where we were moving to next and I had extreme anxiety/worries as a very young child about money, I’m talking before kindergarten. I’ve witnessed so much abuse and was the victim of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as a young child. My mother would always blame me for my siblings behavior. Example my sister ran away and when she came home the two of them fought and my mom brought me into it saying I wasn’t a good enough older sister, she had such a way of deflecting. I remember being molested and running home at 2am after hiding under a baby’s crib at my parents friends house and the next morning telling my mom what happened. Of course my mom sent me to school and that very day the neighbor/patents friend’s wife showed up to pick me up from school and question me if I was telling the truth. That same week my mother invited them over for dinner while I refused to come out of my room to join them. My mother even had the nerve to state if I was lying I could ruin their marriage. She never protected me and always told me she wished she had had the abortion she almost went through with me when she was pregnant with me. I could not do right and took the blame for everything. Then I met my husband when I was 15. We are still married to this day and I will be 40 this year. The thing was he seemed to have an amazing family and I desperately wanted to be a part of it. As with most in my life I was let down in this part of my life as well. His mother and sister dispised me and only used me to watch his sisters son and to help cook and clean. They did not want their son to be with me and even tried to get him to date his sisters best friend. I came to find out his mother was using, yet again addiction had followed me in life. My mom soon left town without my sister and I and we became homeless for a bit. I slept several nights in my boyfriends closet and finally sought out my birth fathers mother my grandma whom I adore. She took my pregnant sister and I in and asked for nothing in return. I let my husband know his mother was using and we found proof when one day she had left the house and dropped a triangle folded small paper like package filled with crystals. My husband flushed it down the toilet and she came home moments later frantically searching the entire house for her drugs. We then told his sister and his dad. They were in denial at first until her pipe was found hidden in her bathroom drawer. I knew she blamed me for this. She hated me and knew I saw who she was from the beginning and saw me as a threat so instead of being welcoming she shunned me. She has been in drug treatments several times and is now sober for 12 years now, which is wonderful. She made a statement to me early in her treatment that she needed to apologize to me for what she has done following her 12 steps but she said she was not ready to address this and she just wants me to know she is sorry without the specifics. I’m sure there are tons of specifics. She has never invited me to go to lunch, a movie, shopping, anything or anywhere and her daughter and her would make it a point to make plans right in front of me. You know when girls are being caddy and just plain mean. They were the mean girls for me. This was not something I wasn’t used to so I brushed it off and took the abuse because I love my husband. He also is to blame because he never stuck up for me back then and has only recently done so. We have two children and our children are treated very differently than their other grandchildren. Lately since my husband has taken a united front towards them they have stepped up efforts to be a part of our children’s lives. I have made it a point to always be there for my kids and put them before anything. I am a PTA mom, the president of our auxiliary board for little league, volunteer in my children’s classrooms, have an amazing relationship with my children. I know I do more than most because I want to be the parent I always dreamed about. I always go above and beyond for my family. I feel my mother in law holds resentment towards me because of this. Her grandson, whom I watched practically everyday of his life from the age of 1 when I first started dating my husband till he was 13 when they moved away, he is an addict and criminal who just recently got out of jail. Anyway I am ill with a disease I get treatments for and I gave pain medication that her grandson wanted and I refused to give. He in turn told me I was a hold out and began disrespecting me every time we were in the same room. One night we were at my in laws and he started to threaten my son who was 9 years old at the time, he was 23. He was stating he would kick his ass. He was also talking really bad to his sister. I defending them and told him he needed to grow up where he then began singing the toys r us song I’m a big kid now. After that day I wrote him out of my life and wanted nothing to do with him. This made his mother my husbands sister totally upset with me but she did it in a way that turned her into this victim because we were not having her child in our lives and this of course upset her other two children and now things are weird with them. Instead of her accepting her son was wrong she flipped the script. I don’t want my kids around him and because him and his girlfriend/babies momma live with my in laws I don’t want my kids and our family over there. They can come to us but they don’t. I’ve written off my mother a long time ago and I’m ready to do it to his but worry what this will do to my children who will then have no family except my sister and brother and a few cousins. I can’t stand being around addicts and the drama that comes with it but I don’t want my children punished. I’m sick of being the bad guy for everything and everyone’s problems. There is so much more I haven’t stated. Honestly since we haven’t been around any of them since the holidays which his nephew almost got in a fight in front of our kids with their uncle :/ our lives have been so much happier. The kids do miss their grandparents though and crave the attention from that family. I just don’t want them exposed to that. Why am I always the one to blame? I don’t do drugs, I rarely have a drink, I’m a devoted wife and mother, I have many friends. Why is my family life like this no matter what?

    • I understand your need to distance from this dysfunctional family situation. Active addiction, blaming others and not taking responsibility for one’s actions tend to go together. Sounds like you were hoping that the children could maintain contact with some family members, but it doesn’t seem safe. The operative word is “safety” – emotionally and physically. No contact is much better than contact that is harmful to anyone, especially children.

      • SSmyheart

        Thank you for your response and in my gut I already knew the answer. Just wish things were different

        • Yes, I wish things were easier and better for you too with your family.

  • Yes Amelia, self protection and setting boundaries, even if family pushes back, is the only healthy option.

  • Joni

    You used the words “bad attitude”. I was told that my attitude was my problem my entire life. I remember my father yelling at my mother when I was young, he didn’t know I could hear or didn’t care, that I had that same attitude as her grandmother (which he hated). He left to find himself and I was left with my great grandmother which were the happiest of my childhood. But even in my 50’s he continued to say the problem was my attitude. I had no problems with anyone else but if ask him to explain he would just get over the top angry. I was always to blame for things I obviously had nothing to do with. I was literally their best child, but may have well been a homeless drug addict. You are right no person should suffer this emotional abandonment. I also keep waiting for them to check on me but it has been 5 years. It came to a head due to physical abuse for no reason by my father and I was forced to separate. In the course it seems I lost them and my friends and my life. Now I am 58 and been very sick much of what stems from years of anxiety and having to move into assisted living. I wonder everyday if I did the right thing even though my mother knows I am sick but never calls. After Glyniss Sherwood’s intro they will never take accountability or apologize or even care. I don’t underdtand. I care more about a homeless person I don’t know than my own parents do. Odd thing I have siblings and nephews who have really had attitude issues but overlooked. If you discover what the attitude is let me know. I do know from years of experience each time you return wanting love and acceptance it seems they suck out a little more blood and not happy until you can’t take it anymore. Please don’t let them cause you future health issues but I understand your sense of loss and why you return. Sad thing is most of this is invisible to others and if your parents are financially comfortable and have paid gore college and trips people think how could I not overlook s little verbal stuff because all they did for me. I can’t say this side is easy except no drama or sitting on edge for next shoe to drop. I was older when I finally left and got so sick and couldn’t work or drive and put on disability. Impossible to start over. So I will die alone or at least with new friends in independent living place. If I had left 15 years ago I could have moved and easily started over and visited my base of long time friends. Take care of yourself and move on while healthy. Unless they change sadly you will never “fit in” unless you accept and approve if their behaviors. Maybe when you get settled and strong in a new life you can contact them on your terms but I don’t know. According to her intro this is highly unlikely. I will tell you it is hardest thing I have been through but life with them was more unbearable because it didn’t and doesn’t make sense. Hope this helps

  • Joni

    I replied to someone but don’t see it. Did I respond incorrectly? I found You miss Sherwood many years ago but only read posts thinking I could beat it alone. I would like to know if there are rules and if I did something wrong. Thanks, joni

    • Your comments are below Joni. I do moderate comments for appropriateness. Due to the busyness of my counselling practice, it can take me a day or two to approve comments.

  • Pipkins2t

    Perhaps it is ‘easier ‘ to remain at the heart of a battle than to choose to sit on the side lines, becoming increasingly aware that once the ‘game is over’ you are no longer playing your part in a team. No matter how dysfunctional that team or part was, it played a part.

  • Pingback: I am my family’s scapegoat. – Bright Healing()

  • I am the family scapegoat and it took me until age 46 to figure it out. I have been being treated for complex PTSD and thought my ex husband (an emotionally unavailable alcoholic was the root of it.) I am currently going the no contact route with my family.

    Long story short I quit drinking myself 2 years ago when a psychotherapist told me I was an alcoholic and I needed to quit drinking. Not only was I co-dependent but I was an alcoholic myself! I became intentionally positive and my self esteem came to fruition. I never felt so good about myself! I started having flashbacks about my ex.

    Once you are out of the forest you can see the trees. I moved from my dysfunctional family 18 years ago and was low contact. I believed I subconsciously went low contact because of the shame of living with an emotionally and verbally abusive alcoholic. Nope it was a coping mechanism because I couldn’t handle the pain of a narcissistic mother on top of a narcissistic alcoholic husband.

    Over the years (married in that situation for 25) I went to therapy after therapy because I was told I was the one with the problem from both my family and my ex. Whenever the therapist went deep with “how was your upbringing” I would respond “white picket fence good”.

    Now since I am healthy and intentionally positive and found an AMAZING partner (who ironically had a similar background with a narcissistic father and ex wife) my narcissistic baby sister is spreading lies about him. Two weeks after we married (this past October) she let me know he abused his daughter (not true) and started spreading them around the family.

    In November, we visited the folks for Thanksgiving. Everything was normal as normal could be in this situation. I did find myself lashing out at my new husband that week and I could not figure out why. I prayed all through December and January to find the reason why I am paralyzed with work (I own my own real estate broker) and why I am moody.

    Well the folks came in late January for a visit and they were parroting baby sister’s talking points. They had me thinking my husband is bad, I am bad and I am in a bad situation. She verbally abused me when no one was around. They went to my step daughter’s work to abuse her. Again the verbal anger continued against my new husband and flashbacks began. This time flashbacks were of the horror of my childhood.

    I am back in therapy and hoping for neurofeedback approval with my insurance. The flashbacks this time were HORRID and they went back all the way to when I was 1 1/2. The worst one was when I got my wisdom teeth out and my mother was driving me home and I was sick from the anesthesia. She stopped to get gas and I opened the door to puke because I could not hold it in anymore. She was screaming that I needed to stop because I was embarrassing her. You have to understand now that I was Cinderella in my family. I am the oldest and the youngest was 15 years younger. Queen Bee had to work and Cinderella had her teenage years stolen because she always had to babysit Queen Bee’s children, do her laundry and cook. Queen Bee was put out because she had to do Cinderella’s job when Cinderella was down from the wisdom teeth removal. She fed me codeine for a week straight which made me sick and NO ONE in my house noticed until a week later they came in, took the sheets off of me and said “OK YOU ARE DONE GET OUT OF BED AND DO SOMETHING.” I was lethargic and covered in hives because of the codeine allergy. I had one big hive (and these suckers were big welts all over my body) on my neck and she screamed at me that I was a whore and it was a hickey. I remember screaming at her back that I have been no where and look at my body – they were all over. At age 17 I had to figure out on MY OWN that I was allergic to the meds and that those were hives because according to her I was a whore (even though I didn’t leave my bed for a week!)

    The flashbacks are horrendous, the grieving process is insane. I decided to go “quietly” and just disappear from my narcissist mother, enabling father and siblings’ lives. My mother has apologized that she was “more harsh on me” over the years but her actions have not shown it as she repeatedly goes through her narcissistic rages. My siblings won’t keep the narcissistic baby in check and allow her to damage me and my reputation with her lies.

    My life was peaceful and serene before all this. I am now being love bombed by my narcissist mother (and ignoring) and narcissist sister has convinced all siblings to have a relationship with my narcissistic alcoholic ex husband. More power to all of them I say!

    Right now I am dealing with the grief of losing them and the anxiety that my snowbird parents just 6 hours away will show up on my doorstep to attempt to get me commited. (they have tried before.) Because I am the crazy and oversensitive. My feelings have always been minimized. Now the chaos and crazy making has stepped up a notch because I am attempting to live a peaceful and serene existence. And God only knows that Renee does not deserve it. According to them.

    • Sounds like No Contact is the best defense you have Renee. Good for you for taking care of yourself through therapy and finding a solid partner. I’m wondering if it might be helpful to get legal advice from a lawyer who understands family abuse, regarding your sisters slander against your husband and in case your parents try to have you committed again?

      • That’s actually something I am considering. The intense paranoia and anxiety these types give individuals also have prompted me to shop for cameras for my house so we can monitor activity.

  • Emma

    Hello. To me your case seems pretty clear cut. You are the scapegoat in my opinion. I know you’ve just come to the realisation that you are a scapegoat so this is all new. If it were me though I would be analysing the amount of contact I allow. Once a month for a few days seems like an awful lot of time to expose yourself and your family to their toxicity. Best of luck.

  • Bill Fedde

    How does one handle weekly contact with a family member where no contact is actually the best answer,
    but creating distance is not practical now or for the immediately foreseeable future?

    This site contains one of the more interesting articles and remarkable series of posts I’ve read since being introduced to the narcissist/sociopath phenomenon over the past twelve months or so. Unfortunately all twelve of your accompanying ‘scapegoating’ criteria matches my experience as well. I am almost fifty five years old.

    I wish I had understood what I was really up against before purchasing an expensive home in a small neighborhood so close to what I now understand to be a narcissist, high functioning alcoholic younger brother and wife who seems to fit the sociopath criteria, and who is also an alcoholic.

    I originally moved away from the same city with my wife and two children after essentially being driven out of business by the younger brother whose business I initially helped to provide data for and set up. I had to find work and did find enough out of the area to get started again.

    We moved back seven years later because this is just about the only three block section of the California coast that offers the combination of waterfront living and a boat dock in the back yard with direct access to Channel Islands National Park where my immediate family spends so much time together on our small yacht. It is the closest area of its kind geographically to my primary real estate asset based business as well.

    I thought while my brother and his wife were relative negatives on our pro and con list before purchasing this house about two years ago, our second since moving back, somehow the slander would have to slow. We thought some degree of truth, with a level of general goodness would have to somehow prevail. Doesn’t it always? So I once naively thought.

    When the exact opposite occurred, my wife and I consulted a psychologist to try to determine what was wrong with us and what we could do to fix it. According to the psychologist, we are apparently the relatively healthy ones and there is nothing we can do to change the relationship given the apparent personality
    types of the brother and wife and the success they have had with certain methods of making us their targets.

    The problem is we’re committed to our neighborhood (which we otherwise enjoy) and the brother has successfully accused us within the family and parts of the greater (but small) community that we moved here to do nothing but ‘stick it to him’ (of course assuming we were willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to do so), all while also somewhat successfully accusing us of several miss-deeds
    that actually they themselves have committed against my family.

    We’ve gone ‘no contact’ with them along with the rest of my extended family who have willingly looked the other way from glaring evidence of what has happened over a period of years. The brother is in process of building a much bigger house after tearing down his existing one. My hope is that once this is finished, he
    will again feel that the compensating height and size of his home over ours allows him enough perceived internal balance to leave our friends and us a little more alone.

    How do we present ourselves during the weekly negative contact while enduring the slander, continuing manipulation, etc. that we now know we have to live with and will not be changing any time soon? Current method is to just watch them go by our dock in their own boat and not say anything but ‘looking good’ or something of the sort. This reaction is the only one we can come up with at the sight of pathological beings my wife and I sense we will never be able to completely understand.
    Thanks.

  • Ahmed

    Thank you for this article Glynis. It has just rekindled some hope for me.

    I’m 29 and I have only recently realised the dynamics of my family. My Dad is Narcassistic, my Mum has folllowed suit and my sister (30) is the golden child, leaving me to be the scapegoat. My eldest sister was also a scapegoat, the rest of my siblings being lucky enough to be almost ignored.

    My Dad has been verbally and mentally hurting me since I was 10; calling me names and always telling me how stupid and unworthy I was as the eldest son. He has to this day said the most vile things to me and has eroded my self-estrem as a result. But after saying everything, he always says he loves me. This cycle has been ensuing since almost 20 years and I am now emotionally exhausted. Everytime I try standing up for myself, Im reminded by him and family members of how much he loves me.

    I am now learning that I’m not bad or crazy like my parents have always said to me and even told my siblings and extended family. There are times when I think they may be right, that maybe its me; but Thank God I’m beginning to think otherwise. My confidence is growing and although I’m still sugfering from depression and anxiety, this too is a lot milder at times.

    Living in these dynamics all my life, now that I know I am trapped in a web of lies I’m still unsure of how to get out of this predicament. Your list has enabled me to start this journey of being free of this cycle of emotional pain.

    A word to my fellow-sufferers; learn to love yourself and never stop standing up for the truth.

    Many thanks and God Bless.

    • Hi Ahmed – Thanks for your comments. Glad you are feeling more hopeful. I’d recommend that you read my other articles on scapegoating on my website. You might also look into counselling with a therapist who understands scapegoating, narcissism and other abusive family dynamics. All the best to you!

  • Labradorsrule

    Thank you for this article. I am the youngest of 10. We grew up in a physically and psychologically abusive house. I have 5 brothers and 4 sisters. There is an 8 year difference between me and the next oldest. My brothers don’t have much contact with us. I never understood why I didn’t get along with my sisters, until now. Whenever I have tried to tell any of my sisters that they have hurt my feelings, it was my fault that my feelings were hurt or I had no right to feel the way I do. However, I hurt or offend one of them, I am attacked. What’s worse, their treatment of me is now extending to others. My sisters bought each other and all of my nieces, Pandora bracelets. I was not included. In May, my brother-in-law threw a drink on me at a wedding because I disagreed with him. (He becomes extremely angry if someone disparages his favorite football team.) Apparently, I am not entitled to an apology. My sister said, “Life is short, get over it.” Like so many other things between us, I am expected to act like it didn’t happen. “What is worse is my brother-in-law and sister lied about the situation and my niece and nephew that I got along with now think that I am the bad one. This is just the tip of the iceberg in 47 years of being blamed, yelled at, and abused by older siblings. I was the youngest, and for so long I was unable to defend myself. Now, I am at the point w’here I want nothing to do with them. The only reason I do is I get along with most of my nieces and nephews. I don’t know whether to break ties or to suffer through it because of my nieces and nephews.

    • Very challenging situation, but sounds like you are in touch with your bottom line – i.e. respectful treatment. I wish you the greatest success in being able to maintain the relationships with nieces and nephews that mean so much to you.

    • MB

      I just wanted to ask how you decided to handle your situation. I have a young niece and nephew (5 and 7). My parents stopped speaking to me once again for having a differing opinion (Albeit about something major but I still feel I should be entitled to my own opinion). Eventually one brothers partner lashed out at me via text (He actually had a good reason to be angry with me but not to speak to me the way he did which is unfortunately worth brownie points in my family. He, in the past, has acknowledged that they agree with me but are currently financially dependent on my parents so can’t go against them and that always hurt my feelings because I wouldnt let my mother treat them the way she treats me and say nothing). Then my sister in law decided I mistreated her because I said I was unhappy that she repeated things I said to her in confidence (which is why my brothers partner was angry because it was part but not all of something he told me in confidence that I repeated some of when my sister in law questioned me. I thought I was omitting the most important parts but satisfying her curiosity enough and it was a bad decision on my part). She told me I had to contact my brother to visit with their kids. Then my brother claims I chose to stop speaking to my parents and refuses to let me see his kids unless it’s at their home or around the other family members (like my mother). I asked to take the kids (which I’ve done before with no issue) so that we could go to the zoo and spend nice time that wasn’t awkward or tense. I wanted to break all contact with my parents and brothers (I’m exiled every time my mother gets mad at me anyway by my parents and two brothers). I usually step back in once “forgiven” but I don’t want that for myself anymore. I want to see the kids but I’m being forced back in or I have to walk away and I don’t know what to do. The thing is that I love those kids like they are my own but what scares me most is that my 17 year old daughter is now being targeted as the “problem” as well as me. Advice?

      • Labradorsrule

        My nieces and nephews are all over 21. I do have great nieces and nephews. I have decided to talk to my nieces and nephews with whom I am closest and go from there. I am not attending any family functions unless it is specifically for one of my nieces or nephews. I am keeping my distance from my sisters. I have come to find out that my brother sides with me. He doesn’t like the brother-in-law who threw the drink but he can’t say anything. His twin, is married to the brother-in-law. It would only make matters worse if he did anyway. I am certain one of my other sisters didn’t like what he did at the wedding either but no one is going to stand up for me and they don’t want me to stand up for myself. I am staying away for my own sanity. However, my niece whose wedding it was where all of this occurs, said she loves me, and feels I protected her because I never told her what happened. Someone else did. She said she loves me even more than before. Her mother however, blamed me that she didn’t have pictures of the day to look at the first week. How that was my fault I don’t know as I wasn’t the photographer. But this is the crazy logic that gets thrown out at me.
        My advice to you, is protect your daughter. I have been going through this for so long and nothing ever changes. No matter how hard I tried to be what I thought they wanted my sisters to be, it wasn’t enough. They changed what they wanted, they turned tables and twisted words. The thing is, THEY are part of the problem and until they admit that, it won’t change. And they never admit they are part of the problem. It’s always us! So the cycle continues. Unfortunately, your niece and nephews are so young, you can’t talk to them about what’s happening. But you can keep your daughter from going through what you are going through and have gone through. I am lucky because, for a long time, I thought it was me until I started dating my husband. He came out of a family gathering one time and said, “What was that? Can you ever be right? Do they always gang up on you like that? Why is everything your fault when you weren’t even there? And finally, I felt like, wow, it’s not just me.

  • Hey Folks – what would you like to see me write about next regarding family scapegoating?

    • Pipkins2t

      Recovery. The power of survival and what individuals like ourselves can offer to others. I am done with the anger, the pain, the continual and exhausting cycle of self recrimination and imponderables.
      What can we do to help others who feel trapped ? How can we help others release the guilt that will break them? How do we show that live continues in a positive way?

      • Thanks for your input!

        • Pipkins2t

          Hi Glynis, your page here has been invaluable. Until I stumbled across the entries here, I had never heard of the term ‘scapegoating’. Reading others experiences allowed me to accept that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings. That the guilt, confusion, feelings of rejection, low self esteem etc are symptomatic of my relationships with my ‘birth family’. I do agree that a page such as offers a major step towards recovery, as individuals are given a safe platform to express themselves. I am at the point in my recovery where I can accept that continuing with my decision of no contact is the best choice I can make.
          It helps me to hear and know that life does go on. I take strength from the fact that I do not wish to spend the rest of my life feeling guilty, suicidal, rejected and worthless. I will spend the rest of my life appreciating each day, being grateful for the calm I now have in my life, and for the genuine loving and unconditional acceptance I receive from my own sons and close friend. Perhaps recovery starts the day that we choose to move forward. There are days when we ‘look back’, however it helps to do so when we have sufficient amounts of ’emotional distance’ that affords us a safe vantage point. It helps when I hear a voice that tells me ‘to keep moving forward’. That I deserve to see the world. That I am worth walking alongside. That I have so much to offer life and others who don’t yet know that there is a path out of the hell they find themselves trapped in. Recovery for me is being able to enjoy a walk in nature, to listen to music, share laughter with friends,hold hands with someone I love. Fall into sleep being held safe in the arms of someone who accepts me for who I am. Recovery is shedding a tear on the days I do choose to look back, and I see just how far I have traveled. My sincere hope is that I meet many of you along the future path.

          • Thank you for the wisdom and the beauty of your thoughts on recovery. I wish you ongoing peace and loving support as you continue on your healing path.

    • Pipkins2t

      Hi, I do hope to find some help. Over the past few weeks I have been trying to identify a feeling/thought that is unsettling me. I would appreciate some help in clarifying what it is that my mind/soul, is trying to show me. Whatever it is relates to the terms ‘misplaced loyalty’ and rejection. I think my mind is confused by the difficult emotions I hold relating to being rejected, and accepting the reality that I have come to a point in my life when I am choosing to reject the behaviours of my mother and siblings. Does that make any sense?
      This feels like a bit of a conundrum, with my mind racing between feeling powerful for rejecting abusive behaviours and setting appropriate boundaries, to feeling a like a naughty child who can come out of her room once she accepts how wrong she is and says sorry.
      As a child my mother would dismiss her children in a rage, sending them to their room to ‘think about what they had done’ and when they figured out what it was they had done they were to find her and apologies, explaining their understanding of just how wrong and hurtful they had been. On so many occasions, I would find a rationale for my inexcusable behaviours, only to find that my apology was rejected outright as being false, attention seeking, hollow, selfish and meaningless. My apology was deemed a reflection of just how stupid and selfish I was, as I never gave an answer that told my mother what it was she wanted to hear. To this day I still don’t have a clue as to what she would need to hear. Listening to her children, or my father is certainly not on her agenda.
      So, my own question remains unanswered, what is it that I am trying to find peace with?

      • What a terrible double bind you were in with your mother as a child! I would encourage you to listen to the Feelings you have when you are aware that you are rejecting abusive behavior by your family – i.e. Power. The ‘naughty’ child is who you have to let go of, as it’s a manifestation of the internalized scapegoat.

  • HollowResident

    Thank You for this insight into why I feel the way I do..I have been the scapegoat all my life…the past 15 years has been the hardest..it’s a wound that I think is healed then all of a sudden the bandage gets ripped off and I am back to the emotional bleeding again… I think us scapegoats feel unlovable because we have been made to feel this way..

    • HR – The path to healing is about overcoming the guilt, shame and anxiety that has been imposed on you from an abusive family situation, and internalized so you buy into it. I hope you have good support in your life as you make your way through this pain. I would also recommend you consider getting counselling from a therapist who truly understands family scapegoating.

  • Sarah020562

    Thanks for this article. I am the scapegoat of the family and have been as far back as I can remember. My sister is the golden child and has been treated like a princess since she was born. My brother was a scapegoat too, but not to the extent that I was, he just up and left as a very young teen (8th grade) and lived with one of our neighbors and my Mom was okay with that as he was nothing but trouble as she would state. Our family is and has been messed up for a very long time. My parents were divorced when we were very young and we moved constantly. Never really got the opportunity to make friends until High School and never really had the time with all the stuff that I had to do from a young age. I got blamed and punished for everything including stuff my brother and sister did since I was told that I was old enough to know better and that I should have been watching them. I was cooking, cleaning, ironing, doing the laundry, etc. and even changing my brother when he was a baby. I was only 5. When I was 14 I was told that I needed to get a job. I did and was told that I needed to buy my own stuff and I needed to give money for my upkeep.My sister never had to work and basically did whatever she wanted. She did not even have to clean. I was told that I had to do this stuff because I was the oldest and I needed to be responsible. When I was 16, my sister had developed anorexia. She was so sick that she had to be hospitalized. My Mom quit her job to be with her and to take care of her and never stopped taking care of her to this day. I was pushed aside for as long as I can remember and it was even worse when I sister was sick. I spend weeks at a time by myself with no one. I got great grades in school, but my Mom would go to parent teacher and tell the teachers that I was lazy and to pour on the work. She never liked the way that I dressed or how I wore my hair. She picks at me to this day about those things. I was and still am a neat freak, but she named me “Sloppy Annie” and constantly made fun of me and called me names, no matter what I did. She would just fly off the handle sometimes if I had something out of place and would go into my room and pour out all my dresser drawers in a pile and pull all the stuff out of the closet and I had to put it all back while my sister sat and watched me, most of the time making fun of me, the both of them. It really hurt. I would save my lunch money to buy her something for Christmas, birthday or Mother’s Day and she would just throw it aside and on to my sister’s gifts and she would praise her to the moon and back. She still does that to this day. No matter what I ever did to try and please her, she was always nasty to me. I could write a book on my childhood and my childhood alone and it would be as big as a set of encyclopedias. My brother and I were very close, he recently passed away suddenly. My brother and mother were not talking for two years prior to his death. Well, long story short, my brother accumulated and inherited a lot of money. He left his estate to my dad and mom. My dad recently passed which left my Mom the sole heir. I helped my Mom through the whole process, and I wonder why, I even try because she abuses me constantly. I know nothing accordingly to her. Well, I cleaned out my brother’s house 5 dumpsters full, helped to sell off his 7 cars and 2 motorcycles etc. My sister did nothing. I felt bad for my mom, but I should have felt bad for myself instead. Anyway, my mom gave my sister my brother’s new house that she inherited no money was required. I wanted one of my brother’s cars and she charged me for it, cashed the check and tried to say she gave it to me. Now my Mom has terminal cancer and has me on a guilt trip of a lifetime. She only talks to me when she feels like it, but is in constant contact with my sister daily. In the middle of all this, my mom calls me and tells me that she has settlement on a new house the next week. She never even told me they were looking or that they even thought about moving. I quit my job that I loved to take care of her and they ended up moving away. She moved down the street from my sister. Since all this happened, they have gatherings and stuff and don’t invite me and I confronted them about it and now they invite me, but wait until the day before or day of, knowing that I can’t just drop what I am doing to run 2 hours away. The games that they play. This past Christmas, I was talking to my sister and we were getting together a menu for dinner. I went and bought all the stuff. I get a call a few days later and she said that they wanted something different and it was stuff that they know I can’t eat because of allergies. I went along and took some food with me that I can eat. Anyway, she asked what I was getting my mother and I told her (I was making a quilt with clothing from all the family etc) and asked her for some items that I needed for the present. She said she would get them together. Anyway, she never did. I had to rush around and find something, which I know my Mom wouldn’t like anyway. The last present that my sister gave to my Mom was a quilt with my idea. I wanted to take her down at that moment and I am in no way anything near violent. My husband and daughter both looked at me. I went outside and cried. I put up with this crap for 54 years. I am so tired. I know my Mom is dying, but I think it is best that I stay away for my own sanity. I am so tired of it. They are not answering my phone calls and texts, this is what they do to me all the time and then blame me for not contacting them. Easter is just about upon us, and I told my husband and daughter that I am not answering them, we are having a wonderful holiday right here at home. My family has only been to my home 1 time in the past 7 years. The last 3 has been the excuse that my Mom has cancer and she can’t travel this far, but she was able to go to Disney on Ice with my sister 3 hours away from their house. I want to be normal and have a normal life. I even asked what I did and they act like I am making this stuff up. My daughter keeps telling me not to care, but it is hard. My mother never even as much ever said to me that she loved me at least I can not remember a time. Thankfully, through all this, I became a good mother, very supportive of my daughter, her biggest cheerleader in life. I turned it around and it stopped with me. I knew how it felt and I never would want anyone else to feel what I have felt the majority of my life. I just have to get past what I am feeling. The hurt. Sorry for the book, but this has been therapy for me. Just getting it out to others that understand.

  • Alice

    Thank you for this website and all your good information. I figured out that I have been been recreating the scenario of the scapegoat throughout my life. Sure, it was imprinted into my psyche from a very early age and I played the role well. I have adapted to always being blamed, mistrusted and demonized. I was the parent to a narcissistic mother and bullied by my father.I recreated this by marrying a man who had full custody of 3 troubled boys and they still scapegoat me after 18 years of giving them my heart and soul while raising them. I have always secured employment that was beneath my skill level, because I believe that I am flawed in some way. I currently work in a corporate call center where customers call to vent, blame and berate with all the urine and vinegar of a full fledged bully and now its making me sick with migraine headaches. Bottom line, I am at a cross roads and I need to stop replicating the scapegoat. I am fearful of how to begin, I was never one for baby steps and wonder how dramatic of a change should I make before I start to feel alright with my life

    • Hi Alice – You’ve been through a very tough time indeed with your family. I hope you can find employment that will be easier on you. Everyone goes at their own pace in terms of change, but a good rule of thumb can be that unless you are sure there will be good consequences for any action, to go slow and test the waters for safety and peace of mind as you make headway. Best of luck.

  • Kathy

    There are 5 of us in my family, I am now 60, there are two of us that are scapegoats, me and my oldest brother. I can see us both in your article, not everything applied but a lot hit me dead on and hard. Two of the other children, the babies a boy and girl are the golden kids! The other sister a follower. But I might have misunderstood, but my brother and I were the sensitive and happy kids, we had lots of friends and were loved by most everyone, except our family. We were a lot like my dad, hardworking and usually satisfied with simple things in our lives and made our own happiness, both of us creative and artistic . My mom bullied my dad as she did us. He has been disabled and bedridden most his life and she has resented him. The other three like my mom, show all the signs of a narccisist. They want to control everything and everybody, they undermine us, and try to make us miserable, when my kids would visit them, instead of speaking good things to them about us, they spent every opportunity to tear us down. We gave and gave to them but when they figured out they could not control us, they blocked us and I mean literally. The youngest took power of attorney over my dad and talked my mom into signing not only her property and everything over to her, she secretively took my granddads farm which my brother and I were suppose to recieve one fifth, and wrote my brother and I out of the will. My dad had no knowledge, and my mom told us she was terrified that if she didn’t go along with her she would throw her out of her home. Now the siblings say they paid for it, but we got copies of the will and it was done 10 years before we found out and was done with love no money passed hands. My sister says she is owed the house because she pays my moms bills, but then if they paid for the farm of 90 + acres, and my oldest sister had of paid by the cash inheritance my granddad left my parents which she used to purchase my uncles third of the farm, then I am pretty sure that along with their retirement income would pay for everything! My sister the youngest also blocked our numbers from our parents phone, and she banned us from all family gatherings, when we found out they stole the farm. My daughter graduated in 2012 and sold tickets for a free auto, my sister told her at the time since she was the baby and all the other kids had cars she would give the auto to her if she won, so guess what, she won and instead she sold the car, took a piece of the money and bought a old van to get my parents around. We were told we could all use it to take my parents out, but when my brother and I tried she told us if we left the property she would have us arrested for car theif. When my dad was first disabled by a stroke, he had built a mechanics garage next to the family home prior, my oldest brother worked nights and weekends in the garage servicing people’s autos to pay off the mortgage. My parents told us all he would get the garage and lot for his co tribute on, but after my sister took control she changed it to her name, she gave him 30 days to remove his stuff before she dumped it or sold it and she changed the locks. My mom said she was too afraid of her to speak out! When I was young a family member sexually abused me, I told my mom, she didn’t believe me, months later after it kept happening and I cried each time she took us there to be babysitted, (I was 5) the person tried to do it to my older sister, she told mom and she believed her and we stopped seeing them. It took me 50 years to talk about it. I always thought maybe I was just too imperfect to fit in the family. I never told my other set of grandparents but I think they knew because I wanted to spend de very moment I could on their farm, they never asked me anything, they just loves me and made me feel loved. When I came home my mom would torment me getting the others to tease me that I was granny’s favorite and her baby. I have always had overwhelming desires my whole life to end the pain. I have night mares still . I even tried once in college, and a friend found me, I never spoke of it and hid the scares. I still fight those feelings. My son is now in a relationship with a girl exactly like my younger sister. A narccicist! She ban everyone from his life except my 3 siblings . My youngest sister became her best friends and their top prority is to keep stabbing me my husband and his sister in the back. They have an alliance and we are depressed. My daughter and I have read messages she has written, her own mother told us her daughter was a narcissist just like her father. When her father threw her out she became pregnant, and my husband, daughter and I are not allowed in their lives. With my family they really don’t care for her, they have never before showed an interest in my son until his girlfriend decided he couldn’t live us both. They have even made the statements, they do it to keep me and my brother the scapegoat, they tried to turn my daughter but it did not work, she even took a class in college trying to understand them. They have tried to turn my brothers kids but they also stayed loyal to their dad. I don’t know how to change anything but myself. I failed to mention everything the others do is always wonderful, my sister a veterinarian in town, had many affairs in her husband with married men, she has been living with one of those married men, she is divorced but he is still married, he won’t marry her because he says he won’t be controlled my her, she is now 46, no kids, except the nieces and nephews she try’s to buy or pry from us. I have heard her and my youngest brother call my mother all kinds of disrespectful names, and get by with it all of their lives. I could never do that. My younger brother failed out of college after barely getting into college from his grades in high school, but her married rich….so now is totally the smartest person ever if you ask him or my mom, no matter what they do, they are golden. My oldest brother the other scapegoat, is brilliant, he is an plumbing and draftsman engineer and has a very successful career, the youngest brother a mechanic for tractors, oldest brother has struggled in his marriages, but now has a wonderful filipno spouse which they spread the tumors always was a mailed we bride and continually put her down. Both sisters graduated 1 and 2 in their class and were forever bragged about it, I graduated 12th, never mentioned, both sisters had beautiful weddings with professional flowers and photographers, I got azeala bushes and a friend who snapped photos which were never put in an album like sisters, and have since faded out. There are professional baby photos of them, none of me. I just cannot understand parents who would do this, the list is just way too long to post.

    • Such a painful situation with your family Kathy. But at least you can see reality and make choices based on that. And as you rightly said, especially if you are dealing with abusive narcissistic people, the only person you can change is yourself.

  • Unah

    I am the family scapegoat. My mother has schizophrenia, and my grandparents were deeply ashamed of this. They did not want to deal with the reality of her mental health, so they blamed me. I upset her, wouldn’t over look her, didn’t help her enough, or I was just a difficult child and she had to discipline me. All this blame led to me being blamed for other situations in the family where I was clearly the victim. When a man who married into the family began writing me inappropriate letters I was blamed even though I told the instant it happened. He even tested the waters by writing letters to my whole family where he talked about my “purity and chastity” and other such weird stuff involving my sexuality. My family brushed it off as being good things for people to think about me, and the real problem is that these letters upset my mother. As an adult I had to stop contact with my mother because she wouldn’t stay medicated, and I have young children. I ended contact with the rest of my family when they blamed me for her behavior because I wouldn’t talk to her or let her be around my kids. Being the scapegoat doesn’t really end, we just have to put up a wall between us and them.

    • Unah – Sadly what you describe about your life happens far too often – i.e. not only being blamed for your mother’s problems, but also being made to feel responsible as a child, for the well being of a parent. Clearly this is just wrong, completely overwhelming for a child, and an abdication of responsibility by other adult family members who did not step in to help you or your mother manage.

    • Christine Gates

      This is true, though, I will disagree with you on one point. Being the scapegoat DOES end. I’ve been there, when it felt like it will never end. But, it does END, when you step away from that role completely. It is not just about walling them off and cutting off contact. This happens after you’ve taken the difficult & lengthy steps needed to heal those wounds & attitudes you’ve wrongly believed about yourself, which for most of us, is a lifetime’s worth. That is hardly easy. This ends when you start truly believing the right things about who you are & living your life free in every possible way. (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually etc.) It takes alot of work. but it can be done & I honestly believe that it is worth it. You are worth it. You’ll know you’re getting better when you start honestly believing that too. Someday, I hope you’ll see this. Good luck!

  • Christine Gates

    Yes. I was the responsible child. I am highly intuitive and an empath. When I saw things that were messed up, I talked about them or asked questions. It was clear that my insights were not welcomed by my former family. I learned to feel intense shame for my perceptions even though they were probably spot on. I learned to be silent and afraid. What is worse is that I learned to see things that I knew were wrong and say nothing about them. I often knew bad stuff was being said about me, but just accepted it. What could I do? I cannot tell you how difficult this made my life. I never seemed to be good enough for anyone, at least, in my head. Now, I know that’s not even true and that there is nothing wrong with being perceptive or insightful. Those are good attributes. I went out and tried and succeeded at many things only to be routinely ignored or criticized. Despite my successes, other family members successes were embellished and highlighted over anything I ever did. This was like a slow cancer that ate away at everything I thought and felt about myself and the world at large. These inadequate feelings followed me into relationships, friendships and work experiences. It was truly harmful. I am glad that there is info out there for people like myself. I consider myself fortunate that I escaped this pattern and refused to live another day by it. I have disowned all of those I once called family. I really do not care about them anymore. What they did was messed up and wrong. I don’t expect much to come from this. I truly only hope that my life will be more of a relief without their oppressive bullying and abuse. It’s taken me a long time, but it has gotten better. Imagine trying to stand up to dozens of family members who have sort of accepted that you are bad just because a parent decided that you would be that one kid. It’s just awful. Even though this has peppered my life with really negative experiences that I wish I could take away, I do feel fortunate to be free. I am alot better at sticking up for myself and for being productive. I speak up when I see things that aren’t right or important. I also give credit where and when it is due. But, I will not take the blame for things I haven’t done anymore. It has been a really tough process, but I’m glad I came through it. It is truly an insidious dynamic to harm a child in this way. It sets that kid up for so much heartbreak. Anyway, today I am just glad to be enlightened. And if anything, I’m here to say that is you scapegoat a member of your family or someone else, that you are a bully and that you are abusive. To refuse to help them or to turn a blind eye makes you a part of the problem. If that’s you, then you need to own that. If you are scapegoated, know that I know how truly brutal that lifestyle can be especially when your actual livelihood depends on getting along with your family. I can only suggest that you try to find outside support and to do what you can to make it on your own. It can happen. It happened to me and I’m really glad to say that I won’t ever return to that nightmare.

    • Some great advice and wisdom here Christine. So sorry you had to learn this the hard way, but I think others will find your story inspirational.

  • Kylie Hansard

    I’ve had to deal with this exact issue in my family. I never played victim or felt sorry for myself (I think the assumption that scapegoats will do this is slightly off- it varies from person to person… and telling people I didn’t deserve the abuse was often falsely construed as “victimhood” since they saw nothing wrong with their actions.), just worked really hard to get out of it. Unfortunately, it did effect my relationships bc I do tend to come off as cold and don’t trust easily. My family still does it. My father was abusive, bi-polar, my mother complacent, my grandmother an alcoholic who was prone to abuse if you exposed the alcohol abuse. It was toxic because they each had something to hide and when the unacceptable behavior was pointed out, they often leaned on calling me delusional or accusing me of having mental issues “if that’s what (I) believed”. My father still won’t admit to what he’d done and, as far as I know, has lived out of homeless shelters and hotels since my parents split. His disorders finally caught up to him. He used to tell people I lied to cover it and even though it is clear to everyone that he was a mentally unwell, abusive and dishonest- I still have to deal with a stigma people should have realized, at this point, was based on something false. My grandmother has finally admitted to her alcohol issues but still says that I had made false accusations in regards to her abuse- even when she admits it as true, as though she has said it so many times that she doesn’t even realize one sentence contradicts the other… if you were an alcoholic, the accusations weren’t false…(??)… My mother and sisters aren’t as bad but tend to look the other way and carry on the idea that I was always wrong, that I’m everything they said in the past. I just point out my successes and tell them that, “obviously” , they are incorrect. I have no time for it. It makes me feel bad bc I feel alone in not having a loving family but, oh well- it is what it is…

  • I agree Christine. No matter how difficult someone’s past might be, they have no excuse to abuse another and are choosing to scapegoat. This is particularly harmful when parents scapegoat their children, who are dependent on them for their physical and emotional survival. Sounds like the children you teach are lucky to have someone as sensitive and aware as you appear to be.

    • Christine Gates

      True.

  • Great. Onward and upward may you sail high!

  • Pipkins2t

    Thank you Christine, your words ring true and have given me a renewed sense of hope and determination !

    • Christine Gates

      Wow. Well, thank you for the compliment. I’m happy to give you hope.

  • lynette mayo

    My sister, 6 yrs. my junior, often attacks me, indirectly through my guy Gary, sending him emails l am blaspheming our mother? She is in 100% denial of our mother being a psychopath, l had no choice, been in therapy most of my adult life, ll was 6 yrs. ahead of her in the abuse. How to stop a sister doing this and scapegoating me to the whole family, making me the sick one?

    • You probably can’t stop your sister, but I’d encourage you to think about what limits you can set that will make it harder for her to intrude on your life (e.g. blocking her wherever you can – phone, emails (Google “canned email responses”)

      • lynette mayo

        Thanks, l did. Told her l can’t do this anymore, l feel your not ready for a relationship ! its tough, when you have done therapy for many years and your family is in the dark ages and very emotionally repressed about it, l have had to let them all go, they are English, therapy ?? not in their culture.

    • Christine Gates

      I’ve been through this. She does that because the truth threatens her. Whether it’s her job, friends, reputation or relationships, she has built them, in part, based on allowing you to be the scapegoat. Maybe the only way she thinks she can succeed is by making herself look great while making you look bad. And rightfully, she is concerned that her stock will fall when people figure this out.

      Let her stock fall. Tell the truth. She’ll have to deal with the consequences of her own actions while you keep living your life. When people hear about this, they won’t like her as much. They shouldn’t.

      Lies she has spun and actions that she is guilty of will come back to her. Part of treating you like the scapegoat, was allowing you to be blamed for everything including things that she has done. That is very very toxic.

      I would let Gary know in no uncertain terms that your sister is a troublemaker and has an investment in making you look like the bad guy. Ask him not to associate with her.

      If he chooses to associate with her, despite your assertion, you need to let him go. Do not get defensive. Just explain to him that he either supports you 100% or not. This means not participating in any communications from your sister or relatives at all. If/when she changes her tune, you can reassess the situation.

      Lastly, you do not want to get involved with a guy who will take part in this toxic behavior anyway. You need a guy who clearly understands and respects the boundaries that you must enforce with your family.

      I’ve left people behind who have done this to me. They probably didn’t think I knew or owuld find out, but I eventually did. That is why alot of people aren’t in my life anymore. Remember: the truth always comes out.

      I also strongly agree with the advice below about limits.

  • Sharon

    Boy have I played my role well! With four other siblings, I have been the sole caretaker of my dysfunctional aging parents. I held my abusive step-father’s hand as he took his last breath in a nursing home, alongside my mother. I have been there every step of the way for the parent’s who were never there for me and I have fussed and fought with my siblings to garner an equal share of responsibility from them…to no avail, as they hold steadfast to their roles as well. I have come to realize that being the scapegoat, the fixer, the responsible one, has been a futile role. As adults, the five of us siblings couldn’t be more disconnected from each other now BUT our parent’s still had/have me by their side! There’s something so off about that but I can’t seem to just walk away from it all. I still long for compassion and love and forgiveness and to mend as a family. Am I a hopeless scapegoat?!

  • Happy to post your comment Susie Q. Just a gentle reminder – For future ease of reading, please write shorter comments and break into paragraphs. That way you can make sure that people will be more able and inclined to read through to the end. Thanks!

  • POSTING GUIDELINES – Constructive comments are most welcome. For ease of reading, if you want to submit a long comment, then please break it into paragraphs. That way others will be encouraged to read all your valuable thoughts and interact with you more easily. Thanks for your understanding!

  • Please share your stories of what you have done to recover from the pain of family scapegoating.

    • Pipkins2t

      Personally, I am working on building a sense of worth that I feel. Intellectually I can compile a list of my positive personality traits and accomplishments. How do I feel ? I feel empty. I was defined by what I was, not by who I am. Who am I? I am not too sure. However, I do know that I am worth getting to know and for now that is my path of recovery.

      • Thank you. You are already well on your way, and you will get there.

      • suzie q

        Our parents were supposed to raise us and help us build our self esteem-instead they’ve torn it down and make you question if you are even someone worthy of love-I too, feel empty, lost-I’m glad you are building on a sense of worth-and can focus on your positive traits-I hope you have people outside of your family who love you and have your back-I am all I got right now-I have cousins, but I can’t really let them know what’s totally going on-because it’s just so crazy-they have an idea-but the depth of it-this grief thing is really hard-especially since I still live with my folks-it’s definitely initiative to get out and find myself, but wow, I feel like they’ve destroyed any chance of being somebody.I wish you all the happiness and for positive people to flock to you and help you embrace who you are! May your soul be at peace- 🙂

        • Suzie Q – I’d recommend that you find a counsellor who understand these kinds of bullying family dynamics as it sounds like you could really use some additional support right now.

          • suzie q

            I have a therapist, however sometimes it’s just as helpful to read my fellow scapegoats’ experiences, because sometimes a therapist can only do so much for you. I appreciate mine, but I know, she can’t climb out of my hell for me, I have to do that for myself. Very grateful for everyone sharing their experiences-it’s super validating and I think it will help me heal-I exercise as well-but nothing is a cure all unfortunately-Thanks for looking out 🙂

  • JM

    This is a great article. I have greatly appreciated it’s thoughtful insight into the disfunctional family.

    It has taken me 30 years to understand that I am not the reason for everyone’s suffering. That my abuser, not me is solely responsible for the destruction and pain.

    I’ve spent most of my life being sorry for everything, to include breathing and chewing to loudly. I even apologized for laughing, after all, who was I to deserve to be happy.

    I cut ties last year when my daughter began to say sorry and take blame for things that were not her fault, clearly a habit learned from watching me.

    Now my abusers have resorted to triangulation and I realize that deeper cuts will have to be made.

    I know that I’m on the path to recovery, I just pray that I can undo what was already starting to set in on my daughter.

    • You’ve had to make a tough but important decision for yourself and your daughter JM. Sounds like you’ve got a very good head on your shoulders. Here’s the link to my article on going No Contact which I hope you will find helpful: http://glynissherwood.com/no-contact-the-scapegoats-last-resort/

      • JM

        I’ve also decided to start blogging as a way to purge myself of all the ugly lies placed upon me by my family. I would love to link back to your article as it has been extremely informative. Please let me know if you would be ok with this. Thank you.

    • Christine Gates

      That’s awesome that your daughter has been your reason to change. You obviously want better things for her.

  • suzie q

    I asked my dad why he said I yell at my mom when she shows love and I realized it was one incident where my legs were hurting (low vitamin D), she interrupted her silent treatment to acknowledge me, then go back to ignoring me-ask me what’s going on-ignore me-then her kids would call on the phone the next day and she’d be sooooo peppy and loving! That is like a dagger to your heart-why can’t I be loved? Why do you give conditional love to me-why am I not good enough for you-why do I give you permission to pick me up and put me down when you want? When these things happen, it makes you lash out-my dad can’t see that because he’s living in a fantasy world.

    The price you must pay to live in reality-I ask my mom, why can’t you love me? What did I do? Why must I pay for speaking up regarding these injustices? Even when you plead with the woman, it makes her ignore you even more or deny-Should never have to be made to feel this way, even if this is my mom-she doesn’t get a free pass-I think this is why she hates me, because I tell her that she doesn’t get a free pass and I hold her accountable for treating me like she does.

    • Scapegoating family members often push back when you try and hold them accountable. It’s a negative defense that wards off truth and perpetuates abuse.

  • Cece

    This article has helped me to realise a lot of things, thank you so much for writing! I no longer have contact with my mother, but I still feel like the golden child and the rest of my family don’t seem to know how to treat me any differently to their scapegoat. I’m not really sure where to go from here to heal from my growing up, I’m 21 now, living on my own away from family and recovering from a heroin addiction. I want to start healing my mental health, if anyone has any idea where to go from here, how to salvage a relationship with the ‘golden child’ if possible without jealousy and resentment and still being treated like the scapegoat getting in the way, or any other advice I’d really appreciate it.

    • Hi Cece – Thank you for your positive feedback – glad the article was clarifying for you. You have been through a lot for a very young person, and it sounds like you are determined to get back on your feet. Good for you. Unfortunately family members who buy into the scapegoat dynamic are unlikely to change, and the ‘golden child’ is in a privileged position that they may not want to give up. I recommend you keep the focus on protecting yourself and your recovery, which may involve limiting contact with family members unless they can behave respectfully. Also working with a therapist who has a background in family abuse and addiction recovery could be helpful as well. Best of luck to you!

    • Christine Gates

      Good luck Cece.

  • Chunk it down. If you find someone you like, test the waters in a small way to see if you can trust them. If that works, it give you a green light to see if the friendship can be deepened. I wish you peace and the greatest success as you move towards independence, and the love and support you deserve.

    • Kira

      Thankyou for this article! I posted a lengthy testimony lol about my toxic family. This is helpful beyond! Blessings to you❤✌

      • Thank you Kira. Hope you have support as you navigate creating healthy distance from abusive family members.

        • Kira

          My husband is like my best friend. He’s witnessed how toxic my family is and sticks by me 100%

          • Great news!

          • Christine Gates

            Awesome! Good to know there are honorable men out there.

    • Christine Gates

      Great advice! Going slow is the way.

  • Kira

    Hi! This is my life. I literally just cut off my mother, 3 brothers and my sister like 2 days ago. I can not take this anymore because it is effecting my adulthood. My mom was verbally and physically abusive coming up as a teen. She became a monster when I was 12 and she’s still that same monster til this day,only difference is she smiles and remains very phony in my face but my sister tells me she talks the coldest crap about me behind my back. My mother has done so much damage to my mind that I’m now in my early 30’s still trying to put the pieces together of my mind. She tells lies about me and she doesn’t like her grandchildren. She makes up excuses so they won’t spend the night with her and she’s resentful of my marraige. I let her in sometimes to my problems giving her a chance to be a “that” mom, but the moment I can’t do something for her she bashes me to my siblings or doesn’t talk to me at all for about a week or so. I have lashed out at her for how she talks about me and seem as if she doesn’t want to be a grandmother and she told me not to contact her ever again. So I didn’t. But she hits my husband up on Facebook telling him how much she misses me and the girls. This time I had not spoken to her in over a year. So I felt conviction in my heart to apologize and once again I reconcile. Well I’m done, with all of them. My story is mad long. Shes labeled me a whore, ugly, b**ch, told me to go to h3ll, a rogue, and everything else. She said all I ever will be is a whore. She rewrites the past. She says that I was throwing myself at my grandmother for love when my kids and I went to live with her and she kept saying that,until one day I just couldnt take it and reminded her that she put the kids and I out on the streets in the middle if the night. She told me to get my **** and leave. We had got into an argument that night and I kept bringing up real facts and asked why is she like this. She went ballistic. Shes turned my siblings against me. Even my sister who is getting abused by her. She has manipulated my sister into believing its all my fault, and Im the bad guy. My mother has even used church against me. I use to run away to church faithfully to get away from her. My little brother wanted to go but I’d always throw a fit so one day she told she let’s me go to church and that it’s a priveledge to go to church with a nasty scowl on her face. I was 15. She said I don’t go to church until she says so. So she took away my going to church for like 2 Sundays. I begged her to let me go to church. I use to want her dead. But now it is Christ that allows me to walk away from them all, still loving them and praying for them. I don’t want my husband and children nowhere near them. Until she gets her mind and heart right, my family will not be coming around. I had been looking this topic up so that I may have some insight and also therapy. It’s so good to know we are not alone. God bless ❤✌

    • Christine Gates

      Good luck. It will get better. Expect that your life will dramatically change after you follow through with wanting a healthier lifestyle. You’ll need to learn to just be and exist with others without that toxic garbage following you around. It takes a while, alot of hard work and dedication, but you can get there if you really want it.

  • Hopefull

    Hi Christie,

    Do you have any advice of letting go?

    I have a loving mother who unfortunally had to raise three children by herself. Allways working and trying her best to give us what we need…Not being the richest family, I allways tries to be as less as a burden to her.

    I have two elder sisters; one is 10 years my elder and the other 7 years. I allways listened to them and did everything they wanted, but was allways blames for everything. My sister had troubles in her relationship, she would push me from the stairs or hit my head against the table, or just insult me and bully me… My other sister blamed me of having it easier???

    Anyway as I was growing up and becoming my own person, I would started realising that I can not allways drop everything for them. what I normally did. But when I did that, they would team up – say hurtfull things and not talk to me for weeks – untill they needed something and then be nice again. or they when they had a fight between temselves, all of a sudden they were nice to me.

    It’s hard to explain all the things they did/said- but one day I had enough. I would let them hurt me so bad, and was allways sillent.

    My mom was like – don’t respond: two wrongs, does’nt make a right…

    So I kept quiet and tries everything in my power to please them. Untill i could’nt anymore. I had to say something to the hurtfull things they would say. But for this I had to gather all my courrage and scream things for them to stop. they would just laugh in my face. Untill I learned to hold a mirror in front of them- saying things about their lives and then they would stop (stop speaking to me, untill I apologised).

    Now I still have this, the moment i feel (think) someone will hurt me I push them away, not giving them the possibility to hurt me. I will never let anyone break me down as my sisters have done.

    I allways try to please people, it’s the only thing I know to do – ans allways put myself aside…but that would draw the wrong people… i would allways fall in the same cylce, trying to hard to please people and they would take me for granted…

    Anyway two years ago i broke teh relationship with my siters – but people who know my sisters- they act as if I am such a bad person… They don’t understand. I tried to explain to some, but then they are like – okay that is not correct, but to break with them.

    They just don’t understand…

    It is really hard for me to have a normal relationship with others, because I am allways trying to protect myself from being hurt. I became really defensive and do not know how to get rid of it.

    It is hard on my mother – she wants her 3 children to get a long – but she understands – she says that my sisters like to blame me for everything: when she was at my sisters 3 weeks ago, my sister stained was in a hurry and stained her couch – when she came back she blamed me – when my mom said: you haven’t seen her in 2 years – my sister said it’s because of all the stress i give to her??? seriously???

    One day ( i think two months ago)my eldest sister came to my mother’s house when i was there, started an argument and said that she never understood why my mother had to have a 3rd child – they where fine with the two of them and never asked for me.

    uchh i can go on and on… I feel that I am their escapegoat.

    my big scare is that i do not know how to function with other people. allways scared to be verbally abused – and allways on the defense. I am very sensitive

    HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO BREAK FREE OF THIS. But reading your comment does give me the feeling that it is possible, just don’t know how you did it.

    • Hi Hopeful – Please read my article on going No Contact for advice on letting go: http://glynissherwood.com/no-contact-the-scapegoats-last-resort/

    • Christine Gates

      You have to look inside yourself and find the strength to do what needs to be done. No one else can do it for you. Find a faith and lean on that. Ask for what you need and work towards it. Find help and support from good, nurturing people. Also, try what Glynis suggests below.

  • Christine Gates

    Yes. It is a horrible feeling when treated like you do not matter. It is absolutely abusive. Try to start treating yourself like you are all of these things: important, adequate, lovable & joyous. Trust me, it helps. My very first boyfriend nicknamed me butterfly and ironically, he never met my family. My best boyfriends never met them. I think he knew some of what was going on. I would always ask him what he meant. Now, I know. I have started to collect butterflies. Every time I look at them, I am reminded of the process. You may have been treated like a terrible and ugly caterpillar, but eventually, one day, you will become a beautiful butterfly with wings.

  • Hi Valkirey – I suggest you read my article on going No Contact for advice on how to distance from abusive family members: http://glynissherwood.com/no-contact-the-scapegoats-last-resort/ Distancing is necessary in order to regain your psychological well being. Very few psychotherapists are as unethical as the person you were dealing with. However, for a therapist to be effective, they need to understand abusive family dynamics and never collude with abusers. I wish you the best of luck getting free.

  • Christine Gates

    I’ve been through alot of the same. I have just gotten to the point in my life where I can remain in the company of other women w/out issues cropping up, whether inadvertently by me or b/c they aren’t the kind of females I need to spend my time with b/c they are toxic. Because of how I was raised, being friends with women was always something I associated with threat. My father prized me, so most women in my family outright hated me for the attention he gave to me. The abusive behavior followed with females getting angry when men looked my way or if people liked me more than them. I finally shut down out of fear. I became really responsive to women not liking me near their men and getting really mad at me for being attractive. I avoided females b/c I thought they were all screwed up. I tried hanging out w/ women who liked women thinking that they would be nicer or more protective. But, I learned it really didn’t matter. I was terrified to go after the guys who liked me b/c of how certain women would react. I have been able to branch out and find nice, accepting females who aren’t crazy and it’s been nice. There aren’t many out there, but healing actually brings them to your life. There are women out there who are supportive, not backstabbers and understanding.

  • Christine Gates

    I was a very responsible child. I am also highly intuitive and an empath. I didn’t learn this until years ago, but I wish I’d known this when I was younger. Whenever I got a feeling, it was demeaned.

    As a child, I was afriad to go to sleep because I had very vivid dreams that terrified me. I was alone at night consistently scared. No one in my family did anything to assist me and I suffered in silence. Today, I still have very very vivid dreams, but I know it is just part of who I am. As a child, I did not know how to process this. Even as an adult, it is still hard.

    I remember my mother did absolutely nothing to defend me. The rest of my family did the same. I think that because I am so sensitive that certain things made it worse. I have a caffeine allergy, for example.

    I was first told by a social worker when I was 20 that I was the scapegoat, but I really didn’t know what that meant. I would, in fact, like to break that down.

    This is what being a scapegoat was like for me:

    -My feelings, thoughts and needs were ignored to tend to other sibling’s and relative’s needs.

    -My thoughts and feelings were discounted and criticized nearly all of them time.

    -I was made to participate in activities that I really didn’t excel at for the convenience to another.

    -My natural talents were ignored and not invested in.

    -What went for other family members did not apply to me. For example, in college, I was made to stay close to home while everyone else could go away. They were allowed to work and have cars; I was not.

    -I was singled out, made fun of and judged from nearly everything from my looks, to my tastes to my friendships and boyfriends

    -I was never given credit for anything I did well. If I ever made a mistake, it was all my family could talk about. Therefore, I had such an intense fear of doing anything wrong because I knew that it would be publicized and used a source to humiliate me.

    -Their issues & downfalls were never openly discussed. If I ever attempted to bring up their issues, I was threatened and/or abused.

    -They tried to control my life from picking my profession to whom I should to marry.

    I did agree to a marriage, by in large, because of the pressure from them. They reassured me that I could not make it on my own, that I needed a man to take care of me and that I was better off, even though, I did not love him. I did divorce him and was met with fury and an actual pulling out of support from my relatives. I remember being really really scared, at that point, because if anything bad happened, I would not have anyone to lean on.

    Later, In one month. I totaled my car on my way to a second job & I was assaulted. I was unbelievably traumatized. I did ask for help with the car & my mother refused. My uncle stepped in. I knew my family would likely react the same way in regards to the attack. They had always blamed me for everything and that was just one thing I could not handle. I could hear them telling me it was b/c I had divorced my husband or telling me that I really couldn’t take care of myself. Therefore, the assault killed me inside & I lost everything. No one in my family offered to help me except for one person. She let me stay with her for one month until even she turned on me. Every single relative I had at that time owned a couch or had an extra room. Every door was literally slammed in my face. It was brutal.

    I am ok now. I have recovered. Once I was ok enough, I let each and every relative go and even some friends too. I had to.

    To top it all off, after I moved, I nearly died. No one called me. No one visited. They simply solidified their absolutely heartless characters. My sister’s dog dying and ice bucket challenges were more important.

    I have two jobs, one as a teacher. Times are tough. They have been incredibly tough these last few years. Money is tight. I lost my car a few years ago, but a kind-hearted friend helped me get it back. I still have yet to repay him.

    Being raised as a scapegoat meant that I somehow had to make my relatives abusing me ok in order to survive. Now, I can tell myself the truth about it. It was not ok.

    There is something seriously wrong with people who treat other human beings in this way.

    I hope, in all sincerity, that they all get some help. Even then, we still won’t hang out. This will give them a tiny shot at being decent human beings for what is rest of their horribly mean and spiteful lives. They ought to try it. I’ve been living my life this way for forever.

    I do believe that my future will be bright in spite of all of this. I do truly believe that one day I will have an amazing family and I suppose that is poetic justice.

    Thank you for hearing my story & for all of the great and pracitcal advice.

    Sincerely.