30 thoughts on “16 Experiences Common to Adult Survivors of Family Scapegoating Abuse

  • February 7, 2020 at 9:29 am

    I am the quintessential scapegoat. I had no idea such an animal existed. I just thought they didn’t like me. I was right. They don’t like me. But I was wrong, too. It’s not me who something is wrong with. It’s not me who is the troublemaker, the liar, the one who couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, but did. The one who raced through the 3rd grade at 6 years old, and whose best friend in the bitter, icy, freezing Illinois winter, was a tree where I hid, stood alone, hugged a tree, and pretended that I wasn’t terrified of the monster that I suspected I must be. The world hated me. I hated me. I did not hate them. Why? I was only a very little girl, but I knew that for all of my life I would be just exactly as I was at that moment, standing cold and alone and friendless, begging a tree to be my friend, and believing it could be so, yes, I knew in my every fiber that this was my future. The lonely and long decades stretched endlessly before me, and cries of anguish welled up and roiled with sickening certainty through the corridors of my already a writer’s little brain, I was going to stand alone and despised for the rest of my life, and there was no one, not now, not yesterday, and most certainly not twenty years down the road who was ever, could ever, help me. The monster inside me would see to that. It has. I am the most unlikely person in these United States of America ,that it would be your misfortune to meet.

    • February 7, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Your description of the inner realities common to those of use who are in the ‘family scapegoat’ role is poetic, poignant, and powerful. I was resonating strongly with all you wrote: My ‘best friend’ as a child was also a tree – a beautiful Willow tree that my mother one day chopped down with an axe as the roots were interfering with the plumbing pipes. I remember screaming and begging for her to stop, crying and protesting, but the axe kept swinging, my mother’s face red and determined; to me, it felt like a soul homicide – which in a sense, it was. What a perfect analogy for the scapegoat’s effect on the family system – our roots, our truth, threatening the system’s dysfunctional ‘workings’.

      Many years later, a poet friend of mine told me that the Willow tree is a symbol for poetry. May your roots continue to spread through your writing and your unique vision, Dusty Rose.

  • February 9, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Reading this feels like you stepped into my life from childhood. I have determined it is better for me to stay as far away from my sister and parents for my own protection. I remember in high school my dad punched me and blacked my eye. My aunt and uncle came over later that evening and when I told my aunt what happened. My mom explained that I deserved it because I didnt come home from babysitting on time.
    I can’t stand to listen to people argue or raise voices as I still feel it is my fault. Continue to work on my own issues so I can be healthy

    • February 10, 2020 at 6:08 pm

      You were definitely a victim of abuse as a child – Did anyone notice? Did your teacher(s) at school notice? Child Protective Services should have been notified (if you are in the United States). If you are still being scapegoated, then you are still being abused, and so I am glad to hear that you are staying far away from those family members who continue to mentally and emotionally abuse you. I encourage you to join our peer-support recovery group as well for added support (link in my profile at bottom of the post).

  • February 9, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    I was my sick mother’s personal, family scapegoat. She murdered herself when I was a senior in high school, 1967. Good riddance.

    • February 10, 2020 at 6:11 pm

      Your feelings are understandable, Carol. I am very sorry to hear of the abuse you experienced growing up and hope you have found resources for healing and recovery since your mother’s suicide.

  • February 10, 2020 at 9:23 am

    Wow, I relate to everything in this article. My current therapist even said all of those statements, and keeps trying to get me to” reach out” to family members, and keep trying! I have in the past and have been met with stinging responses. She says I should keep trying. I’m done. I’m almost 57, have been to therapy off and on since 18, and nothing has helped. I now feel like I have another therapist who just doesn’t get it. I wonder if I’ll ever get relief.

    • February 10, 2020 at 6:15 pm

      Hi Jill, most therapists get little to no training on family scapegoat abuse. This is one of the reasons I have been researching it so extensively and created the term, ‘Family Scapegoat Abuse’ (FSA) so as to give language to the experience of the ‘family scapegoat’ to aid discussion and understanding. If you haven’t already bought my eBook that has the FSA self-test in it, you might wish to do so (link to the eBook is in my profile at the bottom of this post). You could then go over the questions and your answers with your therapist; perhaps that will provide her with the means to better understand your experience. I also do international online (video) scapegoat recovery life coaching. If you want to be added to my waiting list you may let me know at scapegoatrecovery@gmail.com.

  • February 15, 2020 at 10:15 am

    This week was the 12th year avoiding my father (just one or two phone calls per year max). Being in my 30s I thought it might just be long enough and maybe there is something wrong with me (12 years! That’s almost half of my life). 5 min later I was remembering many failed approaches I took during this time to work things out. It has been 12 years running away from constant blaming about things that are definitely not my fault and everyone around asking me to cool down and work things out like if I was feeling bad about or worried about this but actually it has been a great joyfully life growing time. Therefore, I knew I shouldn’t feel bad but I couldn’t explain why. I was blaming my self for failing to solve things out with my father just as I remembered how bad I felt after each failed approach I have taken in recent years.

    I felt blamed each time we talked and that was the key to understand that it is not my fault. I mean, your son rejects you 12 years and you still have some blame saved for his next phone call? Even subtle blames like “we miss you so much and you never visit” like denying whatever happened to get into this situation.

    I think I get the symptom you listed of overreacting when someone lies or doesn’t take responsibility and blames me, specially at work. Now I have something to improve myself.

    Great article!

    • February 15, 2020 at 12:54 pm

      Hi Alfred, yes, this is very common – we who are scapegoated (which is a form of psycho-emotional / systemic abuse) are made to feel solely responsible for the quality of our family relationships. We are made to feel the shame that really belongs to those that treated us in an abusive manner. To become healthy, we often must limit or end contact with family due to the cancerous nature of the ‘scapegoat story’ lens we are viewed through by our family-of-origin, which spreads to siblings, cousins,in-laws, etc.

      As you found, if we return to the family in a healthier way – with boundaries, and with the understanding we will no longer tolerate abuse or blatantly disrespectful / inappropriate behavior – we are ‘shamed and blamed’ again (this is because an unhealthy, dysfunctional system cannot tolerate healthy, functional behavior).

      I am glad to hear you are working your way out of the maze of dysfunctional family dynamics – Feel free to join our peer-support scapegoat recovery group on facebook (link to it in my profile at the bottom of this post, along with my eBook on family scapegoat abuse, which you also might benefit from reading).

  • April 9, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    I was my family scapegoat and I know how ‘alienating’ it is. It was very painful to go to my mother’s house, which she shared with my abusive stepfather, her golden child stepdaughter (lived with my mom for the last 40 years of my mom’s life), and her golden child son (my half-brother who I was raised with, who lived with my mom for the last 10 years of my mom’s life). Every time that I went to see my mom, I knew that when I left they would all be gossiping about me and judging everything that I said or did while I was there… and then some!
    Social distancing is a way of life for many of us. When the people that are your family… that you love the most in the world and who are supposed to love you, stab you in the back every time you turn around… staying alone is ‘staying safe’.
    Me and my 2 dogs are fine and happy!

    • April 9, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      ‘Alienating’ is the perfect word, Beth. Scapegoated adults often feel like a ‘stranger in a strange land’ when engaging with their family-of-origin -the very people they should feel most loved by and safe with. I also notice that many scapegoated adults find joy in their animal / pet connections, as well as connecting with nature. The word ‘safe’ comes up a lot when I am working with scapegoated clients as well. It is a tragedy that for so many of those who suffer from family scapegoat abuse, ‘family’ is not a ‘soft place to land’ – a place where one can feel safe, but a minefield that can cause harm and often must be avoided. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • May 12, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    My scapegoated husband’s father died last week at 87. My husband was not asked to reconcile with his father which was possible as the other siblings were at his deathbed including his sister on FaceTime from another state. Our daughter was the one called to inform us he was in the hospital. His sister told her to tell her dad “for whatever it’s worth”. This was the ultimate violation. I care and hurt more than my husband who went no contact 10 years ago after trying to make amends for an argument a couple years earlier. While reading the obituary He is described as loving his family and the joy of being married 64 years to his wife. She is right up the street and no contact with my husband. There are 4 siblings no contact either.

    • May 12, 2020 at 9:06 pm

      This is absolutely heartbreaking to read, Lisa. I never fail to be amazed at the tragic nature of family scapegoating dynamics, and the terrible damage inflicted on the targeted family member (your husband,in this case). From your comment it sounds like your husband may have accepted these painful realities; I am glad you can support him and that you understand and empathize with his pain – so many scapegoated adults feel so very isolated and alone. I am glad you have each other.

  • June 24, 2020 at 2:20 am

    As I read this, I was shocked at how you knew my life!
    This is such a revelation for me, but also a great sadness that I didn’t realise this before. MY older sister scapegoated me from the time we were little and other family members always believed her story. She was incredibly cruel to me physically and mentally, but the family decided I was the problem and I was told I was a ‘strange child/too emotional/would never be anything/stupid. I cried when I read this article because it was as if someone, after all these years, could see me and I’m 66. I don’t have a relationship with my sister, but she still manipulates the family and still has some of them, luckily not all, on her side. My only safe place growing up was to be who they thought I was (an idiot) and to stay in the background. Thanks you for this and I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have someone open the door for me. Bless you.

    • June 24, 2020 at 9:22 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to write and share your experience of reading my ’16 experiences’ article, Christine – Awareness is the first step toward deep healing. It is my hope that as your understanding about what happened to you via family scapegoating abuse grows, your heart and mind will become just a little bit lighter. It is never too late to recover, and I do wish you well on your journey.

  • July 9, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    I wish more therapists had your insight. Something I have found is that even when you manage to break away you take your head with you and their negative projections in there and keep on abusing yourself. I once went to CBT where the therapist noted down all the beliefs she reckoned I had about myself, ‘I don’t matter’ etc. and walked around after me saying all these unkind things to me that were my beliefs, but then was surprised I didn’t get angry at someone else saying them. What I realised from that whether it was her intention or not was that I was so used to hearing the unfair criticism that I didn’t even notice it and it was a step towards realising I had been emotionally abused by my family even though it really should have been obvious. It’s so hard to see it when it’s your own family and it’s all you know. In some ways it was less painful to believe their hurtful words than to believe they would do that to me, but I have had to learn compassion around this as the discovery of the abuse is a trauma in itself and every new relationship opens old wounds. I do believe this is generational as well… so terrified of passing things on to any potential future children even if/when I finally heal!

    • July 9, 2020 at 11:47 pm

      Leona, your observations are very poignant as well as pointed. In my clinical opinion, family scapegoating abuse is indeed one of the most insidious and damaging forms of child abuse, and far more education is needed within the mental health field so clinicians understand how to recognize FSA and CPTSD symptoms as well as how to effectively treat their client. Healing is possible, but not easy, and it takes time, dedication, and effort, as well as the right kind of support. I’m glad you found my blog; if you haven’t taken a look at my introductory eBook on FSA yet, you might want to. The link to it is in my profile, below. I wish you the very best, Rebecca

  • July 21, 2020 at 11:09 am

    I had to cut off contact with my mother, sisters and brother…which ended up including my 3 nephews because no matter what I did they simply did not like me. My mother never liked me and constantly ridiculed and belittled me when I was younger which escalated into full scale physical and sexual abuse when I reached adolescence and into my adult years. My dad abandoned me when my parents divorced in 1980. Although we have a pretty good relationship now.
    I had my first suicide attempt at 12 years old and the most serious one when I was 18. After my first daughter was born, my mother told me she hoped my daughter tried to kill herself one day so that I would know how it felt.
    My family insists on keeping in touch with my daughters and they always make sure to tell them how awful their mother is for ignoring her family and other wrongs I have committed. My daughters – 20 and 15 will sometimes berate me for “holding grudges” and tell me that it couldn’t have been that bad or that I’m “playing the victim”. My younger daughter openly scoffed when I tried to explain why I can’t be around them. And neither of them seem to believe the stories from my childhood because they do sound outlandish.
    I have never been able to have a loving partner. Every one of them has been abusive and they are usually alcoholics. I myself went into AA from 2007 to 2015, but stopped going and started drinking again because of an abusive relationship I got into where I got extremely co-dependent. I refuse to go back into AA because I will be expected to write a resentment inventory and then go to my family members and make amends for “my part” in the bad relationship.
    I have been to every kind of therapist and been on pretty much every anti-depressant and anti-anxiety med out there starting at the age of 15. The meds I’m on now at least keep me from killing myself, but that’s about all they do.
    I have never had the courage or self-esteem to follow my dreams even though I was a really smart and creative kid.
    I know deep in my heart that I will never be able to have a relationship and will grow old alone. The self-loathing is just too great for me to find a good partner.
    Glad to have found this article though…I wasn’t imagining the abuse and I’m not heartless for walking away from my family. At least I know that to be true now. Thank you.

    • July 22, 2020 at 12:15 am

      Amy, your story is truly heartbreaking. I imagine many who read my blog on FSA recovery can relate to some or much of the painful incidents and experiences that you share. I understand it can feel like recovering from this type of systemic (family) abuse is next to impossible, but my FSA practice (and my own journey of healing from FSA) say otherwise. I do hope you visit my website and take a look at my resources there. You’ll find the link in my profile below. Also, if you haven’t read my latest article addressing recovery specifically, I’m including the link for you here. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/scapegoat-recovery/2020/07/how-scapegoating-is-the-promotion-of-a-false-family-narrative/

    • July 23, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      Thank you for leaving such a rich and full comment, Amy. Given most FSA victims experience profound attachment trauma as a result of family betrayal and relational abuses, it is no wonder so many adult survivors of FSA feel they will not be able to be in a good partnership relationship or social relationships. This, and the ‘toxic shame’ that drives self-esteem into the ground, as you rightly mention. However, I have worked with clients of all ages and there is always the possibility of healing, provided the right sort of support is found. If there is any way you can work with a trauma-informed therapist, that would be a good path to explore. I also hope you take a look at my introductory FSA eBook, which you can access via the link on my profile, below. As someone once said to me long ago early on in my own recovery journey: “Believe nothing; entertain possibilities.”

  • July 22, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    When I saw the title of this article, I wondered if I would find connection. Very briefly: Until age 7, my whole world was my father – handsome, charming, bigger than life. Then he left us (mother, 1-1/2 year old brother, me) for another woman and moved to Hollywood. We lived in NJ. This was just after WWII, so the technology for keeping in touch was not there. I rarely saw him over the next 12 years, and letters were few. My mother was strong but depressed, and she got no child support. Still, between her efforts and my grandmother’s, my brother and I were lucky to grow up in a wonderful town with an excellent school system. More than 90% went on to college. I aimed for that, too. My father thought I should go to secretarial school instead. I got a four-year scholarship and a degree in mathematics. During that time, my brother and I visited his Hollywood home for 2 weeks one summer. He lavished us with amazing experiences. I thought about transferring to UCLA. My father was all for it. Later, I changed my mind but asked if I could go there for a couple of summer courses. He was disappointed but agreed. I was 20 years old and learned quickly what a narcissistic, small-minded man he really was. My brother and my then boyfriend (now husband of 60 years) came out to visit at the end of the summer session. My father found so many ways to be critical and hurtful. The crowning “blow” was his reaching out to shake my hand as we were about to board our plane back to NJ rather than giving me a hug. I felt so small in that moment. In October, I called to tell him that I was engaged, and we would be getting married the following April. His response was not just underwhelming. He immediately changed the subject to my brother. That Christmas, I spent a lot of my free time to hand knit a tie as a gift to him for Christmas. My brother got a very elaborate gift from him. I got nothing. It was all so crushing that I told my mother I wanted my step-father to give me away. I was so terrified that my own father would do or say something to ruin my wedding day. She was opposed to my idea but knew it was my choice. I invited my father to my wedding, but he did not come. I understand why. I know my decision must have hurt his ego. I also recognized that he would never understand what he had done to my inner self. A year later, my husband and I drove across country headed to Hawaii where he was going to study for a PhD. We were sailing from Los Angeles. I was too afraid to call my father to see if we could get together, so my husband called. This, of course, was not a good message to my father and we did not see him. 2 years later, when I was first pregnant, I wrote to tell him that he was going to be a grandfather. He wrote back that he had “long ago” stopped thinking he had a daughter, so how could he have a grandchild. I felt disowned. I decided that the next time I would wait until I had given birth to his first grandchild before telling him. I had another miscarriage shortly after that but then gave birth 2 years later to our oldest child. Shortly after she was born (just a few hours), my husband called to tell me that my father had died suddenly of a stroke (while I was in labor). I was a new mom. I had no chance to grieve but realize I have been grieving for 56 years. Then my husband went from being a very devoted boyfriend/fiance before we married to being very self-absorbed … especially after our kids (we have 4) came along. I felt so invisible. When I tried sharing my feelings, he said things like “I am a scientist. I deal with things, not people.” Looking back, there were so many signs of Asperger’s, but it wasn’t on any of our many marriage counselors’ radar screens. We started reading about it 7 years ago and became convinced 3-4 years ago that ASD explained his years of detachment in our marriage and home life. When I tried to talk to our kids about it before our last family gathering 2-1/2 years ago, our oldest called a sibling meeting a day after everyone had arrived for our bi-annual Christmas gathering (a gathering I have poured my whole being into for years – including travel for that child and her family from Australia). I had been very close to our only son for three decades before that meeting. Also with our youngest daughter until about 10 years ago (we believe that she, her husband and their two kids are all on the spectrum). Bottom line, after that meeting, our son did a 180 on our relationship, He got in my face and called me a liar when I became uncertain about selling our beach house (where we had all gathered for a decade). He sent me a devastating Mother’s Day message about how much I had changed from the loving mother he had known. They had all told me two years earlier that they wanted us to keep the beach house because they loved it, and it was an affordable way to get together. Suddenly, after that meeting, they all wanted us to sell it. At first we agreed. But I began to have second thoughts because I had poured so much heart, time, energy, money into it. It brought us good rental income. And I knew we would never find a place to gather again that we could afford. Between the changes in my son and the pushback from all of them on Asperger’s, I felt very bullied and shamed. In the months that followed, I (and my therapist) recognized the development of group think among my 4 kids and reinforced by my husband for a year or so after that meeting … basically, I am the “problem”. I am the one who has held the family together through many difficult periods. The one who made it possible to be together even though they are widely spread out. The one who has traveled half way around the world several times to help out a sick child (pregnancy in Japan; gall bladder surgery in Zimbabwe; knee surgery in Australia). I have paid for their travel; helped them buy cars – even a house; helped one avoid bankruptcy; and much more. These were never my husband’s ideas. Recently, my youngest admitted that groupthink had happened. Now my husband is very ill. We live in Mexico with no one around. Covid blocks travel. Our oldest is trying to get permission to come here from Australia, but I am nervous about it. She is very dominant in health situations and is often not correct about things. More than once, she has insisted a doctor said one thing when I heard another, and I turned out to be right. Now facing my husband’s battle with cancer for who knows how long followed by widowhood for me, I don’t know how much I can take. I, myself, have a bad back and three properties to get rid of along with a mountain of paper work for medical claims. I am feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of dealing with her personality, too. Have you ever thought about a wife/parent being the scapegoat? So much of what I read in your article and the comments resonated with me.

    • July 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Andrea, thank you for sharing some of your story here. Yes, a wife or parent (and other family members, versus ‘the Adult Child’) can be the scapegoat. I have clients in my practice now who have been terribly scapegoated by ex-spouses and their own adult children, especially in cases of divorce when one parent may have more power (due to financial resources, etc) and controls the narrative about the divorce and the scapegoated parent. Alternatively, in other cases a parent feels scapegoated, yet they have no ability to look at their own behavior to see how they are provoking negative reactions in those around them, including their children. So they take a ‘victim / martyr’ role, as that is easier than looking at some hard truths about themselves. Meaning, they cling to their own interpretation of events and cannot move beyond their egoic defense mechanisms in service of family healing. They are ‘addicted’ to their martyr / victim role. I hope this helps to answer your question.

  • July 22, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    wow that is my life. I know have no contact with any of my sisters or my mother. I also have no realtionships, and friendship, is always on a piss taking , where I rip on them, and they rip on me, I dont need anyone close in my life. But I do have these dreams where I am sort of living in a realtionship, close friends and my family are also there, Its always the same I am with someone in a flat, then I am starting new job, i am trying to get somethere, I am lost or running around a tube station. But they are not stressful. I used to blame my self. Now I can see my mum was taking out her problems on me. I have a good well paying job. I can mix with people I can be very charming. very funny life of the party. But pull away very quickly, from people.

    • July 23, 2020 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Tony,it sounds like you have found some objectivity and expanded awareness in regard to your being scapegoated; however, your dream suggests you may be missing close connections and could possibly have issues that prohibit your risking attaching to others, due to what has happened to you in your family. You might very much benefit from finding a therapist skilled in attachment trauma that you can work with so that you can begin to risk getting close to people in relationships. Thank you for your comment and I wish you the best in your journey.

  • August 10, 2020 at 12:44 am

    understanding your situation it apart of it but a big portion is understanding the narcissistic, peterman, ,minipulating people around you. Leaving is the best thing you can do and no one should feel shame in letting go of family. Blood is the worst excuse to feel like you owe anyone anything.

  • August 11, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Thank you. For this list of all the things that have been happening to me over and over all my life. I could never figure out why everywhere I went people seemed to pick on me or shun me or both. I’ve always felt like a defective human being – depressed, stressed, lonely and hopeless. I’ve had therapy off an on since I was eight years old, tried various psychotropic meds and was told that because I was used and abused and bullied that I was actually perpetuating this behavior from others because of the energy I was giving off. That I needed to revisit and then process every past traumatic event and feel it all over again so I could move past it.

    So, I tried. And I tried. I was told that ninety percent of my perception of people being “mean” to me was my own imagination and while I could partially agree with that, I still felt absolutely certain that the percentage was off. I KNOW when someone is treating me like crap! The knowledge that I was causing it (now I know I was unconsciously allowing it) made my state of mind and my social interactions with everyone suck that much more.

    I currently have two scapegoaters in my life. My mother, who is experiencing the beginnings of dementia, and my daughter who has a slight learning disability. And, boy do they know how to run roughshod over me. But no more. I’m going to find out who I am. I’m going to be nice about it, but firm. Right now my head is exploding with memories of all the snubs, the potshots, the rumors, the lies, the bullying, the sexual abuse, the crushing loneliness – my entire life is in replay. I am truly having an “Aha” moment. Everything is not my fault after all. Again, thank you!

  • August 24, 2020 at 5:07 am

    Hi, I am 49 and after a wonderful daughter, a divorce and a business startup fail, that left me with a mortgage to pay, I still receive an allowance from my mother that allows me to keep my standard of living. I do work in some freelance projects but I can’t seem to gain independence. I am tall and I have always had weight problems and was extremely shy. I was bullied as fat as a child and was so afraid of women that I was virgin till 31, that I lost with the mother of my child (an ex i later found cheating on me with another woman). Due to a war, my mother had to leave me for six months when I was 3. I used to pee in my bed till 7 and dream about shadows following me. I had an inguinal hernia from 16 to 21. Having said that I would like to know if an ex-bulimic with a Peter Pan look-alike syndrome can be a scapegoat. I have been smeared, insulted, left out of important family decisions (like after being the only one voting against it and warning everyone of the high probability of the outcone, I arrived at my parents house to see that my father had already been sent to a nursing home where he died in 2 months) and my mother systematically undermines my opinion with phrases like “you think?” “that’s a lie” or asking me exactly what I just said. She also cuts me frequently while I am speaking. She treats me like i am 6 or something. She complains about me to my entire family and many years ago a friend told me she complained about me to her insurance broker. We have these huge fights and I once asked her why she always treated me differently from my siblings and her reply was cause I am the only one that stands up against her. I am the younger one, my eldest brother is the one that knows everything about repairing gadgets despite me having an electronics degree and my elder sister is the one that knows everything about management, despite being a dentist and me having a masters in BA and being paid by CEOs to give them my opinion. I feel constantly disrespected by the entire family. I feel awkward among them (and most people) and sort of detached. My daughter is also shy and seems to react to them the same way. One day, during our worse time together, I warned my mother fiercely I would not let her do to my child what she did to me. And I try my best to do the opposite. In a day of more stress than usual, when she was projecting on me character flaws that I really do not have, I found myself saying to my mother that I cannot understand how a mother can say such things about one of her children and that she should be in a mental institution. Am I the narcissist or the scapegoat? I have heard repeatedly sentences like “you’re selfish” , *too sensitive”, “I didn’t mean it like that” , “you can’t take a joke” (putdowns) , “you have such an inferiority complex” … she tells, at family gatherings, our childwood stories and frequently forgets to include me (my child noticed it too). She used to tell me only my father wanted me to be born. I once tried to change our interactions and showed her a funny video with millions of likes from a little girl telling jokes, that i laughed a lot and this weird monster-like face erupted on her and she couldn’t even force a smile. Nevertheless, at least part of all this is clearly my fault, I can’t seem to hold a job or a marriage and when I was around 18 I once tried to hit my mother with a punch (and was justly given one by my father)…. my brother once broke a door with his feet due to the amount of frustration my mother provoked on him. She says what she wants and then always refuses to discuss anything. She ridicules my best friend voice and now is smearing my former best friend who is being robbed by my brother’s wife (who cheats on my brother and I suspect faked a will to desinherit her brothers… but I can’t prove). I only can prove her brother, my former best friend is being promoted as the guy who tried to rob his family when he is the one being robbed. And my mother is an accomplice to that, as the rest of my family. If I had to guess I would say my brother’s wife is a malignant narcissist who seems to have pleasure in hurting people. but I may be projecting something. My mother seems to love her or at least believes her lies and defends her and I can’t understand how a mother can defend someone that hurts so much their children (I am pretty sure at least my eldest niece is not my niece and that my brother’s wife plots against me). My sister was married to a phd that gave her a month of silent treatment and stopped seing her daughters and now has a boyfriend that is always probing for weak spots in people (in his own words). Am I the aggressor or the victim? Can a food addict be a scapegoat or is this just the delusion of a narcissist that does not wants to grow up? Overall my mother seems a good child who had a rough life, growing up too (rigid mother, father died young) and I certainly have issues, I have roadrage, I am very jealous and probably social anxiety disorder. At 15 I once cried like crazy when my mother arrived 1h30mins late to school and I felt I was abandoned again. Am I the guilty one or just the unlucky guy from a series of circumstances gone wrong? Most of my family seem to align with my mother and the ones that doubt my official profile, seem afraid to express it. My mother insisted in having our father ashes in her house despite at least me asking not to. Most people find my mother amazing, friendly and a wonderful women (which I am sure she is, I just thing somehow a childwood trauma prevents her to have a good relationship with me). On my side, I find it very hard to make friends and I seem to easily annoy or even irritate most people. I sing and play guitar (both poorly) and I play several sports where I even won some local sports tournaments but I seem not to be excellent at nothing. The only thing that puts me above average may be that I speak six languages. Am I the narcissist, the scapegoat or neither? I really would like to know. Thanks

    • August 24, 2020 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for sharing some of your story, Mike. The ego by nature is narcissistic; therefore, “we are each criminals and angels, alike” (W.Blake). If you haven’t read my book yet on family scapegoating, which discusses ‘multigenerational transmissions’ and the ‘family projection process’, this might assist you in finding your own answers. What’s most important is that you clearly suffered and have felt wounded; many FSA survivors also have undiagnosed, untreated trauma symptoms. You can learn more in my book (linked in my profile,below), or in other articles here. I wish you the very best.

  • August 26, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    This was hard to read. I cried reading this. I’m the middle child of 3 girls and ever since I could remember I was always different. I “spoke” back, I was “rebellious”, and didn’t follow instructions or rules, I would get into fights in school etc. In reality, I would ask a lot of questions to understand why I was being punished that’s “speaking back”, when I played with my sisters I wasn’t good at cleaning up like they were, at school i would get bullied and I would fight back and my parents just saw everything as me being a “bad kid”. I ALWAYS tried to defend myself and still do this day. My mom would beat me all the time for not “listening” or “disrespecting her” and that I somehow deserved it. I retaliated by saying mean things as I thought that was the only way to defend myself. My sisters have learned these same behaviors from my mom. They pick on me for really insignificant things, get into fights with me when I try to express myself, blame me for problems etc. I am the scapegoat for everything and have become a super defensive and aggressive person because of it. My mother even speaks ill of me to others, that I have a bad temper, that i’m rude and disrespectful. etc. It’s been hard to be labelled a bad person when I know I’m not. I’ve tried so hard to break free from that but realized that I never will. They will always view me in a negative light and I feed into that.


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