How to Know if you Are/Were the Scapegoat and Stopping It

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SomewhereOutThere, May 2, 2015.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Since many of us are still being controlled, either mentally by deceased people or by very alive family members, I am posting this just to warn those that they could be scapegoated. Yes, yes, I know I'm doing it a lot, but I'm just sort of venting as I realize I am perceived as "bad" because I am the scapegoat and it helps to write about it. I feel better every day and see more clearly every day. And I hope the younger members who see "scapegoating" as possibly their role, don't accept it. Ok, here goes with my own comments next to a few points (black and bolded)

    by Glynis Sherwood

    Glynis Sherwood - medication, 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!

    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. (Note: If you were verbally abused or scapegoated, you will not feel that you were/are a bad person or a big screw up simply because you exist. People who abuse attack the very essence of who you are. Kill anyone lately? If not, you are not evil. Speaking your mind is not evil. Rebelling as a teen is not evil. Taking back to abuse is not evil. It's just threatening to the person who is trying to tell you who you are and that it is a bad thing to be you. If you feel ok about yourself and always have, you were not abused. Abusers think they are the sane, nornal ones and refuse to look at themselves to see if maybe they are a problem. It's always you).
    How to Tell if You Have Been Scapegoated:
    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.You are attacked and disbelieved if you tell the truth and ‘blow the whistle’ on negative and/or inappropriate family dynamics.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.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” (My mom constantly told me I was selfish, which is so far from true as to be laughable, but it upset me that she would say it, when I was probably too unselfish. Gaslighting).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.Being the mentally healthiest family member, but being accused of being sick, bad, etc.Occupying the role of family outcast, and being treated with disdain or disgust by family or yourself.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. (I love how this was put. So true)
    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 myth that 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
    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.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.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’.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 footingFigure 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.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.Don’t expect abusive family members to apologize or make amends. They will likely blame you more if you attempt to hold them accountable.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.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.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.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.Practice what you preach with others…
  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Thank you for posting.

    I don't see myself as the scapegoat. Maybe, in dysfunctional families where there is only a black/white reality, there is a role (Golden Child for one, maybe?) each of the other children take on, too. Everyone is hurt, because none of the sibs are encouraged to grow, to make mistakes, to value learning from the challenges that come to all of us.

    That would explain so much of what I see in my own FOO.

    The toxicity levels hit the stratosphere after my father's death.

    I suppose each of us works through it as best we know. In the work I did, I was able to interact with many extended families during times of crisis. I did see a range of dysfunction ~ but I also saw beautifully connected families.

    It was a very special thing, to see them loving and cherishing and accepting and going on, each of them sharing the loss and honoring the story.



  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    That's hard, isn't it?

    But, yeah, they're never going to respect you or even listen to what you lived through so...put them on disregard :)
  4. Confused

    Confused Active Member

    Sometimes Cyber Mom, I really think you live with me!!! ( or in my mind ) -Scent and a few others as well!

    All of that makes sense, but for me growing up I was really overall a happy child, no issues, we all got along normally. I was lucky, still feel that overall my younger childhood was good. The good memories I have I will keep, even though now that Im older, I see a difference. As I mentioned before, I had my life planned out to a tee. I truly felt bad when any family was sad or had a disagreement, I wanted everyone happy and getting along, spending time together. ( not trained to do that, just who I was, id see at least one good thing in a person who was bad, even if it was only they dressed nice, nice hair, drove good etc) I dont remember when I started apologizing for everything, even stuff I didnt do. See, for me, when I had trouble in school because of a teacher is when it got bad with grandpa, as a teen I saw the real him. His way no way otherwise. Well, anyways, I think whats hard too is when you meet a friend or an ex, great for years and all of sudden that goes downhill, thats hard too. But yes, I get blamed for most, even when I dont do it, the blame will even all of sudden go away and they say how much I go through I dont deserve this, they are two faced! Which is it?

    Thank you!!!
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Confused, I'm happy you have some good family memories of your childhood. Sometimes the scapegoating doesn't start until later, when a compliant child suddenly does something that offends one of the would-be abusers, such as getting into trouble with a teacher. Did your Grandpa even ask your side of the story or did he assume that the teacher had told 100% the truth? In these types of families, when our bullies hear bad things about us, they believe them 100%. They don't stick up for us. I do remember that, although my childhood was never good or filled with affirmation and love, it got worse when I started to really rebel as a teenager, and trust me I spoke up more than you did so it was TERRIBLE. The scapegoat is often the one who blows the family's cover and the family, in self-defense and to deny, decides to say, "No, it's YOUR fault! You're LYING."

    I got blamed plenty for things I didn't do and no matter what I said , my mother never quite believed me. An example is, I was only supposed to date Jewish boys. I thought it was a really insane rule and I told her that, but for a few years I did obey that rule most of the time. But my mother would jump on me that any boy with blond hair was a gentile boy (horrors). It wasn't true, but she didn't believe me. That made it easy to take the next step. "If she isn't going to believe me anyway, why even try to listen? I think it's a silly rule anyway."

    As the scapegoat, you are either so compliant that you are afraid to raise your voice or you speak what you feel and if it isn't how THEY feel, you are HORRIBLE! The second one was me and still is, and since I am not longer emotionally related to anybody except my father, I don't care what the other two think of anything I speak out about.

    I did marry two guys who weren't Jewish. My sister did too, but she got no guff because of her decision. I had paved the way, by standing my ground, to make her life easier for her. SHE wasn't evil for doing what I had done, which was evil ;) And she wasn't evil for excluding my brother from her wedding for being ugly. I bring this up because my mother knew why she exclused him and he was her Golden Child, yet sh e let my sister get away with it and I doubt if she ever brought it up again to Sis. If I had done that...I don't even want to think about

    In these types of families, there are rules for each different person. Some can do anything. Some can do almost anything. Some can't do anything right. My mom told me I didnt' adopt kids because I cared about kids who were needy...I did it for the money. The joke was, when she said it to me (in private, of course in a very snotty, mocking voice) I had adopted two kids from overseas and you don't get a subsidy for overseas adoption. I told her, but I was lying. She'd talk over me. "Oh, please!" "Oh, please!" Every thing I di was twisted to be a negative. It was nuts. She was nuts. I was nuts until I realized she was

    Families like yours ARE two faced. When they want something from you, they are nice to you if you deliver. When they want something from you and you are NOT compliant, you are the devil himself. But, my cyber-child, you are simply a good young woman who is finally seeing the role you were groomed to play...everyone's caregiver and Cinderella. And you are not loved and accepted unconditionally. If you don't do what they want, you are unaccepted. This is a very sad and also very common dynamic in a dysfunctional family whose Leader is highly controlling. Most of us from abusive families were raised by at least one control freak. 'Do what I say or you're no good." And sometimes there is one chosen scapegoat while the other kids are treated better, even if they arae no better people than you are...or worse. But the Controller whispers about you in their ears and wanting Mommy love, and never asking us for our side of the story, the family is encouraged to also treat the scapegoat as a bad person. It is so freeing to be able to say what I want without taking any mind of w hat my ex-siblings thing of me. They no longer have my ear just because I do love them. I don't know how it happened...but the love is either gone or deeply buried. I feel not responsible for what they like or don't like anymore and I enjoy this freedom.

    You can not change their minds. Don't try. Just be good to yourself because YOU know who and what you are. They just want to keep your self-esteem low so that they an stay in control over you. Confused, I think you and Cedar are similar in that you just wanted everything to be great so you played your roles to try to make things better. There is no way to make things better, whichever way you try to make it better. You can only make yourself better. Hugs!!!!! :)
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    Last edited: May 4, 2015