The Family Scapegoat: When The Scapegoat Fights Back

Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

In families with one or more narcissistic members, the dynamics are inherently dysfunctional.

Children often grow up feeling confused, insecure, and afraid. They may not know who to trust, and they usually blame themselves for the problems occurring at home.

Many times, a narcissist will use scapegoats to project their anger. Family Scapegoats allow them to displace all the blame onto something else.

Rather than own personal accountability over their actions, the narcissist can continue to live how they normally live without any real consequences. Let’s get into what you should know. 

What Are Family Scapegoat Children?

Family scapegoating refers to the group dynamic where everyone blames one person for the dysfunctional family.

Instead of looking at all the potential factors in a particular situation, the family can quickly assume one person has caused the distress.

Sometimes, these family scapegoats are fixed and permanent. That means the scapegoat may remain in that role indefinitely. 

The parent may choose any child to fulfill this role, but common family scapegoats include:

  • Children with chronic sicknesses or handicaps
  • Children with emotional sensitivities. 
  • Children born as a result of an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Children who struggle in school or in sports.
  • Children who naturally rebel against the family’s structure.
  • Stepchildren, fostered children, or adopted children. 

Any of these traits can provide the narcissistic mother or father with leverage to scapegoat their child.

The narcissist can point to their behavior and blame them for the family’s problems. 

Family scapegoating can start as early as infancy. For example, a Narcissistic parent may blame a newborn for keeping them up all night.

Or, they may complain to a friend about the difficulty of the baby. This pattern may continue for many, many years.

Reading Suggestion: Is It Selfish To Move Away From Family?

Sometimes, scapegoated children start out as golden children. They may receive all the praise and affection- until they don’t.

It may take just one event for the narcissistic father or mother to dethrone their golden child into a scapegoat. 

Some common offenders include:

  • The child suddenly starting to struggle in school.
  • The child dating someone that the parent doesn’t like.
  • The child getting into trouble with the law.
  • The child becoming “too successful” (which results in the narcissist’s jealousy).
  • The parent having another baby who becomes the golden child.

Sometimes, the narcissist will rotate the scapegoated child based on their mood and daily events. This rotation often happens when multiple children are living in the same home.

The rotation can make things especially confusing for children- they never know if it will be a good day or a bad one.

Additionally, they never know if what they get away with today could land them in serious trouble tomorrow.

The rotation can also cause massive rifts between siblings. They become highly competitive with one another to gain the narcissist’s approval.

Rather than bond and connect, they aim to tear each other down. The prize-winning the narcissist’s attention- becomes their top priority.

Family scapegoat child: The Narcissistic Family

What Happens to The Scapegoat Child?

During childhood and adolescence, many scapegoat children may struggle with the following issues:

  • Poor self-esteem.
  • Increased anxiety symptoms.
  • Depression.
  • Reckless behavior (substance use, self-harm, unprotected sex, shoplifting).
  • Poor academic performance.
  • Issues with other authoritative figures like teachers, neighbors, or the police.
  • Aggression and bullying other people.
  • Disordered eating.
  • Limited or no motivation in outside hobbies or interests.

With family scapegoating, the behavior often reinforces itself. For instance, a child may receive a poor grade in school.

The narcissistic parent explodes and tells them how dumb they are. The child internalizes that they are dumb and that it’s not worth even trying.

As a result, they continue to receive poor grades and “proving” the narcissist’s claim to be true. 

When they grow up, scapegoated children may experience the following:

Difficulty expressing their needs: From a young age, the scapegoat child learned to hold things inside. Anything they said could and would often be used against them.

As a result, many scapegoat children have difficulty expressing their needs and feelings with others.

On one end of the extreme, they may come across as cold and insensitive. Conversely, they might be seen as overly dramatic or irrational.

Excess people-pleasing: Many scapegoats grow up assuming that love is conditional.

Therefore, they spend much time trying to keep other people happy. They assume that if they keep the peace, they will be liked.

Difficulty forming secure relationships: Many scapegoats struggle with emotional and physical intimacy.

They may find themselves attracted to other narcissists or abusers because it’s familiar to them. If they end up in a healthy relationship, they may unconsciously sabotage the dynamics.

Substance use and other addictive behaviors: Scapegoats often try to escape their pain in various ways.

They may turn to certain vices like drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings. Likewise, because they’ve often been told they’re “bad” or “useless,” they may assume they’re doomed to addictive behavior.

Problems with real-world launching: Scapegoats may struggle in many settings, including the workplace, school, and in social interactions.

They might try to defy authority or argue when they disagree with something. Or, they may be so used to being perceived as a failure that they don’t even try to succeed. 

Impaired self-esteem: More than anything, almost all scapegoats struggle with a damaged sense of self. They may feel entirely worthless or burdensome to others.

This low self-esteem can act as a launchpad for poor decision-making and impulsive behavior. 

Can a Scapegoat Become a Narcissist?

Family Scapegoats can certainly become narcissistic as they get older. Many family scapegoats experience immense rage due to their status in the family.

They know their role is unfair, but they are powerless to this dynamic when they’re young.

That said, abuse is highly generational. Many parents who abuse their children were abused when they were young. Additionally, abused children are at a greater risk of inflicting harm on their children.

Although one would think someone would never want to repeat abuse, this pattern is far more insidious.

Sometimes, the child often grows up idolizing the narcissistic parent (even if they can’t stand them), and they naturally start to orient their thinking in a way that matches theirs.

Family Scapegoats often desperately want a sense of power and control over their lives.

After all, they have spent so much time being belittled. On a subconscious level, they understand that narcissists gain attention and validation. They may believe those narcissistic methods are the only effective ones. 

What Happens When The Scapegoat Leaves the Narcissistic Family?

What happens when the scapegoat fights back? Most of the time, tension increases after the family scapegoat leaves. With nobody to blame automatically, the narcissist scrambles to find an outlet.

Many times, narcissists quickly find something or someone else to blame. If there is a golden child, they may start there. Suddenly, the golden child may take over the scapegoat’s role.

But usually the narcissist continues to blame, complain, and insult the scapegoat. They often talk about the scapegoat incessantly, even if they have been out of the home for years. Any present issue can be traced back to the scapegoat. 

For example, if they lose their job, they may blame it on helping their family scapegoat child with their homework, which resulted in lost productivity.

They’ll turn to the scapegoat for causing so much stress if they have marital problems.

Even getting a flat tire may trigger the narcissist to blame the scapegoat for not taking the car to the mechanic five years ago.

Keep in mind this blame isn’t rational. To an outsider, it often sounds erratic, and that’s because it can be.

Narcissism isn’t based in logic. It’s based on the narcissist’s logic, skewed by their worldviews and ego.

Their narcissism allows them to justify and rationalize their decisions, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. 

What Happens When The Family Scapegoat Child Goes No Contact?

At first, the reaction may seem paradoxical. The child often feels like the parent wants nothing to do with them.

But once they go no contact, the parent suddenly becomes extremely interested in their whereabouts. Many times, the parent begins hoovering excessively to gain entry back into their life. 

The hoovering often involves some form of gaslighting. The narcissist may deny ever harming their child.

They might insist on how much they love and care about them. At times, they may even beg for forgiveness and make lofty promises to change. 

Scapegoats give the narcissist a sense of control and power. Since they can focus all their attention on their child’s problems, they never have to look inward.

They never have to consider the part they play in the dysfunctional dynamic. For a true narcissist, this deflection is paramount. They can continue behaving in their usual ways. 

How Other Family Members React

Without the scapegoat, things may feel “too quiet.” At this point, the narcissist has usually smeared the scapegoat child mercilessly. They will take great lengths to spin the story to make them appear to be the victim.

Family members often understand that the narcissist is “off,” but they rarely want to confront the behavior directly.

After all, they don’t want to step into the path of destruction. Most of the time, they would much rather keep their peace and stay quiet.

The golden child may start acting up once the scapegoat goes no-contact.

They may resent their sibling has “broken free” from the cycle of abuse. Golden children are under immense pressure to remain perfect- the scapegoat’s absence only reinforces this pressure.

Finally, it’s not uncommon for parents to split up and divorce once the scapegoat child leaves the house.

Without the common chaos of “dealing with the scapegoat,” the narcissist’s partner may decide that enough is enough. 

In other words, a scapegoat going no-contact tends induce chaos. The family has become so used to pinpointing issues onto one person that they now feel completely off-guard. 

How Do You Survive Being The Scapegoat Child?

It may take you a long time to realize that you were scapegoated as a child. This is normal. Narcissists are experts in manipulating people to believe their truth.

Scapegoat sons and daughter of narcissistic mothers and fathers must learn how to reparent themselves.

At first, this can sound like a tall order. It’s painful to realize that you didn’t receive all children’s essential needs for emotional support. 

Reparenting yourself means recognizing your worth and honoring it as best you can.

You aren’t a bad person. Even if you’ve made poor decisions in the past, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love and forgiveness. It also doesn’t mean you can’t change.

Reading Suggestions:

Many scapegoats benefit reaching out for professional support.

Therapy can help you understand your family dynamics and improve your confidence. It also offers you a safe place where you can explore your feelings without judgment or recourse.

If you struggle with mental health issues or addiction, gaining the appropriate coping skills to manage these issues is important. 

In addition to therapy, it’s important to recognize your patterns of self-sabotoge.

Do you still internalize the narcissist’s criticism towards you? Do you continue to live in a way that tries to defy and rebel against them?

Finally, boundaries are imperative. You deserve to respect your integrity. 

If you continue to allow the narcissist to define your identity, you’ll continue to be scapegoated.

At the same time, you’ll continue to feel resentful and frustrated. This is a miserable cycle, but you have the power to make the first change. 

Surviving Scapegoat Abuse and Moving Through Scapegoat Recovery

There’s no doubt that healing from narcissistic abuse can be heartbreaking and complicated. It’s challenging to recognize the perils of your childhood truly. It’s also challenging to decide how you want to proceed moving forward.

Regardless of your upbringing, things can get better. You can have ownership over what happens next. 

Remember that you are now an adult, and this is your life. You can choose which people you want to have around you. You can embrace boundaries and respect your personal autonomy. If you have a narcissistic parent, this freedom is invaluable.

 

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

43 thoughts on “The Family Scapegoat: When The Scapegoat Fights Back”

  1. Discovered I have been the Scapegoat in my family, my sister the golden child.
    In all of my 49 years, I never had a name or been able to explain the insanity of my childhood and family. I can never explain your family to people without them thinking you are crazy. So I don’t.

    Took care of my elderly father for over five years, since my sister had called APS on my step mother. This a day after I got out of the hospital from my fourth and final surgery in two years.

    Golden Child has stolen from elderly aunts and sold their belongings on ebay. Both aunts were sold out by my narcissistic parents who apparently served as accomplices to their siblings/ inlaws belongings being stolen by my sister. Even given access by my parents.

    She has never worked and at 52 is on her sixth or so “education” that my parents pay for (she leaves the student loans to my father to pay), paid for her dual citizenship (along with golden child sleeping with lawyers for assistance) and her jetsetting lifestyle because “she’s special and intelligent”. haha

    All the while, Im the asshole taking care of both parents cross country with an ostomy bag and fresh off a hysterectomy.

    And NOW after five years of putting up with the physical, mental and sheer gaslighting fuckery….
    golden child and narc father sicking a lawyer after me for a 14 year old car he KNOWS he signed over to me and KNEW my sister wanted.
    Now he’s claiming he can’t walk.
    Yet, when they barged in to recover his things, they only took paperwork. left his walker, shower seat and canes. Sounds legit. FACEPALM

    I had enough. My father’s 40 years of promising a home, money for savings (it took him 3 years to actually pay me for keeping me home and unemployed fully).

    When I was fully employed, it was ALWAYS something keeping me from going to work, coming home early, and NOT WORKING AT ALL.

    Every time I get sick, he would have to do something to get attention.

    He told my Aunt last summer that he was going to get revenge on my if. I got out of line. My aunt laughed at him and asked why would you do that to her? 

I KNOW I did the right thing by cutting ties with them,
    Their lawyer can go fuck himself, nice job calling the police, I told their lawyer lets go to court, ill defend myself with my family as witnesses,

    Let the world see my father, sister, mother for who they all are, let all the years of scapegoating, neglect and abandonment come out. 

    And let it be known for my troubles of being my fathers caregiver all these years, I get thrown out on the street during a pandemic.

    With the outlined help of a therapist, I have done my own self reflection, research and realized patterns over my entire life time.
    Especially the pattern of ruing my birthdays and special events (graduation/ wedding etc)

    Let them choke on whatever money they have, never needed them or their money. 

I consider myself an orphan. Raised myself despite my own family seeking to bring me down. 

Thank you for this article, it has helped me realize truly that it wasn’t me all along.

    I wish anyone who is going through this horrific dynamic,
    love, encouragement and strength.

    Reply
    • You were living the same life to the T. Everything you wrote was just like reading my life I can’t believe it. I find they are cruel , horrible, and their puke on the ground is in them. I wish I could all my life wave my hand with victims permission to heal victims of abuse physically and spiritually take away their pain. I can only use what God has given me. I do have the gift to feel people’s pain in their body ,were it is , and energy fields from from 4 cars behind me, so I pull over and they race past me. My experience with toxic people, has heightened my sense.And many other gifts.The problem with NARS they are dead inside and shallow. I work to stay in the moment in the the center of the Universe still ,listen, and watch. Thankyou be in love with love ????

      Reply
    • I have gone through the same way ,little different but same way. I don’t have to explain to what I have been through, you have All ready done that. The only way to describe the emotional pain. If anybody could plug into my brain like a computer and plug the connection into their brain; they would run down the street with their brain on fire.

      Reply
        • I agree. It took me 32 years to go no contact and I finally feel empowered. I hope my “family” is miserable! Thanks for sharing

          Reply
        • Yes this is true both my parents do witchcraft on me and my dad raped me as a child, they kick me out of the house and let me be homeless and turned my eldest daughter against me my husband is also a narcissist he abuse me he cheats on me and now I’m about to have a baby and I cannot handle it any longer I just want to get up and leave I have two other children from different men and I just want to be alone with them and go about my life and live in a box for the rest of my life

          Reply
    • I can relate I’m not sure if I’m embarrassed or I’m I that dumb to go back I think we have sealed the deal this time she is cruel ,, baby daughter this has been my whole life I finally started reading what a narcissist was it saved me but I still just can’t get away from it

      Reply
    • I also feel like this reflects my story so much. It took me until late 30s to finally understand and even begin to heal. Now 43 & trying to pick up the pieces of my life.
      My mother is a narcissist, but her sole aim is to avoid ever facing her own faults or weaknesses. That’s NO excuse and she’s done horrible, sick things to me beginning as early as I remember. But that’s actually nothing compared to the cruelty of my sister, a narcissist sure, but a full blown sociopath who has actually told me how much pleasure she gets from seeing me in pain, devastated and knowing her efforts to destroy me have been successful. If you’ve ever seen a psychopath/sociopath’s evil grin in the rare moments they can’t or don’t try to hide their sick enjoyment of causing pain, you know. The look on her face, when I was literally suicidal and in a panicked meltdown, still gives me nightmares. She said that she thought since I was born (she’s older) that I was the reason she was no longer mom’s only object of affection, I knocked her off her princess throne. Even though she was the golden child, never ever punished, given only praise while I was mercilessly scorned, put down and blamed for every problem of every member of the family, my sister felt an overwhelming rage towards me. She said she believed I was prettier, thinner, smarter, and it was her mission to take me down. She feels absolutely justified in any amount of cruelty, including pushing me to kill myself, because just by existing I took what was rightfully hers. She is entitled therefore, to do anything to avenge the “injustice” she has “suffered”. It’s sick, inhuman and horrifying. My mother and father will never face it because they’d have to acknowledge their own responsibility for participating, apart from the separate cruelty and neglect they each did to me. The rest of my huge family is either just oblivious or realizes at some level that standing up to any of them is dangerous. Sadly they’d rather not risk becoming the target themselves, so they allowed (and facilitated) me being the scapegoat, even as a child. I am so sorry for anyone else who has experienced anything like this.

      Having a name for this torture, what I call soul murder (read that on a narcissism blog somewhere), and people that truly get it, is a huge relief. Part of the effectiveness of narcissists , gaslighting and scapegoating is making you feel alone, crazy and helpless. But now I have so much anger and grief at all the suffering, and all the lost time and life when I was barely surviving, I can’t imagine how to ever be ok. I went to therapy most of my life and not one of these “professionals” identified what happened to me, which could have helped me stop the destruction decades earlier. Many actually caused further damage by making me feel weak, stupid and pathetic that I couldn’t “choose to be happy” or stop my “negative thinking”. They even encouraged me to go back again and again, suggesting that I wasn’t forgiving enough, or not trying hard enough to “work things out”.
      I couldn’t believe that my extended family would continue taking the sides of my abusers and kept deluding myself that I just needed enough “proof ” and then they would all see how I’ve been victimized. HA!
      If I had one piece of advice it’s to TRUST YOURSELF and your instincts even if you have no self esteem or confidence. That’s been deliberately stolen from you to keep you from gaining the strength to leave, stand up for yourself, recognize the abuse, and stop the cycle. They do everything in their power to make you believe you’re totally powerless and it’s actually your fault.
      If one person had ever been there for me I’d have gotten out much sooner, but even my own friends discouraged me, saying “I’m sure your mom/sister/etc loves you and didn’t mean to hurt you”. That’s because what narcissists and sociopaths do is so cruel and calculating that people with normally ‘dysfunctional’ families can’t even imagine it’s possible.
      Please, if you are in this type of situation, or think you might be, educate yourself, be very cautious and aware, listen to that little voice saying you don’t feel safe , and keep reaching out even if all you can do for now is read blogs and articles.
      I went through a very dramatic period of “victimhood”, sort of a swing to the opposite extreme because I’d never been allowed to see myself as a victim even when I very much was. I guess I had to let myself accept that and grieve for myself and feel the empathy I never got from anyone including myself. I worried I’d never get out of that state, but I am slowly returning to a more balanced and realistic sense of myself – as a very strong and good person who was horrifically abused. Now I’m trying to work through the anger and loss of 40 years of my life that were basically stolen from me, and figure out how I can make the best of what’s left now that I have some choice. It’s not easy. Every single day is a struggle, and I have zero friends because it’s too exhausting and painful to always have to act “ok” or face them saying “you just need to get out more” or minimizing/not understanding which makes me feel pathetic.
      I’m glad there’s more information now, but sometimes I think it also causes the words and severity to become watered down. Everyone these days thinks their arrogant boss or the ex they hate is a narcissist. Few people know the true agony of being targeted by one (or several).

      Reply
      • Hi Joy, I can relate to this and find myself in more or less the same situation as you as I approach my 41st birthday. It is really tough, but we do have the rest of our lives and it is our duty to ourselves to keep working through to make as best we can for us. Would be happy to share and hear more….

        Reply
    • Much thanks love and support to fellow survivors/ thrivers♥️🙏🏼♥️

      You really do feel like you’re living in a shitty tv drama.

      My intuitive senses definitely heightened and will back up from people or go another way, because I can feel energy I know is not good.

      Finally, today they have no way to contact me. Which is liberating for me, not so much for them.

      ♥️⭐️♥️

      Reply
  2. I’ve been no contact for 3 years and want to encourage other scapegoats to make this decision. It’s not easy, it hurts a LOT, but the peace you will encounter on the other side is better than anything you can possibly imagine.

    Thanks for this article Alexander.

    Reply
  3. In my case it started very early on. At the age of six I well remember her yelling at me she wished I never was born and had the devil in my eyes. She just hated me I know now. Why?
    I think I know.
    I also remember when I was about 5 she used to call me if there were visistors. Then she would make a nice show about how ‘special’ I was and how much she ‘loved’ me.
    While I knew (by intuition at that age ofcourse) she never payed affectionate attention to me when no visitors were around. She always insisted in those occasions I’ll come to her and show me my affection to her. I just refused parcipitating in her fake-show. That’s what set her off to hate me. I shamed her superficial image she liked to show off. I rebelled her.

    The abuse afterwards never stopt. She just tried with all her might to destroy me in overt- but mostly covert ways.
    She set-up my brothers and sisters against me from the get-go. And they soon learned who was the scapegoat to deflect their wrongs and issues on. For mother would always support them.
    She used to put us all up in a line when one of us had misbehaved in a way (stolen some cookies i.e.) and would ask who did it. They all pointed at me while it wasn’t me.
    But I got punished ofcourse for she had enough ‘proof’.
    It was all a set-up ofcourse.

    This has continued eversince into adulthood.
    Whatever good you do as the scapegoated child for them it will never be a sign they might be wrong about you.
    They have been conditioned so long that you are no good and wicked and it’s so usefull to them to not look further into the dynamics that they rather dump you when you start to talk and asking questions.

    In fact, she failed to destroy me as did my family. I realised much later I did a hell of a job to get education in my early (and later) twenties against all odds and with no support at all from my mother or family, only put-downs.
    I persevered although it was very hard at times.
    I traveled the world. Bought my own appartment. Had financial security all the way on my own merits.
    Emotially I struggled an awfull lot with my family and others but always submerged at the end and kept my ground.

    Since 12 years they’ve just abonded me all together when I just stopped giving them any attention anymore after a wicked car-accident that crippeled me for 5 months.
    There was no support at all not even a well-wishing card.
    That got me thinking (and feeling what really was going on).

    I didn’t start arguing or complaining. Just stopping my regular attention. This was all what was needed to cut them off. My not contacting was making them very angry while I was so desperatly in need of contact and help at that time. I got the most vicious reactions from them when was I was down and out so bad. I had to leave them all behind.

    These are the consequenses of a designated scapegoat by a sociopathic/narcissistic parent very early on.
    In fact my brothers and sisters can’t help their atitude towards me. They also were conditioned to see me as the cause of all evil at a very early age.
    I could not do any good and when I did it was mistrusted.
    There’s no way to change their mindset I learned.
    The reality and shame that comes with it would be just too painfull to allow entering.
    It’s much easier to have a scapegoat to asign all your problems to and not look further. Especially not your mother.

    I’m free now since years. It’s sad now and then but at least I’m free of the turmoil, put-downs and accusations.
    I’ll never allow them in my live again and they know.

    Strange thing just before my mother died. She told me she looked the most like me as a person.
    This really startled me. All my live she had compared me to all people she dispised. I was just like him or her.
    Now suddenly at the end of her live I was just like her.. She even reached out to kiss me. I refused to kiss her back.
    May the bitch rot in hell forever.

    Reply
    • It sounds like she wanted to go to her grave in peace instead of taking the poison to her grave to end ,the hell. She wanted to still project her envy on you by blame shifting what she caused and never take responsibility for. At a very young age of 5 years old, l wanted to be the opposite of my father cause at a very young age I knew something was wrong with his personality. To do this I fought very hard using his persistence to survive. So you know ,I became the The Mountain Scapegoat. The emotional pain I went through because of his behavior, became understood when the puzzle came together with learning psychology. I had to learn to parent myself and get all his flying monkeys out of my life. And when he died physically all of his kind died with him;no contact because they were his creation. I surround myself with better people , never take their sh!t personally because all it is, is Their Puke Story. Part of my healing I say I am glad he is died everyday. Now his abuse can’t over step his boundaries anymore and turn people against me. I don’t say it as much as I uses to .Time And living a good life and knowledge and wisdom heals.

      Reply
  4. It took me decades to realize why my family was so fucked up. When I realized I had been the scapegoat, the youngest of 2 kids, and female, it tore me up inside. Not to the point of breaking down but it was a real head shaker. Talk about an aah ha moment! It all made sense then. I’ve been in an out of contact with my brother for years. Finally left him in the ditch but it’s only been a few months. I have no fear I’ll connect with him again. The thing that surprised me the most about these narcs is that until ‘you find out the truth’, you’ve never really understood that you were ALONE all the while. Now, alone and happy!!

    Reply
    • How do keep my anonymity in this group. My story of suffering and, then again, continuously attempting to find my balance in a truly warped family dynamic has shattered me at times and brought me to the point of suicide.

      My birth and my parents attempt to sell me at the docks in B. C. has haunted my every footsteps. Their pathological dislike for me turned all my siblings into sycophants to their cruelty and mockery at my every attempt at self realization throughout my life’s journey. Attitudes were set against my every success and achievement and terrible “inside” jokes made behind my back where gleefully shared after their demise. I eventually objected to my sisters’ joy at the disgraceful comments and actions of dismemberment of me in this family “unit?”. Of course this resulted in their all joining ranks and supporting each others’ views.

      I was the physically enfeebled child, always sick, underachieving student, nervous and full of self loathing. So anxious to be accepted that I performed any task requested to soften their views of me. IT DIDN’T achieve anything.

      GOD help us all in the disentanglement of of early judgements and the need to be accepted. Find the way clear to love yourself. Life is not easy.

      Reply
      • You did acheive, what you say sweets, is that you tried your best to be loveable, they cannot acheive that, so you are a einner, a loveable, caring empathic human being. You haace to believe to not accept what hurtful cruelty can dis your self esteem.

        Reply
  5. I will never treat my children the way my parents (and all of my grandparents) treated me.
    I have three siblings, the youngest being the Golden Child who moved out and my mother took up nightly wine drinking to excess.
    I’ve been physically and verbally abused for about four decades, had police called on me when I didn’t come home by midnight (my siblings would stay overnight when they wanted or out until 2-3 AM), medicated, gaslighted, bullied into submission when a mandate went against my well-being, had my bedroom door removed dozens of times especially while sexually active, and more.
    I am making a declaration that it ends here with me, I will be the last generation after many, many generations of abuse.

    Reply
    • It’s a long, tough road to recovery from this kind of abuse and not easy to break the cycle – but it can be done. Cutting off contact for a couple of years helped me with my healing. I hope you find peace and break the cycle too. ❤️

      Reply
  6. I broke free almost 20 years ago. Now my golden child sibling gets to deal with my elderly mom and her manipulation. My sibling would love for me to step back in to “care” for mom, but now it is my siblings turn to be a failure. My mom asks about me and wants me to be her caretaker. Poor old woman doesn’t realize that I am not the same person that she abused so many years ago. If she wanted care, she should have cared for me. Now she is stuck with her useless golden child who is not able to give her the ego supply she craves. Sibling is unhappy, mom is unhappy. I am happy in the life I built. How times have changed.

    Reply
  7. I grew up in a good home. I was fortunate to have an exceptional father who vested much in me and I am forever grateful. I didn’t know it for a long time but my mother was a narcissist and likely borderline personality.

    My dad did his best to shelter us from her abuses but eventually, her destructive behaviors did their damage and she drove him away. I was already about leave home anyway so it didn’t affect me much.

    My 2 younger brothers weren’t so lucky. My younger brother died as the result of my mom’s manipulative behaviors. My youngest brother is forever more debilitated by her manipulation and enmeshed and trapped to live with her forever because of financial circumstances that she controls. Somehow, some way I married my mom. My wife was so beautiful and caring when we started out…now she’s a monster even worse than my mother in the worst of times. She has enmeshed my 3 kids and alienated them from me making me the scapegoat. I tried so hard to save my kids from this.

    I recognized it for what it was and reached out for help many times. Each time I was dismissed. A few times the simple act of telling the truth of my situation trying to solicit help for me and my kids in getting my wife intervention and treatment…it would illicit an angry and disgusted response from people who could have helped but did not do their due diligence. I think some people working in law enforcement and psychology have had similar experiences in their childhood and are reluctant or fearful of getting involved. My wife flunked all 3 of my kids out of school.

    She exposed them to meth. She neglected them. She isolated them thru homeschooling and isolated me and prevented me from helping my kid’s with false accusations of violence against her. The truth is that she is the angry and violent one. It’s all projection. She’s changed my kids memories so they remember nothing positive about me. I wasted the last 6 years of my life trying the save them and they don’t know or care. They hate me yet have no reason to. I’m afraid my son is going to become a mass shooter and hurt people.

    Did I mention that my wife of 26 years has been a teacher for 26 years and a meth addict for the past 7 years? Yeah. No one would help. The school district and Union protected her knowing that she had mental illness exacerbated by meth addiction. And they facilitated keeping her secret rather then face it and face criticism for her problems as a public school teacher.

    This is a very serious problem across America and it is not being faced by anyone. The courts and law enforcement only made my problem worse and enmeshed my children further by not doing their due diligence and falling for her act of tears and accusations against me. I haven’t had any contact with my kids in over 5 years now. She destroyed their lives and mine. And there is more nothing to be done about it.

    I tried to proactively save my children from the this by telling anyone who would listen. I failed because no one saw it as a serious problem and no one wanted to get involved. Now my kids will pay for that for the rest of their lives. It’s not right. Not enough people are educated as to how the family dynamic growing up shapes who you are or will become.

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    • Dear James,
      I felt a need to respond, as your writings really reached out to me. My experience is similar to everyone’s here, in my case trying to survive a narcissistic mother. What hit a cord with me, is how difficult it is to get professional help, proper help, where people will listen and truly understand.

      Some situations are so outrageous, so cruel, so calculated and so hidden from the world, that to anyone outside, whose not walked in our shoes, is almost impossible to understand. I fear in your case, add to this the fact you are a man, and with your ex wife manipulating lies against you, and undoubtedly showing the world a very different face, she will be believed over you.

      I don’t know what the answer is with your children and it is so very very sad, that their lives have been destroyed, through no fault of your own, if only someone had listened to you.

      I guess you can only take a step back, and be there if and when they need you. Maybe write to them , talk about happy memories, evoke those buried happy memories in their heads, but be prepared if and when they realise the truth, they too will need a huge amount of support. The life they believed will all be untruths but they cannot heal without first confronting this.

      My own situation is years of abuse, I’m in my 50s and up to yesterday my mother manipulated the most cruel of situations and so today I have woken up and for the first time in my life, turned off my voicemail to stop the 40 plus abusive messages a day. Her only way of contacting me, which Ive now removed.

      Today I go forward and start the beginning of my life, and try to just look forward.

      I wish everyone here well, the suffering is immense, the decades of manipulation, stockholme syndrome, trying to appease is very hard to break away from. But we can all stop this from repeating. The first step is to recognise their mental illness, to recognise the problem is theres and not ours and then to gradually untangle ourselves from the web of deceit and lies.

      I know my mother will try everything to get me back. She panics and becomes the mother I long for all my life. But its a fleeting moment, yesterday she proved yet again, that the mother I reached out to, changed within two hours as soon as she had me back where she wanted me.

      The rage I feel is immense, her voicemails, even if I deleted them, I’d have to hear her voice first before deleting and just hearing how she would breath, the tone in which she would say hello, was enough of a trigger to me.

      I’ve tried to explain to her but of course, it goes off at a tangent, shell never listen, understand, have any empathy and never hear me out, so my only choice now is with no explanation, to simply go quiet.

      The irony is, if she turned around now and said sorry, was genuine and we drew a line under my 56 yrs and she agreed to move forward and for us to have peace for whatever time we both have left, I’d find my peace, I’d forgive and I’d be so happy. But sadly any promises narcissists may make are short lived, are not meant, the only thing anyone of us can do, is stop the cycle and protect ourselves and our families.

      Reply
    • This is personally tragic to me to hear your story. There are so few people who would ever (1) have the awareness and (2) be willing to take any steps or put themselves at risk, much less the extent that you have, to try to help in this situation.

      My sister, a sociopath and narcissist among the most evil and sick I can imagine, has continued the cycle of abuse with her kids. I agonized for years how to save them. In the end I honestly did not have the strength, I was still very much in danger myself from my sister’s cruel and calculating, agressive and violent behavior. I thought about all kinds of things, from anonymous or signed complaints to various agencies to kidnapping. That’s kind of laughable, but I know what devastation they’re in for as they grow up and eventually try to figure out why they are so screwed up. Just as I have.

      I don’t know the answer either. I agree absolutely that the system, and the public needs to start learning about all this and not brushing off this kind of abuse. I know people who still roll their eyes at emotional abuse as if it’s a joke. “Come on, so your mom yelled at you. That’s parenting”. It’s so sad. I wish you the best and that you find some peace for yourself too. You shouldn’t have to suffer because the world isn’t set up to support people like us in stopping this madness. Easier said, I know…

      Reply
  8. I too, am a scapegoat & have delt with narrow minded narcissistic family members all my life. I’ve always been an outcast & still am. Married at 14 to escape my mother & stepfather & their abuse to me. But at 14, what do you know? I knew nothing about life or how to live.

    I married into the same kind family I was trying to escape from. Went through a nasty divorce some 8 yrs later & because of the favoritism in the system & money, I lost my kids. They took them & moved away. I had no real support from family & no one cared.

    I went on & became a full blown drunk after that for about 20 yrs.Their dad was a drug addict & drug dealer & has since died from drugs. My oldest son has lost his mind from drugs & lives in assisted living home for mental illness. My daughter is a recovering addict & one son died in a house fire while in ex’s care. I have since had another child who I have raised on my own & is 22 yrs old now.

    Free from drugs & alcohol. I have been clean & sober for about 20 yrs & am a Christian now & very thankful I finally escaped that part of my life. It can be a very hard thing to accept when you don’t fit in with family & you’ve went your whole life trying to. I was sexually abused, neglected & abandoned & so was my older kids & No One Cared!

    The narcissist will rail you back in with favors, gilfs & fake luv when you keep your distance too long from them, just so they can exalt themselves & show all their flying monkeys how wonderful they are & how they’ve tried so hard to be there for you. I have a sister right now falsely accusing me of something that she actually did to me over 35 yrs ago. The nerve of some people never cease to amaze me.

    I’ve set her aside for the umpteenth time, only this time it feels different. I have a feeling of doneness that I’ve never felt before. When strangers abuse you, you have a tendency to get over it fairly well, but when it’s family it stays with you all your days & without the help of GOD Almighty, you may never recover & some don’t.

    My prayer today is to all those who have been abused by these kinds of people, may you find peace, luv & hope, for the end of this journey is far more than most can see right now. There is a better place & time coming for those who put their trust & hope in GOD. I never told all my story, for it is too much to jot down, but it really doesn’t matter all that much to me anymore. Luv to all!

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  9. Never really cared to think about my childhood until now. My father died when I was a month old, shot by intoxicated officers in a bar where he was fixing the owner’s gun for him. One officer held him while the other shot him, the bullet went through and killed them both.

    A few months later, I was pushed down some stairs and became a type 1 diabetic. Years later, my mom married a narcissist. He was always touching me and making me uncomfortable. When I turned 7, the abuse began. On my 7th birthday, he took me to the bedroom and forced me to orally satisfy him. After that, it was beatings with a willow branch if he thought the kids weren’t doing chores properly or anything else went wrong.

    Only I was beaten, even though I was the only one working. He only beat my backside where it would be covered. One time my stepdad lost his whole paycheck because of a hole in his pocket. I was blamed and the beating was so bad, I couldn’t sit and the teachers at school noticed. They thought I was being ornery and had me stand in a corner until I decided to sit down, I stood all day in the corner.

    Years later they eventually figured out there was something wrong with my family life and we were all forced to go to family counseling. That was useless because my stepdad told me that if I said anything, then my family would be torn apart and I would lose my brother and sisters, and mom would die of a broken heart because of me. I was 10. The abuse lasted all the way up into my early teens. By then, I had figured a few things out.

    One day, he insisted that I please him and I told him straight out no! That what he was forcing me to do was wrong and it wouldn’t happen anymore. Of course, that really pissed him off, so he grabbed his belt and started heading for me. I stood my ground. I told him to go ahead and beat me again, I had learned how to control pain so it really didn’t matter how hard he hit me. That gave him pause for a bit, but then he hit me, hard.

    I didn’t make a sound, didn’t even flinch, just defiantly glared at him with hatred. He started to raise his belt again, so I took a step closer. I must have unnerved him because he dropped his arm and never raised a hand or belt to me again after that.

    I am a little grateful to him for being a monster. Because of him, I don’t drink, I never did drugs, and thanks to him forcing me to smoke a pack of cigars when his first child was born, I never smoked. If I was faced with something that reminded me of him, I wouldn’t do it. I did not want to be like him! Now I am married to a wonderful man, my two daughters grew up to be smart, healthy, and beautiful.

    My youngest is a bit of a party girl so I pray each night that god helps her to make good decisions. As for my stepdad, he is dying a slow and agonizing death. Lung cancer, COPD, in a wheelchair, and blind. He just hasn’t passed yet because he is stubborn. My mom never knew of the abuse until the day I stood up to my stepdad. He never abused me when my mom was around. They ended up staying married, barely, and she takes care of him now.

    I don’t think she will cry when he passes. Not many will.
    Even with all the horrible things I went through as a child, my husband had it worse than I did. His mom got pregnant with him and the man ran off. She was left to raise him but had help from her wonderful parents. That is until she married a psycho narcissist. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know his stepdad raped him, beat him, and starved him. He once got a severe beating for stealing a potato from the kitchen.

    His stepdad would count them and if 1 was missing, he would beat him. After my husband’s mom died, the stepdad married another psycho a week after the funeral. She was even worse than the stepdad. Putting cigaretes out on my husband’s arm, beating him and worse. I have pieced together what happened over the years because my husband talks in his sleep. Sometimes he would cry and scream like a child in his sleep.

    That’s when I started to sing Christmas songs as he slept. Singing seemed to soothe him, Silent Night works best. My husband was eventually adopted by his uncle, ended up joining the navy for a while, went to college, graduated, worked around, and now teaches at the same college. He is a wonderful person and loved by just about everyone.
    I think the moral of our lives is that just because horrible things happen to you as a child does not mean that you can’t be a good person. Make yourself better than the ones who abused you, you don’t have to be like them.

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  10. I am almost 60 years old and the last time I visited my NPD mother was June 2021. After a week of daily ridicule, emotional, psychological and emotional abuse, I finally put the pieces together and once I did I cried.

    I found an excellent therapist who helped me keen strength to go no contact with this person. And that is the only thing you can do. I don’t think my family truly supports me in this. Because my NPD mother is very wealthy and holds the strings to a lot of money. I don’t care about that. I just want to be free and I am given my therapist help and strength.

    The most powerful weapon against these people is no contact. Once you do that you are free. Blame it on a therapist even if you don’t have one. Just go no contact there is nothing more powerful.

    I will never contact my NBD mother again and I doubt I will go to her funeral when she dies. She often referred to me as her best friend. But what “friend”would consistently ridicule and humiliate their “friend” in front of family and strangers and behind their back?

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  11. It is quite hard not to rebel when even buying a potted plant and keeping it in your own flat counts as such.
    I was called crazy and stupid for joining a virtual bird club…
    There is no going around it…. No addiction is necessary (I never even tried anything), started to date when I was 26 and still…
    Got called a destroyer when I had shelves put on the walls of my own flat.

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  12. This is very similar to what happened to me. Although my sister is the golden child we somehow got really close due to her tending to my mother after she had a screaming outburst at me and trying to tell her that it wasn’t all my fault. It hurt me every time that she still gave me Part blame when I didn’t do anything but she tried to keep the peace. My sister and I are extremely close now that I am studying away from home and we can meet alone, but she still keeps contact with our mom even when I began to realise how much I had been hurt by her. It’s difficult and everyone says I should explain to my mom why I don’t answer the phone anymore but I just want to be done. I don’t know how to explain that to my Dad who isn’t Narcissistic or my sister who thinks it’s cruel to our mom.

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  13. I am sick of my family treating me like shit. And I want to leave them and never turn back. But I have no one. Just me abd my dog. How do u leave when u have no support.

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    • Lilly,
      I know what it’s like to have absolutely no one. I tried to go NC with abusive family but was easily drawn back in because I was alone and in bad shape, desperate.
      If you can get a therapist, get Medicaid , or even just stay active with people online. If you can’t cut contact yet, don’t beat yourself up for that too! But be very careful what you say to them. Don’t open up about your struggles, they will use it to manipulate you. If you must rely on them for money or anything else, try to keep it simple and limit your time and words. Remember they might put on an act to draw you in and protect yourself! Remember you’re strong and spend time with your dog, they’re the best!! ❤️🧡💛

      Reply
  14. I have been no contact with my siblings for twenty years. The life long pain they caused my wife and children after my mother passed is devastating. IDK if having contact would be any better though. Scapegoated for my father’s drinking, then my brother’s.

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  15. I was the scapegoat who recognized it early and fought like hell. I wasn’t afraid of the beatings anymore b/c there was nothing I could do to stop them. My mother would literally make stuff up as an excuse to attack me.
    If I fought back, she’d call the police to have me arrested (thankfully never worked). I was a straight-A student, never did drugs or snuck out or anything like that like my older sister did, and was treated like a personal slave who did all the cleaning and chores and waited on my mother hand and foot.
    Yet I was treated like I was the demon child.
    When I hit puberty and my sister left home, she went from “spankings” to just clocking me across the face and pushing, kicking, etc. I was constantly grounded. My father sat there and did absolutely nothing.
    I was the only child to go to college (on a full academic scholarship I might add) yet I was the only one to NOT get help with buying a car or paying for college. My mother actually told me to go stay in a homeless shelter when I was 18 and riding the bus 2 hrs one-way to get to campus. She said there was probably a shelter closer to the university than our house was.
    My brother could do no wrong and wasn’t given chores until he was a teen. He eventually went to prison, just like I predicted due to him being spoiled all the time. She spent tens of thousands of dollars on his defense and my father paid thousands for my family to fly out and visit him every year. All of this was hidden from me until someone spilled the beans at a funeral.
    The pain stays with you forever. Although it’s not truly personal, it’s so very personal. I have to constantly remind myself that I was picked as the scapegoat because in the most sick and twisted way imaginable, it was a huge (yet backward) compliment. I have since come to learn from older family members that she and I were very much alike as kids and it seems she hated seeing her weaknesses come to life before her very eyes as well as being jealous of my strengths at the same time.

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  16. I have been the scapegoat in my family of origin my entire life, I am 56 years old. At 50 I was verbally annihilated and disowned by my father over a physical altercation my golden child sister had at her home while I was in another city, with my parents. I got the blame for all of it???? It was the cycle of abuse repeating itself as it had my entire life. So as painful as it was to accept, I managed to walk away as instructed. As Hard as that has been, now I am alone, it’s far better than being in that toxic mess! They like usual smear campaigned me to everyone who would listen. Again I can only accept it. I know I am better off without them. I am the only one in my family that has been independent since birth, never asked for money, and it was never offered. Never took advantage or anyone. I only tried to be kind, forgive and help and care for my elderly parents. They miss me, but only because they need someone to abuse and I carried the scapegoat job for the first 50 years of my life. I have opened up to my friends about them, I have chosen a better kinder more supportive and caring family. It still hurts but what I have come to realize particularly about my parents is I couldn’t save them from themselves. Nothing I did was ever going to change that dysfunctional dynamic they created with their golden children that are complete low life’s and screw ups. My father was frustrated he kept giving his saints large amounts of money, that he couldn’t afford. They all kept this hidden from me. But he took his frustration over this out on me constantly and I had no clue why??? Typical though in the dysfunctional family dynamic. Sadly both my parents are narcs and they raised some really screwed up children. I count myself lucky I am finally free.

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  17. I have just decided to go NC with my NMom, GC sister and her flying monkey live-in boyfriend. They are all enmeshed with each other and I live on opposite side of the country. Hadn’t seen them for almost three years due to covid, then they all decided to visit me and my family for a vacation that they controlled. It was an odd experience whereby we (me, hubby, and kids) all felt like we were being treated like stupid children. GC sister totally catered to NMom, who was clearly angry and aloof, and her boyfriend acted like a major immature suck up to both. After the “vacation,” sister tried to turn one of my kids (her “favorite”) against me and attempt to gaslight him into questioning his entire upbringing and job/education choices. He fought back and said he was insulted and the discussion is over. Sister then tried to guilt trip him, accused him of lying, said he wasn’t a good Christian (no offense to anyone here, but they live together, which our religion forbids, yet they think they are better on proclaiming Christian values?), and play the victim. Boyfriend did a follow-up replay via email, demanding apologies after everything sister and mother did for us. My son never responded, and now we as a family have decided no contact all around is best. Painful, but I will always choose my kids over family of origin. They can all self-destruct together. I pray for their souls.

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  18. I am 44 and this almost seems like a giant conundrum for me to wrap my head around. Everytime I am able to self diagnose, face it and move forward there seems to be additional terms and aliments that are also factors as I go. I know this needs to happen but at some point I hope that even this faze of my healing is over soon.
    I am very much ready to find a therapist and support system to make sure that we stay free of any of this abuse in the future.
    Ps.
    I am a single mother and having cognitive dissonance alongside being a scapegoat is really rough to process.
    You are all in my thoughts and prayers and at least we are not alone in the aspect of our processes.
    I am with you all 100% of the way! We can do this!
    The do not deserve 1 more shred of ANY energy from us ever again!
    Much love to all!
    Rae

    Reply

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