Scapegoating

ON SCAPEGOATING AND EVIL

According to legendary Harvard-trained psychiatrist and bestselling author M. Scott Peck, scapegoating is interchangeable with the term evil.   In his groundbreaking book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, wrote: ” [Evil is] the use of power to destroy the spiritual growth of others for the purpose of defending and preserving the integrity of our own sick selves. In short, it is scapegoating.” Arguing that a predominant characteristic of evil individuals is shaming and blaming, Peck goes on to to explain that “in their hearts, (evil people) consider themselves above reproach (therefore) they must lash out at any one who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection.” Never thinking of themselves as evil, Peck says that these individuals do, however, see much evil in others. In summary, he shares that “the people I label as evil are chronic scapegoaters…they attack others instead of facing their own failures.

For a fascinating study on human evil, including case studies of both individual and corporate malfeasence as well as a clinical approach to demonic possession, read this book.


(E)SCAPEGOAT – THE PLUS SIDE

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Now, as promised in the intro, here’s the official lighter side of scapegoating and rejection!   A little known fact about the word scapegoat is that it’s actually derived from the word escape. Why? Because the scapegoat was the one who got away. If you recall our Leviticus story, at the beginning of the ritual there were two goats, one of which was “chosen” (and sacrificed) and the other, the scapegoat, which was banished to the desert. Who do you think was the lucky one?

So what is it, exactly, that scapegoats are escaping? The tyranny of lies and dysfunction, for one thing. Scapegoats don’t pretend everything’s okay when they know deep down it’s not. They’ve escaped from the need to please. They’ve escaped from the need to deny their own heart. They’ve escaped from one of the biggest fears hindering mankind — rejection. Scapegoats have already been there, done that, carried on (yawn.)  So they’ll try things others won’t, accomplish things others can’t — because others are hindered by fear. They have some hard-won wisdom and strength. Most of all, scapegoats are no longer in thrall to what M. Scott Peck calls “The Lie.” (see The Great Soul Theory: On Evil and Scapegoating for more information.)

Embodying  Christ’s declaration that “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,”(e)scapegoats are spared the awful fate that so often falls on their contemporaries.  The other goat, after all, embodies unthinkable sacrifice — e.g. those sacrificing their lives, dreams, conscience and even their souls to a lie, and/or people bound to the lie.  Scapegoats, on the other hand, enjoy a sweet and peculiar freedom others can only imagine. If that’s not worth celebrating, what is? Break out the bubbly, friends!

SCAPEGOATING

1. One that is made to bear the blame of others.
2. One that is the object of irrational hostility.

Examples of SCAPEGOAT

  1. The CEO was made the scapegoat for the company’s failures.
  2. <companies often use the economy as a scapegoat to avoid taking responsibility for dropping sales>

Synonyms: fall guygoatwhipping boy[+]more

 


SCAPEGOATS IN HISTORY: WHERE, WHY AND WHEN IT ALL BEGAN

“We’ve been around for awhile.” – The Scapegoat
For the fascinating historical and philosophical underpinnings of scapegoating by Stanford University professor Rene Girard, see:http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2011/02/28/the-scapgoat-rene-girards-anthropology-of-violence-and-religion/

ANATOMY OF A SCAPEGOAT

So do scapegoats have common denominators? You betcha.  Below are frequently seen “types.” To learn more about avoiding being scapegoated, see How To Avoid Being a Target (In a Peer Group) and (In a Family)
The Truth-Teller:
This is the kid who famously told the emperor he had no clothes. The one who recognizes Mommy’s an alcoholic even if she says it’s just, you know, a nightcap.  The one who dares plug his nose at the general family/schoolyard/workplace funk. Unfortunately that same family, schoolyard and workplace is often not amenable to Truth in any way, shape or form. They instead choose to kill the prophet and/or scapegoat. Confronted with their craziness, they’ll do anything to maintain the lie, e.g. “one big happy family” or justifying their own transgressions. Ergo, they target the scapegoat rather than own their own behavior. See  The Great Soul Theory: On Scapegoating and Evil for more information on this behavior.
The Sensitive One:
This is often the introverted truth-teller. They haven’t yet learned how to lie or hide their emotions, which makes them an easy target in some circles. Wisdom dictates their learning to take on, when necessary, a “crab” mentality (a tough outer shell while the soft heart/insight remains.)
Defender of the Weak:
This is  Superman. Or woman. Saint. Martyr. And, eventually, Scapegoat. Some scapegoats love to fight for the underdog whether it be a person or a cause. They rush in with their sword and shield ready and anxious to do battle.  They believe with all their hearts that this is what caring people do for each other and anyone who does not defend those who are less fortunate are weak, heartless or cold. Their willingness to fight for others comes from their good hearts, but, if they fail to use wisdom, it truly hurts them in the end.
The Idealist:
Scapegoats are often idealists.  They believe in ultimate truth and absolute justice and they are quick to grab their sword and shield and fight for their ideals.  Therein lies the problem.  Scapegoats have little tolerance for people who don’t live up to their ideals and this is most people.

The Black and White Thinker:

Scapegoats tend to have very black and white thinking.  Things are either all good or all bad.  They are completely right or completely wrong.  This is one of things which will make change difficult.  Convincing a scapegoat that there is a grey area or that giving in a little bit is not weakness is tough. They tend to see everything as all or nothing.

The “Different” One:

This often involves “too much” of something. Being too tall. Too short. Too pretty. Too smart. (Phoebe Prince falls into the pretty and smart category.) Too clumsy. Too talented. Too hyper. Too quiet. Anything that makes you stand out from the cookie cutter, whatever that is, is suspect. “Different” people who create fear, aversion, fatigue, anxiety, envy, guilt or other negative emotions in others are easier to scapegoat. In family systems, a disabled child (read “too difficult”) is often scapegoated, as are children with whom the scapegoating parents easily identify.  For example, a father with anger issues whose son can’t control his temper may target the son.  To learn more about how to handle this difficult situation, see How To Avoid Being a Target (In a Peer Group) and (In a Family.)

The Insecure One:

Confidence is the issue, and is often related to being The “Different” One. This is often creates a scapegoat/bullying target combination.

The Rule Enforcer:

Self-righteousness is a heady and intoxicating emotion found in some scapegoats.  The self-righteous assume only they know the proper way of doing things and that others should see things their way.  They may assume there is only one right way of doing things.  Again, you can see the black and white thinking.  The self-righteous also believe it is their task to ensure that others do things in the way the self-righteous have determined to be right  or correct. Intolerance of human foibles is one way the rule enforcer puts a giant target on his or her back.

Often scapegoats are a combination of the above. To learn more about avoiding being scapegoated, see How To Avoid Being a Target (In a Peer Group) and (In a Family.)

Adapted from the excellent piece: http://www.mentalhealthblogs.com/making-yourself-a-target-replicating-the-scapegoat-role-in-your-life-how-to-stop-doing-it/

ARE YOU A SCAPEGOAT? TAKE THIS QUIZ

1. Do you isolate yourself from others for fear of rejection and/or being ripped apart…AGAIN?

2. Conversely, do you keep returning to the same ol’ mess, hoping to fix it, and end up shattered yet again? (This is especially true in families.)

3. Do you engage in self-sabotage? Deep down, are you pretty sure you don’t deserve the good things in life?

4. Do you keep finding yourself in toxic work environments? Does your workplace resemble (shudder) your family of origin?

5. Do you sometimes think you carry an invisible “Kick Me” sign (and others somehow see it?)

6. Is your spouse and/or kids also bullied and scapegoated? Were your parents? What is the generational stuff looking like?

7. Do you suspect God is also a big bully, (just like mom/dad/sister/brother/peers/boss)?

8. Do you find that even when you move/change schools/change workplaces, the same ol’ same ol’ keeps happening? Does it seem you can’t escape bullying and scapegoating?

9. Do you surround yourself with unhealthy people (and, yes, family applies) and engage in unhealthy habits, even though you know better?

10. Do you find yourself in toxic relationships, or avoiding healthy relationships? Deep down, do you suspect you’re not worthy of a good man/woman/friend/employer?

11. If you’re an adult, do you find yourself shying away from pets, plants, kids or any other kind of life form? Does the idea of having these things exhaust you, striking you as extraordinarily high-maintenance?

If you answered ANY of these questions “yes”, you qualify as a scapegoat or scapegoat-in-waiting.  Fortunately, you’re in the right place.  Start your healing here.

 

SCAPEGOAT MYTHS

1. SCAPEGOATS  AND BULLY TARGETS ARE WEAK.

Some theorists argue bullying is social darwinism, a way to ensure survival of the fittest. They fail to take into account, however, that bullying and scapegoating targets are often the strongest of all.

Former bullying target Jessica Alba is a good example.  In her own words, she didn’t fight back and “kept everything inside because (she) didn’t want to lower (her)self to the level of the bullies.” Far from weakness, Alba demonstrated extreme self-control. And as evidenced by her kick-butt movie moves and insistence on doing her own stunts, she certainly had what it took to take the bullies down.

Even in individuals who are naturally passive or otherwise vulnerable, “weakness” is really lack of confidence and/or a deep-seated worthlessness and shame. This needs to be dealt with from the inside-out (See Free Help. )

2. SCAPEGOATS ARE TROUBLEMAKERS WHO DESERVE WHAT THEY GET

While it’s true that some scapegoats do bring trouble on themselves due to self-righteousness or other obnoxious behaviors (see Anatomy of a Scapegoat), the only real crime of most scapegoats is honesty and, occasionally, a martyr complex.

Individuals who scapegoat often prefer the darkness and/or the lie and resent anyone who sheds light on the madness. They will then attack the individual bringing truth (see  The Great Soul Theory: On Evil and Scapegoating for a chilling analysis of this phenomenon.) This has nothing to do with the target and everything with the perpetuator’s need to maintain the status quo.

Beyond that, people who are “different” (read: too beautiful, too smart, too handicapped, too whatever) may create fear, aversion, envy, guilt or other negative emotions in scapegoaters and bullies. Again, this has nothing to do with the target and everything to do with the perp. Finally, those who lack confidence and suffer from “social anxiety”, or shyness, are often targeted.  The bottom line is, regardless of the target’s specific background, NO ONE DESERVES ABUSE.

3. ONCE A SCAPEGOAT, ALWAYS A SCAPEGOAT

Not so. You CAN break the pattern, but first you have to recognize the pattern. See Healing Resources and the excellent piece: http://www.mentalhealthblogs.com/making-yourself-a-target-replicating-the-scapegoat-role-in-your-life-how-to-stop-doing-it/

4. THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME (BECAUSE I’M A SCAPEGOAT)

Often the only thing “wrong” is your honesty at all costs. This must be tempered with wisdom (Remember: Don’t cast your pearls before swine.) Often your confidence has also taken a serious beating. To beat this, see How To Avoid Being a Target (in a Peer Group)  and In a Family as well as  Healing Resources.

5. IF I JUST TAKE IT, (THE SCAPEGOATING) WILL GO AWAY ON ITS OWN

Doing nothing is never the answer. Repeat –passivity is never, never, never the solution. Often it just leads to being bullied, which complicates your already-existing situation by leaps and bounds. Fight wisely, but fight well– for your personal integrity, wholeness and truth about your particular situation. This site is a good beginning!

See How to Handle a Bully (For Kids) and Adult Bullies for practical tips.Site Map

SCAPEGOAT TIPS

How not to be a scapegoat among peers? The key is Confidence, Confidence, Confidence!! This involves a lot of inner work, so check out Healing Resources for some good foundational material. In the meantime:

1. Build Bridges

If you are trying to break free of the scapegoat pattern it is important to “play well with others”.  Work hard at building bridges with the other people in your group – whether it is a group of colleagues, roommates, family members or friends.  Not being isolated to the outer fringes of the group makes you harder to villify and scapegoat because you are one of them.  Generating positive feelings in others makes it harder for them to scapegoat you.

If you are an employee, but happy and pleasant about where you work.  Be determined to work in harmony with others and let gossip, office politics and other people’s opinions and issues fall away.  If Mary has a problem with Joe, let it stay with Mary.  You don’t have a problem working with Joe.

2. Avoid Negativity

Scapegoats tend to surround themselves with gripers and complainers, and these folks tend to bring their beefs to the scapegoats. Why?  So the scapegoats will fight their battles for them.  Ergo, scapegoats need to change the people with whom they associate. Stop listening to gossip and negativity. If it starts, go back to your office. Cut off endless negative comments about other people. Stop your own griping.  If you’re not happy about where you are – move.  Whether it is a job, a geographical location, a living situation or a relationship, change it or leave it.  Remember that negativity draws negativity to you, so stop carrying other people’s emotional garbage around.

3. Use Wisdom with Respect to Truth , a.k.a. “Don’t throw your pearls before swine!”

If you are scapegoated because you tell the truth, look at that behavior.  This truth telling had a purpose in your family of origin because it brought out the real issue behind the dysfunction.  But scapegoats often carry over this need to tell the truth into their adult lives with disastrous results.

It is important for scapegoats to take control of their truth telling in two different ways:

1) Only tell your own truths

Do not speak up for other people.  Be clear whose emotions you are expressing.  Often, in a relationship system, whether it is a family, an office or a group of friends, other people will come to the scapegoat to express their distress about a situation.  They subconsciously try to lure the scapegoat into picking up his sword and shield and fighting their battle for them.  This is often done as “Let’s go say something to the boss about this” or “We need to talk to Mom about her drinking.” Ahem.  You know this game.  Somehow “we” becomes “you”.  If you indeed tell Mom that the family is upset about her drinking and she goes to the others and asks them about it, they often will claim they have no idea what she is talking about.  Now you and Mom are fighting about how you feel about her drinking.  And the person who is really worried about her drinking is nowhere in the room.

It’s important that you stop fighting battles for other people.  If someone is talking to you about a situation that is upsetting (they won’t say upsetting them personally; it’s just universally upsetting) and they are asking you to join them in confronting the situation, stop.  Step back.  Breathe.  Check yourself.  How did you feel about the situation before the person started talking to you?  If you were O.K. with it, then it was O.K. with you.  You are not upset about it.  They are.   Get your original emotions back and back away from the other person’s emotions.  Hand them back to the person who brought them to you.  You can verbally do this by saying something like, “If this is really upsetting you so much, why don’t you talk to Mom about it yourself?”  Eliminate the triangle of them, you and Mom.  Direct it back to one-to-one communication:  you (the person who has the emotions) talks to Mom (the person with whom they are upset).

2)  Wisely choose the truths you tell

What happens when you are the one who is upset?  Must you always speak every truth that exists?

Scapegoats often have the belief that it is their job to tell the truth — every truth, every time.  And they are right.  It is their job.  But I thought you wanted to resign from this job.  If you want to resign as scapegoat, you will have to resign your job duties.  Hanging onto the belief that it is your duty to tell all truths you see leaves you powerless and at the mercy of everyone else who does not feel this need.  Other people who restrain themselves and approach truth telling with wisdom have a much more peaceful and pleasant life.

Make choices about which truths you speak.

3) Examine your  motives.

If you just want to feel self-righteous or “right”,  you may be truth telling as a way of scapegoating someone else. Pointing out someone else’s flaws becomes a way of making yourself look better. Therefore, examine your motives carefully.  It is better to save your truth telling for things that really matter to you.  If you are constantly complaining, people stop listening and you are perceived as a snitch or a poor team player.

Many scapegoats have a tendency to be perfectionistic and hypercritical.  Take this into account before telling any “truths”.

4) Know the truth does not have to be told at all times.

The mistaken belief here is that the truth must be told at all times, a result of black and white thinking (see Anatomy of a Scapegoat). All truth does not have to be told every time.  If your wife turns and asks you, “Honey, do you think this makes me look fat?”, do NOT tell the truth.

The belief that the truth must always be spoken is paired with a belief that failing to tell the truth makes you weak or hypocritical (often because the people in the scapegoat’s family of origin were too dysfunctional to deal with their truth).  The scapegoat generalizes this opinion to everyone in their lives.  They fail to realize you might fudge on the truth to spare someone’s feelings, to avoid a confrontation with someone who is unreasonable or to avoid stressing about an issue you don’t care about.  The scapegoat will not realize that other people may be just as capable of fighting battles of their own, but unlike the scapegoat, they carefully pick their battles rather than taking on every battle that comes their way.

To change this behavior, the scapegoat has to realize that letting the truth slide a bit can smooth out their rocky relationships and go a long way in avoiding frivolous and self-defeating confrontations.

4. Shed the “Defender” Role  (see Anatomy of a Scapegoat)

Want to know the magical word that serves as the scapegoat’s call-to-arms?  “Unfair.”

The problem with this type of thinking is that it isn’t really fair to the person being defended.  If someone else always fights their battles for them, they never learn to stand up for themselves.  In fighting their battles for them, the scapegoat communicates to them that they are too weak to help themselves and only the scapegoat can save them.  This glorifies the scapegoat more than it helps the defenseless.  To truly help someone, you help them stand up for themselves and fight their own battles. *

This constant fighting of other people’s battles also makes the scapegoat a target because they are labeled a troublemaker and/or complainer. This makes it twice as difficult for the scapegoat to get their own needs met.  If, for example, the scapegoat has gone to the boss every week for 10 weeks in a row to complain about some injustice that is being done to so-and-so, when the scapegoat goes to the boss on the 11th week to ask for something they themselves need, the boss is already sick of them complaining and turns a deaf ear.

How to stop it?  Ask yourself, “Did I care about this before Joe came to me about it?”  If the scapegoat heard the news about the increased work load and had no feelings about it before Joe came along, then the problem belongs to Joe, not to him or her. The scapegoat needs to put down the sword and let Joe work it out. After all, if Joe is so upset by it, let him go talk to the boss about it.  If Joe is not enough upset by the change to take it to the boss, perhaps the scapegoat should not act on it either.

Words to watch for when you are replicating this behavior may be: unfair, unjust, right, should, can’t, ought. Some ideas which may indicate this line of thinking might be: “It’s not fair”, “That isn’t right”, “They shouldn’t treat people that way”, “They ought to do it the right way”, “They can’t get away with that”.

* Obviously in the case of a radical power imbalance and/or true defenselessness, say in the case of an abused child, the only humane thing to do is act. Use wisdom as to where and when to wield that sword!

5. Quit Being an Idealist and Embrace Tolerance

To overcome this, do a reality check.  Do you expect things of other people you do not manage yourself?  Do you set the bar so high no one could ever live up to it?  Do you expect perfection instead of humanity?  To live and play well with others you have to allow other humans their flaws and their foibles.  Instead of idealism, embrace tolerance.

6. Eschew Black and White Thinking

To overcome this, try to identify when you are reducing complex issues to black and white thinking.  Try developing a more balanced view of things.  Is it possible something could have pros and cons?  Good and bad qualities?  Is it possible that always telling the truth might not be a good idea?  Can you think of instances when it would not be?  Look for words in your thinking which indicate a black and white approach: always, never, perfect, impossible.

7. Drop The “Rule Enforcer” Role

How to change it? Ask yourself if you really want to die on this hill. Is this really where you want to spend your energy? Is it really affecting you? Realize that you can pick your battles.

Words to watch for: should, must, right, correct, wrong, proper, acceptable, suitable, can’t.  Ideas which might indicate self-righteousness and the “rule enforcer role” are: “They should do it this way”, “It must be done this way”, “That isn’t right!”, “That is just wrong”, “That isn’t the way to do it properly”, “That isn’t acceptable”, “They can’t get away with that.” Realize that this is obnoxious behavior. Don’t go there.

Adapted with gratitude from the excellent http://www.mentalhealthblogs.com/making-yourself-a-target-replicating-the-scapegoat-role-in-your-life-how-to-stop-doing-it/

For a more comprehensive guide on How Not To Be a Scapegoat, check out our new report HELP! I’m a Black Sheep. This is our FREE gift to you, and one of the many perks of membership!

 

18 thoughts on “Scapegoating

  1. Caitlin

    Thank you SO much for this post on Scapegoats! As a person whose trying to quit the scapegoat role this was extremely helpful…though it still won’t be easy! Thanks again

    Reply
    1. About the Author Post author

      Hey Caitlin, thanks for your kind words! Want to cordially invite you to our brand new community forum, a.k.a. my Facebook page (Victoria Hanan Iglesias) 🙂 This is a safe place for recovering scapegoats to share, vent and support each other. Please drop in and feel the love. Rooting for you, sister… XO

      Reply
    2. Cally

      I never thought about looking up a site like this and seeing the climate that a scapegoated person is a part of, Until 2001 I had felt there was something that was very wrong for his father o come to me fifteen years before and demand I help control my husband on his return home from military service in 1985, I felt until recently I was helping keep my husband from taking things in life that were better served going to other people his father and friends felt more deserving, Such as vacation slots my husband had a right to, holidays my husband could have taken off to spend with me and hos family. even weekends off were denied because others deemed more important than my husband to the community were denied. and it was always if he tried using his rights under seniority rules at work everyone came down on my husband about did he deserve to take these rights.
      It has turned what was a fair and thoughtful man into something that can’t really be called human now, My contribution to the effort to keep my husband under control was to promise sex and a home life in an undefined future, It was please just do as you are asked then one day you will have the life you had hoped for, both in the bedroom and at home.
      Then the first surgery that was a devastating fear for everyone a tumor had developed on his brainstem and right in the middle of the summer of 2001 it came to the point that something had to be done, a hole drilled from over his right eye to the center of his head. When he woke up from that, things went from complacency for him to outright defiance for everyone and it became so dangerous to get any cooperation from him people had to resort to armed intimidation. He started by hurting four men one wanting a job my husband bid on and got, his father, union and others wanted it to go to a much less seniority man, but my husbands defiance started forcing people to first try physical means of force my husband to back down from a position he took, When four men went to critical care and I ended up under the front door with my husband standing on it telling me the next time I bolted him out of the house to get hurt I would be going to critical care to, Then firearms were used to make my husband do as instructed.
      More people badly hurt, my husband snatched a shotgun out of one mans hands and used the butt on his face he surgery to save his life was over ten hours, This was the thanksgiving of 2011, my husband then drew down on his father and two others and it took a deputy begging my husband just to go to work and cool of because he had already ruined that holiday for every one. The next year he allowed himself to become so depressed the doctors said it compromised his immune system, and he spent the next three years in rehab relearning to do what he should not be able to do and that is walking after MRSA set into his spine.
      His father now calls him the family embarrassment, because he either has to use a cane or walker to get around, is mad because my husband works in volentering to put down the laws and exclusion practices in the state we used to live in.
      The last two years my husband has refused to compromise or wait on anything he felt was his due, He first started with me, He came home from a stress center earlier that expected for treatment in anger management and rage control, I had promised to go with his fathers best friend to a political fund raising dinner, when over is fathers objection they sent my husband home. had just finished getting ready to go when my husband was standing in the living room looking like a storm cloud.
      I told him I was only going as a favor to his father and best friend and would be back in three to four hours. My husband just said I was not going with his fathers best friend because frankly he despised the man. I said I promised your father and his best friend I would go, My husband said it sounds as though they will now have to get used to your broken promises then because you have many to keep to me starting tonight from the last 31 years. At this point I became scared. I knew exactly the promises my husband was talking about. It was the promise of becoming a real wife if he would just cooperate with people. I said your cooperation evaporated in 2001 so I neve4r felt those promises needed kept now. He said I have supported you. kept a roof over your head, food on your table, cloths on your back, heat in your house for what return as a wife, nothing, no food for me, I fixed the on meal I got a day, I worked to provide your trips with my father and family and friends every three years, Trips you kept promising you would work to see I took the next one the last six times, You stood in front of a church full of people 31 years ago and promised to be a wife to me. Needless to say the next hour I first spent trying to get him to accept he could pick a place and everyone that had something to input could meet at after the event and get everything settled to his satisfaction and other satisfaction, he said he was the only one to have satisfaction that evening, I tried running for the door and he ripped my new dress off saying I paid for this it stays, I then begged to not have this in anger and after so long denied, He did not listen, I became pregnant shortly before my 49th birthday after my own husband raped me.
      He started two years of terror on everyone at that point. The man I was to go with that night thought he was going to run rough shod over my husband at the door and come in. My husband threw him at his mother and fathers windshield as they where pulling in hoping to try and keep this from happening They found out from the center they sent my husband home and came to try and keep things stable, His fathers friend slammed face first into the drive and needed major medical help, The next memorial day I was having the cookout on our front porch, my husbands father came and told my husband he was not going to be allowed to stay because he had not been part of holidays since 1978. My husband said my house. my food, my equipment I am staying. It took myself and his mother to keep blows from happening at that time, Part of the tradition was after dinner drinks at a club, Again his father tried to arrange I go with his best friend, by handing the reservation ticket to his best friend with my name and his on it. first my husband intimidated his fathers friend into handing the ticket over and run for his life.
      His father stepped up and told my husband he would not put up with his rudeness ay longer and my husband taking his rights without them being given, he slapped his son. My husband turned to him and said his days of trying to rule his life were over, he was taking what rights he felt where due regardless of what his father, family, or I want from him. He broke the first bone on his father when he backhanded him across the kitchen, his jaw, We arrived at the club and his father had called ahead telling the doorman not to admit my husband, When We arrived I was let through the door but the doorman started pushing my husband back when they reached the side walk the doorman pushed again, It was a public sidewalk and my husbands cane knocked the man senseless, everyone else arrived to find the mans pony tail in my husbands hand and his knee in his back as he smashed the mans face into the pavement, saying I am going where my wife goes understand, Everyone just got out of his way after that, then the need to talk about this years vacation trip without my husband being present for the discussion, it was about how to keep my husband from being angry he was not coming for the 11th time, I did not know my husband had already changed everything and got a freedom of information finding expunged about getting a passport, He received his passport in December, everyone found he invited himself on this trip at the same time taking the money I was loaning to his fathers best friend to go for his berth, I felt sorry for the way my husband treated him two other times. When we were going to a breakfast to discuss the situation about my husband they used pistols to back my husband off, My husband recorded the whole incede4nt on security cams he had installed unknown to me, then when he loaded the video on a thumb drive he set out to go to the police. he passed where we met his mother sister and the wives of the two men and others where we were going to eat breakfast and talk what to do over about how to get my husband to realize he was being left out for taking his rights, all the sudden his sister screamed watch out as the handle of my husbands cane whoshed over the table lay the two men that held him at bay out in their meal with their faces laid open to the jawbone. He was telling his father at that point he was going to die a slow death at his hand for his interference in his life.
      I got an ultimatom that I could stand up and leave after the police watched the video and released him, they had at least kept him from murdering his father, or I could stay and find my bags packed and a pass anywhere on a bus out of town. The final showdown has come, my husband showed up with me for the cruise, I had no choice after he told me he would pull my funding if he did not go, I had saved for a while to go, and my husband took all fund controls on himself by court order. o there was nothing I could do but beg one more time for him to please wait this one out and I would guarantee his going the net time in three years, he said the same bloody promise since the 80s, and the answer was no, his father was furious his best friend was cut out and my husband, and he invited himself, he showed up at our room the day before boarding and was drunk with a ball bat yelling for my husband to come get what he deserved and then go home. my husband blocked the bat with his cane then delivered uppercut from his hip, his fathers head snaped straight back and my husband closed the door leaving his father laying with a broken neck in the hall way. This vacation did not happen any way, for what he always wanted his life to be over the last 42 years and was denied every time he tried to have any of the life he wanted, my husband has turned every tradition formed in that time into a tradition of terror now, he says where I m invited so is he, there is no waiting for what he wants, there are no more compromises to try and nothing he can be promised he will accept.
      After reading your article on scapgoading it made me think of what was done to my husband for decades, I know what we did was in no way fair to him but his way of getting through it now is just leaving a trail of bad feelings and anger not to mention a lot of blood and broken people not to mention his raping me in anger.
      I think this is the worst example of how a family can go when they use one person as the goat for everyone in society, I am not excusing my part in this, I just thought it made my husband as the better man, in his first 16 years at hoe before 2001 we loved people coming and telling us how nice it was my husband gave his vacation slot up for their son or daughter to have one when they wanted, or how nice it was my husband worked the weekend and holiday someone else needed instead of taking it for himself.
      Now we get barbed looks at how my husband has now ruined everything. How he has taken his rights, how he left people bleeding and broken for assaults they considered done and over, Everyone that has ever held a weapon on my husband has suffered broken hands and other parts broken on their bodies.
      In ordered therapy sessions for the family his father said all he was to do with his life was accept a simple instruction, he was to shut up and do as he was told, he said he did not have any thing to grip about, he had a roof over his head, he was warm, and had at least six hours of sleep a day and he got at least one meal a day, so what he was in the same place everyday.
      The therapist asked my husband what would happen if his father tried to say anything about his life again and what was going to happen in it, My husband said he will wish I had done a better job breaking his neck!
      We have tried resolving the issue by moving 1230 miles to the west.. Things are not finished for my husband however, He wants 33 years of a stolen life returned, I don’t say no to sex any more. After we were not allowed to board my husband sued the line, The agreed to pay for vacations for two for five years any where in the world to not get publicity about what happened, My husband is planning a vacation that I have already seen the things in it, I asked for something different this time and he said I should have thought about it when I allowed his father to rule his life and blackmail him.

      Reply
      1. About the Author Post author

        Cally,
        Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out. It’s true scapegoating can have devastating effects, and am sorry to hear about you and your husband’s experience. But it is equally true that, once recognized, it does NOT have to control our life. The tough part is the diagnosis — and you’ve already done that! I encourage you to share “Help! I’m a Black Sheep” with your husband. It’s available on this site under the “Gimme My Freebies” tab, and you can upload it for free. Also, check out the “Free Help” tab. There are many good resources there that can help you and your husband have a full recovery — and a new, wonderful life together! In the meantime, want to share a powerful thought with you and your husband from the Bible: If you maintain your hope, refusing to give in to self-pity and choosing to forgive (which is not the same thing as reconciling — some people are simply unsafe!), you WILL be paid back for everything you thought lost — and then some! The Enemy* will have to restore seven times what was stolen. But, both of you will to be serious about your healing. Embrace the light and peace will come, Cally. Blessings on the journey.

        VHI

        * Learn more — Ephesians 6:12/John 10:10
        Source: Proverbs 6:31/Joel 2:25/Zechariah 9:12

        Reply
    3. seeking insight

      Thank you so much for this post and the insights into the reasons why scapegoating takes place and what behaviors can be changed to prevent it. There is so much that is truly useful here. However, one question I have regards the ‘truth-telling tendency” of the victims of scapegoating. Picking one’s battles with caution is indeed very sensible. However, sometimes it leads to complicity with social dynamics that need to be revealed and curbed. As the “black sheep” of a dysfunctional narcissistic family, I certainly received my share of bullying at the hands of my mother. Her husband was also another alcoholic underdog victim of her ruthless power tactics and her onslaughts on everyone’s self-esteem. As far as I can recall, I spoke up against her toxic behaviour and thus made myself the target. My silent and acquiescent siblings benefit from their complicity in every respect but they also perpetuate the dysfunction of my mother’s behavior and their own non-emancipation. Just thought I’d mention it….socially, surely calling abusive power-wielders to account has its merit and takes strength and courage. Having said this, I agree — it’s likely a matter of balance and choosing wisely where to “wield the power” of truth-telling….

      Reply
      1. About the Author Post author

        Caitlin, soul sister!

        Love your seeker vibe, and obvious courage and wisdom. Thank you for that! It’s true that choosing our battles well involves a great deal of strategy and wisdom. Conserving energy is important! Often, as recovering scapegoats, we want to speak truth to people who simply are not equipped to hear it, much less receive it. Does this mean we give up and wave the white flag?
        Absolutely not! But timing is everything, and we have to learn to fight smart.

        I encourage you read “Help! I’m a Black Sheep”, available here as a free upload under the “Gimme My Freebies” tab. It addresses this in more depth. In the meantime, know prayer (e.g. focused energy tapping into the Ultimate Energy — the physics involved is fascinating!) is a very powerful means of softening the hearts you want to touch, making them receptive to truth. Know that God is love* — and that’s the frequency you want to be operating in.

        Best to you on the journey!
        VHI

        * 1 John 4:8 – The Bible

        Reply
  2. Elizabeth

    Thanks for this blog. The line that will stay with me (possibly for the rest of my life) is, “Break out the bubbly, friends!” That was great because I’ve been the family scapegoat all of my life and have finally been able to get away from all of the madness! I have been celebrating my freedom ever since.

    I now have a new life with a new attitude (more laid-back), and I live far enough away from the cult that they can no longer target me. I’ve gone NC with all of them and LC with my NM – and I may eventually go NC with her in the near future.

    Life is great when you finally cut the psychic cords, take back your power and say, “Bye, bye!” I realize that even though the cult has caused me to suffer tremendously over the years, they have also made me stronger and wiser as a result.

    Thank goodness I was not the chosen one, for I believe that I would never have been able to escape my NM’s grip. I am now free to live my life and to follow my bliss.

    Reply
    1. About the Author Post author

      Elizabeth, you’re so welcome! Please keep in touch and share what’s happening on the journey. Also want to invite you to our new community forum, e.g. my Facebook page (Victoria Hanan Iglesias.) This is a safe place where scapegoatees can share, vent, support and otherwise support each other. Hope to see you there. XO

      Reply
      1. About the Author Post author

        You are SO welcome! 🙂 Truly hope it helps you on your journey. In the meantime, urge you to check out our bonus report, “Help! I’m a Black Sheep”. It’s FREE for a limited time, and delves more deeply into the topic of scapegoating. You can upload it under the Gimme My Freebies tab. Please also look for our upcoming bonus report on Sociopaths. Release date TBA, but it will offer a lot of material that ties into scapegoating. God bless and hope to see you around the forum! XO

        Reply
  3. Mom

    Anything here for the scapegoater? I have 5 children but only one gets to me. He is overactive, often physically hurting the other kids, def. Truth teller lol, but I could deal with everything if he wasn’t making his brothers cry everyday( he’s 11)
    I regret speaking harshly to him every time and feel I could’ve handled it better but don’t know what to do. I see myself breaking him down by constantly blaming him, isolating him(for peace) and telling others just not to play with him so the fighting will stop. I recognize these as negative things that are not helping him but really, not sure what to do?

    Reply
    1. About the Author Post author

      Hi there, Mama

      First of all, I so applaud and honor your honesty. It takes a lot of guts to own our behavior, and to seek to do and be better. To be perfectly real with you, this is a question that probably should involve some degree of professional help in order to better examine your particular family dynamics and patterns. You’d be surprised what an objective ear and eye can offer! Many universities and colleges have free and/or drastically reduced counseling clinics — it’s part of the student training, and their supervisors are involved at every level. The quality is often stellar. Beyond that, I’d strongly recommend looking into a program like Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA), which also caters to adult children of dysfunctional families in general. This uses a 12-step model, and can be a very helpful tool for recognizing patterns in your past that may be affecting your present life and family. Learn more: http://www.adultchildren.org/

      Finally, if you haven’t yet, I recommend reading “Help! I’m a Black Sheep” offered here on this site under the Gimme My Freebies tab. Although geared toward the scapegoat, it may give you some fresh insights into some of the dynamics at play and offer a new perspective on your “challenging” child. God bless you as you go forward in truth and humility, and know that you’re not alone in these challenges — and that you CAN and WILL be a great mother…to ALL your children. I believe in you! All the best, – v.

      Reply
  4. Kelly

    Hi,
    I want to thank you for creating this informative website. This is the first website that integrates the Bible in dealing with scapegoating. The only other resource/person was in People of the Lie, Dr. M. Scott Peck. I could not explain the depth of shame within myself after spending time with family perpetrators. I thought it was me being too sensitive, too weak – something was wrong with me! This scapegoat behavior has been going on all my life. Throughout my childhood, teens, and into my middle-aged years, I have been blamed, set up, humiliated, cheated on, lied to, belittled…forsaken by my family and children. I’m done..I will no longer play the part of the human dumping ground. Thanks for all the resources you’ve made available..
    God Bless?

    Reply
    1. About the Author Post author

      Dear Kelly,
      So appreciate your thoughtful post, and am absolutely confident that you are entering into your season of radical harvest and blessing for all you’ve been through! Once we recognize the real nature of the battle, especially the spiritual/energy dynamics, the scripture promises us “double for our trouble.” As you continue to hold on to the promises in the word, you are being positioned for restoration beyond your wildest dreams. So, darling, may I suggest buckling that seat belt HARD; you are going places–and fast!

      Rooting for you, sister! XOXO!
      – v.

      Reply
  5. NewYorker

    I discovered your website and books the moment I needed them most and I really appreciate all of your insights. I’ve spent the last 24 years spending as little time with my family as possible and following my dreams. Most families would be proud of my world class achievements and all I was ever told is that I don’t derserve a good education, it’s all a pipe dream, are you sure your not just being scammed and “what, you think your better than me?” Thank god I escaped. About 3 years ago, things really started turning around for me with relationships because I had enough with all the nonsense in my life. I purged so many negative people out of my life and made room for new. Still though, every once in a while I wish I had a family, but I’m happy that I was strong enough to leave and that I never gave up on my dreams. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
    1. About the Author Post author

      Dear NYC,

      First of all, a thousand thanks for so generously sharing your story; YOU are what this site is all about. Just want to assure you that you do, in fact, have family–tens of thousands, at the very least, of fellow survivors and fighters who are ABSOLUTELY cheering you on and rooting for your success! It’s not easy to move forward with your dreams even in the best of circumstances; you, my dear, have done so with gale-force winds working against you. Know that has only made your roots that much stronger and, in due season, you WILL reap — a great family (in the meantime, friends are also rightfully known as “your family of choice”!), deep peace, and a destiny realized. In the meantime, keep your head up and, in the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” Cheers and much love, – v.

      Reply
  6. Monica

    I went through life always feeling like I was the problem. At times, I had even contemplated killing myself because I didn’t understand why I had even been born if I God only intended to have me suffer so much. Up until reading this article did I really comprehend that maybe all those years of abuse, rejection, sabotage and neglect from my mother and sister were not because I deserved them. Those feelings were projected on to me instead of being reflected off of me. So, Here I am, contemplating everything I believed to be true about myself. I always felt like I had a huge black cloud following me around. Every birthday and every milestone overlooked. I’m turning 30 this year and I didn’t even want to celebrate because Im so accustomed to being humiliated at any special gathering in my honor that I usually try to avoid them at all cost for fear that attempting to celebrate my birthday will only serve the opposite purpose. It’s so sad to me that so many people who are victims of this type of abuse in their life, have lived their entire lives unaware of the fact that the evil is directed at them and does not stem from them… They suffer in silence, and in my case, in ignorance since the day they were born. There is so much pain in finally having your eyes open to the real truth… the truth that “my God given rights” were rights my mother never allowed me and if I ever tried to seek help, I was always was the one that ended up looking crazy. My mother and older sister tag team against my every move in life. Sabotaging every accomplishment and amplifying the focus on my mistakes and weaknesses… Weaknesses that they know all too well how to bring out of me because they were the ones putting them there. I’m trying so hard to not be upset.. I’m recognizing that anger is futile, just a huge Waste of good energy. There are just so many thoughts going through my head and so many emotions coming up in my heart. Please God keep me sane. Thank you so much for this article and for helping so many of us to recognize the true ugly nature of the beast. God bless you!!

    Ps- I never understood why every time I watched the movie ‘Cinderella’ i would cry so intensely… Until after reading this.

    Reply
    1. About the Author Post author

      Dear Monica,
      Can’t tell you how much it means that you took the time to reach out and share/bare your heart. So many of us can relate to where you’ve been, and intimately understand the incredibly painful feelings that arise from being mistreated by those who should love us most. It can certainly wreak havoc on our self-esteem and erode any sense of self worth…if we let it. Don’t let it! You, my dear, are Somebody. Somebody special, somebody sacred, somebody worth celebrating every single day of your life. Others assessment of you–and I don’t care how much DNA or personal space you share!–DO NOT define you. Please do whatever you have to in order to remove yourself from toxic voices and spirits, regardless of their source (mom, dad, sister, brother, spouse, boss) and irrespective of the occasion (birthday, anniversary, funeral, National Biscuit Day.) Your first obligation, especially at this tender stage, is to yourself. Don’t buy for a minute that this is selfish. Scapegoats are routinely accused of selfishness whenever we attempt to remove ourselves from the sacrificial altar, and defend ourselves from abuse. Protecting ourselves is tantamount to family treason, never mind the incredibly painful price we pay–up to and including suicide. Listen: nothing, and nobody, is worth losing your life or peace over. You have the right–nay, the ironclad duty–to be your own best friend and protector. God will do the rest. There is a beautiful scripture verse that says, “Though my mother and father forsake me, the LORD will take me up.” You are not alone; you have cosmic forces battling on behalf and cheering you along! The fact you found this site is evidence that there are others who really do understand where you’ve been–and the glorious, fabulous places you’re going! You are loved–I love you, sister!–and I challenge you to love and celebrate yourself every chance you get. That means protecting yourself from abusers, and getting honest about what’s happened. Don’t be surprised if anger follows–after all, you’ve had a gross injustice heaped on you. Just don’t stay there. Forgive them, release them, and take that precious energy to do something radically awesome in your life. (A powerful prayer along those lines: “Please make me willing to be willing to forgive.”) In the meantime, don’t commit inner child abuse; you’ve already had your fair share. Time to make up for some lost time, and reclaim the fairy tale. Because, as I recall, Cinderella had a very happy ending! If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend checking out “Help! I’m a Black Sheep” the “Sociopath Survival Guide” — both available for FREE under the Gimme my Freebies tab. Hope it helps, and absolutely cheering you forward!

      In the meantime, here’s a beautiful quote from Lebanese poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran: “The deeper the gorge sorrow carves into your soul, the more joy you can contain.”

      That’s a whole lotta happy…XOXOXO!
      – v.

      Reply

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