abusive relationships, adult children of narcissistic abuse', dysfunctional families, emotional abuse, life, mental abuse, narcissism, narcissistic abuse, narcissistic parents

Are you the Scapegoat in Your Family?

Scapegoating is a term that is used for the one person in a dysfunctional family that is targeted by the abusive family member for receiving the most aggressive abuse.

Usually this person is targeted by the abuser because of their resistance to pretending that the household is normal.

If you were the truth teller in the family then you pointed out when boundaries were being crossed and when the other people were being mistreated. You were the one that probably defended siblings who were being abused. You may have tried to draw the abuse towards yourself in order to protect younger siblings from getting the brunt of it.

Very often the main abusive parent has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, although there are other personality disorders which cause people to abuse their children, like Malignant Borderline Personality Disorder. 

The narcissistic parent us the focal point of the family because they demand that their needs and desires are primary. The needs of the scapegoat are ignored. They are labeled as the troublemaker in the family. Things they say are often  used against them.

Fault for most every problem in the family ends of being dumped onto the scapegoat. The narcissist projects their own faults and personality disorder into the scapegoat. 

The scapegoat is the one that can see that something is wrong with the narcissistic parent ans their behavior. The narcissist wants everyone in the family to pretend that everything is normal and their abusive behaviors are not abusive. The scapegoat angers the narcissist by being able to see through the false reality they create.

If you were the scapegoat child then your accomplishments were ignored or minimized. You were compared to other family members and the narcissistic parent would see to it that your accomplishments were seen as less than the other children’s and their own. 

Family decisions may have been made without you in family meeting that you were intentionally not invited to. Yet you were still expected to go along with the decisions that narcissist made without expressing any dislike or negative feelings about anything.

You were emotionally punished for any resistance to what the narcissist wanted to do, even if it was harmful to you or others in the family. 

As an adult the narcissist probably gossips about you and talks about you behind your back. They twist around the reality of things you say and do, in order to give a false image to others about you. You are called selfish behind your back anytime you tell the narcissist “no” or try to set  healthy boundaries for the preservation of your mental health.

Your mental health is not only considered unimportant,  but it is attacked intentionally by the narcissistic parent in order to undermine you.

They use techniques like gaslighting and triangulating to break you down. You end up looking like the one who is at fault in the relationship because the narcissist lies to the other family members about you.

Even though the abusive parent is the unstable one, you are often made out to be the one that is mentally disordered.

Your behaviors are taken out of context and re-framed by the narcissist to appear illogical, irrational or selfish. By the time to are able to tell your side of the story to anyone, it is too late because the narcissist got to them first and has been spreading a smear campaign against you.

At times you may be shunned by the narcissist or by the entire family, because the narcissist tells them that they should not speak to you.

However when someone is needed to step in during an emergency you are often the first one they will call and expect to drop everything to help. You are expected to be the problem solver and the one to offer assistance, even after you were made to feel inadequate in the past.

Responsibility is not equally allotted or equally shared.

The scapegoat is always expected to do more than anyone else without complaining, and they are expected to do the work that no one else wants to do.

There is never any thank you or credit given to the scapegoat for doing things for the family. In fact there will be a big deal made over a little thing that the golden child did for the narcissist, while your contribution and efforts are minimized or forgotten…until the next time they need something from you.

Scapegoating is a reflection on the person refusing to take responsibility or be held accountable, not the person being blamed. The scapegoat also provides a buffer against reality to support the family denial. The scapegoat carries the lion’s share of the blame, shame, anger and rejection so narcissistic mother can maintain her patterns of dysfunction while continuing to appear normal. 

The scapegoat is punished by several methods. Shaming, ignoring, minimizing accomplishments, undermining, abused, rejected, singled out for blame.


The narcissistic parent will tell people that they have done many things for you and that they gave tried to be supportive of you. They will tell others that they have been a good parent for you and that you do not appreciate their efforts. They will sometimes go so far as to claim that you are abusive to them and play the victim themselves.

The golden child is the sibling that is put on a pedestal by the parent and expected to make the narcissist look good.

The parent claims the credit for the accomplishments of the golden child. The golden child will remain in the favor of the narcissist as long as they succeed and accomplish the things that the narcissist approves of. 

The rules for the golden child and the scapegoat are never the same.

The scapegoat will be punished for things that the golden child is not punished for. The golden child will be praised for things that are ignored or undermined when the scapegoat accomplishes them or tries to accomplish them. 

The narcissistic parent will undermine the scapegoat and at the same time say to them “I am doing this for your own good” They disguise their cruel, undermining, manipulative tactics as loving guidance. 

There are many tactics that the narcissistic parent will use to undermine the scapegoat. The family often becomes blind to the tactics of the narcissist against the scapegoat. They do not see that the scapegoat is being attacked and undermined.

Some adults choose to break off contact with the narcissistic parent for their own mental preservation. Others are shunned by the narcissist and sometimes the entire family.

If you choose to continue interaction with a narcissistic parent, you have to learn how to maintain boundaries and not allow anyone in the family to violate them. Most likely this will anger the family members who are not used to you maintaining the same boundaries that they expect you to respect for them.

They feel entitled to be treated with respect and to be able to set boundaries about their time, their emotions, their relationships, etc. But they do not often respect your right to set the same exact boundaries for yourself.

You are not seen by the narcissist as a real person that has the right to your own thoughts, feelings, ideas or a right to personal boundaries.

You should prioritize your mental health and your life and make any decisions about interacting with your family members based on what is best for you.

If they have never been happy with anything you have  done by now, then what are the chances that continuing to try to please them will gain their appreciation and approval?

39 thoughts on “Are you the Scapegoat in Your Family?”

  1. I was the scapegoat in my family. For years, my NM was saying things about me and turning family members on her side of the family against me and I had no idea until recently. I didn’t understand why everyone was so distant towards me.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It is a terrible thing. But usually it is the stronger ones that were tried to believe in truth and goodness that were the ones who were chosen to be the scapegoat. We are not missing out on anything by not associating with these people on a regular basis or at all.
        We can choose our own people now that we want to be around.
        Much love,

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I agree. We’re not missing out on anything by not associating with them. Indeed, it is perfectly fine for us to go where we’re celebrated and not just tolerated.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Absolutely right ! Your self esteem will be much better by surrounding yourself with people that support you. Those miserable other people will deal with it. They can complain about your not talking to them but guess what….they would complain anyway. They will never tell you that you do something right.

        Protect yourself. The abusers certainly set boundaries that the victims cannot cross. The scapegoat has every right to set new rules and new boundaries that they have not previously set. The others can just complain and it does not have to force you into complying with them. It is good to remember that if you comply with them, they still wont change and will find ways to crush you down anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You make a good point when you say the abusers set boundaries that we cannot cross. This is so true. Even though they limit us, they do not feel that we are justified in limiting them. They feel entitled–that they have a right, to abuse us as their personal scapegoats.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m still learning how WordPress works as far as engaging but I just read about being the “scapegoat”

      On one hand I am not alone in this
      & it is amazing to cross paths with
      People who have or are still going through this.

      One of the hardest things is being made to feel like you aren’t a person with feelings
      More like an “it” when they are in need.
      That is so demeaning.
      I started to break free when i met my husband. My mother hated that. She worsened the more he taught me about boundaries. The more I was away from her & then talking to her again. Holy heavens
      I realized how negative, mean she was.
      But my step dad was the same.
      I had to walk away from my father… and he died when I was 29… I missed saying goodbye 12 hours too late…. a year after finding out he was dying. I loved my dad
      More than my mother.
      He did so much with us. But he had many issues after signing with the marines in 67 going to Vietnam as a sniper.
      As anyone would understand that just because the war was over it never ends inside. And rightfully messed up.
      He spent time with my brother & I
      When my parents were married.
      But he was abusive & scary.. that was ultimately why I said I’m not going back in that pit.
      Now I had to leave my mother for life.
      I had spinal stenosis. On top of being in car accidents and physical abuse my spine started to crush in and not knowing why I slowly lost my ability to walk. I started paralyzing. Finally they realized that’s what was wrong. I’m not in the same state anymore THANK GOD! My mother didn’t show up to surgery. This surgery was extremely high risk for death.
      And high risk of becoming quadriplegic.

      Well I’m walk moving… I had a doctor who did his residency at Johns Hopkins
      Thank God.

      He says I’m a walking miracle.
      That right there helped me get through it.
      Of course my husband and mother IL
      Being here for me!
      That’s one thing I can say is I have a husband who would die for me.

      Sorry to go on & on. I just have been hurting lately! Wow so an amazing post you put out! Blessings ~Misty

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s amazing what narcissistic people will do to go out of there way to hurt people isn’t it….


      2. You are definitely not alone. I was (I suppose I still am) the scapegoat in my family. Like you, I’m simply blown away by how many people had this same experience growing up and may still be experiencing it if they are still in contact with their parents and/or siblings. I’m glad you found a loving husband and were able to break away. Continue to love yourself and peace to you.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome. It is important for people to be validated. The family will not validate that you have been targeted by them.
      There is an old practice in ancient cultures of Mobbing. It even can occur in animals. The group chooses one of their own to turn against. The victim stands alone.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I was not the scapegoat in my family of origin until my oldest sibling passed away and my marriage went on the rocks(was recovered and now heading for divorce). I have distanced myself from them however I now find myself the scapegoat of my soon to be x husbands family because I have said enough and pointed out that soon to be x has problems. (Got it from his dad). These problems are not to be talked about because my mil has a new life and the past needs to stay buried. So I am targeted as a trouble maker with problems. Sadly I think several of my siblings and my In-laws need a lot of help but they won’t acknowledge it

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is typical. They will blame- shift and project any mental illness or abusive behavior onto you. The smear campaign against you is also typical of narcissistic people.
      I am glad you are no longer in the relationship with your ex. The mental / emotional trauma takes time to heal from but it can be done.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi,
    I am Janice from MostlyBlogging.
    In response to your post, growing up my brother was the scapegoat. In adult life I am the scapegoat. It is nice you give support for members of dysfunctional families. I don’t think I’ve seen that blogging niche before.
    I know people here–KS Beth, Raphaela…
    Thank you for visiting my site today and liking my Pinterest post and my how to get 3,000 blog follower post.


  4. The scapegoat was my brother, the youngest member of the family. The golden child was my sister, the middle child. I fared reasonably well as the oldest, but only because I had a more assertive personality. I became skeptical of my parents at a relatively young age.


    1. I wonder how your relationships with your sister and brother held up through adulthood. Share if you like to. My relationships with my sisters suffered as adults. My mother ruined my relationship with the sister that has her for a mother. The other sisters have the same father as me, but a different mother.
      Now my narcissist ex in laws are messing with my relationships with my daughters, and their relationship with each other. These narcissist wreck everything they touch. They have to create chaos and damage .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our relationship with each other is somewhat mutually supportive. My sister is mildly developmentally disabled, so her relationship with the family is rather complex. In a nutshell, she was very suggestable and relied heavily on dad and his advice on how to live her life. Dad died this past September, so she is strengthening her “sea legs”. She consults outsiders before consulting me about minor problems that arise in her life. I am consulted as a last resort, but she usually finds my advice helpful.

        My brother left home when he graduated from high school. He pretty much divorced himself from the rest of the family. He remained on friendly terms with my sister and me. He was polite yet very distant from dad but was less distant from mom. He suffered many setbacks and failures when trying to establish close friendships and relationships. Even though my brother and I were very close as children, we grew apart after we left home. He and I were still friendly towards each other, there was never any animosity. Unfortunately, my brother abused substances, mainly tobacco. He died of heart failure five years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi gentlekindness, I was the scapegoat in my family. My younger sister was the golden child, but that meant my mother prevented the school from looking for her when she was 15 and joined a criminal motorcycle gang. My mother was a fanatically religious person and felt the church was supporting her. It really breaks my heart that children are societies answer to caring for the mentally ill. There’s so little support and most people feel healing, means forgetting.


  6. OMG! That explains so much about what I’ve experienced with my family! My mother had potential to be like that, but she eventually realised how much she and dad affected me negatively when I was younger and contributed to my Bipolar. She’s making up for it since approx 10 years ago when my 1st marriage broke down and I was diagnosed with Bipolar. She’s one of my strongest supporters now! My sis-inlay however, fits the description! Eh, it can be so hard to deal with life issues and mental health issues with people like this around!


    1. Most everyone I know who has bipolar disorder had emotional / mental abuse growing up. If you look through the bipolar blogs and chat with people, you will see it all the time. I have the feeling that bipolar disorder is a mood disregulation that is caused by growing up with people who are mood disregulated, and having to interact with them because you cannot leave. C-PTSD is from being entrapped in an abusive, chaotic life and seeing no way to escape. I think that C-PTSD is often found in the same people that have depression, anxiety, OCD or bipolar disorder…and also borderline personality disorder.
      If you are still having to interact with the same people that caused the disorder, then you will have difficulty healing.
      Thank you for reading my blog,
      Wishing you peace,


  7. Hi,
    I am convinced my daughter’s father and his wife might be scapegoating my daughter. My daughter is receiving treatment for an anxiety disorder now. I know he is emotionally abusive with me but I hadn’t realized how cruel he could get to my daughter. She now feels like she is the cause of their problems. She identified them as triggers for her anxiety. In the past year I have had conversations with him where he accuses her of things that don’t make sense with the child I know. It’s like he is trying to discredit her in my eyes. He refuses to acknowledge her anxiety and says she is just being manipulative. The wife had even gone to spread rumors my daughter is not biologically her father’s daughter. She also spread this rumor with her own children. It’s so hard for her to open up even to me so it’s hard getting her to talk. The things her dad has said to me suggest they blame her for at least some of their problems. I don’t know I am so worried about my daughter. To top this off I have been told the wife is a heavy drinker and my daughters father has a marijuana stash in the house. The most frustrating part is that because of a court order I have very little options to protect her.


    1. It is a bad situation. He sounds like a malignant narcissist or a psychopath.

      You would only have grounds in court with proof such as audio recordings of verbal abuse, videos and pictures of drugs. It would be tricky to get.

      I am sorry to hear about it all. There are videos on my youtube channel you might like. It is Annie Mimi Hall youtube channel.

      Thank you for sharing.
      Annie 💕


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