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Estrangement

Dear scapegoats

(58 Posts)
VioletSky Sun 02-Jul-23 21:55:27

www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/tech-support/202306/is-there-an-upside-to-being-the-scapegoat-in-a-toxic-family

There is always an upside

Scapegoated family members have an amazing ability to heal and grow as people. The more they try to bring their scapegoats down, the better we become smile

Nanatoone Tue 11-Jul-23 12:33:27

I read Violetsky's list and saw clearly someone I know who is trying to alientate children (parental alienation) from her ex. I could have written that list about her. I can't say more as it's going to court shortly, but it happens when people don't seem to understand the part they play (or played) in their relationship. It's very like the victim culture you see nowadays, from people who are not actually victims but like to see themselves as such. It must be terrible when it is your parents scapegoating you.

Smileless2012 Tue 11-Jul-23 14:11:56

Sometimes it is easier just to take the blame, no matter how unjust grandMattie especially in a parent/child relationship because the parent has all the power.

Even when the child becomes an adult, the role of always being at fault can be so ingrained that it's extremely difficult to break free.

That's very sad Nanatoone. I hope that the situation can be resolved as the children will ultimately suffer in the long run. Parents alienating their children from adults that love them and who they love, do not have the best interests of those children at the heart of their decision making. All too often it's revenge and punishmentsad.

Nanatoone Tue 11-Jul-23 14:58:13

Thank you Smileless, it has been a terribly stressful time for us all, SS have investigated and clearly identified what has been happening (as if we didn't know). I am thinking particularly of those little children who are being so manipulated and made to feel guilty for loving their own father. So many people seem willing to cause devastation to satisfy their own jealousy or desire for revenge, it breaks my heart. I'd like to prevent those kids from growing up as adults with all this on their shoulders, but even with SS and court help I fear it is too late. It's a sad world at times.

VioletSky Tue 11-Jul-23 16:02:17

Nanatoone

I'm so sorry to read this

If it is any comfort to the person you know, as a child my mother tried everything to turn me against my father.

It ultimately didn't work and my father is the parent I now have a relationship with.

Some abusive parents sew the seeds of their own downfalls and cannot see they are doing it. These seeds are now growing because people are so exposed to the signs of abuse in families now and are more easily able to educate themselves

Keep faith, advise this person to be like my father and his family. Never speak negatively about the other parent to the children and they will one day see the difference even if courts and SS let them down

Smileless2012 Tue 11-Jul-23 16:51:15

It's so hard on the children, especially when they're little Nanatoone. Making them feel guilty for loving their dad is beyond cruel to them and their poor father.

So many people seem willing to cause devastation to satisfy their own jealousy or desire for revenge it is heartbreaking isn't it, and I suppose those responsible deserve our pity but that's not easy to give when we can see how much damage they're doing to those we love, especially when they're hurting children.

Wibblywobbly Wed 12-Jul-23 12:14:35

I absolutely agree that the scapegoat has a unique vantage point to identify the toxic pattern of behaviour and by doing so, save themselves. Having been the scapegoat myself, ironically I now feel most sympathy for my brother who was the golden child and still enmeshed with my mother, to the detriment of his other relationships. When you are the scapegoat yourself, you experience terrible unfairness, don’t have any problem understanding what’s going on and become a rebel.

DamaskRose Wed 12-Jul-23 12:42:51

VioletSky

Here are some signs of scapegoating by abusive people that are clearly identifiable:

1. They are verbally abusive to you

2. They take their problems out on you

3. They try to damage your reputation with others

4. They are pathologically jealous of you

5. They hold you to different standards of behaviour than themselves or others

6. They make you feel unwelcome or excluded

7. They expect support and help from you but are reluctant to reciprocate unless it benefits them

8. They demean or ignore your successes in life

9. They place the blame on you for everything

Scapegoats are usually the ones who seek help and support to deal with these situations and come to understand scapegoating that way. Thankfully scapegoats generally become far more emotionally healthy and happy than those who wished them harm

I can apply most of those to a brother-in-law and his wife but have never thought of myself as a scapegoat. I think I may have to re-evaluate this relationship. To date I have tried to avoid this couple …

Smileless2012 Wed 12-Jul-23 12:51:04

My brother was mum's golden child and although that did affect my relationship with her, I wouldn't say I was ever scapegoated.

I was still able to identify the toxic behaviour of their relationship though, which was detrimental to both of them. They became mutually dependant on one another, leaving mum in a bad place for the last years of her life, and leaving him in the bad place he remains in, even though she's no longer here.

You're right about the detrimental affect this can have on other relationships Wibblywobbly (love the name) and unfortunately it's resulted in the destruction of our once close brother/sister relationship.

I never felt that I needed to save myself but wish I'd been able to save them.

albertina Wed 12-Jul-23 12:55:13

In my years as a Primary school teacher I met a lot of scapegoats. Children who were treated completely differently to their siblings. One of the saddest things to see.

PamQS Wed 12-Jul-23 13:00:09

I started to realise, after the death of both parents, that my siblings formed a comfortable ‘gang’, and I was the odd one out!

I’d never felt this when I was growing up, and I’ve no idea how it happened, but my reaction was to think ‘If they think I’m so pathetic, I don’t have to ever see them any more!’ I didn’t cut anyone off, because I didn’t want to take that step.

joycerousselot123 Wed 12-Jul-23 15:38:41

I read your article just with idle curiosity but then it shook me rigid. I have 4 kids 38-40. The eldest is adopted the next 2 home produced and the third my husband's with another lady. So, in short, my eldest is honey coloured with wavy hair, next 2 white blue eyed blonds and the baby the same colour as the eldest but Afro hair. All their childhood, they lived 5 star style in Africa or Asia. There was never a colour problem because their international schools were multi-coloured and multi-ethnic. I only realized reading this article that we scapegoated my eldest without even realizing it. He was the eldest so had to set an example but was often outrun academically by our 2 white ones. I never realized that he was always desperately tried to excel: piano, guitar, horse riding, fishing. He was pretty hopeless at all of those so we teased him instead of giving him 10/10 for effort. One of his brothers bullied him to death and we didn't even notice, just thought he was having the ugly 14s and ignored him. All this is coming out via a psy who is seeing him for palliative care. I never knew but do not that adopted kids feel rejection from the moment they are conceived so if you bring one into a world with another language, another culture, another colour of skin, you are doing them no favour at all. This rejection syndrome haunts them all their life and filters into their relationships with partners or their own kids. Sorry this is so long. Just needed to share.

Design100 Wed 12-Jul-23 16:22:09

I’ve been the scapegoat all my life. I only found out last year about the name/ what it meant through a therapist. I now understand much better why I had so many issues. Every thing I did was wrong. Nothing I said was right, it was a most horrible childhood but I’ve tried so hard to make sure my 2 DD are fine. So far so good. I’ve never felt good enough or clever or a nice person, as the criticism runs deep. My older brother and elder sister had best of everything and I was the youngest. When dad left no body allowed me to see him and our relationship suffered my mother / brother are and we’re true narcissists who backed each other up continuously. It’s so hard but I’m early 60 s now and have therapy to help me. It’s going well and I’m happy now. My mother was a teacher and one flog her teacher friends asked her at school once, oh ! You have two daughters Margaret, I didnt know as you only ever talk about the eldest! Said it all really and I think I was7 when I heard that☹️. Thankyou for bringing this important issue to this space/ conversation it’s hopefully will help others!

SaraC Wed 12-Jul-23 21:11:48

Brilliant list - thank you. Very concise but far reaching. Inter-generational scapegoating is certainly a pattern too. Walking away from a toxic family dynamic is hard, but the only way to heal.

eagleswings Thu 13-Jul-23 04:26:55

Great thread to bring to our attention VioletSky thank you. It is said, where there is a scapegoat there is always a narcissist. Such personality profiles are known to make the worst and most abusive parents. Like taking a driving test before we can drive a car, it is a pity we can’t develop a test which screens for narcissism before such people are allowed to unleash their damaging and devastating behaviour as parents on defenceless children.

FannyCornforth Thu 13-Jul-23 07:37:52

I’ve just heard that Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 this morning is doing a segment on narcissistic mothers.

It may be of interest Violet and others
(I don’t know if you’ve broken up yet VSsmile)

Hetty58 Thu 13-Jul-23 08:16:50

eagleswings, I think the personality I happened to be born with saved me. I was a scapegoat, yet somehow immune - as I always viewed her/them as 'wrong' - not me. I was just stuck with the wrong family, eyes on the horizon, waiting for my escape.

There was no early bond to be broken, so little upset, just an awareness that friends, teachers, adults outside close family were supportive, friendly, caring and encouraging.

I was alone, independent, determined and stubborn. I'd always be reading a book or quietly studying people, their behaviour, strengths and weaknesses. I practised ways to avoid conflict, stay safe - yet 'win' without them knowing - all useful life/survival skills. I developed a good sense of humour, too.

The outside world was a complete doddle compared to family. I excelled at school, in sport, with careers and my goals. I found life easy, had happy relationships, enjoyed life, appreciated everything, took nothing for granted. I was well prepared for it all!

VioletSky Thu 13-Jul-23 18:51:21

Thank you to everyone who has shared

A scapegoats strength just keeps growing

FannyCornforth Fri 14-Jul-23 11:53:31

VioletSky have you listened to Woman’s Hour?
Apparently they have done a series on Narcissistic Mothers

VioletSky Fri 14-Jul-23 16:12:52

FannyCornforth

VioletSky have you listened to Woman’s Hour?
Apparently they have done a series on Narcissistic Mothers

I heard 2 of them so far, one was from the perspective of a mother called a narcissist. It was very interesting

Have you heard all of them?

FannyCornforth Sat 15-Jul-23 03:03:36

Sorry, I haven’t listened to any of them!
I’m usually listening to James O’Brien on LBC when WH is on.
I just heard it mentioned at the end of Today, and I thought of you and this thread

OnwardandUpward Sat 29-Jul-23 21:42:57

So sorry for all the Scapegoats. Fellow scapegoat here.

I was always going to be scapegoated by her because she had PPP which made her harm me as a baby and then got sectioned for it. I honestly wish I had never been given back to her. She managed to turn my Dad and everyone against me and I believe she hated me deep down as her narcissistic personality could not be capable of accepting responsibility for what she had done. She also blamed my Dad for signing the section papers and the only way he could appease her was to scapegoat me too.

As a kid I suffered medical neglect, almost leading to death (AGAIN) and severe emotional trauma which has affected my mental and physical health and ability to have healthy relationships. BUT I do have healthy relationships and a fulfilling life. I have excelled in ways she never will. She can never be happy for me or recognise anything good in me- but I can be my own best friend as many of us have to.

AND YET... as VS so rightly says, WE are the healthy and most normal ones. WE are the ones who are truthful and able to live fulfilling lives.

She (my mother) went from being a bitter mentally ill (but good at hiding it because she scapegoated me) narcissist to being a mentally ill and elderly narcissist with severe dementia who will now never live a normal or emotionally healthy life.

Sending love to all the scapegoats, you are here for a reason and you are stronger than them xo

Allsorts Sun 30-Jul-23 08:06:10

The points mentioned by VS are very extreme, but no doubt they do exist. You have to know both sides of a problem really.
One friend I have lives in the past, continuously giving anecdotes of her children’s behaviour pre school and their little habits. I know everything that’s coming, so do they, but put up with it. These children are now almost 50 and leading their own lives, one rarely sees her, fancy listening to that all the time. She’s kind and has lots of good qualities. Lots of families just don’t get on not just because of major issues like abuse but irritating things that drive you up the wall.
Onwards issues were due to a severely mentally ill mother and I can’t understand how her father and others believed a woman that harmed her own child and was sectioned. It’s a miracle she survived.

Nanatoone Sun 30-Jul-23 08:42:53

I’ve just been rereading this thread and recognised from Allsorts posts that my other SIL ensures this from his parents and sister every single time he sees them (they wonder why he isn’t keen to meet up). I always get defensive on his behalf as he is 43 and successful, a wonderful husband and father. Nice home etc. they cannot stop, it drives me mad that they keep on about how difficult he was at 14. Well you abandoned him to a foreign boarding school while you lot lived it up in Dubai! It absolutely infuriates me to hear the constant put downs. I’m in his corner though!

OnwardandUpward Sun 30-Jul-23 15:00:28

Allsorts

The points mentioned by VS are very extreme, but no doubt they do exist. You have to know both sides of a problem really.
One friend I have lives in the past, continuously giving anecdotes of her children’s behaviour pre school and their little habits. I know everything that’s coming, so do they, but put up with it. These children are now almost 50 and leading their own lives, one rarely sees her, fancy listening to that all the time. She’s kind and has lots of good qualities. Lots of families just don’t get on not just because of major issues like abuse but irritating things that drive you up the wall.
Onwards issues were due to a severely mentally ill mother and I can’t understand how her father and others believed a woman that harmed her own child and was sectioned. It’s a miracle she survived.

Allsorts, he let her control him for decades because hes got a dependant personality. He admits now that he was stupid to believe her and she did leave him in the end because she never did forgive him for the section. so now Im all he has. He hasnt actually admitted anything or said sorry and I havent pressed for it as he's been through a lot due to her, too.

Allsorts Sun 30-Jul-23 16:02:16

Onwards, your father was a victim too but I think he should apologise and admit his failings as a father, his duty was too protect you, however it doesn’t look as if you will get one. He may have had a dependant personality but knew what was right, it was easier for him not to confront that. I do hope you realise absolutely, you were as a child, the victim and have done well despite everything. Also it’s better to forgive than hang on to past mistakes as it makes one bitter. I remember reading John Thaw saying how much he admired his father for keeping his brother and him together, although he left them all week to earn his living as a lorry driver rather than put them into care when their mother left them all when both children were under five I believe. That could have mentally affected most children, yet they just knew how much their dad loved them and why he did it.