I DIDN’T CAUSE THEM
to pick on me!
PREVIOUS: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 2)
SITE: ‘The Scapegoat’ a lengthy description – scroll down
REMINDER: See Acronym page for abbrev.
The Scapegoated CHILD (adult, group….)
FAMILY: it can & does happen in any size unit, but studies show that the larger the family the more likely one child will be singled out for this toxic role. These homes may be rife with socio-economic, psychological, marital, mental and/or physical stressors. Nerves are usually on edge, & the adults’ energies are stretched to the limit because of frustration & overwhelm.
● Some parents deliberately make home life so unbearable for the Sc that the child is left with no choice but to leave as soon as possible. Many of these throw-aways have little education or marketable skills, so end up homeless, prey to the worst criminal elements or go into a life of crime themselves, just to survive.
HOWEVER, scapegoating families can be from any background, educational & financial level – not just poor or immigrant. A common thread is severe narcissism, co-dependence, alcoholism or other addictions, & scapegoating can continue being perpetrated at home even if one or more members are in a 12-step Program, such as AA!
● SCAPEGOATs (Sc) are the nonentities of the family, held to an impossible standard not required of other members, accused unjustly, treated cruelly, & then ostracized.
WHY IS the Sc CHILD CHOSEN?
The Sc is usually the most sensitive & intuitive child. Having no one to teach it the correct way to use empathy (with boundaries & discretion) this kind of child can easily be used by wounded parents, deliberately or not, to carry the ‘sins’ they refuse to deal with themselves (‘never wrong’, hypocrites, selfish, self-hating….)
● All children need to be mirrored – in order to know who they are – by looking into the faces, hearts & minds of loving adults. And all children need a degree of connection to family members – some more, some less – to feel safe.
— Sadly, too many children only get back warped reflections from parental & teacher mirrors, who can only provide their own distorted versions of reality.
What sensitive Scapegoats see tells them they are the ‘guilty party’, the one responsible for all the family’s problems, & so have no choice but to believe it. They’re pounded down by this message, forcing them to the bottom of the totem pole, & then automatically gravitate to that low level in school or at work. No matter how well or poorly they do in life – on the outside – they build their life on an unstable foundation of anxiety, guilt & insecurity.
● A family’s scapegoating leader (Part 2) will choose a particular child, with assistants following their lead, because the child MAY —
— be too radically different in personality from the parents -OR-
— have similar characteristics to a parent, who hates those in themself
— remind a parent of a hated relative, such as their own parent, sibling….»
— be seen as a hindrance to a parent’s new marriage or relationship, OR be a child from a previous one
— be hated (not the child’s fault!) & become the object of that hatred, especially if they were unwanted ‘accidents’, their birth ‘caused’ the mother’s death or the father leaving….
— be viewed as yet another mouth to feed, a burden to be gotten rid of…….
MAIN REQUIREMENTS needed by a Sc, to perform their function:
1. They must actually be the strongest – because they have to be able to psychologically / spiritually & sometimes physically carry the defects of the entire family. So they have to be able to survive, alone, in the ‘desert’ without the comfort or support of their tribe. (see Part 1)
2. They must be the most loving – willing by their nature to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the group. Again, this can be somewhat subconscious, but as a child the Sc has no choice. While on some level they may know they’re doing this, they give themselves up so the family can appear to be OK.
OTHER Characteristics the child may have – being:
• vulnerable in some physical or psychological way (ADD, obsessive…)
• hyperactive, non-compliant, or overtly acting out
• young, or viewed as too weak to defend itself
• not the gender the parents wanted
• too independent, smart & clever, with itl own mind
• opposite in personality to an older sibling who is the designated ‘golden child’ who can do no wrong. The favorite may instead be the youngest, or even a child who died before the Sc was born & is now idealized
— In some very dysfunctional families, a parent will goad the other children into also picking on the disfavored one. Or they may copy the habit of taunting & blaming the SC sibling on their own, from watching adults get away with the cruelty. They will do this, at least partially, out of fear that if they side with the victim they’ll be tortured as well
— Once the scapegoating pattern is woven into the fabric of the family dynamic, it’s inevitable that the Sc will gradually empathize with, then carry, then identify with all of the unresolved adults’ character defects floating around in this home.
(More about the results of being a Sc in Part 4)
NEXT: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 4)