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What is a Scapegoat and Why are they Chosen?

The terms narcissistic, sociopathic, or psychopathic are not being used as a diagnosis. These terms are being used as descriptors for patterns of behaviors that are exhibited by individuals. This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat anyone and is strictly for awareness and educational purposes.


If you’ve ever thought that you may be a scapegoat, or you want to have confirmation that what you experienced isn’t just in your head. In this blog post, we will cover what is a scapegoat and why are they chosen.





What is a Scapegoat?


A scapegoat is a person who takes the fall for someone who refuses to take accountability for their own actions. A scapegoat is used to ensure that the toxic person never has to own their behavior. The responsibility of shame, guilt, and self-hate all fall onto the scapegoat's shoulders regardless of the scapegoat’s age.


During the scapegoat's upbringing, they will feel like they are bad like they are the main cause of all dysfunction in their home, and even the dysfunction in their life outside of the family system Scapegoats feel like nothing they do is right because their abusers taught them that they are bad, and this is who they are - when it is only what they were gaslit to believe.


Scapegoats are often disregarded and easily ignored. Their emotional needs and in some cases, their physical needs are not met. They are often forced into caregiver roles for their parents and siblings. When scapegoats are placed into caregiving roles at a young age, they may be forced to endure adult issues that they are not old enough to comprehend.


Scapegoats are seen as the most sensitive member of the family. Being sensitive and in tune with your emotions is a superpower - but not in a toxic family system. It is a threat to the narcissists and for this reason, the scapegoat is not valued with what they say or do.


The scapegoat is often embarrassed in public by their family and is not celebrated, rarely noticed, or disregarded. The scapegoat will always be perceived as bad and is often used as a bad example to others in and outside of the family system. No one outside of the family system will like the scapegoat because outsiders will already have heard the lies spread about the scapegoat.


Other family members are often encouraged to scapegoat the family scapegoat - especially the immediate family.


Scapegoats are actually the glue to toxic family systems. Without scapegoats, toxic family systems cannot function properly. They need supply and they need to make sure that they have a scapegoat to blame so they can emotionally regulate by throwing their problems onto the scapegoat so they don't have to handle it themselves.


Sometimes the scapegoat role escalates to where the abuse is physical. The scapegoat can literally be the family punching bag.


How is a scapegoat chosen?


Scapegoats can be chosen for very superficial reasons such as the scapegoat's looks. If the scapegoat resembles someone the toxic person doesn’t like or if the scapegoat looks more attractive than the toxic person this can cause resentment and hatred.


Scapegoats can be chosen because they have a certain personality that the toxic person doesn’t have, they’re sensitive or empathic, they’re a certain gender, their birth order, their intelligence, and even birth complications can cause a parent to scapegoat their child.


Scapegoats can also be chosen because they are not biological children. if the toxic parent has biological children and adoptive children there is a higher chance of the adoptive child being a scapegoat. The same can be true if one child is from a past marriage or relationship and the toxic parent has another child with their current partner.


To a toxic parent, a child who is sensitive, talented, attractive, and intelligent can be perceived as a threat. These qualities may be lacking in that parent and this makes them feel inadequate. This is why narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths take away their scapegoats' ability to explore talents and have individualism. Anything that is viewed as great for a scapegoat should have been given to the golden child in their eyes. The toxic parent then creates a war between the golden child and the scapegoat by comparing them to each other and they often take away the scapegoat's ability to perform their talent or hobby and allow the golden child to do it instead. Talents must only be what toxic parents believe are talents.


There doesn’t have to be a reason as to why a child may be forced into the scapegoated role, but what matters is that survivors that are currently in this role or former scapegoats know that being a scapegoat had nothing to do with you and has everything to do with the issues of the toxic person who decided it was necessary to have a scapegoat.


The mentality forced onto the scapegoat can lead to further scapegoating later in life in their friendships and relationships because it is all they knew. That is their normal until they learn otherwise. Being a scapegoat is never a choice, but you can choose to do something about it once you are aware of your situation.


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