ACoAs being SCAPEGOATED (Part 6)

that their attacks are not about me!

PREVIOUS: Scapegoated (#5)

SITE: Why does a narcissist need to have a scapegoat?

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW: SCAPEGOATING is a way of acting without integrity – the perpetrator (P) slandering another person in order to take the focus off of themselves.
Most family members, if not all, seem to accept it as the normal way to treat the victim – verbally, emotionally &/or physically abusing one child – & look the other way when the Sc is bullied or otherwise mistreated & made the ‘black sheep’.
It’s usually a long-standing pattern in the whole family, perpetuated because it’s experienced as advantageous – to keep the status quo.

HOW were YOU Scapegoated (Sc)?
This list applies to what happened in childhood, but may still be going on, no matter how old you are. You were the Sc IF YOU were/are —
• picked on by either parent to be the ‘bad one’, who looked for things to make you wrong – most of the time unjustified

• put in the role of family outcast, treated with disdain or disgust by family – & then by yourself
• blamed for others’ actions, & held responsible for family problems, conflicts or challenges, that had nothing to do with you

• attacked / punished for telling outsiders the truth about abusive, inappropriate & hurtful family dynamics (‘whistle-blower’)
• never believed when telling the truth about things that actually happened to you or around you, even if you had proof
• blamed for &/or punished for what a sibling did, or for the very same things the other kids were allowed to get away with
• accused unjustly, your actions & motives exaggerated or lied about
• told or shown that your accomplishments were bad, ugly, unimportant, useless, worthless

• ignored or rejected by anyone who was/is easily influenced by your torturers (in & out of the family), & perhaps still are
• physically abused (slapped, beaten, kicked, thrown against walls….) whether you did something ‘wrong’, but even when not
• repeatedly accused of behavior only the scapegoater is / was doing (More....)
constantly given contradictory messages or expectations
– Parent regularly yelled at you, then accused you of being abusive
– You were being genuinely thoughtful & caring, but told “all you care about is yourself”
– You were the mentally healthiest family member, but accused of being sick, bad, selfish….. Add your own crazy-making experiences

Bill Taylor, of Stressed Health Professionals & Families says: “ One of the most destructive patterns is the scapegoating of a physically or sexually abused child, especially when the mis-treatment is unknown to anyone except the victim & abuser

REACTIONs: Such a victim will often misbehave or be completely withdrawn, take out their anger on others, develop depression or other signs of emotional distress – as a way of handling the anxiety about the abuse.

They are then punished for acting out, by attacks & beatings, which create even more trauma, increasing the child’s misbehavior.
“Most people can’t imagine the daily hell such children or teens suffer from the combination of physical abuse & emotional scapegoating.” (MORE….)

NOTE: The above list applies to many ACoAs, especially in families where all the kids were abused & neglected in various ways.
However, the focus here is on the one – out of a number of children – who is tortured, while the others are treated a great deal better – at leastshouldn"t hurt to be ak id on the surface. (MORE…..)
💥 In 1995, 6-year-old Elisa Izquierdo was starved and beaten by her mother while her 5 siblings were left unscathed
💥 7 year old Nixmary Brown was the only one chosen for parental abuse & neglect while her 5 siblings were relatively well-treated
💥 In 1996, Nadine Lockwood was starved to death while her 8 siblings were treated fairly well

💧 Not every Sc is tortured to these extremes, but everyone in a scapegoating family is harmed, even those not directly picked on. Just living every day in a sadistic environment eats away at one’s soul – especially vulnerable, developing personalities. SO – if you were not ‘it’ in your childhood, it doesn’t mean you got away emotionally, psychologically & spiritually undamaged.

NEXT: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 7a)


being blamed 

No matter what I do, it’s wrong!

PREVIOUS: Rebellion vs Compliance #2

SEE posts : What is Guilt?
What is Shame?
• ACoAs’ Need for Revenge


There is a lot of talk in the ‘spiritual’ community about forgiveness, ie – that we should not be blamers.
Not blaming ourselves (S-H) or others (attacks) is a good rule for us in the present – now that we’re adults. And that’s a discussion for another post.

However, those same teachers & preachers never talk about what was done to us as kids – that among many other types of harm, our parents unfairly, inappropriately blamed us for all kinds of things – and what that did to our tender & vulnerable developing sense of identity!

This post is about what happened TO US as children. A hallmark of alcoholic (& other emotionally unhealthy) families is the mistreatment of their children in all 4 of life’s aspects: Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, Physical (PMES).

😿 Parents blaming their children for ANYTHING is ABUSIVE. Blaming us is the same as holding us responsible for their deficiencies & unhappiness.
Remember – abuse is not just physical, in all its forms.

It encompasses all the ways people harm others – especially their children – by injuring another’s rights, self-esteem, mental clarity, sense of safety, emotional equilibrium & boundaries. So Blame fits into 3 categories – S, M & E.

👥 A variation on Blame is a constant negative COMPARISON with a dead or living sibling, another relative, a famous person….
“Why can’t you be more like ____”

Damaged parents blamed you for things which :
a. were NOT your fault
• difficulties because of a learning disability, like dyslexia or ADD
• the illness or death of a parent; a parent being left by a lover or spouse…

b. was a projection
of what the parents were guilty of being (fearful, irresponsible, lazy, feeling unlovable, risk-averse….)

c. you were not doing
what you were accused of
• being a ‘whore’ when you were too young to have had sex at all OR
• of seducing a parent’s lover/ spouse, when that adult was actually sexually abusing the child
• of using drugs when you never did – at least not at the point…)
Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.07.37 AM
d. you couldn’t do, especially without any instruction, & then accused of being stupid
• when you legitimately couldn’t know something (fixing a car or other machinery, shopping by themselves, ‘getting
• a hard school subject
• expected to know how to fix a parent’s personal, sexual & financial problems or forced to take care of a drunk or crazy parent, alone…
e. were actually no one’s fault such as • an act of God
• being born with a physical or mental limitation
•  getting severely ill or having an accident…

 something one of your siblings or other child did, but we were held responsible for, especially if you were the Hero or Scapegoat (start a fight; steal or break something; get into trouble at school…)

g. your parents were jealous of, because they couldn’t do something you could (a natural skill or gift) & so they made that ability a bad thing

h. was mostly not true
• always lying (“Kids always lie so we can’t believe anything they say”)
Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.06.44 AM• always being stubborn, selfish, too sensitive, difficult, disobedient, stupid….

➼ This last category are a group of normal childhood characteristics which:
√ sick parent cannot tolerate because of their own issues
√ occur sometimes as a defense in the child because of family abuse & neglect…
√ happens occasionally because kids are human ie. imperfect.
Those behaviors & attitudes then get demonized – which make them both a ‘sin’ and more likely to continue, while we try to be perfect. We CAN’T WIN in a sick environment.

NEXT: ACoAs’ need for revenge


I can’t imagine ever getting up off the ground!

PREVIOUS: Anger T & F, #2

SITE:Humiliation” (Wikipedia)

QUOTE: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


DEF: Being in a state of disgrace, a loss of prestige &/or self-respect, A person who suffers from severe humiliation could experience major depressions, suicidal states, & severe anxiety states such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

RESEARCH: A study at the U of Michigan revealed that the same areas of the brain that light up when we  experience a physical injury – are activated during intense experiences of social rejection” In other words, humiliation & isolation are experienced just as intensely as physical pain

: Humiliation is not the same as humilityThe opposite of Humiliation is Appreciation

HUMILIATION originally comes from external sources – which then get internalized as part of the PP voice (Introject).
✦ For ACoAs – it comes first & foremost from our family, & then often from school, church, neighborhood…. It’s ‘being shamed’ rather than feeling ashamed
✦ A lesser injury may cause us to “take offense” at something, which is cognitive, intellectual – about what or how we think. Whereas –
✦ Humiliation is more demeaning & hurtful – visceral, existential – about who we are fundamentally

In the present, most ‘victims’ disagree with the humiliation laid on them – don’t like it, know they don’t deserve it, see the treatment as unjust….but don’t believe they have any options, & so don’t change the environment

1. EXTERNAL Sources
Humiliation involves an event or ongoing situation that indicates unequal power in a relationship, where we are in a one-down position & unjustly diminished. Often the painful experience(s) is/are vividly remembered for a long time & can lead to anxiety, especially if the exposure was prolonged. It requires:
1. a Perpetrator whvictim/perpo is exercising negative power, possible in many different settings

2. a Victim who is truly powerless (child, minority, the poor….) OR is re-enacting a long-held victim role from childhood, & so is vulnerable to being humiliated
3. one or more Witnesses to -or- observers of the event(s), such as family members, neighbors, teachers, the general public, peers, officials…. who usually do not object or help, sometimes even egging the perpetrator(s) on, as in bullying

➼ The following list was compiled by Leland R. Beaumont at Emotional Competency” & can be applied to children as well as adults. Add your own.

a. PHYSICAL / SEXUAL (most visible)
Being : • boundary invaded, trespassed on, privacy violated
• the loser in a dominance contest / cheated on
• exploited, suppressed, violated
• denied basic social amenities or needs
• injured, assaulted (hit, spit on…), attacked
• isolated or physically abandoned
• forced to do or say something distasteful & self-shaming
• molested, incested, raped
• often beaten, slapped, kicked, punched
Having :elder abuse
• abilities diminished as a result of being disabled or immobilized
• basic personal freedoms lost (mobility, access, autonomy)
• competence / confidence damaged – from being tricked, trapped, mislead, opposed, sabotaged, let down
• goals & plans constantly thwarted, over a long time
• resources diminished from being defrauded, robbed, cheated, evicted
• safety or security reduced by intimidation or threat
• to see / watch a loved ones sexually assaulted
• to watch a love interest flirt with another, causing intense jealousy

• blamed for things that have nothing to do with you
• blatantly rejected, treated unfairly, forced to back down
• betrayed, cheated, lied to, defrauded, suckered, duped
• denied basic personal & emotional needs
• deprived of privileges, rights or human dignitymade fun of
• forced to swallow one’s pride
• laughed at, mocked, teased, ridiculed, given a dirty look
• lowered in ones own or another’s estimation, made to feel powerless
• dependent (not by choice), especially on weaker people
• made to look stupid or foolish
• manipulated, dominated, controlled, forced to submit
• taken for granted, use to fill a need in others
• denigrated for ones values & beliefs, made fun of
• snubbed, put down, disgraced, shamed (not the same as feeling ashamed)
• treated as an equal by someone of a lower-status
• treated like an object (it) or animal, rather than a person

NEXT: Humiliation (Part 2)

ACoAs dealing with ABUSERS (Part 1)


to tell!

PREVIOUS:  Denial & acting out

SITE: 15 Secret Signs You’re Actually Really Insecure

SEE: ACoAs Getting Controlled (1 & 2)


ACoAs are more than reluctant to speak up for ourselves. We hold it in & hold it in, then eventually explode at others, OR implode – into illness, depression & isolation.
We’re equally mute with people WHO:
• are actually abusive, whether they know it & don’t care, or have no idea what effect they’re having
• we just think are hurting us by something they said or by not reading our minds (giving us what we need without us having to ask for it), but they’re really not – they’re just pushing a button in us
• are not being abusive at all, but we’re afraid of hurting their feelings, scaring them away or -god forbid- make them angry at us!

Validation – We may need sane sources to help us identify ‘who did what’ but don’t go to the Perp. They deny or confuse. Al-Anon stresses “Detach! Let go” – with love, with hate, with humor… any way possible!
You wouldn’t demand that a person blind from birth should see colors! Don’t chase abusers – for anything, especially to admit they’re wrong!don't talk

a. The “Don’t talk” rule   (they = parents / community
• what’s going on in the family, don’t air dirty laundry – it’s no one else’s business (family shame = family secrets)
• what you need & want, since they can’t or don’t want to provide them
• what you think about anything – unless they agree completely
• what you feel emotionally – they don’t want to hear it, they’re already in enough pain & don’t know how to deal with it, so don’t need yours too!
• your personal opinions, values & observations – if they don’t fit in with the family line (the ‘story’ created about the tribe we all belong to).

🤐 No matter how twisted, it’s our family & we protect it at all costs. These messages prevent some ACoAs from going to 12-Step programs &/or therapy – seeing it as disloyalty.

b. Co-dependence
Of course most people don’t want to ‘be in trouble’ with others, so we learn what’s appropriate to say or not say, especially in public.
But for ACoAs it’s always about FoA (fear of abandonment). Even as adults we’re afraid of unpleasant reactions from others – when they get angry at, dislike, make fun of – or worse – ignore us!

• Our co-dependence (needing others’ good-will to feel OK about ourselves) makes us do anything we can to prevent others from expressing any disapproval, which will set off our S-H.  The WIC believes: “I’m so unlovable, no one really likes me & sooner or later will leave – unless I make them like me, or else I’ll die”.

MOST of how people respond has nothing to do with us – but the child’s narcissism takes everything personally, & anything that seems like an abandonment feel like punishment, rather than someone else just having their own feelings & opinions, OR acting out their damage. So we think silence is safer. SITEFrom Parent-Pleasing to People-Pleasing 

c. Controlled
Another reason we’re silent is the brain-washing we received growing up. We were trained so thoroughly to ignore what we heard, saw & experienced – that we end up not seeing many things that are in front of us (”What insult?”), misreading a situation (“I’m sure they hate me”) or being unable to respond to a painful comment (“I wish I had said…..”).

• No matter how articulate some of us are when we’re comfortable, there are times we get emotional brain-freeze.
It’s so-o-o frustrating that when we’re with someone who is being inappropriate, mean, insulting….  it triggers a childhood wound & we instantly shut down with terror, the reminder of family abuse in total control.
At that moment we’ve lost our internal computer screen – it goes blank & we can’t think & talk. Yet a minute later, when we’re alone, the computer comes back on automatically & we know what we should have said! Darn, darn!

SITE: Emotional Complexity (Habituation, Inhibition, Constriction…..) 

NEXT: Dealing with Abusers (Part 2)

Considering Abuse


but it must be my fault!

PREVIOUS: Principles of    Character

SITE: re. Categories of abuse


NOTE: This series will have many lists of abusive behaviors, in many categories, & from different perspectives, so there will be a lot of over-lap in headings and examples. This is deliberate. As kids we HAD to ignore, trivialize or forget what was done to us, & then act out those self-destructive patterns in our everyday lives.

We must identify exactly what happened before we can change it, & repetition is useful in breaking thru our denial. Also, reading or hearing something in different wording & context can more easily get past our defenses. The main (but not exclusive) focus of these posts is on Emotional Abuse.

ABUSE : In general, Abuse is any communication or behavior designed to control & enslave others – to keep them ‘in their place’, to keep them from leaving, to punish them for not being who or what the Perpetrator expects, or wants!
It’s done by causing continual fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion & manipulation.

Abuse is any form of intrusion into another’s psyche. It will include :
• verbal, physical, sexual and/or emotional attacks
• financial, intellectual or spiritual tactics, ranging from mild to lethal
• to not respect privacy, be brutally honest with a sadistic sense of humor, be consistently tactless,
• to expect too much, to denigrate, to ignore…. to causes pain

⚙︎ Most people automatically assume ‘abuse’ only refers to physical harm – yelling, hitting, beating, broken bones …. so will firmly state: “I was never abused growing up”. However, because human beings are made up of 4 interlocking categories (PMES = Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual) we can be wounded OR encouraged in many ways at each level.

• Being abused can happen just once with someone, or when we’re subjected to a bully for a short while. But usually it’s a long-term pattern of behavior by a severely damaged,  cruel, angry &/or mentally ill person who uses their position (as parent, boss, teacher, mate, older sibling or friend, community leader…. ) to:
— intimidate others who have less personal or social power, OR
— take advantage of those who by nature or training are more accommodating & compliant

While most people on occasion act unkindly, even cruelly, when provoked or under great stress, what we are looking at here is ongoing attitudes & actions that tear us down, body & soul. Even when they seem intermittent, over time they wear at us !

Therefore ACoAs can honestly say that we were severely & regularly abused by our damaged parents (& other authority figures) , especially in our emotions (Es). Since honest Es are NOT widely recognized, valued or encouraged in our society nor in dysfunctional families, we ended up ignoring or minimizing them in ourselves, as well as in others, especially if we did not get physically or sexually attacked as kids.

• Most of us never felt loved. Regardless of what our parents said, or how they felt about us in their own minds & hearts – their distorted way of treating us was not an expression of healthy Love. So to compensate, we look for that everywhere we go, & from everyone we deal with.
This makes us vulnerable to a subtle form of abuse – being ‘over-loved’, needed & depended on too much, OR being over-protective & infantilized.
These are actually ways to treat us as an extension of themselves, as an object rather than a separate being, or a means of their personal gratification. It’s never about what the ‘beloved’ really needs or wants.

BTW,❣️LOVE is the emotion with the highest energy vibration. IT:
varies in how it’s expressed & accepted, which can include letting go, so doesn’t demand continuing a relationship
🔅is an action, not just a feeling, so requires attention
🔅is unconditional, with no expectations, understands & accepts differences

🔅feels good, because it’s the absence of fear
🔅has empathy, no room for jealousy, is not needy, but has wants
🔅means putting other people’s needs equal to, or before your own

NEXT: Victims or not?

Variation of ACoA Laundry List

breading blog 

Even so, it’s a relief to know

SITE: Adult Survivors of Child Abuse: Removing the Splinter

BOOK: Laundry List  Tony A & Dan F

NOTE: See Acronym page for abbrev.

• All the PMES forms of Abandonment by parents cause children to hide the parts of themselves that are considered NOT OK by the family, in order to not get rejected: “DON’T make mistakes, don’t have needs, don’t contradict, or successful, or show your emotions …”
Exp: We were told that what we felt was not true or legitimate: “You don’t have anything to cry about, so stop being such a baby”,  “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about”  “That really didn’t hurt” ,  “You have no right to be angry” ….S-H

Self-Hate – As a result of being mistreated as kids, the most visible issue for
ACoAs now is our intense S-H: “I’m no good, no one will ever love me, I can’t do anything, my need don’t count…..”, the defense mechanism all children develop to protect themselves from experiencing the original pain suffered throughout childhood (abandonment), and from acknowledging to themselves how hurtful their parents were.
S-H says: ‘Everything bad that happened to me  – past or present – was / is my fault.’ SO – any time I’m in pain I did something wrong, & I’m bad

• This belief gives the WIC a false sense of power – “If I caused it, I can fix it!” However, the reality is that we did not create the damage that was done to us – that is the responsibility of the adults who raised us. We were the victim of their wounds – then. NOW, we’re responsible for healing ourselves so that we can become our True Self!

Because of childhood Abuse, Neglect & Abandonment, in the present –  WE:perfectionism
• are perfectionistic, driven, rarely satisfied – especially with ourselves
• are intimidated by or feel enraged at controlling people
• expect others to hurt, judge or take advantage of you
• experience temporary dissociation (splitting), disconnecting from self
• feel chronically empty or numb inside, easily bored, restless
• feel like we’re always under scrutiny – even when alone
• find it hard to relax, laugh or be spontaneous
• keep ourselves isolated from shame & so ‘no one can hurt or leave’ us
• frantically try to avoid real or imagined abandonment – by clinging, people-pleasing, being invisible….
• lose ourselves in relationships by automatically & continually putting others’ needs before our own
• over-value & then under-value people we get too close to

• a confused or distorted self-image: “Who am I really?” , “What do I really look like?” (feel ugly, fat, too thin too short….)
• chronic obsessive thoughts, going ‘round & ‘round without solutions
• compulsive self-damaging behaviors in 2 or more areas of life, such as an eating disorder, addictions, fights, under-achieving….

• harsh “inner critics” that torture us, especially after any disappointment or loss
• impulsivity – can’t control our choices & reactionsinner critic
• inappropriate & intense anger; difficulty controlling temper
• mood swings not caused by bipolar disease

• paranoid thinking – as a regular way of experiencing others
• recurring suicidal thoughts or actions
• trouble asserting ourselves or feeling proud of our accomplishments
• trouble finding a spiritual belief, or one that feels right

ACoAs are very intelligent and determined. With the right kind of help we can heal from these wounds and prosper.  Al-Anon, therapy, a spiritual practice, reading, & staying connected with other ACoAs in Recovery make all the difference. Don’t forget: ‘Progress, not Perfection’

ACoA WEBSITE (80+ pages):

NEXT: Original LL