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Are You Being Scapegoated?


Ever feel like people are ganging up you or blaming you for everything that goes wrong in your family, friends’ circle, workplace or neighborhood? You may be getting scapegoated. And, if you don’t do something to stop it, it will keep happening. 

According to 5 Ways to Avoid Being Someone’s Scapegoat by Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, “The scapegoat has not done anything wrong, rather they are the fall person for those who have done wrong.” Scapegoating happens when folks don’t want to look at their transgressions (because they don’t believe they’ve committed any or feel too much shame examining them) and, instead, find someone else to blame. So, you become a human sponge absorbing everyone else’s wrong-doings.

We learn to become scapegoats in childhood when we’re blamed by family members for things we didn’t do so others can avoid seeing their own shortcomings. It wasn’t safe in childhood for us to confront our parents on whom we were dependent, so we just took the blame and played our scapegoat part, all the while hating it and our situation.

People point the finger at you so they don’t have to turn it around and point it at themselves. And, if you become a scapegoat in one environment, it’s likely that you will play that same role in multiple environments. It’s ingrained in you to be the victim and you don’t believe that it’s okay to shake off the blame or fault someone else. 

Fortunately, there are ways to escape becoming or being a scapegoat, even if it’s an entrenched role. Hammond advises scapegoats to: 

1) “Understand what a scapegoat is” which means stop being so gullible about what’s going on and start opening your eyes to the truth: you’re okay and someone else isn’t. 

2) “Don’t accept liability” and, instead, don’t accept the scapegoating. Stop buying into you being wrong or the idea that somehow you’re the problem. You’re not; they are.

3) “Review past experience” by scrutinizing your history to identify when and where you were forced into your scapegoat role. In childhood it’s adaptive, now it’s maladaptive.

4) “Stop being the scapegoat” by asserting that you’re not responsible for whatever’s wrong and boldly stand up for yourself. Be clear, honest, assertive, and unshakeable.

5) “Expose the abuser” by putting the blame where it belongs on whoever is in the wrong or causing the problem. Telling the truth is the way out of being scapegoated.

Watch out for narcissists, sociopaths and people with active addictions who’ll try to scapegoat you. Send the blame directly back to them. If you’re often a scapegoat, it’s time to find a therapist to help you reverse this behavioral pattern.