When Scapegoats Escape Their Narcissistic Parent

Being the scapegoat child raised by a narcissistic parent is a terrible thing.  Not only do you have an abusive parent, but other members of the family feel it is their right to abuse you as well.  Maybe they believe the lies of the narcissistic parent about what a terrible person the victim is.  Maybe they assume because a parent is abusive to the child, it’s ok to abuse this person.  Or, maybe they are so blinded by the narcissist’s false persona that they will protect their delusions of this person at all costs, including abusing the victim in an attempt to keep this person from divulging the truth about the narcissist.

In any case, chances are good that the scapegoated child will become fed up & walk away.  Setting  healthy boundaries didn’t work.  Confrontation didn’t work.  In fact, most likely such actions only made things worse.  Deciding to walk away is the only thing left to do.

What is truly the saddest part of this scenario is the scapegoat is abandoned by their family when they need love & support the most.  Rather than receive kindness, most scapegoats only receive tormenting, a vicious smear campaign & abandonment.   Some will reach out to the victim only to tell them that they shouldn’t abandon their narcissistic parent because “your parents are getting older..” or “you only get one mother/father”.  Some folks also claim the victim needs to fix this or isn’t a good Christian because they aren’t “honoring” their parent.  Meanwhile, their narcissistic parent receives kindness, understanding & compassion.

As the scapegoat, you can survive this terrible situation!  I know it seems impossible, but it is possible to survive & even with your dignity in tact.

One fantastic way to start is by staying close to God.  Psalm 68:5 says, “A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.”  (AMP)  He will be there for you, to comfort & protect you, & you will need that at this time.

Also, as painful as it is when your family turns against you, try to think of it this way.  You aren’t losing good, loving people.  If they truly were good or loving, they wouldn’t blindly believe the lies of the narcissist, nor would they try to encourage you to stay in an abusive relationship.  Talking about your experiences with a narcissistic parent is a very effective way to find out who your true friends are!

Don’t defend yourself against the smear campaign.  I know this is hard!  I’ve been there, & I so wanted to tell people off for the cruel things they said.  However, doing so only throws gas on that fire.  They will think what you say only proves the narcissist is right & you are crazy, angry, abusive, & they will behave even worse towards you.  Don’t defend yourself.  Let them think whatever they want.  Their opinion isn’t important anyway.

Some flying monkeys harass & stalk the scapegoat after going no contact to punish him or her or to try to bully the scapegoat into returning to the relationship.  Block every means of contact these people have with you.  Block phone numbers, emails, social media accounts.  If you are in a situation where you can’t do this, refuse to discuss the narcissist with them.  Tell them you have nothing to say on the matter, then change the subject.  Do it repeatedly.  Be rude about it if you must.  But do NOT discuss the narcissist with this person!  It only will hurt you to do so!

If someone is stalking or harassing you, they may change their email or call from a number you don’t recognize as ways to try to force you to talk to them.  If this happens, block that access too.  You do NOT have to talk to anyone who wants to force you back into an abusive relationship.

And, document everything!  This information may be useful at some point, especially if you need to get the law involved, so save every single thing you can.  Voicemail messages, texts, emails, etc.  Save everything either on cloud storage or email it to yourself so even if your phone or computer crashes, you won’t lose your documentation.

There are some things you can expect to happen after going no contact that you need to be prepared to face.

While no contact is incredibly helpful, it doesn’t fix everything.  After functioning in survival mode for so long, you will have to adjust to life not in survival mode.  It can be difficult.  As you feel safer, your mind seems to think now is the time to start dealing with things you couldn’t deal with while trying to survive the abuse.  You may find yourself having more nightmares &/or flashbacks.  You might be very sensitive & moody, crying or getting angry easier than usual.  This is a normal part of the healing process.  You aren’t going crazy, even though you probably feel that way at this point.  Try to use these things in your favor.  Figure out the root of the behavior, nightmare or flashback, & deal with that however works best for you.

You’ll start to question things.  Years of gaslighting take a toll on a person!  No one can undo that damage & the warped beliefs over night.  It takes time & lots of questioning yourself.  Get in the habit of asking yourself “Why do I think that way?  What evidence is there that this is right?” when you realize dysfunctional beliefs & thoughts are coming to mind.

Along those lines.. most people have a last straw moment that makes them decide no contact is their best option.  For many of us, that last straw moment isn’t even the worst thing that the narcissistic parent ever has done.  It’s just their average abusive, hateful behavior.  For some reason though, something in us snaps & we are done.  That can make a person wonder why was this the last straw when so many other things were worse?  Well, maybe it wasn’t the worst thing ever done, but after a lifetime of so many bad things, enough was enough.  This just happened to be the thing that told you now is the time for no contact.

You’re going to grieve, so accept that.  It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.  It means you’re a normal human being!  Just because your parent was abusive doesn’t mean you don’t care about your parent.   You’ll probably discover though that you aren’t missing your parent per se, but the parent you wish you could have had.

Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel without judgement.  Losing a parent in any capacity isn’t easy, but in particular when that parent in question is a narcissist.  You’ll feel all kinds of emotions.  It’s ok & even normal.  Allow yourself to feel all of those emotions without judging or criticizing the feelings or yourself.

If your narcissistic parent is elderly or frail, you are going to feel a tremendous amount of guilt for going no contact.  It’s normal.  I did the same thing.  There is one thing that you need to consider though.  People reap what they sow.  A person who is kind & good to others won’t be abandoned in their time of need, because they sowed good seeds.  The abusive person won’t experience that same harvest because they sowed bad seeds.  Everyone has a limit on abuse, so it’s only natural that a victim will walk away at some point.

One beautiful thing you can expect is in time, the fog of abuse will lift, & you will see everything with so much more clarity!  You’ll see why your narcissistic parent & other relatives were so cruel to you, & you’ll clearly see that they were wrong.  You didn’t make them act that way.  That was all on them, in spite of what they told you.  You’ll see them as the pathetic & wicked people that they are.  You’ll also see that you’re not whatever they said you were, but instead you’re a wonderfully made child of God, made in His image & to do great things in your life!

11 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

11 responses to “When Scapegoats Escape Their Narcissistic Parent

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for this. This was so powerful and perfect timing for me.

    Thank you so much for saying “Setting healthy boundaries didn’t work.” It seems like so much of what is written will mention “Setting boundaries” as though it’s some sort of solution, and nothing more needs to be said. When in reality, trying to set boundaries is just a first step. The resistance and hostility to boundary setting are seldom mentioned.

    I especially loved the last two paragraphs which clearly puts the blame where it belongs – on the adults who let you be abused your whole life. And if they didn’t join in with the abuse, they saw it all along, and looked the other way. Calling them “wicked” was the most validating, powerful thing I’ve read on this subject.

    My narc Mom’s Baptist sister and her husband did much of the babysitting for us when the first divorce was happening. I had viewed them as good role models most of my life. Yet now, as I’ve been documenting my abuse, I realize they were complicit. I’m sure they still are.

    They aren’t flying monkeys yet. My mother doesn’t want to admit problems. But I know the longer I stay away, they will ask more and more questions about why I haven’t been around. My mother will have to make up a narrative to explain it away. I know it will be all my fault.

    I would love it if you would do a post or video on why it is important for us to feel our feelings. It seems like our culture tells us to “move on”. To “find our own joy”, etc. Even articles on narcissism mention the importance of feeling emotions, but they seldom mention “why” it’s important.

    I think I am slowly figuring out that since we as children were explicitly told we were not allowed to express anger or hurt. We weren’t allowed to mention abuse or sadness. I’m thinking our “inner selves” or “inner children” are demanding to be heard. But I would love to hear your take on why it’s so important.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Doug! I really appreciate what you said! 🙂

      That’s so true about setting healthy boundaries. If only it was that easy! You have to get so creative in doing that with narcissists & chances of it working are still pretty slim. You’re right though.. more people need to discuss that part of it instead of saying setting boundaries like it’ll fix everything. Seeing a new blog post & YouTube in the future… thanks for the inspiration!

      And thank you again! It’s true though.. those who do nothing when they know beyond a doubt that a child is being abused are wicked.

      That must be hard seeing your aunt & uncle in this new light. I’m sorry!

      Oh yes.. you know it’ll all be your fault when your mother starts talking about you. The one good note here is you know what to expect & how to handle the situation so you can prepare ahead of time.

      That’s a good idea. We do need to feel our feels, as my best friend says. I think I will do a post & video on it in the future. Thanks for the idea! It really is an important topic that isn’t addressed very well or very often either for that matter.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Doug, I just thought I’d let you know.. I wrote a post that’ll publish on the 17th about feeling our emotions. I schedule posts months in advance, so I scooted another post up to a future date since I felt that one should be published soon. I’ll do a YouTube on it as well, which will publish after the new year sometime (I also schedule them well in advance). Thank you again for the idea!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. martijwis

    This article is so timely and well written, Cynthia! Thank you so much for it. As the Narc/Scapegoat culture continues to bleed down to some in the next generation of my family of origin (FOO), attempts are being made by my Narc brother to try to triangulate me. His kids are trying to do the same thing. I refuse to be the middle person telling these two entities about each other, since they won’t talk directly to each other. To be part od their “triangle” would be to get “assaulted by both sides” and again, made the scapegoat. We people with empathy and creative/reasoned thinking are so often isolated, targeted, scapegoated by these cruel hierarchal “family systems”. Unfortunately, the cycle usually continues on to the next generation. That’s what many of us are dealing with now. Your reminders that God is our Ultimate Father and to not defend against Flying Monkey Mobs (among your other insights) are very helpful for me today. I am going to save and/or print this one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so very much for your complements! 🙂

      That is very smart, staying out of that triangle! It absolutely wouldn’t go well for you. It never does in these situations. It’s just a shame when you see the dysfunction continue into the next generation. Maybe one day they will realize how dysfunctional this is & put a stop to it.

      Thank you again for your kind words.. I absolutely love knowing my work is helping people. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is so good, Cynthia. I like all of your posts, but this one I LOVE.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lifelessonswithlynny

    Wow. You got it right, every word.

    Liked by 1 person

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