When the Scapegoat Leaves the Family: Breaking Free From My Toxic Family System

Ever wondered what will happen when the scapegoat leaves the family?

I know from personal experience that it’s a decision filled with mixed emotions and uncertainty. When I made that choice, I felt a strange blend of liberation and trepidation.

It’s like stepping out of a never-ending play where you’ve always played the same role, one you never auditioned for.

The questions that follow are like whispers in the wind: Will the family notice? Will they change? What about your own healing?

Below, we’ll explore the profound impact of the scapegoat’s departure, from the void it leaves to the potential for personal growth.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • As the scapegoat, escaping an abusive father or mother can bring relief and growth, leading to healthier relationships and personal success.
  • Leaving shakes up the family’s power dynamics, unsettling the abuser and enablers and offering a chance for the scapegoat to heal.
  • Dysfunctional patterns may linger even after the scapegoat leaves, with blame-shifting to new targets.

What Happens When the Scapegoat Leaves the Family? 

A lot of things would happen if the scapegoat goes no contact, but one thing’s for sure: it will be a real turning point in their life.

You see, it’s not a walk in the park when you get blamed for everything and anything that happens in the family. I’ve been there, and let me tell you, it’s not a fun place to be.

Here’s what happens when you the scapegoat decide to leave your toxic family:

  • You experience a sense of relief: First and foremost, you will have a sense of relief, like taking off a heavy backpack you’ve been carrying around for years. Since you no longer have to bear the blame for everything that goes wrong in the family, it’s like a weight off your shoulders.
  • You might fear of being judged: People on the outside might not understand why you decide to leave. They may even start a smear campaign against you, blaming you for abandoning your family. It’s not easy to explain to others the abuse that you endure, and that fear of judgment can be paralyzing.
  • Your personal growth will improve: On the flip side, breaking free from the scapegoat role can also be an opportunity for your personal growth. You start to discover your true self, away from your family’s issues. You learn to set boundaries and build healthy relationships that are based on trust and respect.
  • You become successful in life: When the scapegoat leaves the family and decides to pursue their own path, there’s often a significant potential for success. Escaping the role of the scapegoat can free you from the deep-seated negative emotions and self-blame that come with being constantly blamed for everything. With a newfound sense of self-compassion and self-belief, you are more likely to focus on your goals and aspirations.
  • You will form healthier relationships: When you’re no longer subjected to the toxicity of being the family scapegoat, you can cultivate positive connections with others who appreciate and support you for who you truly are. This shift can help you focus on personal growth and happiness.

Scapegoats often carry emotional scars from years of being mistreated and may struggle with self-doubt, hypervigilance, and even unresolved mental health issues.

Tip
Getting help from a licensed healthcare provider for guidance specific to your case can make a world of difference in helping you heal and thrive.

What Happens to a Narcissistic Family After the Scapegoat Leaves?

When the scapegoat leaves a narcissistic family, it often disrupts the family’s established dynamic, leaving a void in the role that the scapegoat once played.

The narcissistic family members may experience confusion, tension, or a need to find a new scapegoat to bear the brunt of their issues.

This can lead to a reshuffling of power and control within the family.

You see, in narcissistic families, the narcissistic parent typically holds the most power and control, and the scapegoat often becomes the abuser’s main target.

When the scapegoat leaves their family, the narcissistic abuser may feel a loss of that power and control.

The remaining family experiences a reshaping of their dysfunctional family dynamics, and the new scapegoat may suffer similar mistreatment as the previous one.

In short, the narcissist’s need for a target doesn’t disappear when the original scapegoat leaves. They simply redirect their abusive behaviors toward someone else.

7 Changes in the Narcissist Family Dynamic When the Scapegoat Leaves

Leaving a narcissistic family as the scapegoat can be an incredibly challenging decision, but it’s often a step toward healing and self-preservation.

Yet, while the escape offers relief for the scapegoat, it also triggers significant shifts within the family dynamic.

To shed light on the ongoing struggles of scapegoats, here are seven changes that frequently occur when they decide to break free from the abusive family system.

1. Temporary Calm

After severing ties with my narcissistic family, there was a moment of temporary calm that washed over my life. It was like stepping out of a turbulent sea onto solid ground.

For the first time in years, the relentless storm of narcissism that had surrounded me began to dissipate.

The weight of constant blame, criticism, and manipulation lifted, and I could finally breathe. It felt as if the sinking ship that was my family’s toxic dynamic had temporarily settled.

During this respite, I had a chance to reflect, heal, and rebuild my life on my terms.

The calm allowed me to regain my strength and envision a brighter future beyond the stormy waters of my past.

Tip
Surround yourself with supportive individuals who understand your decision and reinforce your strength. Their support will help you stay firm in your path to healing and freedom.

2. Shifts in Power Dynamics

Leaving my narcissistic family triggered noticeable shifts in the power dynamics that had long governed our relationships.

Without me to bear the brunt of my mother’s wrath, there was a momentary sense of vulnerability.

Her flying monkeys and enablers who had played their roles in perpetuating the toxicity suddenly found themselves navigating uncharted waters.

The abusive parent lost some of their control, and the family dynamic felt temporarily disrupted.

This shift, while unsettling, provided a glimpse of the dysfunctional structures that had kept me trapped.

It was an important moment where the unhealthy patterns became more apparent, motivating me to break free and eventually regain my power outside of that toxic environment.

3. Confusion and Reorganization

Since the person who used to be the target of the main abuser is no longer around, that kind of shakes things up.

The family members are left scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to reorganize without their usual punching bag.

I’ve been there, and this phase can be confusing, but it’s also a time of potential change.

As I found my footing outside of that toxic environment, I could begin to build healthier relationships and set boundaries that were once impossible.

The chaos, in a strange way, became a catalyst for my personal growth and self-discovery.

4. Guilt and Manipulation

After the scapegoat leaves, the abusive parent may resort to manipulation tactics to regain control.

Gaslighting becomes a tool to make the scapegoat doubt their decision to leave, painting them as the one at fault.

Love bombing might also make an appearance, with the narcissistic parent showering affection on the scapegoat to manipulate them back in.

I witnessed this manipulation firsthand.

The guilt trip is a heavy burden to bear, and it’s challenging to resist the lure of love bombing.

However, recognizing these tactics and staying firm in my decision to break free was a crucial step toward my healing and personal growth.

It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary for my well-being.

Tip
Tune into your emotions and trust your instincts. If you feel confused, guilty, or pressured, it’s possible you are being manipulated.

5. Attempts to Recruit Allies

It’s like they’re on a mission to rally support and maintain control.

They try to manipulate the rest of the family by painting the scapegoat as the “problem” and encouraging them to harass the scapegoat.

In reality, it is a strategy to keep everyone in line and continue the toxic dynamics.

I saw this happen. My own mother tried to turn my siblings and other relatives against me, portraying me as the “troublemaker” who abandoned the family.

It was a painful ordeal, but it solidified my decision to break free and seek healthier, more supportive relationships outside of that toxic circle.

6. Search for a New Scapegoat

The role the scapegoat plays is something a narcissist cannot simply give up. So, when the scapegoat leaves, it’s like a vacuum is created, a void that the abuser can’t bear for long.

What happens then is that the abuser looks for a new target, a new scapegoat to take the old one’s place.

This is so that the abuser can continue their toxic behavior, keeping the dysfunctional cycle intact.

The narcissist turns to other family members to fill the void left by the scapegoat, attempting to manipulate and control them in a similar fashion.

This often leaves division and tension within the family, as some may comply with the abuser’s demands while others resist.

7. Continuation of Dysfunctional Patterns

The dysfunctional patterns within the family’s dynamics may continue to persist even after the scapegoat cuts contact. It’s like an ingrained habit that’s hard to break.

Blaming the scapegoat is often replaced with shifting the blame onto someone else, maintaining the toxic cycle.

In my experience, this cycle remained evident.

Even after I left, the family’s dysfunction didn’t magically disappear. Instead, the same behaviors simply found new targets, and the blaming and manipulation carried on.

It was a stark reminder that escaping that role was just the beginning of a long and often challenging journey toward healing and finding healthier relationships.

What Happens to the Golden Child When the Family Scapegoat Leaves?

When the scapegoat leaves, the golden child’s world can get a bit topsy-turvy.

Let me paint a few scenarios that show how the golden child might react when the family scapegoat leaves.

  • The lost child: The golden child might suddenly feel lost. They’ve been so accustomed to having someone else shoulder the family’s problems, that they may struggle to navigate life without that buffer.
  • The reluctant leader: The golden child gets used to being the one who maintains the family image. Without the scapegoat, they may be forced to step into the spotlight to preserve the family’s reputation.
  • The identity crisis: Some golden children have been so used to being the favored ones that they don’t know who they are without that label. It’s like having their own identity follow them around and overshadow their true self.
  • The overwhelmed achiever: In certain situations, the golden child becomes an overachiever. They feel the need to compensate for the void left by the scapegoat, striving for even greater success and approval to maintain their status.
  • The burdened protector: Lastly, some golden children might feel a strong sense of responsibility to ensure the well-being of other family members. It’s like carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, trying to shield their loved ones from further harm.

I can relate to this because my sister was thrilled when I got cut off from the family. In her mind, I was casting a shadow on her with my achievements, and she couldn’t handle it.

Why Does the Scapegoat Experience So Much Narcissistic Abuse?

The narcissistic abuse the family scapegoat endures raises the question of why this dynamic is so prevalent within dysfunctional families.

When the scapegoat is treated as the family’s punching bag, they become a convenient target to soak up all the family’s problems and dodge responsibility.

They are also often the ones who dare to challenge the family’s messed-up dynamics, and that doesn’t sit well with everyone else.

So, instead of facing the issues, the family piles it all on the scapegoat, making them the bad guys. It’s a bit like a smoke screen that lets the rest of the family pretend everything’s okay.

Tip
To escape the scapegoat role, set boundaries and limit contact with toxic family members. Focus on your own healing and well-being.

Your Best Revenge Is To Live a Happy and Authentic Life

When the scapegoat leaves the family, it marks the beginning of a profound journey.

The chaos and dysfunction may linger, but the opportunity for personal growth, healing, and authenticity becomes a driving force.

Your best revenge is not retaliation or dwelling on the past but rather living a happy and authentic life.

Embracing your own path, nurturing healthy relationships, and discovering your true self is a powerful testament to resilience.

It’s a declaration that you won’t be defined by the scars of the past, but by the strength and authenticity you’ve cultivated in the present.

The journey may be challenging, but the destination is worth it – a life that’s truly your own.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when the family scapegoat fights back?

When the family scapegoat fights back, they challenge the toxic dynamic, set boundaries, and demand respect, often triggering resistance from the abuser.

What happens when the scapegoat escapes?

When the scapegoat finally escapes the toxic family dynamics, they break free from abuse, start healing, rebuild their life, and seek healthier relationships.

How does the family treat the scapegoat?

The family often treats the scapegoat with blame, criticism, and unfair expectations. An example of this would be constant fault-finding and emotional abuse.

Does a scapegoat ever recover?

Yes, a scapegoat can recover, but it’s a challenging journey. Seeking professional help, like therapy, is the key to start healing. Please consult a therapist for guidance specific to your situation.

Does the golden child hate the scapegoat?

Not necessarily. The golden child’s feelings toward the scapegoat can vary. It depends on their awareness of the family dynamics and their own experiences.

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