Portrait Of The Victim - The Scapegoating Pandemic Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin: That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (I Peter 4:1-2). 

Scapegoating has a tremendous, widespread history.  It is a practice older than old, even going back to Adam and Eve, when Adam blamed Eve for his eating the apple in disobedience to God, and then Eve blamed the serpent.  The word “scapegoat” first originated in 1530 when the Bible was translated into English.  “Scapegoating allows humans to point the finger at others instead of accepting the consequences of their own actions. Their targets are usually outsiders, a person or group who can be readily dehumanized and they come in all stripes: political, religious, artistic, and sporting.”  (Perritano 2015). Animals have been targets in the billions, throughout history and currently.  In more barbaric ages, convicts and deformed people were chained up, paraded around town in humility, then killed, oftentimes after natural disasters, to “purify” the community and to protect it from further “punishment” from the gods.  Human and animal sacrifice were rampant for thousands of years.  Children were sacrificed.  Remember the witch hunts of the inquisition?   Figures vary, but from 30-40 thousand to 100,000 innocent women were burned at the stake or hung.  All that horror and death supposedly to please “the gods,” so that natural catastrophes would be held back, or so harvests would be rich. 

Although we are not that blatantly barbaric these days, scapegoating is absolutely ubiquitous in our societies.  “Everybody,” it would seem, wants to blame someone else for anything that goes wrong, even if it is due to their own ignorance or carelessness. Even the best adjusted among us are thought to unjustly blame circumstances or others for undesirable happenings, hopefully mildly so.  The truly mature individuals have outgrown such tendencies.  So many unfair, expensive, ridiculous lawsuits are laboriously and stressfully undertaken!  For example, little Johnny falls off the playground equipment at the park, breaking his leg, so his parents sue the park department.  Was Johnny too young and not strong enough for that particular gym set?  Were his parents monitoring him as they should have been? 

In these days, spoiled kids are raised to thoroughly believe they are “entitled” to have and to do everything they want, when they want, all provided by someone else, of course.  If they don’t get what they want, they turn into “holy terrors,” and scapegoat their parents.  Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have become very popular sites where those who are inclined can engage in horrifically damaging scapegoating targeted at those whose reputations they want to ruin.  Young people broadcast extremely embarrassing and humiliating information about specific, named other young people to many thousands at once!  Suicides have occurred. 

Anytime a racial, religious, sexual, or physically or mentally different group is targeted with negative, disparaging comments or treatment, the group is being victimized.  Incredible societal battles are being fought in the area of prejudice and discrimination yet today.  As an example of such unfairness, how can I truthfully say that all members of a different racial group are lazy, good-for-nothings, when I personally don’t even know one?  Women have been fighting against scapegoating in the business and professional world for years, receiving less pay and less advancements, no matter how well they do the jobs.  Very recently, a store employee was telling me that, two years ago, she had been attacked and severely injured by a male manager, who (obviously) had quite an anger problem.  She was facing another surgery.  Violent sexual predators with deep anger and control issues have cruelly sexually violated and killed many, many defenseless women.  Extremely out-of-control scapegoats have methodically plotted and turned rifles on school children and college students – making others pay with their lives for how they think and feel.  

According to the experts, scapegoating begins in the family unit which is usually headed by an addicted parent who is also narcissistic and abusive.  The head of the dysfunctional family generally picks one other family member to take on the role of the scapegoat. He wants one who is harmless and won’t strike back. The person so chosen is often the sensitive, independent, outspoken one.  He or she is the one who asks questions, and who does not “buy into” the hidden, dysfunctional games the family plays.  The victim gets blamed for things that go wrong, He or she is the fall guy for the others’ problems.   Family bullying is another name for the game that is played.  The “head” scapegoater loves allies, so he or she will subtly brainwash other family members into believing the victim is the “bad one.”  This situation can develop into something even much worse, if the victim starts objecting to and rebelling against the hurtful, unfair treatment coming at him or her.  Then, the victim is branded the black sheep of the family.  According to Webster, a black sheep is a person who causes shame or embarrassment because of a deviation from the accepted standards of the group.  The victim is subsequently ostracized, being ignored, excluded or overlooked for family events, and treated with indifference and rejection.  Sometimes the child, or teenager, leaves his or her nuclear family, being advised to do so by a concerned pastor or physician. Court cases have been fought, in that the family subsequently has disinherited the child who left.  If the child (probably now grown up) can substantiate that some authority figure advised leaving, the grown child can receive due inheritance. 

Wives are at the head of the list for being scapegoated by husbands, although wives can be the scapegoaters, also.  Children are victimized, as well as family pets.  There is a lot of truth in the old story about the father who, having had a rough day at work, comes home and hollers at his wife, who then crabs at the kid, who then kicks the dog!  Children who are victimized within the family can sadly receive a “double dose” of verbal and/or physical abuse, in that bullying is a wide-spread, serious problem in schools across the nation.  They go to school, they get hurt, time after time.  Some kids can’t take anymore assaults and end their lives. As parents become senior citizens, they can be in danger of elder abuse, perhaps especially if they have scapegoated their children, who now have scapegoating personalities! Seems like an example of “what goes around, comes around!”

Dysfunctional families are practically the norm now days, In the world of the dysfunctional family, the needs of the scapegoated victim for good, healthy love and nurturance are an illusion – not to happen.  The victim usually develops in one of two directions.  Either he or she becomes the nice, harmless, but inferior-feeling person who won’t stick up for herself (the doormat), or she becomes a future scapegoater herself, perpetuating the family “line.” 

What I wonder about is the answer to the question, “If a person is a scapegoater to one person or in one area, is he or she more liable to scapegoat other people or in other areas?  Is the person more liable to harass and brutalize precious, defenseless animals? Makes sense to me that a scapegoating personality will continue to find victims “wherever” and throughout life. 


Perritano, John, “10 Scapegoats Still In The Crosshairs” (Google, 2015).

Copyright 2015 The Caring Heart

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