What Can We Do About Scapegoating? - The Scapegoating Pandemic Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?”  (II Co. 6:14)

How I would love to write to you all a simple, guaranteed-to-work formula for getting rid of scapegoating – for cleaning it out of our lives so the incredible harm does not have to happen!  Unfortunately, at this point in mankind’s insight, that easy way can’t happen.  Scapegoating has proven very difficult to deal with – to change for the better.  All hope is not lost, though, as there are ways to protect ourselves and to be a positive force in amelioration.  Some scapegoaters do stop, perhaps through repentance and conversion, through having certain life events happen to them, or simply through growing older and more mellow.

First of all, it is wise to become as knowledgeable as possible about scapegoating, so we can spot instances of it when they occur. As the above Bible verse advises, do not become unequally yoked. Uncritically accepting everyone who comes along is very risky.  Before allowing a person into our lives we need to carefully ascertain their character as much as possible.  Are they truthful, or do you notice them telling little white lies?  Do they say “I’m sorry” when they have been rude, even in error?  Do they follow through with plans or do they leave you hanging?  Are they interested in the interests and concerns of others or are they just into “their own thing?” Do things the person says and does leave you feeling puzzled, vaguely confused, and queasy in the stomach?

Here are five signs you are a target for scapegoating.  I copied them from the Internet, but don’t know who wrote them.  (Sorry about that! – author unknown)

1.      You are often told that YOU need to change.

2.      You’re excluded or overlooked for family events, functions, and activities.

3.      You’re the butt of sarcasms and negative remarks.

4.      You are iced out by certain family members as though you don’t exist.

5.     Often you hear statements that begin with “If you…, presenting something you should do to get the love and acceptance you are looking for.

We need to make it a practice to keep boundaries around ourselves, for protection, to avoid being taken advantage of, especially if we already have scapegoaters in our lives.  My primary boundary I have in place is called “Be nice to me.”  I have told all relevant parties about it. I try to be as nice to everyone as I can manage to be.  People need to be nice to me.  Then they are very welcome.  If they are not nice to me, and don’t want to be, I require that they just stay away.  This boundary is in place for everyone, no exceptions, and it has helped!

Boundaries involving groups are also necessary at times.   The beliefs and practices of a group, plus the ongoing group dynamics can spell big scapegoater danger.  A group evidencing relationship problems among its core members is a particular red flag, especially if one member is being black sheeped.  Beware, you may be next! 

The interpretation of certain scriptures by some churches can have unintended undesirable consequences.  For example, the way the forgiveness doctrine is used can actually result in a church’s condoning scapegoating abuse.  Say a woman has been badly abused by her husband.  She goes to the pastor or other church leader for counseling. She is told that she is the problem.  She is told that the reason she is still hurting is that she hasn’t forgiven, and if she truly forgives him she won’t hurt anymore.  Well, do you see what is going on here?  The perpetrator gets by with his very damaging abuse.  Nobody tells him he is doing wrong and needs to stop.  Oh, boy!  Do scapegoaters love that scenario!  He loves blaming his wife for being “the wrong one,” and now the church is telling her she’s the wrong one, too!  This distortion of the forgiveness doctrine is especially dangerous in churches which emphasize strongly that women should be entirely submissive to their husbands.  In that case, churches could be not only condoning violence, but promoting it!  Lifetime damage to all family members can be the consequences.  I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it.

Another red flag that scapegoating is regularly occurring in a group, be it a family, a church, a support group, a club, or a work place is when bad, damaging happenings are “swept under the carpet” where they are kept hidden and are not to be talked about.  Sure, unnecessary gossip is something we don’t want to indulge in.  But, keeping dysfunctional, abusive happenings secret keeps problems from being solved and allows perpetrators to go on and on.  I remember some years ago we were told with great emphasis, “Don’t ever say anything against the church.  It is God’s church, and He does not want you criticizing it.”  Well, we shouldn’t be troublemakers in church or any other organization, but if harmful or unfair things are going on, somebody needs to speak up, hopefully to the appropriate people in an appropriate manner.  If I remember correctly, famous author Anna Sewell wrote, “If we see evil and do nothing, we are guilty of the evil also.”

Perhaps the same statement could be made in regards to reporting scapegoating cruelty we witness. When the abuse or neglect is causing real harm, to a child or an animal especially, we need to report that to the appropriate authorities.  If we walk off and do nothing, we allow that individual’s pain to continue, even resulting in the death of the victim.  With so many people living longer, elder abuse is more rampant.  Adult children scapegoat their aging parents.

If we are the victims of scapegoating verbal and/or physical abuse, we need to seek responsible help all possible.  If we have a friend who is being substantially scapegoated, we need to stay by her side in support and companionship, and take her concerns seriously, be a true friend, and not accuse her of merely “dumping on us.” We should sensitively encourage her to seek help. Never abandon her!

Last but not least, we need to look at ourselves. Scapegoating behaviors are so ubiquitous in the world around us, it is possible some have become part of our behavioral repertoire and we are not aware of it.  If we find undesirable patterns we weren’t even aware of and don’t want, we need to focus on stopping them, pronto!

In my next, and final article in this Scapegoating Pandemic series, I want to present the types of relationships we can all work towards, and improve in, which involve real kindness, satisfaction, and mental, emotional, and physical healing and well-being.  I believe in the worth of those types of relationship, and I want to tell you about them.  For now, I will just say that they are the type of loving relationships Jesus wants us to have.  As Jesus brings life, so we can bring life to one another in a real way!!

Have you heard about what Hippocrates said?  “The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body is different.”

COPYRIGHT 2015 Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart

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