Someone in our community asked: “How can I recover from being the family scapegoat for my entire life?” I did some research. Here’s what I found.

To recover from being the family scapegoat, you must set firm boundaries, let go of the hope that your family will change, practice self-compassion, reparent yourself through self-care activities, learn how to forgive yourself and strengthen your support network.

In this article, I’ll walk you through each of these steps to help you understand how they will help you heal from the narcissistic abuse you’ve experienced.

1.) Set Firm Boundaries

The first step is to establish boundaries within your family dynamics. 

This means deciding what behaviors you will and will not tolerate from family members. 

It’s about protecting your emotional well-being by saying “no” to abuse, manipulation, or any other form of mistreatment. 

Doing this is crucial because it helps you regain control over your life.1 

For so long as the scapegoat, you’ve been at the mercy of others’ unfair judgments and criticisms. 

By establishing boundaries, you’re telling yourself and others that you value yourself and deserve respect.

This is hard to do, but it is super important. 

Heads Up: We have a free course about setting boundaries created by Andre O’Donnell, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor from Washington State.

Resource: How to Set Boundaries with a Narcissist

2.) Let Go of the Hope That They’ll Change

A significant step in recovering from being a family scapegoat is accepting that your narcissistic family members may not change. 

This acceptance doesn’t mean you agree with or condone their behavior. 

Instead, it’s about recognizing that you cannot control others’ actions, only your reactions and feelings towards them. 

Acceptance allows you to stop waiting for them to change AND to start healing and move forward with your life.

A scapegoat accepting that her family members won't change.

This is a crucial step to take because it helps you focus on what you can control: your own life and happiness. 

3.) Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion means treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d offer a good friend.2

So acknowledge your suffering, recognize that imperfection is part of the human experience, and be kind to yourself instead of judgmental.

For example, when you make a mistake, don’t berate yourself the same way the abusive people in your life have in the past.3

Instead, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. 

Offer yourself understanding and patience, acknowledging the effort and growth rather than focusing solely on the outcome. 

This shift in self-talk is a powerful tool for recovery because it directly counters the negative self-beliefs instilled by the abuse you experienced.

In other words, by being compassionate towards yourself, you begin to heal the wounds of past criticism and neglect. 

This process helps you quiet the hostile inner critic and replace it with a nurturing and forgiving inner voice.

Related: 10 Ways to Love Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

3. Reparent Yourself Through Self-Care Activities

Have you heard the phrase “reparent yourself” before?

It means giving yourself the care, comfort, and nurturing you didn’t receive from your parents.4 

This process involves recognizing your needs and meeting them in healthy ways, whether that’s through:

  • Ensuring you have regular meals.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Setting aside time for hobbies.
  • Setting aside time for relaxation.
  • Or providing yourself with comfort and reassurance.

For example, you’re feeling overwhelmed and sad.

Instead of ignoring these feelings or criticizing yourself for having them, you take a moment to ask what you need. 

Maybe you need to take a break, speak to a friend, or simply allow yourself to feel these emotions without judgment. 

You might prepare a healthy meal for yourself, ensure you’re getting enough rest, or engage in activities that soothe and uplift you. 

This approach to self-care reinforces the message that you are worthy of care and attention and is crucial because:

  • It helps fill the emotional and physical gaps left by your upbringing.
  • It teaches you to rely on yourself for love, comfort, and validation
  • And it helps you build a nurturing relationship with yourself.

4.) Learn How to Forgive Yourself

Here’s a big one: learning how to forgive yourself.

I can’t stress enough how important this step is.

You see, when you’ve been blamed for things beyond your control for so long, you might believe you’re at fault for anything and everything.

This belief can, and often does, cause scapegoats to carry undeserved feelings of guilt and shame. 

A woman feeling guilt and shame.

So, self-forgiveness is crucial because it releases you from the chains of past mistakes, perceived or real, and the negative self-image imposed by your family. 

It’s about understanding that everyone makes mistakes, but these mistakes don’t define your worth. 

Forgiving yourself helps to heal the guilt and shame that have been unfairly attributed to you, allowing you to move forward with a lighter heart and a clearer mind.

5.) Strengthen Your Support Network

The final step I’ll cover is building a supportive network of friends, mentors, or others who understand and validate your experiences.

Pro Tip: Look for online or in-person communities where you can share your feelings and experiences without judgment. 


A good supportive network provides the following:5

  • A sense of belonging.
  • Reassurance that you’re not alone.
  • Emotional support.
  • Practical advice.
  • And encouragement.

By surrounding yourself with people who support and understand narcissistic abuse, you take a leap toward healing and finding peace away from the scapegoat identity.

For more helpful information like this, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

To recover from being the family scapegoat, you should do the following:

  • Set firm boundaries.
  • Let go of the hope that your family will change.
  • Practice self-compassion.
  • Reparent yourself through self-care activities.
  • Learn how to forgive yourself.
  • Strengthen your support network.

Thanks for taking the time to read! If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment below. I’d love to connect and discuss this topic further.

Our Latest Articles

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Kevin Mimms. (2023. February, 1). Family Scapegoat: Signs, Effects, & How to Cope. Choosing Therapy. ↩︎
  2. Kelley Maynard. (2023. June, 1). Self-Compassion: Improve Your Well-Being and Quiet Your Inner Critic. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester. ↩︎
  3. Jennifer Gerlach. (2024. January, 6). 5 Ways to Heal from Being the Family Scapegoat. Psychology Today. ↩︎
  4. Maggie Holland. (2022. December, 9). What Is Reparenting? 10 Tips for How to Start. Choosing Therapy. ↩︎
  5. Caitlin Cox. (2022. December, 16). How Support Can Help After Trauma. WebMD. ↩︎

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.