A friend of mine was labelled the scapegoat in her family. She was repeatedly told that she was too volatile and ‘crazy.’ She was scapegoated for everything, including things she had absolutely nothing to do with.
It took her two years of therapy to realise that she was not crazy and there was nothing inherently wrong with her. In fact, she is a caring, warm and loving person.
It is convenient for a family to have a scapegoat, as the other members don’t have to take as much personal responsibility. You might find, when you challenge other members of the family, they tell you their behaviour is totally acceptable (when it is not) and that yours is not. This is likely to happen when you try to a boundary in place. They don’t like it, so they push back commenting again on your ‘over sensitivity’.
This is a toxic environment. Often the scapegoat can thrive when they leave this environment and be seen for the person they truly are.
Let me know if this was part of your experience.
Reference: Gemmill, G. “The Dynamics of Scapegoating in Small Groups, Small Group Research (November, 1989), vol, 20 (4), pp. 406-418