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DARVO

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Coping Mechanisms > DARVO

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

  

Description

When wrong-doers are confronted with their acts (which may be criminal), they show a pattern that can be abbreviated as DARVO This stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.

The person thus denies having committed the offence, attacks the accuser and reverses the roles, painting themself as the victim and their actual victim as the actual guilty party.

Two common types of denial are 'It didn't happen' and (if it cannot be denied) then 'It wasn't harmful'.

Attacks can be violent and effectively abusive towards the accuser, with threats of legal action, attacks on credibility and so on. 

Example

A person is accused of rape. When confronted with this, they deny that rape occurred, explaining it as consensual and acting in an outraged, affronted way, painting themselves as a hapless victim, whereas the actual victim with whom they had sex is described as a vindictive person who the accused later rightly spurned after discovering their malicious personality.

Discussion

This is a pattern described by Jennifer Freyd  in 1997 in her researches on 'betrayal trauma theory', particularly in the context of childhood abuse and sexual offenders.

This pattern has links to the Drama Triangle when a third party (typically representing the law) seeks to confront the person with their crime. 

So what?

If confronting what appears to be a wrong-doer, then watch out for this pattern.

Note also that a similar pattern may appear where the person actually is the innocent party. The best approach is thus to seek further evidence, whilst watching for signs of lying.

See also

Games, Denial, Lying

 

Freyd, J.J. (1997) Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory. Feminism & Psychology, 7, 22-32

Veldhuis, C. B., & Freyd, J. J. (1999). Groomed for silence, groomed for betrayal. In M. Rivera (Ed.), Fragment by Fragment: Feminist Perspectives on Memory and Child Sexual Abuse (pp. 253-282). Charlottetown, PEI Canada: Gynergy Books

 

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