…especially if they fear losing their power over their targets! What do they do?
Simple, they attack! Always!
When bullies get exposed and are in danger of losing face, and thus, losing their power over their targets, they know they have real problems on their hands.
They know that if they ever lose power over their targets, they lose power over everyone. Then, they become the hunted!
Understand that bullies always target whoever is perceived to be the weakest or has the least power because they’re the easiest prey. Without the target, they have power over no one. So, they launch a brutal and very public attack on the target to re-enforce their power and the unwritten rule that “no one messes with” them.
concept of a mob attacking a person that they think is different
And what better way to contain threats, solve their problems, and assuage their fears than to go on a full-blown, merciless attack? If you’re a target of bullying and your bullies are under the threat of losing their social status and capital, you will be the one they lash out at because bullies instinctively know that the best way to “stay in charge” is to attack someone.
Their followers love it, and they get entertainment out of seeing you get beaten down. At the same time, the bullies send the unspoken reminder to the rest of the people that it’s in their best interest not to defy them. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that bullies will attack rather than risk losing power.
Here are more ways we bullies assert and reinforce control over targets who step out of line.
3. We spread rumors and lies about the target. That’s right! We’ll demonize him. And he won’t even know about it until it’s too late and enough people are itching to take him apart. We’ll sow discord between him and all the other classmates. Hell! Even the teachers! We’ll make him public enemy number one!
Get this straight. All we have to do to demonize our target is to throw around a few offhand remarks and loaded words.
‘You see? We’ve been best friends since kindergarten, and some of us since we were babies. We are a family. We keep each other’s darkest secrets and fiercely protect each other, which means we cover each other’s butts.
Our parents know each other, and we have connections to quite a few city officials and local big shots. Everyone knows us and they love us- very much! We’re in cahoots with the right people and they tell us everything.
Nothing is private. Not in this school and not in this town. This high school is our kingdom. And it’s crawling with lackeys, suck-ups, and wannabes. These people straddle the fence and they’re the ones he’ll least expect.
And he messed with one of us, so he messed with all of us!
4. Make him do degrading things with the promise of acceptance and inclusion. By this time, we’ll have him so rejected, alone and alienated that he’ll sell his soul to the devil just to get a crumb of acceptance. So, why not give him something to strive toward? Make him do something stupid. And trust us, we’re creative! We’re inventive!
We’ll think of something so humiliating and degrading! We’ll set him up to look pathetic, and we’ll film it for the entire free world to see. And he’ll never be able to get away from it.
We’ll also set him up to get in trouble with the principal by baiting him into a few fights. We’ll get in his face. One of us might even throw the first punch and force him to hit back, and then we’ve got him. We’ll all band together and say he started it, cook up a good story, and he’ll be the one blamed.
And what will be the icing on the cake is that after everyone finishes blaming and punishing the target, they’ll give us sympathy for being victimized by such a monster.
That’s just life at the high school. Some matter and some don’t. And if a target tries to defend himself, he’s just defensive, a whiner, or he’s crazy.
But those rules don’t apply to us because we can do no wrong. Remember. We’re royals. And the double-standards we held our target to are beneficial to us. Don’t be surprised and don’t catch an attitude. You’d do the same thing if you were one of us.
5. We fantasize about the target transferring to another school or, even better, killing himself. Seriously, we do. But then again, we really don’t want that because, if he did either one, all the fun would end and it would be game over. We need our target to stick around so that we can continue getting our jollies and free entertainment.
We prefer to make things worse on our target slowly and gradually and drag it out for as long as possible. We’ll enjoy watching him withdraw from everyone, lose his appetite, lose weight, get sick, and shake from nervousness. And we know he will snap sooner or later.
We may be high school kids, but we’re far from stupid. We learned the laws of human nature early. How do you think we got so darned popular with kids and adults alike and rose to the top of the social totem pole? We knew the rules of the social game long before most people knew how to use the bathroom by themselves!
We also know that no one can keep that kind of pressure stuffed down inside forever. It’s impossible. Eventually, the target will explode. It always works better that way. And when he does blow up, we can only hope he does it in front of an audience.
We’re already building a case against the target. We can pick out small incidents, take them out of context, and spin them to make it bigger. We can craft a pattern out of them and make it look like evidence that is so damning.
Sure. Like, love and attractiveness are all subjective, but the system and social dynamic are rigged in our favor.
6. We would love nothing more than to beat the ever-loving crap out of our target but don’t want to risk getting caught. We’re too smart to do something so obvious and we don’t want to get our hands dirty. We’d much rather pick the creep apart in front of everyone and use his words against him. His intentions don’t matter. A screw-up is a screw-up and we’ll stick it to him. We’ll do it under the guise of friendly advice, the stealthier way to attack.
7. Pit what friends the target has against him. If we can’t turn his friends against him any other way, we’ll attack them too. We’ll accuse his friend of being in on the target’s little rebellion. Why should we do the dirty work ourselves when we have peer pressure on our side?
His friends will then blame him for dragging them into it and causing them to become targets. They won’t care to hear any explanations or justifications. They’ll just want their lives back and they’ll ostracize and gang up on him to make that happen. Cause and effect is such a beautiful thing! Why not use it to your advantage?
8. Send henchmen to commit our violence for us. As much as we’d love to beat the target’s brains out with our bare hands, we’re too smart to get blood on our hands. In fact, we won’t even be there.
We’ll just send some roughneck or a group of them to kick his tail for us. And why not? We’re the kings and queens of the school. Offer the right incentives and we can get anybody to do anything we want them to do.
Even better, we’ll get the toughest guy with the worst reputation and put a bug in his ear. We’ll make him think that the target is trying to put the moves on his girl. Then we won’t have to offer him anything in return.
It won’t matter what the truth is or whether the target even knows the girl. Because we have all the power, connections and trust, just our names and our word is golden.
The target gets his head kicked in and gets a ride in an ambulance. We fade into the woodwork. And if things get too hairy, we just let the tough guy take the fall! And if tough-guy tells the cops that we put him up to it, do you think they’ll believe him?
It is just another term for gaslighting but is more in-depth. Bullies will discredit the victim by discrediting the claims.
DARVO is an acronym that stands for:
D – Deny – Anytime the target calls out their bullies’ abuse, the bullies will first deny the behavior. Bullies will counter with things like,
“That’s not what I said.”
“That never happened.”
“That’s not what I did.”
Or, they may not necessarily deny it, but may minimize their behavior by saying things like:
“It wasn’t that serious.”
“I didn’t hit you that hard. That was a love-pat compared to what I could’ve done to you.”
“If I was mad, you’d know it.”
A – Attack – Next, the bullies will attack you. They will discredit you by discrediting your claims. Bullies will use gaslighting to make you question or doubt yourself. And they will say to you, things like:
“You’re just looking for a fight.”
“You’re a drama queen.”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“You’re being difficult.”
“You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”
“You just won’t leave well enough alone.”
R – Reverse
V – Victim
O – Offender – The bullies will blame you for their behavior. They’ll claim that you did something to them to make them act the way they acted. Your bullies will make statements such as:
“It’s your fault.”
“You asked for it.”
“You had it coming.”
“You made me hurt you.”
“You’re the bully, not me!”
Understand that bullies do this to escape accountability and, at the same time, cause the target to doubt and blame themselves. The stronger the bullies’ DARVO reaction, the more likely the target will blame themselves. And when it happens, the target will feel crazy, stupid, guilty, and responsible. This is why targets often take responsibility for the abuse they suffer.
DARVO is also used to silence targets and make them afraid to speak out. If victims are brainwashed into thinking they’re crazy, they’ll be afraid that everyone else will think the same thing.
I want you to know that you’re not responsible for the vile behavior of another person because you can’t control someone else’s behavior. You can only control yours.
Know that it isn’t your place to carry someone else’s emotional baggage! And how you unload it is to go grey-rock and cut the bullies out of your life if possible.
DARVO has been around since the beginning of time. Down through history, it’s been the most common manipulation tactic of psychological abusers. Only 24 years ago did someone put a name to it! DARVO came from the work of psychologist Jennifer Freyd, PhD, who first introduced the term in late 1997.