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.