DARVO Tactics: How Narcissists Resort To Playing The Victim

 / 

,
DARVO

While each case of abuse is different, there are some common techniques used by abusers to preserve their control. Here’s a rundown of DARVO tactics used by narcissists to cover their wrongdoings.

What Is DARVO Tactics?

Abusers are long known for victim-blaming, because they never want to take responsibility. More recently a research psychologist Jennifer Joy Freyd gave this a name: DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.

This is more than either “playing the victim” or victim-blaming, which we’re all capable of when conversations are misunderstood or not heard or remembered.

DARVO Tactics: How Narcissists Resort To Playing The Victim
Victim Blaming Examples: The Darvo Narcissist

Examples might be when we deny responsibility for not picking up groceries and blame our partner for not asking us to get them; or, I lost my temper because you insulted my mother.

Narcissists are experts “playing the victim” plus victim-blaming and projecting traits and responsibility onto other people.

I once remarked to a violent narcissist who blamed his wife for his behavior: “I’m surprised to hear your wife has that much power over you.” He was dumbfounded since his whole agenda was to gain power over her.

Related: 7 Stages Of An Emotional Abuser’s Trap

DARVO applies to abuse, but goes further. It involves a conscious manipulation where the abuser, often a narcissist, pretends that their abuse never took place and attacks the victim for trying to hold them accountable.

Manipulators deny the abuse ever took place, attack you when you try to hold them accountable, and then claim that they’re the victim, thus reversing the reality of the abuser and victim.

For example, if you uncover your partner’s flirtatious text, they might deny its significance, act outraged, and attack you for looking at their phone. They may even add, “You’re the one having an affair.

By blaming the victim a narcissist avoids being held accountable and is free to carry on; while you, the real victim, feel guilty for spying, thus undercutting your justified anger.

DARVO Tactics: How Narcissists Resort To Playing The Victim

In 1994, Freyd coined the term, Betrayal Trauma Theory to address trauma by a perpetrator on someone who trusts them in a close relationship, such as a child or partner. The victim goes into denial about traumatic experiences in order to maintain the relationship with the abuser whom they depend on.

Her research explored why although about one-fourth of girls are sexually abused, statistically, about 8% of women have memory failure of childhood sexual abuse. She observes that when the abuse and accusation are true, the denial, unlike in other cases, is more indignant, self-righteous, and manipulative. In fact, the more one tries to hold these offenders responsible, the more vociferous are their denials and attacks, completely distorting and reversing reality.

Related: Why The Abuser Blames You Even When You Are The Victim

She compares it to behavior of a bully when confronted, who seeks to terrify and ruin the victim and chill accusations. The offensive campaign often involves threatening lawsuits and defaming, smearing, and shaming the victim personally rather than focusing on the issues at hand. The abuser may flip rapidly between both attacking and acting victimized.

Darvo Narcissist: Victim Blaming Examples

Another strategy to confuse and discourage victims is to use the lack of legal culpability to mean not only exoneration, but to deny that the events ever took place and prove the abuser’s innocence in fact. In other words, “I’m innocent until proven guilty. Since you haven’t proven me guilty, I’m in fact (in contrast with ‘in law’) innocent. I didn’t do it.

During an interview with Gayle King on CBS, R Kelly demonstrated DARVO. He maintained his innocence, denied abusing women and having sex with underage girls, attacked his accusers as liars trying to ruin his career, and then complained he was victimized because of his “big heart.” Testimony of multiple victims subsequently led to a guilty verdict.

Related: How Abusers Use Denial to Excuse Themselves and Blame Others

It’s best not to defend or argue, which undercuts the abuser’s responsibility, because then you’re in a debate about what you know happened. Read what JADE stands for. Instead, keep your composure like Gayle King and calmly set a boundary, such as, “You know what you did. I’m not responsible for your behavior,” and walk away.

Learn more about how to handle abuse and narcissists in my book, Dating, Loving, and Leaving a Narcissist: Essential Tools for Improving or Leaving Narcissistic and Abusive Relationships. Study my class, How to Be Assertive.

© 2022 Darlene Lancer

We hope that this guide for DARVO tactics will help you when dealing with narcissists or toxic individuals.


Written By: Darlene Lancer JD LMFT
Originally Appeared On: Codependency
DARVO Narcissists Resort pin
DARVO pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

Brain Fog After Narcissistic Abuse? 8 Ways Narcissists Can Muddle Your Brain

Brain Fog After Narcissistic Abuse? Reasons Why It Happens

Have you ever heard of the term “brain fog”? Brain fog is like a maddening haze that seems to muddle your thoughts, makes you forget what you were saying, and has you searching for your clothes in the trash bin? Well, today we are going to talk about a specific sort of brain fog – brain fog after narcissistic abuse.

Imagine that you have just escaped from a toxic and abusive relationship with a narcissist. You are slowly picking up the pieces and trying to get your life back in order, but somehow you feel like your head is not in the right place. Everything still feels very odd and you still feel very lost.

Even though you are free from the clutches of your narcissistic ex, this bizarre mental fog just won’t lift. Let’s explore how narcissists cause brain fog, and the link between brain fog and narcissistic abuse.



Up Next

Toxic Bosses Unmasked: 20 Warning Signs to Watch For

Toxic Bosses Unmasked: Warning Signs to Watch For

Having a toxic boss can really take a toll on you mentally, and toxic bosses are seriously so horrible. This article is going to help you understand the traits of a toxic boss so that you know which behaviors are not normal and ethical. Read on to know more about the signs of a toxic boss or toxic bosses.

We hear about toxic bosses all the time, but how do you know when a boss is “toxic”? “Toxic” is, of course, a vague descriptor. Are bosses toxic when they throw fits and scream, or only when they break the law?

Or are they toxic when they are immoral or unethical? Are they toxic if they’re nice one day and nasty the next, or just when they make you uncomfortable, nervous, or sick? These are valid questions because these individuals are easy to identify when their behaviors are outrageous; but perhaps less so when their behavior



Up Next

How To Know If Your Mother Hates You: 8 Not-So-Subtle Signs

How To Know If Your Mother Hates You: Not-So-Subtle Signs

Have you ever found yourself wondering if your mother harbors some deep-seated resentment, or even hatred towards you? If you have, then I know that it’s a really tough pill to swallow. How can your mother hate you, and most importantly, how to know if your mother hates you?

Today, we’re diving straight into the realm of family dynamics, exploring the question “why does my mother hate me?”. We will try to understand the signs that give away her true feelings for you, and which may indicate if your mother’s love has taken a dark turn.

Let’s uncover 8 revealing clues that might just help you make sense of the complicated bond you share with your mom. Explore how to know if your mother hates you.



Up Next

How to Recognize and Counter Emotional Blackmail: 8 Techniques and 7 Signs

What Is Emotional Blackmail? Telltale Signs Revealed

Picture this: You’re sitting across from a friend, engrossed in conversation, when suddenly you feel the atmosphere change. Their tone becomes harsh, their eyes seem accusatory, and it feels like you’re trapped in an emotional minefield. Now, that’s what is emotional blackmail.

We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives, whether it’s a toxic relationship, a manipulative friend, or even within our own families. But what is emotional blackmail exactly, and how to deal with emotional blackmail?

In this article, we are going to take a look into the world of emotional blackmail and try to understand each and every nuance. We will talk about the signs of emotional blackmail, the types of emotional blackmail and how to deal with emotional blackmail.

So, are you ready to do this?



Up Next

What Does Being Submissive Mean? 9 Warning Signs You Might Be A Meek, Submissive Woman

What Does Being Submissive Mean? Signs Of A Meek Woman

Ever wondered, “What does being submissive mean?” Well, let’s put it this way: it’s like constantly being in the backseat of your life’s car, letting others take the wheel while you navigate the road of existence.

For example, meet Jess. She’s that friend who’s always putting everyone else’s happiness and needs before her own, and she often finds herself getting involved in abusive and unhealthy relationships.

If you relate to Jess and the ways she lives life, then you might be in for a very rude reality check. Because this points to the realm of female submissiveness. Stick around as we uncover nine warning signs that scream, “Hey, you might be more like Jess than you think!”

Related:



Up Next

What Is Unintentional Gaslighting? The Surprising Ways You Might Be Gaslighting Without Knowing It

What Is Unintentional Gaslighting? How Good Intentions Can Go Awry

Ever found yourself questioning your own reality after interaction with someone you know? Unintentional gaslighting can sneak into conversations, leaving you feeling disoriented and invalidated, even when no harm is intended.

Accidental, unintended or unconscious gaslighting in relationships can make you doubt your own thoughts, feelings, or even sanity. Someone’s words or actions can make you feel uncertain, dazed & confused without even realizing it.

Gaslighting, a term derived from a movie titled “Gaslight,” refers to the act of manipulating someone into doubting their own experiences and perceptions. But what is unintentional gaslighting?

Let’s explore this lesser-known concept and shed light on



Up Next

10 Covert Signs Of A Psychopath: Don’t Be Fooled By Their “Nice” Behavior

Signs Of A Psychopath: Look Out For These Sneaky Signs!

Have you ever wondered what lurks beneath the surface of those seemingly nice, charming and friendly individuals? You know the type—the ones who effortlessly wear a smile, say all the right things but leave you feeling a bit unsettled and uneasy. Well, my friend, get ready because we’re about to discuss the signs of a psychopath.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to scare you, but let’s face it, we all love a good psychological puzzle, right? So, let’s uncover the sneaky signs of a psychopath, the signs that separate the “nice” from the truly dangerous.

Brace yourself, because what you’re about to discover might just blow your mind. Let’s explore more about people who are nice but psychopathic.

Related