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DARVO is an acronym that stands for deny, attack, reverse victim and offender.

Here's a hypothetical scenario, using Christian-backed anti-gay rhetoric as an example:

  1. Deny: Christians don't hate gays. Christians love everyone. We just want everyone to have the love of the Lord.
  2. Attack: You only think otherwise because of the fake news pushed by the corrupt, atheist media that tries to slander Christians.
  3. Reverse victim and offender: We need to stand up to the gay lobby pushing their agenda down our throats.

Origins and research[edit]

Jennifer FreydWikipedia's W.svg coined the term in her 1997 study "Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory"[1] to explain how perpetrators of unequivocally bad things (e.g., sexual assault) paint themselves as victims and their victims as the ones in power.

In a 2017 study which aimed to test whether DARVO is an empirically strong method of classification, the researchers concluded that:[2][3]

(1) DARVO was commonly used by individuals who were confronted; (2) women were more likely to be exposed to DARVO than men during confrontations; (3) the three components of DARVO were positively correlated, supporting the theoretical construction of DARVO; and (4) higher levels of exposure to DARVO during a confrontation were associated with increased perceptions of self-blame among the confronters. These results provide evidence for the existence of DARVO as a perpetrator strategy and establish a relationship between DARVO exposure and feelings of self-blame. Exploring DARVO aids in understanding how perpetrators are able to enforce victims' silence through the mechanism of self-blame.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory by Jennifer J. Freyd (1997) Feminism & Psychology, 7:22-32.
  2. What is DARVO? by Jennifer J. Freyd
  3. Perpetrator Responses to Victim Confrontation: DARVO and Victim Self-Blame by Sarah J. Harsey (2017) Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma 26(6):644-663. doi:10.1080/10926771.2017.1320777.