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An illustration of DARVO in action
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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. This phase corresponds to gaslighting.[1][2]
  2. Attack: You only think otherwise because of the fake news pushed by the corrupt, atheist media that tries to slander Christians.[note 1]
  3. Reverse victim and offender: We need to stand up to the gay lobby pushing their agenda down our throats.

Origins and research[edit]

Psychologist Jennifer FreydWikipedia coined the term in her 1997 study "Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory"[3] 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:[4][5]

(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. How Narcissists Use DARVO to Escape Accountability by Manya Wakefield (Apr 30, 2020) Narcissistic Abuse Rehab.
  2. Perpetrator Responses to Victim Confrontation: DARVO and Victim Self-Blame by Sarah J. Harsey et al. (2016) Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma 26(6): 644-663. doi:10.1080/10926771.2017.1320777.
  3. Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory by Jennifer J. Freyd (1997) Feminism & Psychology, 7:22-32.
  4. What is DARVO? by Jennifer J. Freyd
  5. 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.


  1. Gays are arguably bigger victims of this fake news than the Christians who use this rhetoric. Of course, one has to take into account that gays are actually persecuted by Christians, so accusing them of DARVO is disingenuous at best.