What does DARVO mean?

DARVO stands for ‘Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.’ It’s a manipulative tactic that abusive people often use to mess with others’ heads and control them. Basically, if someone does something wrong and you call them out, they might turn the situation around — saying it didn’t happen, blaming you instead, and acting like they’re the ones getting hurt. This mix-up can make you question yourself and make it tough to sort out what’s really going on.

How Do I Know If I’m Experiencing DARVO?

Spotting DARVO isn’t always easy, but there are a few tell-tale signs:

  • The person denies doing anything wrong
  • They start having a go at you to throw you off track
  • They twist the story to make it look like they’re the one being treated badly.

Say you tell someone they’re being too controlling, and they snap back that you’re the controlling one and claim they’re the victim. That’s DARVO in action.

Dealing With DARVO

Getting your head around DARVO is key — it shows you that it’s not you, it’s them. If you think this is happening:

  • Stick to what you know is true and try not to get swamped by feelings.
  • Write down what happens when it happens, so you keep the facts straight.
  • Talk to people you trust like friends, family, or someone who knows about this stuff.

Handling emotional mind games can be rough, so getting help from pros can be a game changer. In Australia, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a great place to reach out to. They’re all about helping people who are dealing with these kinds of situations. Stay safe and remember, you’re not alone in this!

How do I know if I’m experiencing DARVO?

Recognising DARVO can be challenging, but common indicators include:

  • The abuser outright denies any abusive actions.
  • They might launch personal attacks to discredit you or shift focus.
  • They position themselves as the victim, portraying you as the aggressor.

For instance, if you confront a partner about their controlling behaviour, they might respond by denying they’ve done anything wrong, accusing you of being controlling instead, and then claiming they are actually the ones suffering in the relationship.

You can learn more about DARVO by watching this short video:

Dealing with DARVO

Understanding DARVO is critical because it helps validate your experiences and clarifies that the confusion and role reversal are parts of a known abuse pattern, not a reflection of your actions. If you suspect DARVO is occurring:

  • Stick to the facts and avoid getting drawn into emotional responses.
  • Keep a detailed record of interactions to help maintain your perspective and support your claims.
  • Seek support from friends, family, or professionals who can provide an external viewpoint and reinforce your reality.

As with all forms of emotional manipulation, professional guidance can be crucial. Support networks and resources like 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) can offer advice and assistance to navigate through these complex dynamics and help ensure your safety and well-being.

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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