DARVO: deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender

DARVO is an acronym for “deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender”. It is a common manipulation strategy of psychological abusers.[1][2][3] The abuser denies the abuse ever took place, attacks the victim for attempting to hold the abuser accountable, and claims that they, the abuser, are actually the victim in the situation, thus reversing the reality of the victim and offender.[1][3] This usually involves not just “playing the victim” but also victim blaming.[2] It is similar to some mechanisms that have been passed down subculturally and misused institutionally for millennia in the phenomenon of anti-Judaism or anti-Semitism.[4]

The acronym and the analysis it is based on are the work of the psychologist Jennifer Freyd, whose webpage links to an article explaining that the first stage of DARVO, denial, involves gaslighting.[1][2][3]

Jennifer Freyd writes:

…I have observed that actual abusers threaten, bully and make a nightmare for anyone who holds them accountable or asks them to change their abusive behavior. This attack, intended to chill and terrify, typically includes threats of law suits, overt and covert attacks on the whistle-blower‘s credibility, and so on. The attack will often take the form of focusing on ridiculing the person who attempts to hold the offender accountable. […] [T]he offender rapidly creates the impression that the abuser is the wronged one, while the victim or concerned observer is the offender. Figure and ground are completely reversed. […] The offender is on the offense and the person attempting to hold the offender accountable is put on the defense.[5]


Alleged examples of DARVO in public events include:

  • The behaviour of R. Kelly during an interview related to criminal proceedings against him for sexual abuse of minors.[6]
  • The behaviour of former American President Donald Trump in defending himself against sexual harassment allegations, as well as in defending himself against allegations of his other wrongdoings.[7][8]
  • Harvey Weinstein, in a 2017 interview, accusing his victims of gaslighting.[9]

In popular media

In the 2019 episode Season Finale of South ParkRandy Marsh is arrested for destroying home-growers’ marijuana. Randy calls President Garrison for legal advice. [10] The President explains to him DARVO and role plays how to use it.

Anthony Pommpliano Calls Out Government Gaslighting over Inflation

They 100% lied about the inflation numbers in May. This is insane.

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Why do narcissists want to gaslight you?

Theory of Mind develops at around the age of four years old. This is where we realise that we don’t know what other people know. It’s an important precursor to empathy, for to empathise, there has to be somebody else just like me. There has to be another mind.

Having retreated into fantasy well before this point, the narcissist thinks that there is only one mind – theirs.

Everyone knows what the narcissist thinks they should know, believes what the narcissist has assigned them to believe.

The narcissist is not interacting with people, they are playing with dolls.

However, the Toys are Revolting.

The narcissist has assigned you with a role, and a limited set of knowledge. Being a Bad Doll, you seem to know more than you should. But that’s not the game. You’re ruining the game. When you go back to knowing what you should know, you will become a Good Doll again (lack of Object Constancy).

I’m certainly not saying being a Good Doll will be a pleasant experience for you – it will not.

Using hatred as their tool the narcissist sets about making the world right. Gaslighting is one way of doing this. The narcissist is attempting to make you know only what you should know, only what you know in their fantasy version of you.

It is as though the narcissist has been playing with dolls, when suddenly one of the dolls says “no, I’m not a fireman, and I don’t want to go into that building! It’s dangerous! I’m a landscape Gardener and my name isn’t Bob, it’s Max!! And you set the building up to collapse on me! I saw you!”

The narcissist is enraged. You’re just a stupid toy! You will do what you are told! The building is going to fall on you, you’ll go to hospital and be crippled for life, that’s the game!

If you transition from perfect lover to evil villain, that’s the game!

If you go from evil villain to benign, though short term benefactor, that’s the game!

You don’t have characteristics of your own, you have whatever the narcissist assigns you for this particular game. The Narcissist decides the game, not you!

You’re a f*cking toy!

Thus the narcissist, with single pointed determination has learned a bunch of tricks, neurolinguistic programming to smash human minds back into the game that is being played. If the narcissist says something didn’t happen, that’s because in their mind you don’t know that it happened.

The narcissist knows what you know, but you are just a toy! You cannot fathom the unknowable God! You are not Good! You are Bad! Bad dolly! Naughty dolly!

Smack smack smack,


Wasn’t the demonstration at the Capitol “mostly peaceful”?

The demonstration at the Capitol on January 6 was mostly peaceful, in the same sense that a spear is mostly not pointy. But the point of the spear is its salient feature. If you look at a long wooden pole without a point on either end, you call it a staff. With a point, you call it a spear.

Similarly, there may well have been 10,000 peaceful demonstrators, who were just out for a stroll on a brisk January afternoon. But that does not lessen in any way the guilt of the 500 or so highly motivated and highly organized insurrectionists, nor the guilt of those who wound them up and organized them.

Q: Wasn’t the demonstration at the Capitol “mostly peaceful”?

These are mess cooks, clerks, some (but not all) medical personnel and engineers, people who run the comms, people who provide the electric power and fresh water, people who handle the logistics, transportation and supply, even people who do the laundry. These people are frequently referred to as “fobbits” (they are put up and work in a well-protected Forward Operating Base, and rarely venture outside the wire), or “pogues” (POGs, persons other than grunts). They are deployed with the forces, are away from family and friends back home; they are in a risky location not completely out of harm’s way, and they share many if not all of the same hardships, and provide essential functions to the front line units, so they rate at least that much respect. But even over there, while there’s shooting going on, they have a relatively “peaceful” existence and are just doing their job of supporting the fighting troops or Marines.

By your “mostly peaceful” standard . . . any WAR that we get into is “mostly peaceful”!

“Mostly peaceful” doesn’t get it when ten percent of a group is getting destructive and violent (and only ten percent actually killing people and breaking things, with the other participants serving in support roles, is all that even the Army and Marines seem to think it takes to fight a war), and if that’s what you’re there to support, then you’re just as foul as the people there who are actually getting destructive and violent.

Certainly, like the rest of us, you learned back in high school and college, that when you’re at a party and things are starting to get a little too wild, it’s time to go home — stick around and you’re going to end up getting into trouble, right along with a lot of people there who you just know, from the way things are going, are going to get into trouble later in the evening. If you were in that crowd in Washington on January 6th, why didn’t you think of it on that day?

And if you were too much a part of that crowd . . . Donald Trump is not going to help you out of this one. Quite the contrary, he’s going down with you.

And that’s just the way it should be.

The Constitution of the United States is the fundamental law that makes our country what it is. It embodies the design that makes the nation we know and love to function in ways we count on it to work. It is the basic agreement that we all agree, whatever our other differences, to go by. If you take up arms against the constitutional order of the United States as those people did on January 6, if you attempt the use of force to prevent its functioning as provided in the document, or if you adhere to and support and give aid and comfort to those who do, you become an enemy of my country.

And we have a problem.


I have written on this subject several times, not just about the Capitol “event” but also about BLM supported protests.

In each demonstration there is a range of people. Many demonstrations are peaceful throughout because the participants have peaceful intentions. I know people disagree, but the actual data on BLM protests show that the protests were largely peaceful. There were protests that were marred by violence, and after investigation the facts often showed that the violence was the result of a small group of anarchists and of white supremacists who wanted to counter the protests. Thus, although BLM gets the blame in certain quarters, it often is not at fault.

Similarly ,in the Capitol demonstration there was a range of participants. A significant number of the participants were not involved in violent behavior. It is true that the reason for the demonstration was a false premise, that the election was stolen, but that does not alter the fact that many people did not want to, nor did they, participate in the trespass and violence. There was, however, a gathering of participants, generally white supremacists, Qanon, and similar groups, who actively planned and contemplated a violent trespass and takeover of the Capitol. How many has not yet been completely determined, but the nature of the planned activity, the setting, and the results set this event apart, for obvious reasons. (This is why the DOJ both during the Trump administration and now in the Biden administration believe that the white supremacist and related movements pose the greatest threat of domestic violence. So in this instance the entire demonstration catches the blame. One should note, however, that this analysis does not necessarily absolve those who stoked the passions of the demonstrators, both before and the day of the demonstration. That remains to be analyzed when the investigations are concluded. That is why a thorough investigation needs to be conducted.


Sure, except for the pipe bombs and the bear spray and the hanging gallows and the destroyed property and the rioting and the assault on police officers and the feces smeared on walls and the zip ties and the white supremacists wearing the Camp Auschwitz stuff and the confederate flag and the calls to execute Pence and members of Congress , it was totally peaceful.

I’m sure I’m missing some details here but seriously, in what universe was that “mostly peaceful?”