DARVO - Narcissistic Abuse

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The following paragraphs have been taken from https://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/defineDARVO.html

What is DARVO?

Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD

Fellow 2018-19, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
and Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon

DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim -- or the whistle blower -- into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility and blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.

Institutional DARVO occurs when the DARVO is committed by an institution (or with institutional complicity) as when police charge rape victims with lying. Institutional DARVO is a pernicious form of institutional betrayal.
Deny Attack Reverse Victim and Offender
Empirical Research

In a 2017 peer-reviewed open-access research study, Perpetrator Responses to Victim Confrontation: DARVO and Victim Self-Blame, Harsey, Zurbriggen, & Freyd reported that: "(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."

Harsey, S., Zurbriggen, E., & Freyd, J.J. (2017 -- published Open Access). Perpetrator Responses to Victim Confrontation: DARVO and Victim Self-Blame. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 26, 644-663.

In our newest research, still under review, Sarah Harsey and I completed two experiments. In one experiment we presented participants with accounts of abuse followed by a DARVO response versus a control response. We found exposure to the DARVO response was associated with less belief of the victim and more blame of the victim. In the second experiment Sarah Harsey and I examined whether learning about DARVO could mitigate its effects on individuals' perceptions of perpetrators and victims. DARVO-educated participants (compared with control) rated the perpetrator as less believable. While much more research is needed, these results suggest that DARVO is an effective strategy to discredit victims but that the power of the strategy can be mitigated by education.
DARVO is also a very common strategic tactic used by pathological narcissists, stalkers, memebers of a mob, flying monkeys and other toxic individuals.  

D - Denial
A - Attack
R - Reverse Roles of
V - Victim and
O - Offender

This behaviour has been used by generations of pathological narcissists, stalkers and other toxic individuals in order to avoid detection and evade confrontation.  If properly executed DARVO isolates the target of stalking, harassment and abuse from effective support.
Toxic organisations such as the police, NHS, mental health services, councils, etc, have anti-abuse policies which fail the target and allow abusive managers to target individuals in the same way. Targeted individuals who have turned to the authorities for help have often found it to be at most unhelpful and in some cases have made the abuse much, much worse.

DARVO strategically delays or defeats justice and prolongs the stress of the target, giving the perpetrator maximum opportunity to destroy him or her.  By exposing this particularly malicious, evil tactic it is hoped that targets, supporters and other individuals can learn how to break the cycle of stalking attacks, and shorten or curtail the targets exposure to this intense form of abuse.

How Stalking Works

Stalkers are sneak attackers, expert in causing mental pain in ways that only the target, or someone with rare empathy can recognise.  They often exploit some unique personal characteristics or  perceived failures on the part of the target in the attack. Slander, lies, half truths and faked evidence  are used to attack and hurt the target as much as possible often in a way were others would not be hurt.  This often makes it very difficult for others to understand.

Perpetrators enjoy unwanted contact with their targets often through third parties who are more than happy to join in the stalking campaign.  It helps to control and sadistically destroy their target.  This is achieved by using the victims emotions as a weapon to de-stabilise them and may eventually invoke mental illness; think of the mass shootings which regularly occur in the Unites States of America.  As a last resort the perpetrator may employ violence if they cannot achieve what they want emotionally. If the perpetrator cannot control the target they will try to  control everyone around the target, most people are willing participants in this control!
Unwanted Contact and Intrusions

In stalking or abuse, contact incidents are extremely unpleasant for the target, being designed to engage  him or her and the stalker or a third party being utilised by the stalker in a conflict situation.  How the target handles the manufactured conflict will decide the outcome for them.
Normally when a conflict occurs it results in an outcome which can easily be forgotten and both parties move on.  The target who exposes any attractive characteristics to a psychopath to narcissist or who does not handle conflict well is eventually drawn into a destructive relationship. As the perpetrators intention is to destroy or eliminate the target, and overt violence is risky and illegal, the conflict is carried out by attacking any emotional weaknesses in the target to cause stress.

Witnesses are nearly always present during an attack to serve a number of purposes such as to show the target is unstable, violent, etc. The target must always remember all conflicts and incidents are manufactured in order to try and make them look bad. There are a great many individuals who are willing to act as witnesses and instigators of attacks and are easily recruited using social media. Over time the effect of a huge number of incidents can damage the targets’ self confidence, reputation and can totally isolate the target as most people they know become totally untrustworthy. Social media has an awful lot to answer for!

As a loyal, law abiding citizen, the target only wants to go about his own business and maintain his reputation as an honest member of the community but this may become impossible.  

The individuals living around a stalker or pathological narcissist tend to live in fear, and when they see what is happening they tend to gratify the perpetrators behaviour or turn their back on the target, both acts encourage the perpetrator. Selected targets often find it difficult to provide an appropriate response and will often go through stress, anxiety and a condition called hyper-vigilance which will cause the target to isolate themselves and avoid members of the community who present themselves to be a threat. The threat may just be an individual continually turning up when the target is out and about or people saying inappropriate things at just the wrong time; most people will appear to be troublemakers who are in  league with the perpetrator and obviously some will be.

Mediation and face to face meetings between the target and offender will not work as the perpetrator will use these techniques to paint the target in a bad light. The perpetrators aim is to keep their own name clear by avoiding being caught, and demonise or label the victim.  To the target the perpetrator is an abuser and to anybody else they appear to be a truly great neighbour.

How DARVO works

When a victim begins to relate the impact of the perpetrators behaviour,  during any resulting confrontation between the victim or a third party supporter, the stalker denies any offence or meaning, caused by his or her actions.  Feigning apology may lull the situation.  A tissue of lies and half-truths will be used to support this.  Due to the credibility of the stalker and his or her excuses, denial serves the purpose of asserting their preferred version of events.

To embed this view, a diversionary or counter attack can also be mounted.  This has the aim of discrediting the victim, commonly shifting the focus onto some offensive action purported to have been committed by them. A fictitious event or some minor misdemeanour or performance issue blown out of proportion will suffice.  This gives false reason and motive to the real offenders action and diverts the spotlight away from the original (victims) complaint.  Such attacks often involve a “characteristic” of the victim, for example one very effective tool is to claim the victim is ill or unfit, (even though this is due to the stalkers action).  Labels are used to stigmatise the victim with mental health or performance problems, incompetence or a fictitious criminal record.
Reverse Role of Victim/Offender.
The perpetrators aim is to portray the victim as being responsible for the offence.  “Because you did this, I did that”.  A fantasy version of “events” puts the victim in the position of wronging the perpetrator or other parties involved.
The aim is for the perpetrator to get the support of the local community surrounding the victim as well as that of the investigator and eventually the victims friends and family.

If successful:

  • The victim is further isolated, while the stalkers behaviour remains unchallenged or they gain status.
  • Investigators will shift their judgement to the target and lose the will to act against the perpetrator.
    Another version of this occurs in workplaces when HR investigators on the organisations payroll begin to act for the perpetrator.

Gaining Advantage – The Perpetrator

Stalkers are obsessive and therefore convinced in their right to pursue a course of action in what is often a fantasy or delusional situation involving a target.  In one mode, he or she has well developed powers of persuasion and charm.  Also they may have, or think they have rank, status and power in the community, (or organisation)  above the victim.  If not they may attempt to cultivate a relationship and get support from somebody who has the muscle, rank and status, which can then be used to carry out attacks by proxy.  This may be a higher value boss, a council official or a police officer etc.  The more senior the better.

He or she may vent victimising others when they don’t conform to expectations, or escalate until he finds people who he can suck into the situation, to pull rank, causing a break in the process or a diversion.

Perverting the Course of Justice

By gaining the support of the investigator(s), further advantages are given to the perpetrator,  enabled by the action or failure to act of investigators and the victim.  These actions or in-actions make it much less likely the victim will obtain justice.  A short list of actions and outcomes from the victims experiences follows:

  • Target.  Avoidance of the perpetrator.  Due to the obsessive nature of the offence, the perpetrator would re-engineer contact, even when asked many times to stay away.
  • Target.  Denial – shutting off from what just happened at the end of an incident under the assumption it is over and the perpetrator won’t return.  In reality this left the victim exposed to further attacks.
  • Target.  Misunderstanding the role of the perpetrator, blaming themselves (what did I do to deserve that?) or being blamed by others.
  • Target.  Following bad advice to do any of the above.
  • Target\Police.  Taking no action to prevent further attacks – police (or investigators) fail to use powers or invoke laws or policy.  Victim fails to learn lessons or take preventative measures to stop repeat incidents. Perpetrator thinks he can get away with it. Attacks intensify.
  • Police.  Multiple uncoordinated incidents, with more than one investigator, no single controlling mind.  The victim thinks the current policing model makes continuity impossible and a new policing model that provides continuity is needed – see below.
  • Police.  Applying dispute management or conflict resolution processes which give equal weight to the perpetrator and victim, inadvertently giving the perpetrator the advantage over the victim due to their different human characteristics.
  • Police.  Fear of the stalker.  Allowing them to control the situation, and to escalate through the ranks to find and target decision makers.
  • Organisations.  Who use employees to investigate allegations.  This escalates the stalking behaviour and is a tool which can be easily manipulated to bring overwhelming defeat to the victim instead of offering protection.  Organisations that do this almost certainly have a toxic culture.

Counter DARVO  

DARVO is very difficult to counter as many people in the community take part in it due to fear or just as unbelievably for fun, the authorities usually side with the perpetrators which makes the target feeling very isolated. The target will have lost friends and family, will have often suffered mobbing at work and in the community so finding themselves in an extremely evil scenario which they could never have envisioned unless they were pathological in some way. The police in particular have a long history of failing targets of stalking and mobbing hence the long list of targets who have committed suicide due to the failure of the “system”, lessons are never learned and if people were honest they would say nothing ever changes.

Fundamental flaws in police processes include but are not limited to:

  • Dropping and closing incidents without reviewing with the target.
  • Never referring back to the target over the outcome; whether it was satisfactory or not.
  • Attempting face to face mediation when it was not appropriate.
  • Not allowing the target from seeing any information on them in police logs.
  • Threatening targets with police cautions for raising the issue of their abuse.
  • Fining targets for wasting police time when continually asking for help often resulting in murder and suicide.
  • Making assumptions about the target without any evidence or justification.
  • Targets often feel the police have gaslighted them or have lied to them which destroys their faith in the police and the authorities in general.
  • The police will often side with the perpetrator due to believing fictional stories of conflicts which portray the target as the perpetrator which is standard role reversal, a key element of DARVO.

The target has to realise the situation they are in and start to think about the following:

  • Log every event keeping videos, photographs and other evidence as appropriate.
  • Improve the security of their home. Consider a good burglar alarm, CCTV and good locks.
  • Take care with tradesmen, the police, council officials, etc. Not all of these individuals are trustworthy.
  • Vary any routes used to work, to the shops, etc. Try not to be too predictable.
  • The target has to be very careful who they share personal information with, it will be used against the target.
  • Keep your phone numbers and email addresses as private as possible. A mobile  phone can be used to track the target, just from the mobile number.
  • Keep calm, do not get drawn into conflicts or incidents with strangers, these incidents are staged and there will be a stooge nearby recording everything.
  • Minimise or stop any use of social media, it is a tool used to promote hate campaigns all over the world and most of the in formation on it is probably fake anyway.
  • Keep pets safe, these are prime targets for the perpetrator and they are keen to kill or hurt the targets’ pets wherever and whenever possible.
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