DARVO and Victim Self-Blame
Perpetrators of violence often use a strategy of Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender (DARVO) to confuse and silence their victims. Although some previous research has examined the individual elements of DARVO, this is the first study to directly examine DARVO as a unitary concept and to investigate how it relates to feelings of self-blame among victims. Subsequently, 138 undergraduate students were asked to report on a time they confronted an individual over a wrong-doing. DARVO was assessed with a new measure constructed for this study. Analyses revealed 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.