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DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim & Offender

You will be able to recognize DARVO defensiveness when the person you are trying to get clarity from denies the truth and insist you accept their perspective even if you have evidence to prove their prospective has errors. When you are not in complete acceptance that their word is always correct, their intentions always pure, and assert their character unblemished, they will feel justified to attack your character, do harm to you physically, and destroy your business or undermine your career.

DARVO is everywhere. You see it in dating relationships, between parents and their children, in the work place between coworkers and with employers, in schools, the media, and from those who influence our lives.

When I first learned of DARVO, I was amazed and how prevalent it is in society. I realized also that there are progressive steps you can recognize in order to protect yourself from this method of manipulation.

Step One: When there is an opposing perspective:

People will attack and accuse another of doing or saying things with a malicious intent to cause harm even when that is not the person's intent at all. They will take information out of context and when the other attempts to get clarity or come to a resolution the other will refuse to cooperate in conflict resolution by deflecting, redirecting, and saying hurtful things in an effort to shut the other down and silence the truth. They will say things like,"You are crazy. You are mentally unstable. I'm not safe with you. You lie! I'm not talking to you anymore. I quit."

Step Two: Abandonment

They will threaten to leave, but won't actually do it as long as they can get the other to apologize and agree with them. The innocent victim is caught so off guard by the aggressive attack and fear of abandonment they will do what the other demands just to stop the assault on their character and get them to stay. They apologize for things they didn't do, didn't think, and would never even consider doing, which makes them seem guilty of the crime they were accused of. This only strengthens the others resolve to blame the victim again and again.

Step Three: Emotional Breakdown

If the apology hasn't happened during step two, then step three evolves.The third step is when they reverse the conversation so that they are the victim and will say the other has offended them. Often, their words are compounded by tears, emotional dysregulation, and feigned helplessness. Often the victim will feel compassion and empathy for the situation and want the suffering of the one they care for to stop. So, they will do whatever it takes to bring the abuser to a place where they stop and smile again. This releases the pressure (anxiety) for the victim who now feels better because their abuser is being kind and loving again.

The way to stop this behavior is you must be willing to lose the person, the job, the promotion, or the relationship. The truth is the rock you must stand on and let the truth determine the outcome. When the abuser can't manipulate you they will leave, fire you, demote you, or divorce you. They MUST be in control and when you take control of your choices by refusing to be manipulated into compliance you can turn the tables. Often, those tables get overturned by the person who abandons you and blames you on their way out. Many people cannot take losing the person, position, job, or relationship, so they allow the cycle of abuse to continue even at their own detriment. This is why I tell my clients, "When you change...everything will change." You just have to be strong enough to handle the change. This is where therapy helps.

If you'd like to learn more about making lasting changes, read my book: Live Intention. Live the life you always wanted, but never believed you could. Available at Barns and Noble, Amazon, and iTunes


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