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Defense Mechanisms

Pastoral Counseling: The Defense Mechanism of DARVO

DARVO stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. It's a defense mechanism used by individuals, often in response to being confronted with their wrongdoing. This strategy involves denying the accusations, attacking the accuser, and reversing the roles, portraying the offender as the victim.

A 2017 study that when victims are DARVOed, it is more likely they’ll blame themselves, which in turn, “leads to self-silencing.”

Here are examples of each stage:


Example: A congregant is accused of spreading false rumors about another member. Instead of acknowledging the behavior, they adamantly deny any involvement, insisting they would never engage in such actions.


Example: When confronted about financial mismanagement, a person responds by attacking the accuser's credibility or character. They might say, "You're always looking for faults in others, and you have no idea how hard it is to manage finances!"

Reverse Victim and Offender:

Example: A congregant is confronted about consistently being late for volunteer commitments. Instead of taking responsibility, they reverse the roles, stating, "I'm always there for everyone, and now you're making me the bad guy for being a few minutes late? I'm the victim here."

Recognizing these patterns can help navigate conversations with empathy and understanding, fostering a more constructive dialogue for resolution and personal growth.

Proverbs 15:1 (NLT): "A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare."

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