It’s time to raise awareness of DARVO again, after Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech.
Just a few minutes in, Sanders said, “The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left: The choice is between normal or crazy.” Sanders apparently believes she is on the side of the normals.
Almost immediately, there were hundreds of posters on social media reeling from this line, stunned at the hypocrisy, self-unawareness, gaslighting, projection, falsity, and sheer audacity of Sander’s proclamation.
But the one word I wasn’t seeing — which is the only one that fits — is DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim/Offender.
In the simplest terms, DARVO is when an abuser pretends to be the actual victim, and does so in the loudest and most aggressive way possible, so that the rest of us are forced to pay attention to them (and hopefully even believe them).
It’s like shrieking “I’m rubber and you’re glue!!1!” or throwing down an UNO reverse card. It’s opposite day, upside-down world, through-the-looking-glass type shit.
Unfortunately, for a sizeable portion of the population, these childish tactics not only work, they even substitute for actual ideas. Here we are, and an entire political party’s platform is virtually held together with DARVO superglue — this audacious lie that America, and particularly red America, is a victim of an out-of-control left.
This lie is best illustrated by the parties’ respective attitudes toward transgender kids: The left works for this small and vulnerable population to be loved, respected, and protected; the right believes that these kids’ very existence poses a threat to the fabric of society, and insists on examining their genitals to keep “normal” kids safe.
So who’s the bad guy here?
Well, duh, it’s obviously the people with their hands in kids’ pants, apparently conducting their own research.
Apply the principles of DARVO to every other thing that these dangerous nutjobs say — such as pizza-gate or voter fraud — and their batshit, foaming-at-the-mouth accusations become effective admissions of that same conduct.
This is the New GOP that Trump built, and it’s either going to destroy the Republican Party or it’s going to destroy America. That is, democracy cannot survive a widespread DARVO outbreak.
There’s almost no good news that comes with recognizing DARVO. It’s incredibly difficult to combat, and even the woman who coined the term doesn’t have any practical tips for doing so.
It is worth pointing out, however, the central irony of DARVO: It depends entirely upon the willingness and desperation of an abuser to continuously allow themselves to be portrayed as a victim. This will certainly be the GOP’s undoing.