DARVO stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. It is a manipulation strategy used by perpetrators or their followers to deflect responsibility and blame the victims or the people doing the criticism.
In the context of Tibetan Buddhism, where a strong culture of loyalty and reverence towards spiritual masters exists, DARVO can be particularly effective in silencing victims and maintaining the status quo.
In such a context, DARVO may be employed as follows:
Deny: When allegations of abuse or misconduct are brought forward, the accused (or their supporters) may outright deny any wrongdoing. They may claim that the accuser is mistaken, or that their experiences have been misinterpreted. This denial can create doubt in the minds of community members and can make it difficult for victims to come forward.
Attack: The accused, or their supporters, may attack the character or motivations of the accuser. This can include accusations of jealousy, mental instability, or a hidden agenda. By discrediting the victim, the accused aims to shift attention away from their own actions and create an environment in which it is difficult for other victims to come forward or be believed.
Reverse Victim and Offender: The accused may claim that they are the actual victim in the situation, being unfairly targeted by the accuser. They may assert that the allegations are part of a smear campaign or conspiracy to damage their reputation or the reputation of the Buddhist center. This reversal serves to garner sympathy for the accused and further alienate the victim.
In a Tibetan Buddhist context, the use of DARVO can be particularly damaging as it exploits the community’s devotion and trust in spiritual masters. It can create a hostile environment for victims, making it difficult for them to seek support or justice. To counteract DARVO and address abuse in such communities, it is crucial to promote open dialogue, educate members about the dynamics of power and abuse, and establish clear ethical guidelines and accountability mechanisms.