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Lateral violence describes the organized, harmful behaviours that we do to each other collectively as part of an oppressed group; within our families, within our organizations, and within our communities.
Lateral violence is the expression of rage and anger, fear and terror that can only be safely vented upon those closest to us when we are being oppressed. Those who oppress us do not hear us nor do they assist us in changing the oppressiontherefore it’s unsafe for us to speak to them.
Lateral violence is also referred to as ‘internalized colonialism’. Colonization created a hierarchy based on fearbased power and control techniques (such as warfare, genocide, threat of death), the male gender and economic power. Superiority of some and inferiority of others was assumed. Lateral violence begins as deflected aggression. Hostility is directed towards those who will not retaliate. This means that we attack within our own group of oppressed people or we attack another minority-oppressed group.
Lateral violence works to maintain power in an oppressed group when someone is seen to threaten that power in some way. It is dangerous to shift the oppression. Some form of safety has been found at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Copyright ©Janet M. Derrick, 1998
FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY
fear-based conclusions created until someone has been labelled ‘Bad’ and ‘Wrong’. Any piece of information can be twisted to the negative. This usually is an ‘informal working group’. 3. then the attack begins. Collective cooperation is also a key element in Lateral violence. Once the labelling has happened. 1998 FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY 2 . However. we often are harsher on ourselves than our oppressors. A number of people work together negatively to attack and undermine another person or group. We repeat our original oppression by oppressing those around us. but can become formalized. Copyright © Janet M. lateral violence is understood to be a result of ’internalized oppression’.Key Characteristics of Lateral Violence: 1. Derrick. Therefore. 2. And we usually find techniques to normalize the lateral violence. We intensely focus on the negative in another person or another group. assumptions made.
Stages in the Violence: The Build up The Attack The Retreat The Denial The Quiet Period The Cycle Begins Again Copyright © Janet M. 1998 FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY 3 . Derrick.
Hair. Derrick 1998 FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY 4 .LATERAL VIOLENCE USES THIS INFORMATION: Economics/Money Social Position/Role/Job Family membership Education Eye. Skin Colour Sexual Orientation Gender Blood Quantum Culture Association/relationship Behaviour Difference Body Language Tone of voice Clothes History Health / Disability Spirituality Language Copyright © Janet M.
associates. taunting Lecturing . pets of the target Sexual Attacks Obsessive concern about another person’s behaviour Imposing rules and regulations to maintain power and control by one person/group Memo’s/internally distributed newsletters/papers that verbally attack. family members. Derrick 1998 FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY TOOLS FOR SHIFTING LATERAL VIOLENCE 5 . ridiculing Shunning/Ignoring Negative Labelling Emphasizing the negative Financial disabling Financial greediness Firing or Threat of Firing Selective Hiring Physical Attacks.THE FORM OF LATERAL VIOLENCE ATTACKS Gossip Jealousy Revenge Blaming and Judging Shaming and Guilting Humiliating. often anonymously Sabotage of projects and jobs Family feuding/organization feuding Threatening to harm Bullying Murder Copyright © Janet M. including possessions of the target Verbal Attacks Spiritual Attacks Attacking friends.
“A WAY OF BEING” HAS TO CHANGE COPYRIGHT c JANET M.2006 PERSONAL USE ONLY 6 .√ LET ALL GOSSIP AND HURTFUL STORIES END WITH US √ ASK FOR CLEAR AND ACCURATE INFORMATION √ EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT LATERAL VIOLENCE AND ASK IT TO STOP √ BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT OTHERS TO BE √ BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR OWN ACTIONS √ WHEN SPEAKING ABOUT HARM. FOCUS ON THE BEHAVIOUR. DERRICK 1999 rev. NOT ON THE PERSON √ USE CRITICAL INCIDENT DEBRIEFING IN THE WORKPLACE √ LEARN HEALTHY WAYS OF RELATING TO OTHERS √ REMEMBER: “WE ARE ALL GOOD PEOPLE” √ REMEMBER: “WE ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN STOP PAYING FORWARD OUR ORIGINAL HARM” – LATERAL VIOLENCE IS IN OUR HANDS.