What is Lateral Violence?
In the words of Lateral Love® Elders Wisdom Patron Auntie Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian,
Lateral violence is the power and control used by dominating authorities and/or individuals to disconnect and decimate a peoples or persons nationhood birthrights, to their spiritual and cultural heritage, self and cultural identity and ‘sense of being’, by means of colonisation processes that ‘normalise’ institutionalised systems of violent intimidation, manipulation and deception politically, religiously, legitimately , governmentally and socially.
(Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, C.D.: 2012)
What are the manifestations of lateral violence?
The legal definition of Lateral violence as found via Us-legal is this:
Lateral violence happens when people who are both victims of a situation of dominance, in fact turn on each other rather than confront the system that oppresses them both. Lateral violence occurs when oppressed groups/individuals internalize feelings such as anger and rage, and manifest their feelings through behaviors such as gossip, jealousy, put-downs and blaming.
And another one taken from Paul Memmott’s Community Based Strategies for Combating Indigenous Violence 2001:
‘unresolved grief that is associated with multiple layers of trauma spanning many generations’. Some of these ‘layers of trauma’ include: colonial aggression; genocide; racism; alienation from tribal lands; breakdown of social structure; loss of spirituality and languages; removal of rights and responsibilities; labour exploitation; and large-scale removal of Aboriginal children from their families (‘stolen generations’). These and other factors have contributed to the erosion of social structures and traditional values, and a range of social problems in current Aboriginal communities’ (Memmott et al. 2001).
Then the frequent manifestations of lateral violence include but are not limited to the following:
• Non-verbal Innuendo (raising eyebrows, face-making)
• Verbal Affront (overt/covert, snide remarks, lack of openness, abrupt responses, gossiping)
• Undermining activities (turning away, not being available, social exclusion)
• Withholding Information
• Sabotage (deliberately setting up a negative situation)
• Infighting (bickering, family feuds)
• Backstabbing (complaining to peers and not confronting the individual)
• Failure to respect privacy
• Broken confidences
• Organisational Conflict
• Physical Violence
• Emotional Abuse
• Psychological Abuse,
• Egg-shell Syndrome (when everyone around you feels as though they are walking on egg shells the second you come into the room).
Lateral Love Elders Wisdom Patron Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian states that
“Lateral violence is more than behaviors such as gossip, jealousy, put-downs and blaming, resentment, spite, envy, suspicion, distrust, protectiveness, bitterness, hatred, antipathy, racial superiority, taking on of another cultural expression – such as the Americanization of Aboriginal youth – because of self shame, offence, umbrage, anger, acrimony, animosity, hostility, enmity, and other negative expressions is the fact that these expressions often have their basis in oral histories, those negative stories of our past that are handed down to us and that are projected into our present living”
she also goes on to talk about the types of violence we know a lot more about and the way that lateral violence is often ignored because of this… “the strategies that are making a difference with regards to ‘domestic violence; personal violence; community violence and corporate violence have very little if any impact upon ‘lateral violence’. Often, the symptoms are or can be considered to be expressed as one of the above.
The motivators for lateral violence though are embedded more deeply in the psyche of Aboriginal and Islander peoples than behavior or cognition. What is missed are the spiritual scars that motivate the cognitive systems to the connection that is demonstrated in the behavioral outcome.” (Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, C.D.: 2012)
(Butler, W.B & Butler, N: 2012-2022)
Lateral Love™ in the Mother of all Life” ~ Brian Butler & Nicola Butler