Detailed Description

Lateral Violence: Gossip, Backbiting, Sabotage & Undermining

Lateral Violence: An act of an oppressed people acting out of rage, anger, frustration from being constantly put down. This occurs often without understanding the cycle of oppression and its impact. Violence is directed laterally at our own people rather than the oppressor, within our families, organizations, communities.

Colonization: Creating a hierarchy based on fear-based power and control tactics–warfare, genocide, threat, punishment, repression of customs and language, cultural prejudice and exclusion. Many respond with internalized self-hate.

Lateral Violence is a way of “putting someone in their place” or ”cutting them down to size” or showing them that ”they’re too big for their boots.” It is a way of keeping them down, maintaining the lowest common denominator rather than rising up and moving beyond.

The features of lateral violence:

  • Repeating our original oppression by oppressing others around us.
  • Intense focus on the negative in others or groups.
  • Collective cooperation, people in numbers, working collectively to attack and undermine and keep one another down.

The Cycle of Oppression

  • Others put us down so they don’t feel so bad.
  • We internalize these voices of shame and put ourselves down, repeating to ourselves what we were told.
  • If we feel bad then we say things and treat others the same way we were treated and continue to treat ourselves.
  • We feel threatened when others move past this way of being; we put them down to keep them at our level.
  • We treat others (including our children), as we were treated ourselves.
  • We feel even worse afterward and may feed our addictions to numb the bad feelings.

Forms of Lateral Violence

  • Gossip, rumours
  • Name-calling
  • Discounting
  • Head games, crazy-making (eg. denying or distorting)
  • Back-stabbing
  • Sarcasm
  • Undermining
  • Sabotuaging someone’s efforts to succeed
  • Lack of respect for someone’s authority
  • Blame others for your own difficulties or hardships
  • Resentment
  • Family feuds
  • Threatening ( Physical or emotional or spiritual)
  • Creating chaos (whenever there was danger this protected us, because we were the only ones who knew what was happening)
  • Put-downs
  • Triangulation ( teaming up against someone)
  • Jealousy
  • Controlling behaviours
  • Cliques ( to feel power by exclusion)
  • Favoritism
  • Nepotism
  • Highly defensive people
  • Judgementalness and criticism
  • Vandalism

The Effects of lateral violence on the Community

  • Fear
  • Insecurity and tension
  • No teamwork
  • No healthy communication
  • High turnover of people leaving
  • High absenteesism
  • Resistance to change
  • Rigid power structure
  • Unhealthy boundaries (because of past trauma)
  • Suicide
  • Internal division and rivalry