Notes on Lateral Violence
“No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow”.
Lateral violence is displaced violence directed against one’s peers rather than adversaries. Near-synonyms include horizontal violence, intra-racial conflict, and internalized colonialism.
One of the primary causes is generational trauma (caused by white supremacy, colonization, white people, patriarchy, etc.).
Outside the racial context, the term is also used in explanation of workplace bullying, though in that case the circumstances are much different. Except when the work is in social justice.
Also sometimes known as “bullying” lateral violence is a better term bc it removes the stigma and pressure placed on survivors /victims of “being bullied.”
Some common signs of lateral violence:
- It comes as a total surprise shock since you don’t expect to be attacked by your peers / accomplices.
- Because you didn’t expect to be attacked by them — your first response will be one of concern for your peer/friend/coworker. you will try to understand and even protect them… which in a real case of lateral violence is unfortunately just a waste of energy/time/emotional labor.
- It is inherently gaslighting: undermining what you thought you could count on, depleting your support system, not only from the loss of the violent peer, but also, due to the nature of this violence, others in your circle WILL be forced into difficult situations of choice. Some may (will) choose not to support you. This is wrong and they may well come to regret it later, but it will hurt in the moment in not just emotional but likely also practical ways
Lateral violence is by far the most painful.
When you try to silence me from speaking my truth — bc you don’t want to hear it or don’t like it — that is lateral violence.
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