Since folks are always asking me to define Lateral Violence I thought I’d put list of some the symptoms together. People want to know if they are experiencing Lateral Violence. “Is it just me or am I imagining things”, people will say. The thing about Lateral Violence is that it is a systemic issue. It does not belong to one person in the system. It is nobody’s fault. However, if we can identify the symptoms that exist within our system we can begin the process of coming together to discuss solutions. How do we begin to live and work together differently? In a way that is good for all? This is where we would benefit from focusing.
But first, let’s identify the top 7 Symptoms of Lateral Violence!
- A Preoccupation With Who Is Doing What To Whom – Discussions and conflicts revolve around stories about who is doing what to whom as opposed to what is trying to happen. We are caught up in a cycle of placing blame on each other. We are distracted from finding a solution.
- Inability to Transcend Victim/Abuser Roles – The roles of Victim and Abuser continue to be populated by different folks at different times within the system. Folks become over identified with these roles. We can’t see the forest for the trees. We are unable to discuss these roles from an objective place in order to retire them from our system.
- Marginalized Voices – Unpopular voices are marginalized within our system. We do not have an environment of trust that invites all voices to be heard on a matter. Folks fear reprisal for speaking out or sharing opinions.
- Internalized Voice of Oppression – We have internalized the learned messages of the oppressor and have allowed this to shape our belief system. We are not conscious of this internal voice that keeps us and others stuck. We are selves become the oppressor.
- Admiration of the Problem – We are focused on the size of our problems and have become overwhelmed and stuck. Conversations revolved around the problem.
- Complaining & Gossiping – People are stuck in a cycle of complaining and have not developed the capacity to ask for what they need in a healthy manner. Folks gossip about each other as opposed to working things out directly.
- Revenge – Power is abused and folks revenge on those in positions of power. Revenge is carried out in subtle and to so subtle ways such as sabotage, gossip, building alliances, shunning, shamming, etc.
Although this list seems very negative it’s a good start. It’s about creating awareness. Once we can see that things are not working any more we can begin to create conscious change. We can do something different. Next week I will reveal 7 Antidotes to Lateral Violence.