What is lateral violence? Lateral violence is mostly found in the workplace. It is when you experience peer bulling, and harassment. My experience with lateral violence is from family, band members and office staff of K’omoks First Nation. In my hopes to understand the cycle of abuse and the core of when this started means going back to residential school and colonization influences on our nation. In Aboriginal Violence fact sheet put together by Native Women Association of Canada wrote: “Lateral violence is a learned behaviour as a result of colonialism and patriarchal methods of governing and developing a society. For Aboriginal people, this has meant that due to residential schools, discrimination and racism; Aboriginal people were forced to stop practicing their traditional teachings of oneness.” (2011)
It was a time of ‘killing the Indian in the child’ and there was no greater way to do that then to remove children from their families and communities and place them in residential school run by the church. Within residential school children were bullied, harassed and physically and emotional abused for dressing and talking there own language. “Basic trust in the security and continuity of the emotional and physical world are key to the development of a sense of positive identity and self esteem” (Middelton-Moz, J., 1989 page 7). This was lost in residential school and the birth of a new way of being started. It became a way of life to “…suffered the effects of a community or school where they were isolated and shamed, experienced the loss of a sibling or parent…” (Middelton-Moz, J., 1989 page 17).
Imagine that your only source of contact is strictly monitored and you could not even socialize with your own siblings without being harassed. This was how I grew up, isolated from the rest of the family. This form of lateral violence became my foundation of development. Now that I am an adult how do I change this deep seeded way of being to one that is supportive, caring and nurturing.
“A child develops a sense of self through contact with the world. If the child’s attachment to that world is through a fearful parent, the child will learn to fear” (Middelton-Moz, J., 1989, page 32). The child can also learn fear from their peers in school, as well as the school system itself. A way I have learned to cope with abuse is to normalize it, so what was done to me I learned to do to myself and others. I made abuse my norm and when I finally learned kindness from another human I started to allow that to be the norm in my life. But it was not easy, but I knew it was better.
Lateral violence is an epidemic on all reserves. The sad thing is, it is not recognized. As an individual I can make a conscience choice to be kind and diplomatic. But I am still stuck with how to I bring the neglect I receive from my band to their awareness. There is only so many times you can threaten legal action to be treated fairly.