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It can also be a sustained attack on individuals, families or groups. As Text Box 2.1 notes, it is important to understand that lateral violence doesn’t just refer to physical violence but also social, emotional, psychological, economic and spiritual violence.
I have been similarly challenged by how to confront this issue and how to get the balance right between painting lateral violence as another problem of a troubled people and explaining its historical context without apportioning blame.As I have consistently argued since becoming Social Justice Commissioner, real progress will only come from a basis of strong, respectful relationships.This Chapter informs the conversation on lateral violence by providing an explanation, as well as examples, of lateral violence in our communities.The inclusion of the word ‘power’, in addition to the phrase ‘use of physical force’, broadens the nature of violence to include those acts that result from a power relationship, including threats and intimidation.The ‘use of power’ also serves to include neglect or acts of omission, in addition to the more obvious violent acts of commission.The Social Justice Report 2011, in conjunction with the Native Title Report 2011, will start a conversation about lateral violence in our communities.
Although it is not an easy conversation to have, it is one that is long overdue.
Defining outcomes solely in terms of injury or death limits the full impact of violence on individuals, communities and society at large.
Diagram 2.1: The cycle of lateral violence Like all forms of violence, lateral violence can become normalised if it is not challenged.
When we are consistently oppressed we live with great fear and great anger and we often turn on those who are closest to us.
The theory behind lateral violence explains that this behaviour is often the result of disadvantage, discrimination and oppression, and that it arises from working within a society that is not designed for our way of doing things.
Addressing lateral violence will require significant courage, goodwill and determination but I think the gains will be immense.