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What are lateral violence behaviours? 

Lateral violence, also known as horizontal violence or intra-racial conflict, is a product of a complex mix of historical, cultural and social dynamics that results in a spectrum of behaviours that include:

"Lateral violence occurs when oppressed groups or individuals internalise their feelings such as fear and rage and manifest their feelings through behaviours such as gossip, jealously put downs and blame."

  • gossiping

  • jealousy

  • bullying

  • shaming

  • social exclusion

  • family feuding

  • organisational conflict

  • physical violence.

Lateral violence is not just an individual’s behaviour. It often occurs when a number of people work together to attack or undermine another individual or group. It can also be a sustained attack on individuals, families or groups.


By recognising actions such as malicious gossip as violence we can better appreciate that this kind of mental assault can be just as damaging as physical violence. We can appreciate the trauma that these attacks can have on others, and we can better understand how these attacks undermine both our communities and our own wellbeing.


Creating a safe environment requires us to firstly identify the behaviour, then name and shame the actions of the perpetrator and its effects on the individual and/or group. 



Perpetrators only target people whom the feel safe with - people who will not retaliate.  If the person being bullied stands up and names the lateral violence behaviour as soon as the behaviours occur, it is likely the perpetrator will find another person to bully.  If enough people stand up to the bully, it is likely the perpetrator will cease their behaviours – at least in that environment.


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