Lateral violence is displaced violence directed against one's peers rather than one's true adversaries. This construct is used often in explaining minority-on-minority violence in developed nations. Members of low-status ethnic minority groups face greater stresses. They are also more likely to be involved in crime in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. In Australia and Canada, lateral violence is widely seen as an intergenerational learned pattern and major social problem in indigenous communities. In Australia surveys have reported that up to 95% of Aboriginal youth had witnessed lateral violence in the home, and that 95% of the bullying experienced by Aboriginals was perpetrated by other Aboriginals.
Lateral Violence occurs within marginalized groups where members strike out at each other as a result of being oppressed. The oppressed become the oppressors of themselves and each other. Common behaviours that prevent positive change from occurring include gossiping, bullying, finger-pointing, backstabbing and shunning.— Kweykway Consulting
Near-synonyms include horizontal violence, intra-racial conflict and internalised colonialism
Outside of the racial context, the term is also used in explanation of workplace bullying, though in that case the circumstances are much different, so much so that the Native Women's Association of Canada considers this usage to be an improper conflation of the two scenarios. They maintain that intergenerational trauma of colonialism is the root cause of lateral violence in indigenous communities. An example of this interpretation of intergenerational trauma would be the Corey and Cody Manyshots case which involved two Aboriginal youth kidnapping and sexually assaulting a teen. The father of the teens was involved in animal cruelty cases involving a Bichon Frise and elastic bands. Furthermore, the father threatened to attack reporters at his sons' trials. Corey Manyshots was on bail for defacing the Dashmesh Cultural Centre, a Sikh temple in Calgary. This interpretation through an intergenerational trauma perspective would understand that both Corey and Cody Manyshots were the subject of collective trauma from the colonial injustices passed down from generation to generation and have less a responsibility for criminal acts and reprehensible behaviors. Critics such as Ezra Lavant, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and Joan Jack have written numerous articles stating that this interpretation is flawed, and insist that this ideology perpetuates violence among Aboriginals. The Government of Canada commissioned a study in 2008 by the Minister of Health, it reported that although there were root causes such as the residential school system and loss of culture in Aboriginals which could lead to increases in propensities towards domestic abuse and violence, the aggravation factor in an overwhelming number of the cases involved drugs or alcohol.
- Bombay, Matheson, Anisman. Intergenerational Trauma: Convergence of Multiple Processes among First Nations peoples in Canada. Journal de la santé autochtone, novembre 2009, p. 1.