Lateral Violence is often the result of multi-generational suffering from living within oppressing, toxic and abusive environments. Throughout multi-generational messages and belief systems regarding the lack of ability or opportunity to rise above and assertively reclaim what has been lost or taken, a deep ingrained expectation formulates surrounding the limiting future one might be entitled to.
Those whom have witnessed their parents’ oppression, being taken advantage of and put down, then experience similar things themselves have a high risk to carry a sense of hurt, defeat and perhaps anger toward this state of being. These uncomfortable sources of energy require an outlet. Outlets can take a multitude of forms, turning inwardly (self harm, negative, restrictive thinking patterns, suicidal ideation, self-sabotage), or outwardly (hurting others, jealousy, abusive relationships, sabotaging of others, homicidal ideation). This outlet-requiring energy that exists paired with the deep-rooted belief systems that one does not deserve to, nor is entitled to rise above and achieve goodness in this life may lead to the exhibition of lateral violence.
“When individuals feel inferior, inadequate and afraid, they take on the qualities of the oppressor as a way of acquiring strength and an illusion of power.”
– Jane Middleton-Moz
“Reconciliation is an opportunity for all Canadians to renew relationships, based on a shared understanding of our histories and our cultures and walk a path together for a shared tomorrow. To ‘reconcile’ is to weave a stronger and more vibrant social fabric, supported by the unique and diverse strengths of Canadians and their communities,” Chief Dr. Robert Joseph
The road to reconciliation is a long and enduring one. To reduce the future harm of the dynamics created between cultures through colonialism and community ethnic discrimination and oppression is daunting. In the interim, it may be possible to reduce some of the harm associated with these limiting and destruction-enabling belief systems, regardless of the pace toward change of these larger social issues. By allowing individuals the freedom and opportunity to play a significant, hands-on role in the healing and rising-up of their own people, multi-generationally oppressed groups no longer need to wait for painfully slow mass social society paradigm shifts to occur, which in the end may or may not yield positive results. As quoted by Apple Inc. following Ghandis’ advice to ‘be the change one desires to see in the world, “The people crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that actually do.
By practicing empathy with mindful humility, understanding and compassion to ones’ own pain and suffering, as well as the mirror-imaged pain and suffering of lateral others, positive change may be achieved at an interpersonal, community and cultural level.
Feeling badly about oneself and the darkness of ones’ perceived limitations creates anger and frustration toward these entities. It is often easier to recognize it in someone else than it is in oneself, so therefore it is also easier to attack these things and fight these things within someone else. This is lateral violence.
Lateral empathy is the same concept but in reverse. Comparably, it is often easier to recognize and assert the strengths and goodness in others as it is within oneself.
Instead of attacking these undesired traits and perceived limitations, lateral empathy allows afflicted individuals to practice nurturance, support and sensitivity toward these unintentional ways of being (self-destruction, unhealthy relationships, violent crime, self-sabotage) within others until one gains comfort in assessing need fulfillment gently with oneself.
Lateral Empathy utilizes action therapy to encourage crime affected individuals to be active and present in their community in a positive and meaningful way, while harvesting opportunity and reason for them to feel positive about themselves through the philanthropic service to similar others.
**Participants will be guided and supported by qualified and experienced active therapists