Speaking of Domestic Violence



An Excerpt


This issue of the journal is sponsored by CIET, a nongovernmental agency housed at the University of Ottawa. Please visit the web site to learn more about CIET’s research partnerships with Aboriginal and indigenous communities worldwide.


The words and concepts around violence in the family are still unspoken in many Aboriginal communities, and also in the literature. This special issue adds to the emerging conversation, naming and addressing the various kinds of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. We chose this as the theme of this special issue because we believe that knowing and facing reality can lead to prevention.

As communities move to define this cluster of behaviours and their effects on families, the term lateral violence is being used. Lateral violence refers to bullying, including gossiping, shaming and blaming others, and broken confidences. Lateral violence hurts others within families, organizations, and communities. It occurs in homes, schools, churches, community organizations, and workplaces. This form of oppression gives the aggressor a sense of dominance and power to overcome a lack of personal self-esteem and confidence. The interpersonal harm for victims of lateral violence is very deep rooted and can have subtle yet profound effects on mental health and wellbeing.

The first step towards stopping lateral violence is to recognize when it is happening, and refuse to take part in it. In this issue of Pimatisiwin we offer a range of papers describing the situation in Canada, followed by programs and strategies designed to reduce and prevent domestic violence.

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