Work Place Violence in Nursing

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Horizontal violence is hostile and aggressive behaviour by individual or group members towards another member or groups of members of the larger group. This has been described as inter-group conflict. (Duffy 1995). Any work, which needs mutual understanding and co-operation, there clash or violence is a common incident. Service sector like nursing requires a lot of devotion and coherence, simply sticking together. But a silent poison has made its way into nursing and slowly eaten away at the core of the nurses, especially their behaviour. This epidemic is becoming so wide spread that everyone from administration to nurse's aides are affected by it. It is the epidemic of horizontal violence. Horizontal violence has become endemic in the workplace culture and it is an unacceptable and destructive phenomenon. To promote excellence in patient care and survive in a chaotic health-care environment, students and newly graduated nurses need information about horizontal violence; it’s characteristics, causes, consequences and cures.

Horizontal Violence
Horizontal violence is non-physical inter group conflict and is involved in overt and covert behaviours of hostility (Freire 1972; Duffy 1995). It is behaviour associated with oppressed groups and can occur in any aspect or area where there are unequal power relations, and one group's self-expression and autonomy is controlled by forces with greater prestige, power and status than themselves (Harcombe 1999). That’s why sometimes it’s called “nurses eating their young.” It may be conscious or unconscious behaviour (Taylor 1996). It is, generally, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually damaging behaviour and can have devastating long term effects on the recipients (Wilkie 1996). It may be overt or covert. It is generally non-physical, but may involve shoving, hitting or throwing objects. It is one arm of the submissive/aggressive syndrome that results from an internalized self-hatred and low self-esteem as a result of being part of an oppressed group (Glass 1997; MCCall 1995; Roberts 1996). It is the inappropriate way oppressed people release built up tension when they are unable to address and solve issues with the oppressor. In the majority of western cultures, a dominator model (Eisler 1993) of social organization enables workplace hierarchy to limit autonomy and practice of various groups of workers and therefore acts as an oppressive force. Workers are socialized into the oppressive structures and unequal power relations of the workplace system. Some groups of people within each particular workplace unconsciously adopt inflated feelings and attitudes of superiority. Some groups adopt unconsciously submissive attitudes, learned helplessness, within the workplace. The internal conflict, generated by conforming to structural pressures and, in some, subduing the desire for autonomy, whilst over inflating it in other groups, compounds the self-hatred and low self-esteem of certain groups of people and perpetuates the cycle of horizontal violence (Taylor 1996). Horizontal Violence is a symptom of the dynamics around oppression and a sense of powerlessness. It is to the workplace culture like water is to fish. It moulds, shapes and dictates the behaviour of those within the workplace culture. It is a form of bullying and acts to socialize those who are different into the status quo. Horizontal violence in the workplace is the result of history and politics in western society and the ideology and practices associated with the socialization and stereotyping of males and females in western culture. Horizontal violence is a system and cultural issue, a symptom of an emotionally, spiritually and psychologically toxic and oppressive environment. Horizontal violence is not a symptom of individual pathology, although individual pathology flourishes in a climate that supports and condones aggressive behavior (Hastie). Horizontal violence includes:

All acts of unkindness,...
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