Horizontal Violence: Can Sign Language Interpreters Break the Cycle?

March 10, 2015

Horizontal Violence is a prevalent concern in the profession of interpreting. It causes disharmony, burn out and unsuccessful work. The Demand Control Schema approach to discussing our work could be the answer to lessening the internal strife of our profession.

[Click to view post in ASL]

When did it become acceptable to judge our interpreter colleagues? How did we learn that negatively judging someone’s skills, decisions and professionalism was a good way to behave in our profession? Carl Rogers spoke of unconditional positive regard as a psychological approach to allow a person to reach their full potential as a human being. “The main factor in an unconditional positive regard is the ability to be able to isolate behaviors from the person who commits them” (Rogers, 1961). What if we, as sign language interpreters, could adopt that approach to advance our profession? Overly-critical perspectives of each other have detrimental effects on the collaborative environment required for working interpreters to be successful. Yet this tendency is prevalent in the field, leads to interpreter burn out and plagues our ITPs. So where did it start and most importantly, how do we stop it?

Horizontal Violence

Fellow interpreter, Emily Ott, focused her Master’s thesis on intergenerational communication concerns in the sign language interpreting community and found a disturbing trend in our field, horizontal violence.

“Begley and Glacken (2004) characterized the behaviors of horizontal violence as a broad range of antagonism, including “gossiping, criticism, innuendo, scapegoating, undermining, intimidation, passive aggression, withholding information, insubordination, and verbal and physical aggression. Other specific behaviors include…subtle or overt insults and ridicule, ignoring the victim, making demands that are impossible for the victim to fulfill, or devaluing a person’s work or efforts” (Ott, 2012).

Due to lack of specific research on sign language interpreters, Ott’s research focused predominately on other professional fields with similar characteristics to the sign language interpreting community. “…the fields of nursing and education, which, like interpreting, are service professions where work is done with people. Also, like interpreting, those fields are both comprised of more than 75% women (Ott, 2012). As I read more about the topic of horizontal violence, I realized I had witnessed some of these behaviors personally, and/or had worked with mentees who described such experiences as they worked with colleagues. I felt a sense of relief in discovering that these experiences had a name and that other professions are plagued by the same behaviors. Then, I was filled with dread, knowing the phenomenon of horizontal violence has a name and it was prevalent enough as to be researched and identified.

The field of sign language interpreting is young and the growing pains have been rough. Rotating certifications, increasing education requirements, price competition and progressive use of technology at the cost of best practices have taken their toll. Rather than working together and striving towards the greater good of communication access for an underserved community, sign language interpreters draw lines, build walls and work in fear. We claim we want to be allies for the Deaf community.  First, however, we should learn to be allies with ourselves; we should start with our colleagues.

“Harvey (2008) found that interpreters tend to be critical and unkind toward one another as a consequence of witnessing oppression regularly, a situation that causes interpreters to behave like oppressed groups. Freire (1992) would argue that the gender composition of the interpreting field, at 87% female, is the reason interpreters behave like an oppressed group, because the field’s members experience oppression themselves” (Ott, 2012).

Whatever the underlying cause, the symptoms of Horizontal Violence are prevalent. The tendency to point out colleagues’ shortcomings creates hurt feelings, distrust, burn-out and shrinks the qualified interpreter pool as sign language interpreters seek more affirming professional outlets. If we are approaching our work from a basis of fear of judgment, we will never do our best, take chances or advance to a better place.

Focus on the Work

Sign language interpreters are taught how to identify language errors very early in our careers, but we are not taught how to collaborate towards a common goal in our work or how to talk about our work in a safe, neutral way. The words “you did” and “I would have done” fall out of our mouths like old habits. We often focus on the person, rather than the work product. We forget that interpreting is an art, not a science and immediately fall into the “right sign, wrong sign” mode, which we know is not the true way we operate. We know sign language interpreters live in an “it depends” world of work, and yet we take the deontological, or rules-based, approach to judge other professionals’ choices without insight into the unique contexts and thought processes that resulted in that choice. I would suggest that this is not the best approach to our work; do we not have an obligation to rise above?

Reflective Practice

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to join a supervision or reflective practice group rooted in the demand control- schema (DC-S). For more information, see Robin Dean’s post, Ethical Development: A Sign of the Times for Sign Language Interpreters?  At first, I did not feel qualified to be a part of the group and hesitated to join. While I have seen Robyn Dean and Dr. Pollard lecture on several occasions and felt I had a good working knowledge of DC-S, I knew I still struggled to articulate the aspects of the DC-S and lacked the skill of properly identifying the demands and controls of an interpreting assignment. Nevertheless, I joined; the group consisted of a small group with members from the U.S. and abroad which met online twice a month for two hours for five months.  My group facilitator had a wealth of knowledge and understanding of DC-S and had been specifically trained to be a group Supervisor. As the meetings progressed, I realized that I was not alone in my struggles and the facilitator assured the other members and me to “stay with the (DC-S) structure, and trust the process.”

As I got ready to present my first case, I was nervous. Preparing to present gave me the opportunity to reflect on all the demands I was dealing with in this situation – multiple players, politics, medical views of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, power dynamics, systems barriers, etc. As Kenda Keller states in her article, Case Discussion: Sign Language Interpreters Contain Their Inner “What the…!!!?” , the self-discovery of this process (reflective practice) is profound. Merely taking the time to write down all the demands I encountered during the assignment, as well as the controls I employed, was enough to help me realize (after the fact) just how complicated this situation was to interpret.

As presentation day approached, I focused on the case and the ground rules that had been established at the start of the sessions:

-No judgment language

– Keep the dialogue focused on the case

– Speak when moved

– Confidentiality

– Agree to Disagree

– Unconditional Positive Regard

As I presented and the discussion progressed, I felt enormous relief – as if a weight I had been carrying was suddenly lightened. The ability to speak freely about the choices I made and the reasons I made them allowed for an honest discussion about what interpreters do in our daily work and how we affect the dynamics of an often fluid and ever-changing situation. Ironically, immediately after this interpreting job, I had felt bad and guilty about some of the controls I had employed but after reflecting with my group, I realized all the decisions I had made were based in real professional values. Additionally, I realized the resulting demands did not always have anything to do with me and my applied controls. At the end of our meeting, my interpreting case was not ‘solved’ but having other professional view points, neutral perspectives and new ideas for controls allowed me to go back into this job with a fresh perspective. I may not change applied controls drastically but I will know that I now have more options and a thorough understanding of the reasons behind my choices.

Join Us

In the end I was grateful for the opportunity and look forward to doing it again. I also look forward to working a case with fellow colleagues in this group, and future groups. Sign language interpreters know the work is difficult. We use controls during an assignment that we sometimes later wish we could take back. But, at the time, and in the moment while we are working, those controls were the best option we felt we had, knowing what we knew. Hindsight is 20/20. Rather than criticizing each other (or ourselves), we need to take those experiences, discuss them in a professional, positive manner and grow. In order to be true practice professionals, we must incorporate case conferencing into the education of future interpreters, as well as our current approach to work.

“Much as horizontal violence leads to professionals being wary of supervision, Catalano and Tillie (1991) found that teachers at all levels who participated in supervision and mentorship felt more engaged, connected and empowered to develop as professionals” (Ott, 2012).

All practice professions need to have a safe place that allows them to honestly analyze, understand, and critique their work. This is no different for the sign language interpreting profession, as Dean and Pollard have pointed out (Dean and Pollard, 2013). Only then will this profession advance and become the effective and ethical profession it can be. It is natural to feel that when we do something, it is with the best intentions. However, we often do not extend that consideration to others. Let us work together to change, so that we may assume of others what we assume of ourselves.

For more information on interpreter case conference opportunities please visit http://demandcontrolschema.com/ and sign up for the e-mail blasts from Robyn Dean and Dr. Pollard.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some of the underlying causes of horizontal violence?
  2. Where do you believe horizontal violence is learned in our field and can we prevent it?
  3. How does Horizontal Violence affect the communities we work with?
  4. What have some of your experiences been with DC-S?

Related StreetLeverage Posts

How Do Sign Language Interpreters Avoid Mentoring’s Dodgy Undertow by Lynne Wiesman

Why Do Qualified Sign Language Interpreters Get Less Work? By Kendra Keller

Sign Language Interpreters: Breaking Down Silos Through Reflective Practice by Anna Witter-Merithew

References

Dean, R., & Pollard, R. (2004). A practice-profession model of ethical reasoning. Views, 21(9), 25-28.

Dean, R. K., & Pollard, R. (2001). Application of demand-control theory to sign language interpreting: Implications for stress and interpreter training. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 6(1), 1-14.

Ott, Emily K., “Do We Eat Our Young and One Another? Horizontal Violence Among Signed Language Interpreters” (2012). Master’s Theses. Paper 1.

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person: a therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

 

 

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65 Comments on "Horizontal Violence: Can Sign Language Interpreters Break the Cycle?"

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bcolonomos
Member
Thank you for raising this issue that pervades and cripples our field. After being in ASL/English interpreting for over 40 years as a practicing interpreter and 35 as an interpreter educator, I have witnessed firsthand some of the practices and beliefs that contribute to this problem. Many of the interpreters I interact with suffer from what I call “battered interpreter syndrome”. Their experiences in an ITP/IEP are rife with humiliation and criticism, dogmatic teaching, and stress. Sadly many of the teachers/mentors working with students and interpreters are poor role models, unable to scaffold through dialogue. They work within an educational… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you Betty. You comments are most relevant and speak to many of the issues I see as well as a mentor and instructor. As far as the system barriers and struggles, particularly in the post-secondary environment, what solutions can we provide? Is DC-S enough or is there something more? A new approach that we should be working in our ITPs? Are there prevention techniques that can be developed in ITPs to lessen the HV in the field?

Member
Shannon Mulhall
Betty, your comments are spot on. “Many of the interpreters I interact with suffer from what I call ‘battered interpreter syndrome.” Their experiences in an ITP/IEP are rife with humiliation and criticism, dogmatic teaching, and stress. Working for several years as an interpreter coordinator I found that the majority of the interpreters with whom I worked revealed scars from this kind of abuse. I found myself working to help them reframe their experiences and particularly the way they viewed themselves as practitioners. Through dialogues such as this – and not condoning those who demonstrate negative attitudes – we ARE changing… Read more »
Member
Lianne Moccia
Thank you for thinking and writing about how we as interpreters need to examine how we think and talk about our work. Too often the “talk” is about personalities, problems, mistakes. It is about what we see on the outside, or, what we’ve heard from someone else. And, it is usually NOT with our fellow interpreter. In order to be responsible and competent professionals we need to develop practices where we are engaged in direct, objective, substantive discussions about interpretation: the larger context of the job, the individuals involved, cultures (large and small “c”), power differentials, content knowledge. The hundreds… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you Lianne for your reply. I think that is the greatest benefit of DC-S, having the common ground language. We are all on the same page, we know how to discuss the work and we all come from a place of wanting to improve and develop. That way if we get off track (and it happens to the best of us) we can refocus on the process and structure to get back to a positive approach to discussing the work.

kdecker
Member
Kelly Decker
Kate – Thank you for this article. I appreciate the articulation on the ways that horizontal violence does happen along with identifying how important it is we talk about what and why things happen based on decisions we’ve made. More importantly, dialoguing in a way that is non evaluative and focuses on the decision making, rather than the person and the resulting product. Your experiences within the DC-S reflective practice group prompted me to think about my continued experience within The Etna Project (www.etnaproject.com). Similarly to your experiences and group practice outlined in your article, we are committed to the… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you Kelly! I am aware of the Etna project and it is on my list of things to do someday. You are right DC-S and Etna have a great number of similarities, the critical part being a shared language that we can use to dialogue about the work… Another great movement in our field towards case conferencing.

trichards
Member

Kate, this was an excellent, thoughtful article. I think much needs to be considered when framing “feedback” with one’s colleagues. The DC:S is a good way to approach that by embracing an objective approach to situational analysis. Assuming good intent and professional competence on the part off the service provider is key to its effectiveness. Thanks for taking on this important topic!

kblock
Member

Thank you Tammera for your kind comments!

Member
Ruben Ramirez

Kate, this was very informative. The subject matter interests me, “horizontal violence.” I sure would like to research this a bit more. Any suggestions? I also did a brief research paper on DC-S for a course I was taking in college and it exposed me to think more about demands and controls in interpreting. I feel we have lots to learn as the interpreting field continues to enrich itself with people like yourself that expose subjects like these for us to meditate and take positive actions where needed.

kblock
Member
Thank you for your comment Ruben. The formal definition of Horizontal Violence variety depending on where you look but here is one: 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). If you Google the topic there is extensive research on Horizontal Violence in the field of nursing (which has strong parallels to our field) and some research in the education field. I would say there needs to be more formal research done in those fields… Read more »
Member
Leia Sparks

This brought me back to a topic I discuss often with colleagues and students…Bullying in our field. We need to dialogue with purpose and believe in each other. “honestly critique our work” is the key; it is about the work! Thank you Kate!

kblock
Member

Thank you Leia. You are correct, it is about the work!

Member
Doug Stringham

Excellent read; with respect to our current generation of IPP students, this is important scaffolding. Wondered if there was an available link to or more context to finding Ms. Ott’s thesis (academic institution); this is important reading for IPP instructors.

kblock
Member

http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/1/

Here is the link to the full thesis. Western Oregon University. It is a good read.
I have begun using it in my class to start the discussion as well.
Thank you for your response.

Member
Theresa B. Smith

Ironically, even this discussion could be taken as ‘criticism’. In order to move to health discussions of our work (which you clearly advocate for) we need to improve not only how we talk, but how we listen. No one likes to hear even valid criticism, but if we can’t, then we miss valuable opportunities – the gift of another perspective. What I like best about your article is the encouragement to reflect.

kblock
Member

Thank you for your response Theresa and I agree with you, listening skills and being open to improvement is important in our field. My concern is how we approach the ‘criticism’/feedback. If we make our comments personal (focusing on the person rather than the work product) or set the person up to fail with how we approach the feedback, the person will shut down emotionally and mentally. This will make them incapable of taking in what we have to say, no matter how valuable it may be.

Member
Alecia Castro

I agree, it is important for a person to know how to give feedback about the interpretation, in addition to knowing the difference between their work and their worth.

Member
Shannon M. Mulhall

Yes! Yes! Yes!
I cannot agree more. We are working as a field to shift to non – evaluative language and to a model of reflective support. Thank you for helping to keep the positive momentum going.

kblock
Member

Thank you Shannon….

Member
I was shocked to see an article on Street Leverage that included the word “violence” and I wonder if that was the intention. Though I understand that the point is to create a positive environment, the word “violence” seems a bit strong, especially when it is referring to things such as telling an interpreter that they signed something incorrectly. As much as I don’t want myself or my colleagues to be bullied, I’m more concerned about the people in my life who have experienced ACTUAL violence and about my Deaf clients who have under-qualified interpreters. I have seen bullying in… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you for your comment Anessa. I agree, Violence is a strong word to describe this behavior. I did not coin the phrase, it is what I found in the research. Saying that, what would you call the behavior that is described in concept of Horizontal Violence? Our field is not the only one that experiences it and there is much research on the nursing field relayed to the behavior….

Member

What would I call the behaviors described in the article? Elitism, picking on others, putting others down, many many things other than that which ends with hospitalization. If the term is not accurate, then it should not be perpetuated. I’m sure that nurses, also, reacted strongly to the word “violence” and that is precisely why it was chosen.

kblock
Member
I can’t say exactly why the researchers chose the wording they did. It is used rather regularly in the study of occupational burnout. Here are a few quotes I have found besides what I have in my article. “violence [vi´o-lens] great force, either physical or emotional, usually exerted in order to damage or otherwise abuse something or someone. horizontal violence violence directed toward one’s peer”. Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. Another set of terms that have been used to describe this behavior is Lateral violence. The quick quote below is from a much… Read more »
Member

Yes I am not surprised that a nursing dictionary contains a term created from research about nurses. The question is whether or not the interpreting field should follow suit and use such a grossly misleading and inaccurate term (though it would seem inevitable now that it has appeared on Street Leverage). I am confident that as professionals we can get everyone to discuss the problem without having to resort to shock value. How would you suggest signing “horizontal violence” in ASL?

Member
Windy Kellems
Just to add some perspective on the term, I know that “domestic violence” does include behaviors that were not physical. Withholding money or property, preventing contact with support systems, and verbal abuse are considered DV. Also, legally, assault charges are not only limited to physical contact. Threatening someone when you have the means and opportunity and seem willing to make good on your threat is also assault and can cause you to be arrested. I know the common definition/understanding of violence involves touching or physical harm in some form, but the legal and social service definitions are much more broad.… Read more »
Member

Anessa, I agree that it is a harsh word. BUT we know that often what we say to each other can be painful. Sometimes it can be painful over a long time. This can be worse than actual physical trauma. It can heal. Words can be replayed in the mind and be psychological trauma over time. I remember when the ASL teacher told me I was “NO GOOD and that I should change my major because I would never become an interpreter.” Yeah, I showed that teacher!

Member
Kristin Wacker

Horizontal violence also includes sharing unfavorable videos and blog posts about other interpreters, and then commenting with criticism and judgment of that interpreter and the work he or she did or didn’t do.

Member
This article couldn’t have come at a better time given some situations that have occurred and are occurring in the profession between fellow colleagues. It is an unhealthy competition that doesn’t always allow for open dialogue, part due to the fact that we are a small numbered profession and the fear of breaching confidentiality is always in our minds. However, even in other professions, to be able to debrief, ask for feedback and other avenues to explore nourishes those professions and should the likewise for ours. We are a fast growing profession and the vicious, malicious cycle of gossiping, bad… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you for you comment. Besides DC-S approach to debriefing what other ideas to do you have to lessen or even prevent HV? What other options do we have as interpreters?

Member

Thanks Kate – brilliantly articulated. It brought back very positive memories of the group for me. Thanks to all if you who dared to share your experiences.

kblock
Member

Hello Mark!! Good to hear from you again… Thank you so much.

Member
No doubt many would agree that words hurt more than sticks and stones and thankfully professions like social work have the means to prosecute when people in power use their words to hurt the helpless. It is true though, that there is no level of severity of a bruise that makes it a cut. Even a bruise that hurts worse than a cut, and lasts longer than a cut, and does more damage than a cut, is a bruise. How much or how little pain is present does not change the definition of the English word. At my former workplace,… Read more »
kblock
Member

Windy-
Thank you for sharing your perspective and story. I am grateful to you for your willingness to express your personal experiences.

Member
Trudy Gilbert
Kate, Thank you for the article. In response to your question, can we prevent horizontal violence, I believe that we can create positive change through mentors. What are the qualifications required/expected for the mentors in our profession other than experience in the field? Like other professions, interpreting mentors should participate in training that prepares them to become effective mentors. Effectively talking about the work in a non evaluative manner, in a common language, modeling reflective practice and process mediation, rather than focusing on errors or judgements. The Etna Project is where many of us truly practice non evaluative dialogue, process… Read more »
kblock
Member
Hello Trudy- Thank you for your response and I agree, the use of non evaluative during mentorship and case conference is a key aspect to the growth of our profession. I think part of the reason we are seeing this dialogue progress is we are seeing the damage that we are doing to each other and wish to change. We are also gaining knowledge from the study of other practice professions (mental health workers, psychologists, medical Doctors) who practice case conferencing and benefit from it. What kind of training would you recommend for our mentors? Mediation, adult instruction? Should a… Read more »
Member
Trudy Gilbert
Yes, it should be an industry standard that mentors have training as do other practicing professions. RID should have professional requirements for mentors. The training I recommend for mentors is what worked for me. My mentor told me there was something in my processing. I didn’t know what that meant or want to do with that statement. The word processing lead me to Betty Colonomos, Foundations. I not only learned a model, I learned how I process the interpreted message. This brought me to the Etna Project where we dialogue about our work, not just the product, including Cultural comparisons… Read more »
kblock
Member
Wonderful!! Thank you for sharing your story. Your question is a good one and not the easiest to answer. Where do we start? RID? Our own states? For awhile, my home state of WI had a state run mentorship program for recent ITP graduates. The mentor was paid a small stipend to meet with the recent graduate for one year to work on skills and help the newer interpreter transition from school to work. Ultimate goal was to close the certification gap. We had Deaf and Hearing mentors in the program. Unfortunately, the program folded but we did have some… Read more »
Member
Trudy Gilbert

A great resource is a fairly new book sold at the RID Book Store, “Mentorship in Sign Language Interpreting”. Rather than the practitioner describe the model, Betty Colonomos describes Mentorship through process mediation and the community of Reflective Practioners at The Etna Project. I should have included this resource in my reply. I hope this helps.

kblock
Member

Thank you for posted that great resource.. The book is on my shelf and well loved 🙂

Member
Robert Remigio
Good day, Kate: Thank you for your contribution in getting the message out about horizontal violence. I also appreciate the insight you have provided regarding the DC-S. Quite frequently interpreters work autonomously. If and when they do come together as a team, it is as if they are interpreting for two separate assignments; disharmony ensues. The objective of working collaboratively together to attain the same goal of effective communication to some extent has become diluted. The notion of pre-, during or post-conferencing nowadays seems to be perceived as a sign of incompetence. However, this does not have to be the… Read more »
kblock
Member
Thank You Robert. With all these wonderful shared experiences with the Etna project I think I need to move it up on my training priority list 🙂 You are so right, pre-, post and during conferencing is critical for effective teaming and communication during work. I have found that keeping that open dialogue makes for more accurate work and a more efficient teaming experience. It is interesting, often times my team and I are on the same page about how things are going and what may need adjustments. In the rare case we are not in agreement the nonjudgmental language… Read more »
Member
Ingrid Nevar Clark
In my modest 15 yr interpreting career I too have been bullied, labeled a bully, sought out as a team and avoided. I choose mostly to work with teams that have similar beliefs about the task of interpreting; when that isn’t possible, I choose not to get sucked into people’s dramas nor give my power and peace of mind away to those used to being able to unsettle others. Having worked in the field of Domestic Violence before coming into interpreting, I have learned that people choose intimidation and violence because our society teaches us that it works to get… Read more »
kblock
Member
Thank you for your comments Ingrid. My goal for the article was to focus on the profession in general. Some of the comments have focused on mentorship and teaming which I do believe are affected by HV. I think you bring up a good point– how much do our filters affect how/when/why HV happens and could that have an affect on how we work with each other in our community? Should we as interpreters (particularly interpreters that work in Mental Health and Medical arenas) be required to do a certain amount of self care– specifically therapy? I like your comment… Read more »
Member
Shelly Hansen
Hello! I wanted to reply briefly to this great discussion. I agree the term violence is too strong. From my perspective there are a few drivers of this phenomenon. 1. Variations in training and approaches to the work of interpreting. For example: if an interpreter has never attended a formal IPP, has a “helper” mentality, has conflicts of interest, is unaware of the quality of his/her voicing work or interpreting work due to minimal feedback or rigor in a training setting etc… it can be a challenge to have an ongoing working relationship as this party will see the RID… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you Shelley-
Your comments are great and I 100% agree with your reasons behind HV. They are challenges we all face internally and externally in our field that can lead to the behaviors and problems described in the article.

You have taught me something new, I have never heard of Seagull Syndrome… Fascinating stuff… Who knew?!?! Thank you for including your thoughts…

Member
Simon Bristoll

Annessa, I agree that Horizontal Violence is an emotive term, perhaps “Collegial hostility” or “lateral hostility” would fit better? However as Horizontal Violence seems to have been adopted by academics it’s difficult to see how another term could gain influence…

Member
Simon, I think you’re absolutely right–now that the term “Horizontal Violence” is in the world of academia (at least in the nursing field), we will no doubt have a hard time convincing anyone to change it. Anyone in our field who writes about negativity between coworkers might inevitably end up having to reference articles with the term. However, we don’t have to title our articles with the same term and thus perpetuate the absurdity. I sincerely hope that a group of people who SPECIALIZE IN LANGUAGE can do a better job than that. You are one person and you came… Read more »
Member
Rodolfo Robles
I am currently an Interpreting student. My classmates and I, for the most part, have progressed and learned the American Sign Language together and it is apparent we have become extremely close as a group with helping each other with various assignments and keeping up with missed work as well as encouraging one another. I feel the nurturing environment our instructor created for us aided in our familial structure that we’ve formed. In our classroom, I haven’t seen any horizontal violence between us, however, I have witnessed self HV. The reason for this horizontal violence directed towards ones self, from… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you for your comment Rodolfo. I am encouraged to hear your ITP experience is positive and that DC-S is providing you with the foundation for open dialogue.
Comparing ourselves to others as we progress in the interpreting field (any field for that matter) only leads to self esteem struggles and internal barriers to learning. If we trust our own journey and know we all arrive where we need to be on our own timeline, things would be so much more smooth for all of us.
Best of luck and welcome to the field
Kate

Member

Thank you for shining a light on this topic Kate. As an agency, we see this issue presented in various forms. I agree that “Seagull Syndrome” (like this one!) and “Lateral Hostility” are appropriate descriptors. Based on all the comments, this appears to be an issue familiar to many on a personal level.

kblock
Member
Thank you Evelyn… I agree with your point, we may not all agree on the terminology being used in academia to describe this phenomenon (and this is a new arena of study in Sociology) but we all agree that it is happening and that is what concerns me. One quick comment on “Seagull Syndrome”. I did a little digging (because I had never heard the term and wanted to know more) and there are 2 ways of using it. So, here is your fun fact for the day…. “The me, my, mine-centered entitlement mentality that has spawned to become commonplace… Read more »
Member
The term Horizontal Violence, as I understand it, is intended to cause a reaction. A reaction of looking at the way we behave/speak/think about our work and colleagues and adjusting if necessary so that ultimately we can improve the work product delivered to clients. I think sometimes we don’t like things which ring true – either because it is something we’ve (knowingly or not) done to someone or had done to us. It is my opinion that as professionals, in a field dominated by women as you stated in the article Kate, we are too worried about each other and… Read more »
kblock
Member

Thank you for sharing the link and your comments Danielle. Before I was an interpreter I work in a male dominated profession and I will say it was an adjustment to come in to the interpreting profession and work in a female dominated environment. Both arenas have positive and negative aspects to them and I think they can learn from each other and make the work place better as a whole. There, I just went ‘let’s save the world’ for us both….
Thanks again Danielle….

Member
Dear Kate, Thank you for pointing out this problem within the profession. I am a student in an ITP and can tell you first-hand that horizontal violence is definitely something that we students have been the recipients of time and again. Yes, we are taught to look at the language and, being human, we students take on a critical attitude when doing observations. However, I have had instructors demean me, as though I am suppose to know what the correct answers should be in various situations. I don’t. I can’t. I am still learning. If it wasn’t for me having… Read more »
kblock
Member
Hello Rena- Thank you for your kind comments and I am sorry you are experiencing difficulties in your ITP. I know how difficult it can be going through an ITP and I am glad to hear you have a supportive mentor– hang on to that encouragement and support for the tough days. Thank you for passing on my article… I am thrilled you are inspired to bring positive change to our arena. As an Ad hoc instructor I know how tough it is to be in your instructor’s shoes. Not to excuse inappropriate behavior but instructors can sometimes feel there… Read more »
Member
Hi, Kate! As a medical interpreter, I don’t often team with someone so that is great! The feedback I enjoy the most is from the Deaf and hearing clients. If one stays humble enough then that is golden! BUT, I feel like humility, like Deaf Heart, isn’t something you can’t teach. You have it or you don’t. However, it’s what leads to a great critique. I feel that giving an honest critique is a dying art. We focus a lot of mentoring now in the community BUT how can one mentor ANYONE if he/she doesn’t understand how to give a… Read more »
kblock
Member
Thank you for your comment. I agree, we do need to learn the art of a proper critique. They always say “it is not what you, say but how you say it”… The question is, how do we be truthful with each other about our work and ethics without crushing someone’s spirit to learn and grow? And how do we learn that ability? Where do we go for the training and how do we infuse it into our profession in a healthy way? I am happy to see ITP/IPPs are incorporating cohort feedback practice– mostly using DC-S as a base.… Read more »
Member

Great article Kate. For those of us who have found structures like DCS and IMI, we are so very fortunate. I think it’s not a coincidence.There’s just a shared sense that we can look at the work product, look at a split second decision and learn from it, together. Yes!

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[…] Horizontal Violence: Can Sign Langauge Interpreters Break the Cycle? by Kate Block […]

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[…] a mentor, then why are so few people working with mentors? Is it lack of availability? Cost? Fear? Traumatic experiences with previous mentors? Perhaps there are no skilled or willing mentors locally? How can we overcome the issues of not […]

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I do appreciate this article, however I am surprised that there is no mention of intersectionality. The term “horizontal violence” is reminiscent of Paulo Freire’s concept of “horizontal hostility” and, while the intention of the article is seen, I believe the same appreciative critique is due that was later offered towards Freire’s concept: To use the term “horizontal” implies an equality or flattening of experience that simply does not exist. In other words, while we may all be interpreters, it is an error to assume that all interpreters are coming from the same place (white, cisgender, heterosexual, etc women, for… Read more »
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Hello Kaden-
I greatly appreciate your comments and you are correct, I should have overtly stated that intersectionality and systematic oppression do play a role in these interactions. I have added these things to a presentation I am working with.
How do we provide a safe place to case conference for all interpreters involved in our work? Is it possible? Can it bring intersectionality and/or systematic oppression to the forefront so that it can be dialogued about?

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