Erin Pizzey

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.

© 2002 Equal Justice Foundation

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Any country that has tried to create a political solution to human problems has ended up with concentration camps and gulags.

Erin Pizzey

Autobiography


 

Index

Shelters for abused women

Scenario One

Scenario Two

Shelters for abused men

Extremism


 

Shelters for abused women

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One of the first shelters (Britain refers to them as a refuge) for abused women in the world was opened by Erin Pizzey in Chiswick, London, England in 1971. She continued to run that program until 1982.

Based on her experiences at Chiswick, she wrote the pioneering book on wife-battering, Scream Quietly or The Neighbors Will Hear, in 1978. That book was very successful in bringing the problem of abused women to the world's attention. In the wake of her inspiring example, shelters, or refuges, for battered women began springing up all over the world.

Initially, such shelters were impoverished, overcrowded, and run entirely with volunteer help. Because of the overcrowding, sanitation was often questionable, particularly given the numbers of children often contained in such shelters together with their mothers. Such overcrowding was almost inevitable given the unique nature of her original refuge and the open-door policy Ms. Pizzey insisted upon. Sadly, most shelters today do not maintain such a policy, and it is sad to realize that women with nowhere else to go are turned away by shelters in America.

Ms. Pizzey had repeated confrontations with borough authorities who were concerned with the conditions in her refuge. She was taken to court on several occasions on account of her operations. It was only by the direct intervention of Queen Elizabeth that she was able to continue.

All of mankind owes an eternal debt to Erin Pizzey for her pioneering work with family violence and providing a place of refuge for women who found themselves in abusive relationships with nowhere to go. But she is an extremely intelligent woman who soon expanded her work into attempting to understand the causes of family violence. Such understanding is essential if we are to reduce such abuse.

Quite early she realized that a clear distinction must be made between:

Scenario One: Women who accidentally become involved with a violent partner and now wish to leave and to never return again.

Scenario Two: Women who, for deep psychological reasons of their own, seek out a violent relationship, or a series of violent relationships, with no intention of leaving.

Erin Pizzey states that:

"...it is essential to understand the differentiation between our use of the words battered and violence-prone. For us, a battered person is the innocent victim of another person's violence; a violence-prone person is the victim of their own addiction to violence."

She found that: "...62 women out of the first hundred women who came to the refuge were as violent or more violent than the men they left. Also many were prostitutes taking refuge from their violent pimps." Pizzey further notes that such violent women abuse their children as well. Subsequent studies have shown that the great majority of child abuse and murders are perpetrated by females, most commonly single mothers.

Feminists have long noted that domestic abuse included both physical and emotional aspects. What they attempt to hide is the fact that emotional abuse is most commonly associated with women. Ms. Pizzey tackles that issue head on in her 1998 book on emotional terrorists and her findings are summarized here in a section by that name.

If useful help is to be provided, it seems obvious that such distinctions must be made when running a shelter for abused women. Clearly the two classes of women must be treated in quite separate fashion.

Scenario One: Help for abused women

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Aid and succor such as new housing arrangements, aid in finding employment, legal, and financial aid may be given many abused women with a successful outcome likely. Such women have a reasonable probability of reintegrating with society and leaving the nightmare behind. We doubt that anyone begrudges help for such unfortunate individuals.

We do question whether such help is forthcoming from most such shelters in America. Also, it is quite evident that women entering such shelters are treated with a one-size-fits-all approach. Reality is never so simple, however.

Scenario Two: Help for violence-prone women

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Women who, for deep psychological reasons of their own, seek out a violent relationship, or a series of violent relationships, with no intention of leaving.

In the case of what Ms. Pizzey refers to as a violence-prone woman , new housing arrangements may be provided, legal and financial aid may be given, and all preparations made for such a woman to begin a new life, independent of her abusive partner.

However, experience shows that such women either return repeatedly to her partner (note that lesbian relationships are the most abusive of all), or the violence-prone woman finds herself in a relationship with a new and equally violent partner.

Thus, the help provided an abused woman who fits the pattern of Scenario One is quite inappropriate for a violence-prone woman, and may make her problems worse if she ends up with an even more violent partner. Such problems are compounded if the violence-prone woman takes her children from their biological father into the new relationship.

In her autobiography This Way To The Revolution (p. 283) Erin Pizzey points out that most:

"...refuges refused to deal with women who were alcoholic, drug addicts or who were violent. These women were screened out or if they entered a refuge were soon evicted. To me these were the women who most needed our help. I was outraged that no one would allow women to step off their pedestals and be truly human —least of all other women. Women who failed to become warm, loving mothers were punished and lost their children. The solution to me was blindingly obvious: do what we were doing. Take in problem mothers with their children —and mother them so they can in turn learn to mother their children."


 

Shelters for abused men

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In the years since Erin Pizzey brought the issue of family and intimate partner violence to the world's attention there has been considerable discussion of the need for shelters for men and their children who married a violent woman, or who became violent after some years in the marriage due to some biological or medical conditions, e.g., a small percentage of women become violent upon entering perimenopause between ages 35 and 50. Other women may be involved in accidents that lead to mental instability and, of course, the dementia of old age almost always leads to violent outbursts in both men and women. Certainly the intervening years have provided definitive research that women are as violent as men in intimate relationships, confirming Erin Pizzey's early findings.

As a result a few shelters for men have now been opened for men in Britain. There was one in Calgary in Canada but it received no support, went bankrupt, and its long-time supporter, Earl Silverman, then committed suicide in April 2013. In the United States there are but a few, the Valley Oasis Family Violence Shelter in Lancaster, California, being the first. Other shelters that are known to accept abused men are listed by state here. There are very few that provide housing for men and their children, or who will allow women to bring male children over age 12 into the shelter, although federal law now mandates all shelters treat men and women equally.

Before diving into the different needs of abused men it is worth reviewing the experience of Erin Pizzey in this area. As she did with almost all aspects of intimate partner violence, Erin pioneered a refuge (shelter) for abused men in England in the 1970's. The first thing she found was that donors were unwilling to provide any assistance for abused men. But, as she describes in her autobiography This Way To The Revolution (p. 114) she was, as always, undeterred and:

"We opened the house, and I faced another stark reality. Whereas filling a house with women and children resulted in the women quickly forming a community and taking charge of their own lives, filling a house with men resulted in them disappearing into a room and sitting helplessly on their beds or else sulking because their was no one to run the place and take care of cooking and other practical matters.

In vain we talked to them about the set-up in Chiswick. We talked about self-help. We talked about how we would decorate the satellite houses ourselves as well as do minor repairs. We talked about their responsibility to care for one another. We met with blank silence. They were not only unwilling or incapable of caring for each other in the house but we were unable to get any male volunteers to help out."

As a result her abused men project petered out and things have not improved much in the decades since. Her observations also provide some basis for why many feminists desire to return to a matriarchy with total disregard for all the material benefits our patriarchal society has generated.

Virtually all of the men who contact the Equal Justice Foundation want their problems fixed, immediately and at no cost to or effort by them. Of course they are totally unwilling or unable to consider helping tackle the underlying issues. Occasionally one will write a garbled and often misspelled letter or email to some inappropriate official, and they have no idea how government works, or more accurately doesn't work. When that complaint fails to inspire total and complete sympathy for the poor, mistreated dears they crawl back into their caves and blame everyone but themselves for their misery and criminal convictions.

Time-and-time-again it has been necessary to point out to these men that a plea bargain is a guilty plea. That if they admit they are guilty and sign the document saying they are guilty, then they are guilty in the eyes of the world. But that doesn't deter them from whining and crying about how their rights have been violated and no one will listen to their side of the story. But if asked to provide a timeline of events in order to sort out what happened they seem constitutionally unable to do so. Nonetheless, it was all her fault!

Erin Pizzey goes on describing her experience attempting to set up a male shelter and states that:

"Meanwhile I learned a big lesson. Women are naturally tribal. They will organize and help one another and take care of each other's children. Men are different. Most are solitary and invest their emotions only in their partners and their offspring."

Her lessons should be kept in mind by anyone attempting to deal with abused men. The pain of a relationship that fails violently, and in which they were often walking on eggshells for many years, usually drives them deeper into their caves and solitary ways. Many never emerge and suicide is an all too common outlet for them. But banding together to fight the system, as women have done so successfully, does not seem to be an option.

From experience to date it appears that setting up shelters for abused men is not likely to accomplish much not already being done by groups like the Salvation Army. Occasionally a man escapes from a violent wife with his children and does need the services a shelter might provide. In many cases today family violence shelters will provide a hotel voucher for a few nights and that may be sufficient and the cost/benefit of doing more does not appear to be justified in most locales.

It is clear that the approaches taken in dealing with and treating abused women are almost always inappropriate for dealing with the problems of abused men. Since, in the experience of the Equal Justice Foundation, abused men almost universally exhibit the characteristic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), approaching their treatment and needs from that perspective is likely to be more effective than providing food and shelter in a safe house.


 

Extremism

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Based on her experiences with violent women, in 1982 Ms. Pizzey published a book, Prone to Violence. For her efforts she was picketed by a group of British shelter workers, who referred to themselves as "feminists." These militant extremists staged demonstrations against her, and she and her family members received death threats. "ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS," "ALL MEN ARE BATTERERS," read the placards. She was advised to travel with a police escort during her promotional tour. The book disappeared from the shelves of libraries and book stores alike. The publisher went bankrupt in the process.

The harassment of Erin Pizzey became so bad that she was driven into exile in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and did not return to England until the late 1990's. Ms. Pizzey documented her travails in a 1999 article entitled Who's failing the family?

Ms. Pizzey is a liability to the women responsible for her abuse, as she knows many of them quite well from the early days of the women's shelter movement. Many of these radical women, some of whom quite literally were Communist or Maoist terrorists, e.g., they participated in the bombing of the BBC TV van and the attempted bombing of the British Post Office Tower, the hub of the UK's TV network, during the 1970 Miss World Congress, but are now safely ensconced in prominent positions in government and the media (Walter Schneider, personal communication, 1999, and Erin Pizzey's 2011 autobiography This Way To The Revolution ).

In 1995, Mark Rowley from New Zealand had a librarian from the Library of Congress do a search of library catalogues that could be accessed through the interlibrary network. Only thirteen copies of Prone to Violence were found in the whole world. Walter Schneider (personal communication, 1999) checked Canadian library catalogues and found three copies listed, one at the University of Alberta and two at the University of Toronto. When Mark Rowley checked the Library of Congress, they didn't have a copy of it either. He then donated the one that Erin Pizzey had sent to him. That copy is still listed in the catalogue and is still on the shelf as of late 1999 when he checked during a visit to Washington, D.C.

However, as with many things people would prefer to hide, her original book is now available on the Web. Fortunately, the book was also eventually reprinted and, as of 2011, is available via Amazon.com.

In 1998, Ms. Pizzey published another book on The Emotional Terrorist and The Violence Prone. This book also includes an updated version of her Prone to Violence work. A basic section of her 1998 book is "A comparative study of battered women and violence-prone women" (1998, p. 12-27). Unless, and until, shelters can routinely distinguish between battered and violence-prone women, they are batting in the dark. She has provided the basic foundation needed for making such distinctions.

The extreme reaction generated by Ms. Pizzey's work showed she had tapped the fundamental truth that women are as violent as men in intimate relationships, which militant feminists would desperately like to hide. However, unless all aspects of a problem are examined, it is unlikely the problem can be solved.

If the violent nature of many women is simply hidden and denied, domestic violence will continue and likely increase. Patricia Pearson has examined in detail the myth of innocence associated with women. But Erin Pizzey has not been idle either and additional photos and information can now (2011) be found on her Facebook page.

Thank you Erin Pizzey for teaching us these valuable lessons and pioneering the way out of these dark corners of human behavior.

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| Chapter 6 — Shelters For Battered Women |

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| Next — Shelters used in war on men |


 

This site is supported and maintained by the Equal Justice Foundation.

Last modified 3/26/14