Erin Pizzey: An Open Letter to Women
Erin Pizzey: An Open Letter to Women in the Domestic Violence Movement
Friday, March 12, 2010
By Abusegate Bob
AN OPEN LETTER TO WOMEN IN THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MOVEMENT FROM THE FOUNDER OF THE MOVEMENT AND AUTHOR OF THE FIRST MODERN BOOK ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
When I first tried to open the refuge, the police, the charities, the social service agencies, the newspapers, all said it would stand empty. They said it wasn’t a significant problem, that it happened only rarely, and when it did it was already being handled effectively by the existing agencies.
Domestic violence against women was only a minor problem, and very few women were getting seriously hurt anyway. Of course, when we finally did open, and got a little support at last to make women aware of our existence, we were filled to overflowing and the phone was ringing off the hook.
It’s the same exact thing now with attempts to have domestic violence resources for men. The same attitude exists. However, it’s even more difficult now to open something for men, or raise awareness, than it was when I opened the first shelter for women.
There is now an established domestic violence industry which fears any acknowledgment of the well established scientific fact (through my own research and many many others) that women can be as violent as men with their intimate partners and are not always the victim or acting only in self-defense. This fear is based on a false premise, that acknowledging this fact or speaking publicly about it, or offering services, will take away funding and hurt the established resources for women.
That’s nonsense. I proved and others can too, that offering help for abused men can be done within an existing system set up originally to help women, that is willing to deal with the totality and reality of domestic violence. There should of course, also be some support groups, shelter help, and crisis lines specifically aimed and publicized as such for men-what man for example, would even think to call a crisis line that called itself a “woman’s crisis line.”
Of course, he’s automatically excluded.
The charities and the social service system and government told me when I opened the first refuge for women that there wasn’t enough money, that resources were stretched too thin, that police have to focus on where the majority of the crime is, and so on.
Nonsense. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The trouble is, there’s no will. But there should be, and women should take the lead, not men. After all, not only is it our brothers, fathers, and friends who are being abused, by not helping men, we’re not helping women who are having trouble dealing with their own violence against their partners and against their children.
Because we too easily accept such violence against men, we are not dealing as effectively as we could with child abuse, where women constitute the primary perpetrators.
Our acceptance of women’s violence against men increase the chances of both boys and girls being involved with domestic violence in their later adult lives. I’ve seen that scenario happen time and time again.
Women have the power in the established domestic violence movement now. We should take the lead in taking the movement to the next step. Economic circumstances for many women have changed, so that while it was important to focus first on women when I started things more than twenty years ago, women now have more economic opportunities and more government support as well as refuge resources to get help.
Besides, we should now be ready to accept what the researchers are all telling us…there are many many violent women. As women, we can not claim perfection and ask to be put on a pedestal any longer, and most women no longer desire that, but to make that change, we must also accept responsibility for our own actions or lack of action.
Because of these views, and daring to speak out, I’ve been vilified, and physically threatened many times by women in the domestic violence movement.
Don’t tell me that women can’t be violent!
Now a days, you won’t even find my name or my domestic violence books mentioned in the established domestic violence literature…I’ve been erased because of heresy, or daring to speak to the truth. But when I can, I still take the opportunity to speak out, because we’ll never break the chain of domestic violence until we accept the truth, domestic violence is a complex issue, there are many elements involved in intimate partner relationships, it takes hard work and investigation to deal with it in a truly effective manner, and finally, no one sex, just because of their sex, is less capable of it. ”
— Erin Pizzey, Author, Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear
Founder of the world’s first shelter and crisis line for battered women, Chiswick
From a 2000 Interview with journalist Philip W. Cook, author of Abused Men-The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence
Erin Pizzey founder of the first Women’s Refuge in the UK in 1971 said in 2007.
“This has nothing to do with domestic violence, this is the feminist movement which is basically hijacking the subject because it is a worthy cause” in their terms, and also they wanted the funding because they couldn’t get funding as open feminists, but what they have managed to do is to turn it into a billion dollar industry, which has effectively destroyed family life in the Western world and feminised the courts, the law, everything else in its wake, and the result is that there’s millions of men who have been falsely accused, who have lost their children, who have been extradited from their families.”
Thank-you for the post Amfortas,
The women’s refuge crisis line in NZ does get calls from men who are being abused by their partners and the men’s crisis line was on TV news talking about lack of funding when Judy Turner (ex MP for United Future) spoke to the media saying men matter when it comes to family violence.
Now we just need a string of men’s support groups all organised by men who can be a part of a men’s national collective and advocate for men.
The National collective of women’s refuges in New Zealand would agree with what Erin Pizzy is saying from my research. It’s sad when a problem needs to be fixed yesterday and things take their time in the pipeline and with the building, but it will happen.
That would be one of the best things that would have come out of the women’s refuge with regard for men. May I ask what your research is ?
I’m happy to work with any organisation that is willing to help publicise that Men are also abused. However, since women’s refuge hasn’t yet publicly acknowledged this fact they remain a hostile force; if you understand where I’m coming from.
With the white ribbon campaigns and the ‘its not ok’ campaigns exclusively viewing women and children as relevant and men not, I would invite the women’s refuge to an opportunity to change public and government perception.
Are we able to do this as a mens movement in some way ?
I’ve talked to a good number of women who run women’s refuges over the past 4 years and women who are a vocal part of the head group. When I’ve had some free time I’ve even phoned the refuge crisis line and got into some good discussions with the women.
Father and Child Trust in Christchurch has done some or a lot of work with women working in refuges. They thank them for giving a men’s voice.
There’s a lot more to it than just publicising men are victims. Everything has to be set up first.
The idea of having a refuge for women and a refuge for men is off the table. There was a men’s refuge and it gave insight as to how complicated it can become when a couple has the woman in the women’s refuge and the man in the men’s refuge.
I don’t know what their outcome will end up being but I know a place where the whole family goes is one thing on the table.
I also know through another MRA’s activism that the government has replied saying men as victims to women is part of the plan in action.
For sure, I understand where you are coming from.
As in everything New Zealand does, the work to prepare the settings happens before the public hears about the problem. The anti smacking law came out 4 years after all the plans were made on how to make it work. (Labour MP told me that).
Oh Yeah! Absolutely.
If you organised all the major men advocates to speak up for men at a meeting where all women’s refuge leaders were the audience, you’d be a hero.
Sounds like a challenge… 🙂
I’ll have a think about this and will get back to you since I think you (and others on here) have more experience than I do 🙂
Or a heroine.
Sounds like a job for Super-Jools !
There’s no super-Jools here Amfortas. (It’s a myth, lol)
Just so you know, this site is connected to some pretty special people who do a lot for men’s rights when it comes to domestic violence.
The role that is vacant for me to play is helping single fathers, … which I better get on with. Oh, the guilt! 🙂