Women's History Month

When we review the history of domestic violence and the women who contributed to seeing it through, one name comes mind... Erin Pizzey. If you work in the domestic violence world, I hope that you know who she is, but if not, you have come to the right place.

Erin Pizzey, born in 1939, was the first women to open Chiswick Women’s Aid. A domestic violence shelter in Chiswick, England. With only 300 pounds, Erin and a group of women were able to create an environment that was safe and helped those in need. Once the women entered the shelter, many of them expressed that they tried to obtain help from social services, their local police departments, and solicitors; however, they were unsuccessful. With nowhere to turn, many of the women found Chiswick Women’s Aid. Once they arrived, Erin and other members in the shelter tried to seek legal advocacy, and primary custody for many of the women with children. This was only the beginning, and no one, not even Erin, could have imagined the success her domestic violence shelter would have. Even more so, the affect it would have on the many women fleeing from abuse.

Moving forward, not only was Erin the first women to open a domestic violence shelter, but she was also the author of many books. In a book titled Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear, Erin shares the horrific stories of many women experiencing domestic violence, and the lack of intervention provided by the courts, and other parties such as the local police department, hospital, marriage guidance, and social security. If you have read the book, some may say that the system, and how domestic violence is acknowledged has since advanced; however, some may say that there are some similarities, and not as much advancement. Nevertheless, domestic violence is something that will continue to be addressed, and the overall goal is to have a wide array of resources available to those that are fleeing, and in need. Some of the other books that Erin has written include the popular and not so popular book Prone to Violence. This book was boycotted by radical feminists as Erin suggests that not all women are victims. Some of them are just addicted to pain and attract violence. In her book, Erin goes on to suggest that it is our duty as workers in the field to differentiate the two. But in retrospect, how does one do so? Can you see now why this caused such an uproar? Or even more so, why was it banned? Today, this book is accessible, but I am curious as to how many individuals feel as though it should not be. Other books that Erin has written did not get as much attention as this one, but then again, how many books do?

Another thing about Erin that some may and may not know, she believed that men deserved to have a voice just as well as women. The feminists during this time faulted her for this, but in my own defense, and with some experience in this field, this is true. Men, women, and those that identify as gender-neutral encounter domestic violence. As an advocate, who are we to turn a blind eye? Especially when someone is in need.

So, there you have it. I hope that if you did not know Erin before reading this blog, you know her now, and even if you do not agree with her opinions, please remember that everyone is entitled to their own.

Happy Women’s History Month!

Written by: Deeneva Williamson – PADV Intern 

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