Saturday, May 20, 2006

A most remarkable woman in Twikenham

She's the little girl on the wooden horse rocker. Her name is Erin Pizzey. That's her mother and twin sister with her.

The story of her childhood is a nightmare. Her father was explosive. Her mother had problems of her own. When her parents fought, Erin felt a helplessness that burned itself into her subconscious.

In the early 1970s she saw that same helplessness in a child who was also trapped in a family that was at war. Before long, Erin opened the first domestic abuse shelter in the world. Until that time, nobody talked about domestic abuse. Within a few years, Erin was helping women open up similar shelters all around the world.

Today, the shelter she created is still in operation, but it operates without its founder. In fact, they don't allow her to go near the shelter. The official history of the shelter does not include the name Erin Pizzey.

Erin Pizzey was able to find the seeds of domestic violence in the abusers -- she traced it back to their childhood. She traced it to abandonment of some sort.

And she came to believe that it could happen to little boys as well as little girls -- and both would grow up to abuse their partners -- physically or emotionally or both.

She says that when she suggested that men could be the victims of abusive female partners, she became the target of the women's movement. There was no room in the women's movement, she says, for any notion that women could do the things that those dastardly men did. She says the foundation of the women's movement evolved into an organized plan to label every man as someone who would eventually abuse his female partner.

It wasn't the philosophy she had adopted when she had joined the women's movement. She says she had been fighting for equality between the sexes, but the leaders of the movement chose an all out war against men.

I spent four hours with her today -- I recorded 2 1/2 hours of our conversation on videotape. It will be part of a documentary I'm doing that explores what many women today say is a tragic imbalance. There are other women who are crying "foul" -- psychologists, social workers, police officers, lawyers, judges, legislators and even women who run "battered women shelters" -- shelters they believe should be available to men who are living with abusive, violent and dangerous women.

Erin Pizzey and many other women who have worked to help victims of domestic violence believe that society has turned its back on men -- men who also need counseling, support and access to shelters so that they can escape the violence.

There's a bigger story -- several women have told me. It's about how the role and identify men has gotten lost in a movement that had good intentions -- but that somehow went astray. The real victims, they say, are the children who still witness abuse -- children who they say are likely to grow up to be abusers.

Men and women alike. Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

jbgood said...

Erin is an inspiration to all who oppose extremism, particularly the feminist kind.