Sandra Orozco-Stapleton Foundation
Erin Pizzey's Blog
| Home | News | Quotes | Link | Erin Pizzey

In 1971 Erin Pizzey founded Chiswick Women's Aid, the first refuge for battered wives. Her 1974 book "Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear" brought the issue to the attention of the public.

About Erin Pizzey | Articles by Erin Pizzey

Speech on the Occasion of the Inaugural Opening of the Aisha Yateem Councilling Centre and Shelter

Written by Erin Pizzey Wednesday, March 21, 2007 12:00 AM
« Previous Next »

Thirty six years ago I opened the first shelter in the world in Chiswick, London. Before that time if a woman and her children were unable to go back to her family, she had nowhere to run to.

A man’s home was his castle and whatever happened behind the front door was nobody’s business. The police were helpless and not allowed to interfere. Unless the woman could show evidence of multiple violent attacks either in person or photographs, she had no right to leave the matrimonial home. Even if she did leave and show evidence because there was nowhere willing to take her in with her children, she was told by the social services that they could only offer to take her children away from her and she would have to find her own accommodation. Often women were unwilling to return to their own homes because their violent husbands/partners would seek revenge and threatened the family.

Kathy was the first woman to come into my refuge and she showed me her bruises that her husband had inflicted upon her body with the leg of a chair. That night I took her in and within a few months there were women and children coming through the door and lying on the floor of the tiny house on mattresses at night. The conditions were dreadful but for these families it was better than risking their lives in the hands of their violent perpetrators.

Some of the women who came to my shelter were very vulnerable. They had witnessed and experienced violence and sexual abuse in their own childhoods and I realized that it would take many months, and in some cases, years of counseling and care to enable them to move back into the community in order to lead a successful and harmonious life with their children.

I knew from personal experience the devastating effects that witnessing or experiencing domestic violence can have on children. I have always believed (and research is now available) that domestic violence is a learned pattern of behavior in early childhood. Boys who witness violence or sexual abuse tend to explode with rage and become violent but girls also exposed to the same suffering tend to implode and harm themselves often becoming victims repeating the patterns they also learned.

The job of a shelter is to offer sanctuary, a safe place and to reassure the mother and her children that she is now amongst kind, caring people who will protect her and her family. Because my shelter was the first of its kind in the world I faced a great deal of persecution. The local religious leaders in my area called me ‘marriage wrecker’ and the authorities tried to have me jailed for refusing to turn women and children away. With God’s help and constant prayers the refuge grew and very slowly others were opening across England and then across the world.

Today I am honored to be here in Bahrain to take part in the inaugural opening of the Aisha Yateem Counseling Centre and Shelter. This is a very historic moment for me and for all those who have worked so hard to create the first shelter for victims of domestic violence in the Arab world.

I believe that the family is the primary socializing agency in a child’s life; I also believe that the family is the corner stone of any civilization. Destroy family life and you take away the building blocks that underpin the safety and sanity of any society.

Part of the job of any shelter is to reach out into the community and educate the children in our schools about the effects of domestic violence. We need programs that also explain to parents the devastating damage that their violent behavior has upon their children. We need to create not only shelters but also business opportunities for women who need to find employment once they are ready to leave the shelter.

The Aisha Yateem Shelter offers a wonderful opportunity for all those who care about the future of women and children in Bahrain and indeed hopefully it is a forerunner of many other places of safety.

Thank you for inviting me to be part of this day of celebrations. I look forward to the rest of my stay and the time I will be able to share with those of you who are involved in this wonderful, compassionate and exciting project.

Copyright © 2007 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved

« Previous Next »

Other articles by Erin Pizzey

2 Responses to “Speech on the Occasion of the Inaugural Opening of the Aisha Yateem Councilling Centre and Shelter”

  1. Edward D Says:

    Erin Pizzey, who has done and continues to do so much for women is
    also a harsh critic of “feminism”?
    How can this be?
    If actions speak louder than words, consider her years of dedication to actualizing the principles of equity and justice for women. The problem, it seems, began when Ms Pizzey attempted to extend those principles to men at a point in history when the pendulum began to swing towards blaming males for family problems, as opposed to including them in the effort to resolve family problems.
    This blame-based sect of feminism has come to mis-represent all “feminists” as people who believe that some humans are more equal than others. They are not and they never were:

  2. Erin Pizzey Says:

    I said from the very beginning in all my writing and public discussions that d.v. was never a gender issue. I knew this from personal experience of my mother’s violence and by the fact that of the first 100 women who came into my refuge, 62 were as violent as the men they left. I also realised that even before the women came in, that the feminist movement across the Western world were looking for a ’cause’ and for ‘funding’ so I fought this very lone battle but failed miserably because it was impossible in the 1970’s to even begin a discussion that refuted the prevalent feminist ideology. In my refuge men were on the staff and the Board and worked with children. As far as all the staff and volunteers were concerned we believed that family violence was a ‘learned pattern’ of behavior that affected children and that many of them would grow up to repeat the patterns they learned unless they were helped which is what we did. I don’t think having to defend myself endlessly is fruitful. What I was thinking of doing is writing about my experiences in those early days in America where I was invited but then realised that my trust in my hostesses was abused for their fund raising purposes? I have never been able to put my side forward except in a few articles and on the internet (see father’s for families). With the help of a concerned man he put Prone To Violence on the internet and anyone can read it I am writing the story on ‘This Way To The Revolution’ which combines the early days of the feminist movement in the Western world with the opening of my refuge as the two subjects are intertwined and disasterously the d.v. movement ended up being hi-jacked to fuel and to fund the feminist movement. As far as I am concerned it has been a terrible tragedy for families, for fathers, for young boys and for the people who most need our help - those of us (I am included) who were born in violent and dysfunctional households who had no recourse other than to service the violence and the abuse. Because the whole subject was hi-jacked and abused we have wasted thirty six years allowing horrific anti family laws to be passed and millions of dollars to be used to destroy all that most sane people believe to be true.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2007 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved