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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.

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Autobiography - Prologue

Written by Erin Pizzey Sunday, July 22, 2007 7:32 AM
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My parents, born at the turning of the twentieth century, joined the thousands of British civil servants, mercenaries and missionaries who invaded China. The incoming hordes of mercenaries and adventurers brought with them guns, alcohol, and new diseases. They also bought with them western materialism, western medicine, and western religions. My father was a junior civil servant in the chancery of the British Consulate in Peking when he met my mother who worked as a nurse in the Peking Medical Union.

In those days, men posted to China were sent into the heart of the country to live in homes where they learned their first thousand Mandarin characters. My father not only learned to speak Mandarin very quickly but he also learned to understand the culture of his host’s family and of the country. When he came back to Peking, he was 39 years old and looking for a wife. My mother, frightened of being ’left on the shelf’ married him out of desperation.

Three things happened on February 19th, 1939. Mao Zedong was on his long march from the north of China to bring his new religion ‘communism’ to the world. The Japanese were marching toward Shanghai and we were born in a German hospital in Tsingtao to a beautiful red headed, cold, narcissistic woman who called herself Pat Carney.

I was born into chaos, violence and suffering. The Japanese invaded Shanghai and at the age of four and a half, when I left Shanghai on one of the last boats out of China, I still remember the sound of the bombs falling on the city.

I am now seventy years old and I feel it is time to sit down and trace the events that shaped my life and I wonder, had I not been born into such turmoil, could I have led a peaceful, calm, quiet existence? Did the violence and the early loss of my home and all the people I loved create a need in me to seek out dramatic and tumultuous situations? Certainly, in the years to come I saw many bewildered, frightened children come into my refuge. They too were traumatised by the violence and sexual abuse they experienced in the hands of parents who were supposed to love and cherish their children. I too experienced my mother’s violence and her dislike of me. Her vision of my future was that I was born to be hanged.

Copyright © 2007 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved

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6 Responses to “Autobiography - Prologue”

  1. Claudia Says:

    hi, I’m going to college to be a social worker for domestic violence, I’m doing a paper on Erin Pizzey, and I’m very interested on learning more about her history.

  2. Erin Pizzey Says:

    Claudia I am pleased that you have chosen to do a paper on my work. I am seventy years old today and I am involved in making a film about domestic violence and men. Yesterday I heard that a wonderful woman in Northhampton is making 100 units aviailable to men and their children who are victims of domestic violence. As all of you who take an interest in the subject of domestic violence it has long been proven that domestic violence is not a gender issue. It is a learned pattern of behaviour in early childhood. Indeed Dr. Bruce Perry would say that even when a woman is carrying a baby that baby is also influenced by the chemicals and emotions of rage and fear so I believe that unborn babies are also subject to violence. In England Baroness Scotland is our Attorney General, Vera Byrd is our Solicitor General and Harriet Harman is a labour Member of Parliament. The three of them have been guilty of demonising men. Harriet Harman is also guilty of writing in a 1990 think tank paper called The Family Way of writing that women and children are the new family unit thus disenfranchising fathers from family life. What we need to do now is to force these women to recant and to admit that they have been taken by the out right lies and false figures spread by the radical feminists who hi-jacked the refuge/shelter movement and turned the refuges into cash cows to spread their belief that men were a danger to women and children. Until the leaders and the supporters of the movement against men and family life are made to publically admit they have been wrong we will waste much of energy and our time refuting the false figures and evidence that is used against men.
    The issue is not who many men hit women or how many women hit men. All children subject to domestic violence in childhood are scarred by the violence and many will grow to repeat the learned pattern of behaviour passed on by their parents. They need our support and our understanding. Do please ask any questions of me and I will do my best to reply.

  3. S Thomas Says:

    I listened to a program about Erin Pizzey on Radio 4 this morning. It had such an effect on me. This remarkable woman is so brutally honest about the mess that we women are in today. One wonders how we can turn it around to generate some equilibrium and a genuine valuing of the gender differences and how they can compliment each other rather than mutually exclude.
    Erin Pizzey starkly recounted elements of her childhood, especially her relationship with her mother without the usual glossing over that celebrities are prone to do these days to make for palatable reading. It struck a chord with me, albeit a disturbing one as it raised issues concerning my relationship with my mother. Women can be so damaging to eachother. We need to raise these issues and deal with them and stop putting all the blame on men.
    I wish I could have met you. I will be buying your books for sure!

  4. susan Says:

    I also heard Erin interviewed today on radio 4 and was struck by her honesty and common sense. It has become increasingly obvious that problems within a marriage need to be sorted out as soon as they begin if children are involved. I feel what she said about women sometimes being the cause of violence in the home has been overlooked . I will also be buying Erin’s books as it was good to hear someone daring to bring up a topic that needs to be aired.

  5. Martin Says:

    I heard the Radio 4 profile of Erin Pizzey and found it quite fascinating. The provenance of violence is of huge importance and it was depressing to discover how many well placed women politicians are committed to the suppression of Erin Pizzey’s insights.

    Erin’s commentary on learned behaviour is both cogent and well argued. The caveat I would enter is purely empirical: I know several families where one child grew up to become shockingly violent while his/her (usually his) siblings seem perfectly well adjusted and, in one instance, saintly.

  6. erin pizzey Says:

    you are right Martin often one or more child will for some reason not repeat the parent’s pattern. In my case it was a woman who was largely responsible in bringing me up Miss Willilams. She became my mentor and I turned my back on my violent past. I also believe that girls are not so badly affected as boys. The girls in the refuge seem to have more resources and it may be that girls/women form close friendships and communicate with each other unlike boys/men. Women are used to being emotionally nuturing whereas men aren’t. This is why I believe we have never had a truely successful men’s movement. Men don’t know how to be vulnerable to each other and until they do - not much will change.

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Copyright © 2007 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved