Erin Pizzey

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Erin Pizzey
Born Erin Patria Margaret Carney
(1939-02-19) 19 February 1939 (age 76)
Qingdao, Republic of China
Residence South London
Nationality British
Occupation Writer
Years active 1971 to present
Known for Establishing Europe's first domestic violence shelters, founding the charity Refuge[1]
Notable work Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear,
Prone to Violence
Spouse(s) Jack Pizzey, Jeff Shapiro
Children 2

Erin Patria Margaret Pizzey (born 19 February 1939) is an English family care activist and a novelist. She became internationally famous for having started the first domestic violence shelter in the modern world. Haven House[2] is often cited as the first women's refuge (called women's shelters in Canada and the U.S.), but at the time of their founding they only worked to help the mentally ill transition from committed life in a hospital to life in the outside world. By contrast the refuge started by Erin Pizzey was focused on removing victims of domestic abuse from their abusers, in an attempt to break the cycle. Chiswick Women's Aid, in 1971,[3] the organisation known today as Refuge.[1]

Pizzey has been the subject of death threats and boycotts because of her research into the claim that most domestic violence is reciprocal, and that women are equally capable of violence as men. Pizzey has said that the threats were from militant feminists.[4][5][6]

Early life[edit]

She was born Erin Carney in Qingdao, China in 1939, along with her twin sister Rosaleen. Her father was a diplomat and one of 17 children from a poor Irish family.[5][7] In 1942, the family moved to Shanghai; shortly thereafter, they were captured by the invading Japanese Army and exchanged for Japanese prisoners of war.[8][9] She is the sister of writer Daniel Carney, known for his novel The Wild Geese.[10]


Having initially engaged with the British Women's Liberation Movement, Pizzey distanced herself along with others when she witnessed what she described as "irregular and disrespectful behaviour" towards the money donated by desperate women across the UK.[11] Pizzey confronted them over this behaviour,[12] which according to Pizzey included claiming that telephones were tapped and labelling people they did not like as MI5, police and CIA Informers or Agents.[11] She also was concerned about overhearing discussion of plans to bomb the London store Biba; she reported on this to the police after warning the people involved. Subsequently, Pizzey became aware that the police had the group and offices under surveillance.[13] Pizzey says that she and her fellow members of the Goldhawk Road group (named after the street Pizzey lived on) were seen as trouble, because they did not accept others' behaviours and views. Erin was told she was to be watched.[14]

Pizzey set up a women's refuge in Belmont Terrace, Chiswick, London in 1971 where abused women "were offered tea, sympathy and a safe place to stay"[15] for them and their children. She later opened a number of additional shelters, despite hostility from the authorities. She gained notoriety and publicity for setting up refuges by squatting, most notably in 1975 at the Palm Court Hotel in Richmond.[16][17][18] The original refuge in Chiswick has since been rebranded as the charity "Refuge".

Pizzey's work was widely praised at the time. In 1975 MP Jack Ashley stated in the House of Commons that "The work of Mrs. Pizzey was pioneering work of the first order. It was she who first identified the problem, who first recognised the seriousness of the situation and who first did something practical by establishing the Chiswick aid centre. As a result of that magnificent pioneering work, the whole nation has now come to appreciate the significance of the problem".[19] Even whilst being prosecuted by local authorities (Simmons v. Pizzey)[20] and appealing matters to The House of Lords, Erin Pizzey was recognised for her work. Lord Hailsham stated, "This appellant, and the registered charity of which she is the agent, is providing a service... which is in fact provided by no other organ of our much vaunted system of public welfare... When people come to her door... in desperate straits and at all hours... the appellant does not turn them away... but takes them in and gives them shelter... And what happens to her when she does so? She finds herself the defendant in criminal proceedings at the suit of the local authority..."[20][21]

Pizzey said that militant feminists – with the collusion of Labour's leading women – hijacked her cause and used it to try to demonise all men, not only in Britain, but internationally.[22] Pizzey said of the newly emerging establishment "I never saw Women's Aid as a movement that was hostile to men, but The National Federation, which quickly formed, made it quite clear that men were the enemy."[23] After the hijacking, the demand for a service for women survivors of domestic violence grew and soon public funding became available.[24] Pizzey has lamented that the movement she started had moved from the "personal to the political".[25][26]

Soon after establishing her first refuge, Pizzey asserted that much domestic violence was reciprocal,[27] with both partners abusing each other in roughly equal measure. She reached this conclusion when she asked the women in her refuge about their violence, only to discover most of the women were equally as violent or more violent than their husbands. In her study "Comparative Study of Battered Women And Violence-Prone Women,"[28] (co-researched with Dr. John Gayford of Warlingham Hospital), Pizzey distinguishes between "genuine battered women"[28] and "violence-prone women";[28] the former defined as "the unwilling and innocent victim of his or her partner's violence"[28] and the latter defined as "the unwilling victim of his or her own violence."[28] This study reports that 62% of the sample population were more accurately described as "violence prone." Similar findings regarding the mutuality of domestic violence have been confirmed in subsequent studies.[29][30]

In her book Prone to Violence, Pizzey expressed concern that so little attention was paid to the causes of interpersonal and family violence, stating, "to my amazement, nobody seemed to genuinely want to find out why violent people treat each other the way they do".[31] She also expressed concern for the view expressed by government officials that solutions to the issue of domestic abuse and violence could be found in socialist or communist countries. Pizzey pointed out that marital violence was a great problem in Russia, and China addressed the issue by proclaiming wife-beating a crime punishable by death sentence.[31] The book looks at what appeared to be learned behaviour, often starting in childhood, linked to hormonal responses. Pizzey describes such behaviour as akin to addiction. She speculates that high levels of hormones and neurochemicals associated with pervasive childhood trauma lead to adults who repeatedly engage in violent altercations with intimate partners despite the physical, emotional, legal and financial costs, in unwitting attempts to simulate the emotional impact of traumatic childhood experiences and manifest the learned biochemical state linked to pleasure. The book contains numerous stories of disturbed families, alongside a discussion of the reasons why the modern state care-taking agencies are largely ineffective. Promotional events for the book were met with protest,[32] and Pizzey reports that she herself and co-author Jeff Shapiro needed police protection during the promotional events for the book.[4][5]

In 1981, Pizzey moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, while targeted by harassment, death threats, bomb threats[33] and defamation campaigns,[6] and dealing with overwork, near collapse, cardiac disease and mental strain.[34] In particular, according to Pizzey, the charity Scottish Women's Aid "made it their business to hand out leaflets claiming that [she] believed that women 'invited violence' and 'provoked male violence'".[6] She states that the turning point was the intervention of the bomb squad, who required all of her mail to be processed by them before she could receive it, as a "controversial public figure".[35]

Having moved to Santa Fe to write, Pizzey promptly became involved in running a refuge in New Mexico, as well as dealing with sexual abusers and paedophiles.[6] Pizzey said of this work, "I discovered that there were just as many women paedophiles as there were men. Women go undetected, as usual. Working against paedophiles is a very dangerous business."[25] Whilst living in Santa Fe, one of her dogs was shot and two others were stolen, which she claims was a result of racist neighbors.[33] Her family suffered new harassment following the publication of her 1982 book "Prone To Violence". Pizzey links much of the harassment to militant feminists and their objections to her research, findings and work.[33][6][36] Describing the harassment, Deborah Ross of The Independent wrote that "the feminist sisterhood went bonkers".[5]

Following the abuse and threats in Santa Fe she moved to Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands[37] where she wrote with her husband, Jeff Shapiro. Subsequently she moved to Siena, Italy where her writing and advocacy work continued. She returned to London in the late 1990s, homeless due to debt and in increasingly poor health.[5] Her insights are still sought by politicians and family pressure groups.

Current work[edit]

Pizzey is still actively working to help victims of domestic violence. She has been a patron of the charity Mankind Initiative since 2004, when she received a Roger Witcomb Award.[38] From January 2007 to December 2011 she has published articles in the Daily Mail newspaper.[39] In March 2007, Erin opened the first Arab refuge for victims of domestic violence in Bahrain.[40]

Pizzey said in 2009 that she has "never been a feminist, because, having experienced my mother's violence, I always knew that women can be as vicious and irresponsible as men".[8]

In 2013 she joined the editorial and advisory board of the men's rights organization A Voice for Men[41] (serving as an Editor and DV Policy Advisor) and from January to August wrote thirteen articles for the group's web site, including:

  1. "From Erin Pizzey, AVfM Editor-at-Large"[42]
  2. "Erin Pizzey reflects on Toronto protest"[43]
  3. "Aerobics – a poem by Erin Pizzey"[44]
  4. "Working with violent women"[45]
  5. "Live now on Reddit"[46]
  6. "Erin Pizzey live on Reddit, part 2"[47]
  7. "Statement from Erin Pizzey"[48]
  8. "Prone to Violence: Introduction and Preface"[49][50]
  9. "Prone to Violence: Chapter One"[50][51]
  10. "Prone to Violence: Chapter Two"[50]
  11. "Prone to Violence: Chapter Three"[50]
  12. "Prone to Violence: Chapter Four"[50]
  13. "Men’s human rights & supposed “hate speech”" published 6 August

Only one, a 14th article "Erin Pizzey: Presentation to the International Conference on Men’s Issues 2014" was published 14 July the following year. None were published in the first half of 2015.

Her two April articles pertained to two interviews she gave on the Reddit community "IamA", where she promoted her Facebook page and the "AVFM Online Radio" podcast on BlogTalkRadio.[52] She announced her first interview a week prior on /r/MensRights.[53]

In May, following her promotion of the BTR podcast series the previous month, Erin also began running her own program on AVFM radio initially called "Domestic Violence Revelations with Erin Pizzey" which ran 5 episodes:

  1. May 11
  2. [54]25 May
  3. June 8
  4. June 22
  5. July 6

until the title was shortened to simply "Revelations with Erin Pizzey". In "Revelations" she transitioned from doing personal readings to holding discussions with guests. Under her new format she interviewed Glen Poole and Neil Lyndon in July;[55] Geoffrey James[56] and Suzanne Venker[57] in August; then Philip W. Cook,[58] Warren Farrell,[59] Attila Vinczer[60] and Mike Buchanan[61] in September. The first segment of a newer series called "Thoughts with Erin" also began in September on AVFM Radio on the "Honey Badger Radio" series, where "honey badger number one" Erin expressed her views on the show's topic of "Feminism's pimp hand" with her hosts, and mentioned having known the deceased Earl Silverman.[62]

In November 2014, Pizzey became owner/manager of the AVFM website,[63] which has been criticized by the original White Ribbon Campaign as "a copycat campaign articulating ... archaic views and denials about the realities of gender-based violence."[64][65]

Libel case[edit]

In 2009 Pizzey successfully sued Macmillan Publishers for libel over content in the Andrew Marr book A History of Modern Britain. The publication had falsely claimed she had once been part of the militant group The Angry Brigade that staged bomb attacks in the 1970s.[66] The publisher also recalled and destroyed the offending version of the book, and republished it with the error removed.[67] The link to the Angry Brigade was made in 2001, in an interview with The Guardian, in which the article states that she was "thrown out" of the feminist movement after threatening to inform police about a planned bombing by the Angry Brigade of the clothes shop Biba. "I said that if you go on with this – they were discussing bombing Biba [the legendary department store in Kensington] – I'm going to call the police in, because I really don't believe in this."[68]

Personal life[edit]

Pizzey married Jack Pizzey, then a naval lieutenant, when she was 20, first meeting in Hong Kong. They had two children. She divorced Jack Pizzey in 1976, and divorced from her second husband, Jeff Shapiro, in 1994.[69] Pizzey lives in south London. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2000.[70]

In 2000 Pizzey's grandson Keita Craig, who had schizophrenia, hanged himself in a prison cell. Erin Pizzey and her family campaigned against the coroner's verdict of death by hanging and in 2001 a jury at a second inquest unanimously found that Keita's death was contributed to by the neglect of prison staff. The case was the first ever to reach a finding of neglect in a suicide case.[70][71]




  • The Watershed
  • In the Shadow of the Castle
  • The Pleasure Palace (in manuscript)
  • First Lady
  • The Consul General's Daughter
  • The Snow Leopard of Shanghai
  • Other Lovers
  • Swimming with Dolphins
  • For the Love of a Stranger
  • Kisses 1995
  • The Wicked World of Women
  • The Fame Game (work in progress)
  • The Lifestyle of an International Best selling Author


  • International Order of Volunteers For Peace, Diploma of Honour (Italy) 1981.[79]
  • Nancy Astor Award for Journalism 1983.[80]
  • World Congress of Victimology (San Francisco) 1987 – Distinguished Leadership Award.[80]
  • St. Valentino Palm d'Oro International Award for Literature, 14 February 1994, Italy.[80]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 35 Refuge and domestic violence facts at the Wayback Machine (archived 22 June 2006)
  2. ^ "About Haven House". Archived from the original on 21 April 2009 Haven House in California was founded in 1964, seven years earlier than Pizzey's shelter 
  3. ^ Rappaport, Helen (2001). "Pizzey, Erin (1939– ) United Kingdom". Encyclopedia of women social reformers 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 549. ISBN 978-1-57607-101-4. In 1972 the center was visited by U.S. feminists, who set up similar ventures in the United States ... 
  4. ^ a b Philip W. Cook (2009). Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence. ABC-CLIO. pp. 123–4. ISBN 978-0-313-35618-6. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Ross, Deborah (10 March 1997). "Battered? Erin Pizzey? Yes, a bit". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Pizzey, Erin (30 March 1999). "Who's Failing The Family". The Scotsman ( Archived from the original on 24 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Taylor & Francis (1991). The World who's who of women 10. 
  8. ^ a b Pizzey, Erin (24 September 2009). "Why I loathe feminism ... and believe it will ultimately destroy the family". Daily Mail (London). 
  9. ^ Sargon of Akkad; Erin Pizzey (2 November 2015). Interview with Erin Pizzey. Sargon of Akkad Livestreams. Event occurs at 3:20. 
  10. ^ "We gave women back a sense of self". (Newsquest Media Group). 29 March 2004. 
  11. ^ a b This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  12. ^ This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  13. ^ This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  14. ^ This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  15. ^ Pizzey, Erin (15 December 2011). "To say emotional abuse is as bad as violence insults every battered wife". The Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers Ltd). Archived from the original on 26 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Claire M. Renzetti; Jeffrey L. Edleson (19 June 2008). Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence. SAGE Publications. pp. 126–7. ISBN 978-1-4522-6591-9. 
  17. ^ "Battered Wives Occupy Home". The Miami News. 11 November 1975. p. 2A, Col 1. 
  18. ^ Social Work Today: Journal of the British Association of Social Workers. British Association of Social Workers. 1975. p. 596. 
  19. ^ "BATTERED WIVES (RIGHTS TO POSSESSION OF MATRIMONIAL HOME) BILL (Hansard, 11 July 1975)". Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "Simmons Vs Pizzey" (PDF). 1977. 
  21. ^ Hoath, David C. (March 1978). "Notes on Cases: A Charitable Crime". The Modern Law Review 41 (2): 195–6. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2230.1978.tb00797.x. 
  22. ^ "How feminists tried to destroy the family". Daily Mail (London). 22 January 2007. 
  23. ^ Erin Pizzey; Jeff Shapiro (1 January 1982). Prone to Violence. Hamlyn. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-600-20551-7. 
  24. ^ This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  25. ^ a b Erin Pizzey; J. R. Shackleton; Peter Urwin (2000). Women Or Men – who are the Victims?. Institute for the Study of Civil Society. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-903386-09-5. 
  26. ^ Erin Pizzey (20 January 2014). Erin Pizzey on Feminism (Video). HumanityBites. 
  27. ^ This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  28. ^ a b c d e Pizzey, Erin (1975). "A Comparative Study of Battered Women And Violence-Prone Women". The Equal Justice Foundation. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. 
  29. ^ Fiebert, Martin S. References Examining Assaults by Women on Their Spouses or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography. First published in Sexuality and Culture, 1997, 1, 273–286; updated May 2009
  30. ^ Malcolm J. George of the Department of Physiology, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, United Kingdom.Riding the Donkey Backwards: Men as the Unacceptable Victims of Marital Violence
  31. ^ a b Erin Pizzey; Jeff Shapiro (1 January 1982). Prone to Violence. Hamlyn. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-600-20551-7. 
  32. ^ Bateman, Derek (26 October 1982). "Women Denounce Pain Addiction Book". The Glasgow Herald. p. 6. 
  33. ^ a b c Pizzey, Erin. "Why Did My Grandson Die?". The Observer (9 April 2000) (Guardian News and Media Limited). Archived from the original on 24 November 2014. 
  34. ^ This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  35. ^ This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. 1 June 2011. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-7206-1521-0. 
  36. ^ Wendy McElroy (30 May 2006). "Feminists Deny Truth on Domestic Violence". Fox News Network. 
  37. ^ The Cayman Islands Yearbook and Business Directory. Cayman Free Press. 1990. p. 43. 
  38. ^ News/Events – ROGER WITCOMB AWARDS CEREMONY at the Wayback Machine (archived 6 December 2004)
  39. ^ Daily Mail 2007 article and Daily Mail articles by Erin Pizzey category 2008–11
  40. ^ Children ‘must be protected from domestic violence’ 23 March 2007 in Gulf Daily News by Erin Pizzey (Sossandra mirror)
  41. ^ Pizzey, Erin. "From Erin Pizzey, AVfM Editor-at-Large". A Voice For Men. Paul Elam. 
  42. ^ Erin Pizzey (1 January 2013). "From Erin Pizzey, AVfM Editor-at-Large". A Voice for Men. Paul Elam. 
  43. ^ Erin Pizzey (20 January 2013). "Erin Pizzey reflects on Toronto protest". A Voice for Men. Paul Elam. 
  44. ^ Erin Pizzey (27 January 2013). "Aerobics – a poem by Erin Pizzey". A Voice for Men. Paul Elam. 
  45. ^ Erin Pizzey (4 February 2013). "Working with violent women". A Voice for Men. Paul Elam. 
  46. ^ Pizzey Erin, Erin (14 April 2013). "Live now on Reddit". A Voive For Men. Paul Elam. 
  47. ^ Erin, Pizzey (27 April 2013). "Erin Pizzey live on Reddit, part 2". A Voice For Men. Paul Elam. 
  48. ^ Pizzey, Erin (20 May 2013). "Statement from Erin Pizzey". A Voice For Men. Paul Elam. 
  49. ^ Pizzey, Erin (19 June 2013). "Prone to Violence, Introduction and Preface". A Voice For Men. Paul Elam. 
  50. ^ a b c d e f Erin Pizzey; Jeff Shapiro (1 January 1982). Prone to Violence. Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-20551-7. 
  51. ^ Pizzey, Erin (6 July 2013). "Prone to violence: Chapter one". A Voice For Men. Paul Elam. 
  52. ^ April 2013 interviews on /r/IamA: 14th and 27th
  53. ^ Ask Me Anything planned 6 April 2013 by Erin Pizzey
  54. ^ Minerson, Todd. "White Ribbon Copycat Statement". White Ribbon. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  55. ^ 20 July 2013 Revelations with Erin 1/6: Glen and Neil
  56. ^ 3 August 2013 Revelations with Erin 2/7: Solaris
  57. ^ 17 August 2013 Revelations with Erin 3/8: Suzanne Venker
  58. ^ 7 September 2013 Revelations with Erin 4/9: Philip Cook
  59. ^ 14 September 2013 Revelations with Erin 5/10: Warren Farrell
  60. ^ 21 September 2013 Revelations with Erin 6/11: Attila Vinczer
  61. ^ 28 September 2013 Revelations with Erin 7/12: Rally in Toronto
  62. ^ 22 minutes into Honey Badger Radio 5: Feminism’s Pimp Hand (aired 13 September 2013) mentions Earl at 32m50s
  63. ^ " – Ending violence Against Everyone". 2015. 
  64. ^ Filipovic, Jill (24 October 2014). "Why Is an Anti-Feminist Website Impersonating a Domestic Violence Organization?". Cosmopolitan. Hearst Communications. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  65. ^ Jones, Clay (23 October 2014). "White Ribbon Copycat Statement". 
  66. ^ "Campaigner accepts libel damages". 1 April 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2009. 
  67. ^ Adams, Stephen (1 April 2009). "Andrew Marr's publisher pays 'significant' damages to women's campaigner". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  68. ^ Rabinovitch, Dina (26 November 2001). "Domestic violence can't be a gender issue". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 March 2009. 
  69. ^ Hoyle, Antonia (5 April 2009). "Erin Pizzey: When Andrew Marr accused me of being a terrorist, it was like a bomb going off in my chest". Daily Mail (London). 
  70. ^ a b "Domestic violence can't be a gender issue". The Guardian (London). 26 November 2001. 
  71. ^ "Prison neglect 'contributed to suicide'". BBC News. 11 October 2001. 
  72. ^ Erin Pizzey (2011). This Way to the Revolution: A Memoir. Peter Owen Limited. ISBN 978-0-7206-1360-5. 
  73. ^ Erin Pizzey (1971). Scream Quietly Or the Neighbours Will Hear. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140523119. 
  74. ^ Erin Pizzey (July 2001). Infernal Child: World Without Love. Little Hermit Press. ISBN 978-0-9540002-1-9. 
  75. ^ Erin Pizzey (1981). The Slut's Cook Book. MacDonald (Publishers), Limited. ISBN 978-0-354-04724-1. 
  76. ^ Erin Pizzey (1983). Erin Pizzey Collects--: An Anthology of Her Writing, Personally Introduced. Hamlyn Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-600-20686-6. 
  77. ^ Erin Pizzey (1995). Wild Child: An Autobiography. Erin Pizzey. ISBN 978-88-900096-0-0. 
  78. ^ Erin Pizzey (1 January 1998). The Emotional Terrorist and the Violence-prone. Commoners' Pub. ISBN 978-0-88970-103-8. 
  79. ^ Helen Rappaport (2001). Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers. ABC-CLIO. p. 550. ISBN 978-1-57607-101-4. 
  80. ^ a b c 1990/91 (1 July 1990). World Who's Who of Women 1990/91. Taylor & Francis. p. 747. 

External links[edit]