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Domestic Violence Is NOT a Gender Issue!

by Erin Pizzey Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

In 1971 Erin Pizzey open the world's first shelter for battered women. Soon after opening the women's shelter, Erin Pizzey noticed that some men in the community were also suffering from abuse from women. This led to her attempts to open shelters for abused men, though for recognizing this need for logical balance Erin Pizzey was soon under attack from extremist feminist groups who felt that it was impossible for women to abuse men.

Received by email from the author 5 October 2005...


"In 1971 I opened the first refuge in the world for victims of domestic violence. I was running a small community project in Chiswick, a London suburb, when a woman came in and showed me her bruises. I took her home that night, and from then on women with their children poured through the door. My little community centre became the first refuge in the world for all victims of domestic violence.

Because from the beginning I was aware that domestic violence was not a gender issue, I opened a refuge for men in North London. It closed for lack of support and funding. I was aware that of the first hundred women who came into the refuge, sixty-two were as violent or, in some cases, more violent than the men they left behind. I wrote up my findings in A Comparative Study of Battered Women and Violence-Prone Women, as yet unpublished. I believe that violence in interpersonal relationships is a learned pattern of behaviour that is acquired in early childhood.

Some children who are exposed to violence at the hands of their primary carers, usually their mothers and fathers, internalise the abusive behaviour and thereafter use violence and abuse as a strategy for survival.

In the refuge, I found I was facing two different problems: Some women were indeed ‘Innocent victims of their partner’s violence:’ they needed refuge, comfort and legal advice, but very quickly, even if they did return to the violent partner on a few occasions, they walked away from the abuse and went on to create a new non violent life style.

Other women were ‘victims of their own violence,’ the majority of them had experienced violence and abuse from childhood. They had a history of violent relationships and often had criminal records. They needed not only legal advice and refuge but also counselling to help them to come to terms with their own abusive backgrounds so that they did not continue to return to violent and abusive relationships or replace the violent partner almost immediately with another one, thus condemning their children to years of abuse.

Women who are not violent themselves find it extremely difficult to share accommodation with women who are not only abusive but also violent to their own children. Very quickly as other refuges opened and screened out the violent women and their children, I opted to take in those violence-prone women and created a huge therapeutic community that sought to help victims who were violent themselves.

I had a reciprocal arrangement with those refuges to take women who had no need for our therapeutic community. We had several important projects, but the most valuable were our second-stage houses where women could move in groups of five mothers plus their children and share with each other until such time as they were re-housed. The group support and friendship in the houses helped very vulnerable women and children find their feet.

Because they were housed within the same general area, the second-stage house was always there to offer support, and the central crisis centre had an ever-open door. Should a woman find herself in difficulty or in another violent relationship, she was always welcome to ‘come home to the mother house at Chiswick.’


1969 saw the first meetings of the feminist collectives in England. At the same time I was opening my refuge the feminist movement was looking for funding and a just cause. The feminists redefined the Marxist goalposts and declared that it was MEN (the patriarchs), not Capitalism, that held power advantages over women and minority groups (the proletariat), and that all men were now the enemy. Family life was a dangerous place for women and children because men used physical and emotional violence to maintain their power advantage, and women only ever reacted violently in self-defence.

Harriet Harman, Anne Coote and Patricia Hewitt expressed their belief, in a Social Policy Paper called The Family Way: 'It cannot therefore be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life, or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion'. These sentiments encouraged the radical feminist movement to claim that ‘all men and boys were potential rapists and batterers’.

Anna Coote and Beatrix Campbell, in their book ‘Sweet Freedom', believed that ‘they (feminists) saw domestic violence as an expression of the power that men wielded over women, in a society where female dependence was built into the structure of everyday life.’ From their own extensive experience of working in refuges they concluded that wife-battering was not the practice of a deviant few, but something which could emerge in the ‘normal’ course of marital relations, and to
limit any refuge or advice to women and children. Men are not allowed to work in or visit refuges and no men are allowed to sit on any of the Committees of the refuges affiliated to the National Federation of Women’s Aid. Those refuges that do not comply with the Federation’s avowed feminist ideology are refused affiliation. Many of their refuges bar boys over the ages of twelve.

In the mid 1990’s for the first time the British Crime Survey and the Home Office recorded male victims of domestic violence. Slowly it became apparent that academic studies across the world were beginning to refute the findings of the feminist agencies that had such a strangle hold over the refuge movement worldwide. Slowly I was beginning to be asked to talk to various Domestic Violence forums and men’s groups, to talk about the fact that domestic violence was not and never has been a gender issue. A gigantic hoax has been perpetrated and unsubstantiated statistics have been produced to feed a damaging and disastrous political ideology which was now a billion-dollar word-wide industry that discriminated against many innocent men and fathers.


I have recently been sent Donald Dutton’s paper "The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and theory: Part 1—The conflict of theory and data", published in Aggression and violent behaviour, volume 10, Issue 6. In this paper Don Dutton reviews a comprehensive list of literature on the subject of domestic violence.

Because I believe that interpersonal violence is a learned pattern of behaviour in early childhood, I find the arguments of whether men attack women first or women attack men irrelevant. Both sexes are harmed when exposed to violence, and either sex can become a victim or a perpetrator.

Much of the violence can be consensual in other words both partners are violent each believing that the other is the perpetrator. Dutton says that ‘studies suggest that this singe-sex approach is not empirically supported, because both partner’s behaviours contribute to the risk of clinically significant partner abuse, and both parties should be treated.’

In his conclusion Dutton says:’ At some point, one has to ask whether feminists are more interested in diminishing violence within a population or promoting a political ideology. If they are interested in diminishing violence, it should be diminished for all members of a population and by the most effective and utilitarian means possible. This would mean an intervention/treatment approach…’ This was the approach that was practised at the Chiswick refuge where thirty years ago I recognised that for some children, born into violence and sometimes sexual abusive families, unless a therapeutic approach is adopted, many of these children would grow up to repeat the patterns of their parents.

The tragedy for me is that I had a vision whereby people who were infected by dysfunctional and violent parenting could find a place that would give them a chance to learn how to live in peace and harmony. This dream was destroyed, along with all my evidence and projects. The feminist movement resolutely refuted any argument that women should be allowed to take responsibility for their choice of relationships. The image of women as victims, as helpless childish dependents upon brutal men world-wide has damaged relationships between the sexes. The idea that the family is a danger to women and children has destroyed much of our traditional concepts of marriage. The feminisation of the family and Western society has caused men to become outcasts and a source of ridicule in their children’s eyes.

W.H. Auden in his poem, ‘ Another Time,’ wrote:

“I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those do whom evil is done,
Do evil in return.”


Men can be emotionally abused. Before it happened to me i also thought it was funny to think of "abused men".

Can modern feminists face a growing reality that isn't always in line with their political ideology? Maybe in the quest for women to compete in a male dominated workplace there could be a rise of narcissistic personality disorders and increasingly aggressive behavior coming from women?

The narcissism of consumer society has left women unhappier than ever

The demands of a highly individualistic, intensely competitive world are at odds with the identities of a mother, sister, friend

Madeleine Bunting

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 26 July 2009 15.00 EDT

"The standard assumption is that women's lives have dramatically improved over the last 50 years. They have considerably more personal freedom; and opportunities for education and employment have been transformed. As a result they have much greater financial independence, which has given them more power to shape their lives. So far, so easy.

But something odd is going on that no one can explain. These huge social changes are not making women happier, and, according to several significant studies, women's happiness relative to men's has declined in the last 25 years. This includes women of all age groups, and it is evident in many countries, particularly in the US and the UK.


Stevenson and Wolfers found that American women – of all social classes, ages and whether they worked, stayed home, had kids or did not – had seen a decline in happiness since the early 70s. Thirty years ago, women reported higher rates of subjective wellbeing than men in the US. This advantage has been entirely eroded, and in many instances it is now men who are happier than women. So how did women manage to end up, after a generation of advances in gender equality, less happy typically than their mothers at their age?

There are no easy answers, conclude Stevenson and Wolfers. They pose the extraordinary question: "Did men garner a disproportionate share of the benefits of the women's movement?" They suggest "perhaps the wellbeing data point to differential impacts of social changes on men and women, with women being particularly hurt by declines in family life, rises in inequality or reductions in social cohesion". One finding they highlight is that women's satisfaction with their financial situation has declined while men's has remained stable – one possibility is that there has been a change "in the reference group" or expectations for women so that their lives are more likely to come up short.

This latter is key to the work of another American psychologist, Jean Twenge, whose most recent work has been to analyse what she describes as a "narcissism epidemic" in the US that is disproportionately affecting women. Her meta-analysis covered 37,000 college students. It found that in 1982, 15% got high scores on a narcissism personality index; by 2006 it was 25% – and the largest share of this increase was women.

The narcissist has huge expectations of themselves and their lives. Typically, they make predictions about what they can achieve that are unrealistic, for example in terms of academic grades and employment. They seek fame and status, and the achievement of the latter leads to materialism – money enables the brand labels and lavish lifestyle that are status symbols. It is the Paris Hilton syndrome across millions of lives.

Twenge points to the fact that in the 1950s only 12% of college students agreed that "I am an important person", but by the late 80s it was 80%. In 1967, only 45% agreed that "being well-off is an important life goal", but by 2004 the figure was 74%.

The problem, Twenge believes, derives in part from a generation of indulgent parents who have told their children how special they are. An individualistic culture has, in turn, reinforced a preoccupation with the self and its promotion. The narcissist is often rewarded – they tend to be outgoing, good at selling themselves, and very competitive: they are the types who will end up as Sir Alan's apprentice. But their success is shortlived; the downside is that they have a tendency to risky behaviour, addictive disorders, have difficulties sustaining intimate relationships, and are more prone to aggressive behaviour when rejected.

The narcissism of young women could just be a phase they will grow out of, admits Twenge, but she is concerned that the evidence of narcissism is present throughout highly consumerist, individualistic societies – and women suffer disproportionately from the depression and anxiety linked to it.

This is what alarms psychologist Oliver James. He is working on an updated version of his pioneering Britain on the Couch, which first argued that mental ill-health had increased despite more wealth. He worries that the Scottish teenage girls are the "canaries" down the mines, giving powerful indications of a set of social influences that are deeply damaging their wellbeing. He points to the pressures of a "consumerised, commercially driven version of femininity" that puts huge emphasis on girls' appearance."


There's a difference between assertive and aggressive, and sometimes a fine line between. If you can figure that out, then try to tell if she is a narcissistic personality disorder or a borderline personality disorder;

"If you’re involved with an emotionally abusive woman, at first you probably wondered, “What’s wrong with her?” If you’ve been with her for a significant length of time, you probably now wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why does she treat me so bad?”

Emotional abuse grinds you down over time and leaves you feeling depressed, anxious, helpless, and worthless. You don’t deserve to be treated badly. You’re not the one with the problem. People who are emotionally abusive typically fall into specific personality types and in extreme cases, personality disorders.

The Cluster B disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) are often abusers in their relationships. These disorders lie on a continuum. Depending on the day, hour, minute, or second, your wife or girlfriend may exhibit different characteristics of these disorders. They’re all similar flavors of crazy.

So how can you tell if your emotionally abusive girlfriend or wife has Borderline or Narcissistic traits? The following are general rules of thumb I use when trying to tease out the difference.

How do they approach relationships?

The Narcissistic Woman: “Love me–or else.” If you don’t unconditionally accept the NPD and all of her horrible behaviors, you are, as one of my readers describes it, “unforgiving and mean.” At first, many of them charm you and then they often try to bully you into loving them. If you reject her or she thinks that you’re criticizing her, you’re treated to a narcissistic rage episode or cold sullen withdrawal and the death stare.

Every now and again a narcissist will be nice to you, even affectionate. This is because she is
1.about to manipulate you into doing something for her;
2.making a public display in order to be seen by others as magnanimous or loving;
3.celebrating because she’s duped or tricked you about something; and/or
4.lulling you into a false sense of security because she’s about to clobber you again

In other words, if she’s being nice to you, be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Borderline Woman: “Please love me. I didn’t mean it. Don’t leave me.” Initially, the BPD will mutate into the woman she thinks you want her to be. This ideal fantasy woman has nothing to do with who she is in reality. She’ll do everything in her power to please you in order to make you love her and then the mask starts to crumble.

Can you feel sympathy for her?

The Narcissistic Woman: The NPD woman is a very unsympathetic creature. It’s damned near impossible to feel sorry for her. If she manipulates you into feeling sympathy for her, it’s to get you to let down your guard so she can steamroll you again. They invented the term crocodile tears for NPDs. She cries when she’s terrified of losing control over her half dead mouse–that would be you–or of having her true self exposed.

The Borderline Woman: Even when she’s off the charts crazy, there’s still something sort of pitiful about her. It’s easier to feel sympathy for a BPD, but pity and guilt shouldn’t be the glue that holds a relationship together. It doesn’t negate the consequences of her emotionally abusive behavior, whether the hurt she inflicts is intentional or unintentional.

Is she capable of accepting personal responsibility?

The Narcissistic Woman: She rarely, if ever, admits she was wrong unless it’s to zing you with a thinly veiled insult. For example, “I thought you were a kind and generous man. I see now that I was wrong.” She rarely if ever takes responsibility for her hurtful actions. If you call her on her bad behaviors, she claims it was your fault for pushing her into it (in other words, you deserved it) and you’re a bad man to make a good woman like her act that way. You should be ashamed of yourself!

Alternatively, she’ll use dime store psychology, dogmatic religion or false consensus building to justify her inexcusable behaviors. For example, “A true christian practices forgiveness” or “You have unresolved issues with your mother” or “My therapist said I should do what my gut tells me to do” or “I told my family and friends about this and they think I’m right and you’re wrong.” These are nothing more than tactics for deflecting responsibility.

The Borderline Woman: The BPD will admit what she did was wrong, BUT she’ll follow it up by blaming you for triggering her. That’s not real personal responsibility. It’s what a 5-year old says when they get caught doing something wrong. “Yes, what I did was wrong, but it wasn’t my fault” or “I was really hurt and angry, but I didn’t mean to say all of the horrible things I did, so you have to forgive me.” The NPD usually won’t acknowledge any wrong-doing unless you really have her on the ropes or you’re about to end the relationship–that’s the difference. Most NPDs believes she was right to hurt you; some BPDs might feel bad about hurting you, but she was hurting, so she had to hurt you and ‘couldn’t help [herself].’

Is she capable of empathy?

The Narcissistic Woman: The NPD is virtually incapable of feeling empathy for others. She is 100% ENTITLED, which means other people’s feelings don’t really matter. There is one exception. If someone else is giving you a hard time, the NPD will say, “Well I never had a problem with ‘Joe.’ He’s always been nice to me. He must be really stressed. You’re probably bringing this on yourself.” The NPD woman shows empathy for others at your expense.

The Borderline Woman: BPDs can be guided to feel empathy by reminding them of specific instances when they felt bad, but it’s usually pretty fleeting. Bottom line: A BPD’s emotional distress takes precedence over everything and everyone else, no matter how empathic she may seem to be from time to time. Furthermore, empathy from a BPD often comes with strings attached.

Is she capable of giving?

The Narcissistic Woman: That would be no, no and no. NPDs are primarily takers. It’s definitely a one-way street when you’re involved with a narcissistic woman. She may make a show of being kind and generous in front of others, but that’s only because she wants to protect her highly controlled public image. Alternatively, if she does something “generous” it’s because she believes “those are the rules” of etiquette, society or her religion. NPDs are big rules and regs types. She will then expect to be lavishly acknowledged and praised for her act of generosity (or something as minor as cleaning up after herself in the kitchen) and never lets you forget it.

The Borderline Woman: BPDs are givers, but it comes with a price. It’s part of what I mentioned earlier about doing anything to please you to get you to love them.

Most of the behaviors I’m describing are entirely unconscious. These behaviors are learned at an early age and some of them may be hardwired. Whether she’s more NPD or BPD, both traits are extremely painful and damaging to the people who love them."


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Related Issues Fred Snider Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at 6:19 PM
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