Erin Pizzey – telling the truth even when it hurts

Erin Pizzey, who became the face of the fight to break the cycle of domestic violence in the UK, setting up Refuge in 1971, was ostracised and demonised when she talked of some violence in the home being reciprocal. She distinguished between ‘genuine battered women’ “the unwilling and innocent victim of his or her partner’s violence”; and ‘violence-prone women’, defined as “the unwilling victim of his or her own violence.” She undertook a study which reported that 62% of the sample population were more accurately described as “violence prone.” Similar findings have been confirmed in subsequent studies. In her book Prone to Violence, she looked at what appeared to be learned behaviour which she described as akin to addiction, stemming from pervasive childhood trauma.

  Her findings and public comments led to attacks by militant feminists for which she needed police protection. She moved to the USA, then the Cayman Islands, then Italy, before returning in poor health to the UK, where she still acts as an advocate for men’s rights, elderly abuse and Arab women seeking refuge.  

   Born 19 February 1939 6pm (from memory) in Shandong, China, with a diplomat father she had a fractured early few years, captured by the invading Japanese, escaping to South Africa, thence on to Beirut, Toronto, Teheran and England when she was nine.

  She does have an individualistic chart with a final degree Aquarius Sun conjunct Mercury Moon in Pisces on the focal point of a Yod inconjunct Pluto sextile Neptune. She also has an angry Mars in the 4th trine an 8th house Saturn in forced-to-be-reliant Saturn, so she would be used to a tinderbox mood in her childhood home.  Her Uranus is conjunct her South Node which would run her against the grain of public sentiment and perhaps make her prone to stirring up trouble by being contrarian.

  But her central Yod when it clicked into place would give her a singular purpose which she has pursued for most of her life despite heavy resistance at times.

I’m not the best person to comment on this since I have a hard time understanding the mindset of women who stay when they should bale. And yes I know – kids, no money etc etc. But if women were brought up to be self-sufficient and independent, not looking for a husband/partner to protect and provide, they they wouldn’t get themselves backed into a corner. But there again that argument doesn’t work since domestic violence and coercive control is as bad amongst high-powered, successful women as others lower down the social scale.  

  What stuck in my throat about Sally Challen, the wife recently let out of prison on grounds of diminished responsibility (coercive control) after being convicted of murder for hammering her husband to death, was her comment before she did him in. She had discovered he’d been texting another woman – ‘if I can’t have him no one else will’ or some such. Pizzey was right about it being an addiction – or a psychological fixation. Not being able to let go of what is toxic. He was undoubtedly a first class jerk and she had already left him at least once but then went back.

  My jury is out on this one – but comments welcome.     

32 thoughts on “Erin Pizzey – telling the truth even when it hurts

  1. I’m with Marjorie on this. Also I’ve never married or had kids, to avoid repeating patterns and have a peaceful safe life. It’s still been hard because people don’t like it when women stay single. The only reason I even considered being single as ‘allowed’ for me, is because my father taught me to take responsibility for myself precisely so I could always keep myself safe. Other female friends thought I was nuts, wrong, stupid, etc. for not marrying.

    Psych counselling is helpful for everyone I think. I’ve pursued it off and on over the decades as things came up if I needed confidentiality and wise advice, plus to see my blind spots.
    In addition to psych, astrology has been a huge gift.

    I am not abusive but I attract people with issues or problems all the time. Chiron in pisces 10th.
    If we learn our chart, we can see things re: who we attract, why/how, etc. It helps a lot.
    I don’t disagree with Erin as I have known some and studied their charts. They came in that way, born that way.

    What I ponder now is whether human beings will ever stop being so harmful and destructive. Based on astrology charts of all kinds of people alive and dead, I don’t see that happening. I don’t know why we’re all here but it seems we are doomed to never learn unless we each work really really hard at ending harmful patterns and doing as I did – stay single, don’t have kids, unless you’re absolutely strong in communication skills and self awareness. I was not so thankfully knew enough to not even try more relationships after being assaulted.

    These days, I wish people made an effort to learn to read their own charts and without blinders on. Consult a pro and start from there, not to predict but to learn who they are and why they are here. I think we would all be better off but still, there will be those who are bad apples and dangerous to know.

  2. In India v r entering with full force n speed into Margaret Atwood novel the maid ..fascist country where women r not allowed to live separate with a man not approved by family

    As a single woman living alone due to decades of domestic violence by parents which till date is daily ..I know what pervert neighbours r n I m labelled as whore who is outcaste by family so all men find me open for their perversion confront of their wives who call loudly blaming me for being single n hooker of their beggar husbands

    This is India n world…a woman independent n marrying her choice at her choice of time n not declaring her bedroom to society is not allowed to breathe so they go back to breathe atleast between violence

  3. Thank you all for sharing your experiences about how you survived. You’ll never know how many women you have helped, and how many you have comforted and strengthened with your honesty. Bless you!

  4. If you can, find a good kinesiologist (ie practiced and with touch for health, 3 in 1 and Brain gym (and epigenetics/stress without distress/aura/mother and child/generations/trauma/anatomy….) not just a weekend formation).

    The brain associates emotions and senses with memories and a kinesiologist can put their skill set at your disposal to untangle memories and their associations (even flashback loops).

    All the factors (DV) discussed are pertinent – another factor might also be family or generational patterns (masculine or feminine energy or lineage, or a system of belief (real, or from supposition/deduction) that are inherited up to 100% but nothing to do with you – your clan hasn’t solved something or taken up an opportunity (choice, or other and the resonance goes down the family line).)

    I have worked on an incidence for years, chipping away at it, and finally with a kinesio. We kept coming back to it, finally I said to her. I’ve done all the work, I know it is ‘done’, why are we back here, why do I still not have a footing. And she did her testing and said to me what she understood was that the lack of footing is inherited from your paternal grandmother. Her solution was to have a very narrow pious life (true) and your solution has been to widen your experience (true) but the lack of footing is common.

    It was like a light bulb moment for me – all this time (of course there was work to do) but the trauma showed me my lack of footing rather than creating it as I had imagined. It is so interesting. These kids of clarifications really help. Asking the right question too. 🙂

    Working with age recession (standard to all kinesiology) can have big effects too – you have a trauma or just understand something insufficiently. After 50 years this off true distortion can be large and impacted many choices in your life. To go back to each significant age and defuse a negative emotion/infuse/integrate a positive emotion/or other element can reset everything. A non-specific age might suggest generational work.

    I hope I have explained well 🙁 12th house mercury…

    • lack of footing (did she say your grandmother found her life too big for her…. and you the same (ie rather than lack of footing)

  5. I’m a victim of domestic abuse. I have a Master’s degree (Cambridge, where I met the pig I later married). I have or had a strong personality. However I also had an incredibly poor self-esteem when I met him. It started great, he was nothing like the man he became after we married. The analogy of a frog in hot water is very true. It started of with low-level incidents; he kicked a door to pieces, kicked a steel kitchen bin with such force it bent, threw things, beat himself with his fists against the head…three years later, he hit me with a laundry basket on my back. The basket tore in half, leaving me unable to lift my arm the next day. That day I decided, although I felt unable to leave, I will never have children. I stuck to that decision, and he resented me so much years later he left me for another woman, citing my reluctance to have children as the justification. So, I was a victim but also strong enough not to give in. He was at his most violent when I stood up for myself, not aggressive towards him, but merely telling (not yelling even) him to shut up while he was verbally abusive. I tried to leave but he threatened me with a screwdriver while blocking the door. He gaslit me, he was so good at it I only realised it after he left. THAT is why I stayed, because I genuinely believed it was my fault. It was so bad my career floundered, and I’m still behind.

    Astrology: he has a 0 degree (that tight, yes) conjunction with Mars and Neptune in Sag, 12th house, forming an exact square with my Moon-Venus-Mars stellium in ever-helpful-poor-self-esteem Virgo. His 1st house moon in Capricorn exact square his Sun-Saturn-Pluto stellium, moon trine my moon so some affection. His chart bleak: poor relationship with his mother, which he brought into marriage. Like he hates women. His mother’s Saturn exact conjunction with his Mars-Neptune, square my own Moon. By the way, my Neptune squares my Moon-Venus. Delusions in love. Boy, did I learn my lesson! Now I look at men with my eyes open. This won’t happen to me again. I’m much better now. I survived. I’m a warrior now.

    Oh, last thing: our wedding chart has one enormous square. Sun unaspected, Moon (me) squared and opposed by everything, incl Mars, Pluto, Saturn. Our composite was heavy 8th house, only 3 planets in 9th house. Sorry for long post. Comments welcome.

    • “I was at Cambridge where I met the pig I later married!” I laughed out loud at that – because it shows you DID survive…….I would rather have seen your chart than his, but choosing not to have children then was a good decision, many would have thought “oh, well” and shackled themselves for life… have courage, I applaud you.

    • I never had low self esteem ..but I have found humans don’t like independent brains ..all want a slave ..inspouse or kids..N in India “if husband doesn’t beat u up he doesn’t love u” bdsm is domestic violence glorified

      But I agree men n women who have overpowering mothers on whom they couldn’t project disagreement end up violent at anyone with even a slight power in his parents even as she curses her mom now makes me realise y she hates me..coz she can’t cage me like all with low self esteem who find existence in caging free people for their inferiori8 complex silencing which actually doesn’t

      I was always taught even if I give up..they will find another victim n in career I have seen this come true

      Women take such for survival as my neighbourhood women do

  6. There are also women targeted for abuse who cannot defend themselves verbally or physically. This kind of abuser chooses his victim for financial as well as emotional and physical abuse. Those with learning disability often are. I read of an abuser who killed a young vulnerable woman whose family had learning issues to, he took over their home and slowly battered the young one to death. This at risk family were terrified of him. All the while living off her disability payment. Erin did good work, we still need to protect the vulnerable of any sex from abuse.

  7. Thanks Marjorie for your piece on Erin Pizzey, I knew she was a fascinating person with ideas before her time that are now the norm.

    Mimi, I’d just like to say that the law has changed inasmuch that they the police can charge the abuser with gbh without the consent of the abused. This is a tremendous breakthrough as many victims often withdrew charges leaving the police unable to proceed.

    I think everyone needs to be wary of a partner that seeks to cut you off from family and friends. But I think teaching children to treat everyone with consideration and respect is a goal we should try to achieve.

  8. I know a lot about this subject. The best explanation I have ever heard on this is the boiling frog story.
    The relationships do not start off with the potential partner being abusive. They actually tend ot be super charming (in a sociopathic kind of way).

    If a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out of the pot. It will escape.
    If a frog is placed in water that is slowly heated, the frog does not realise (too late) that he is cooked.
    That is exactly how it works. Smudgy gaslight line by smudgy gaslight line.

    It is also a bit like a parasite. The parasite does not want to kill the host. It wants to suck all the life it can out of it whilst still having a home – until it can find a new home to do it all over again. My ex fed off of control, power, belittling, and I think actually enjoyed seeing what he could get away with. The moment he went too too far on anything to the point where I would rebel, he would backtrack. Temporarily.

    That is what they do. And from my experience, weirdly, with intelligent strong women. These are all women who are strong and powerful at work. Psychologically, the profile seems to be, strong, intelligent women with a keen sense of integrity and doing the right thing. They themselves would never treat people in this way and have a hard time understanding that others do.

    Personally, I was stuck with very few options which the ex made the most of. My eventual took-3-years-to-plan-out-and-enact departure with kids took him completely by surprise. It bothers him to this day. Good.

    • Parasite it such a damn good description, Wendy! When you mentioned about these kinds of men who like to take on strong women, I suddenly remembered a Mike Tyson documentary I watched some years back. It was after he left prison. I found it odd when he was saying how deeply attracted to strong women he was. That he felt this primal urge to overpower her, and consume her and be the victor. I turned it off after that. It screamed typical rapist who always rape for the sheer power it all. Look at him now doing well for himself! Sickening that we live in a world where men can still retain their celebrity and wealth after being convicted of a horrific crime. It’s totally a man’s world. I hope you and your kids are safe away from your loathesome ex? I’m glad it bothers him too. He get’s no sympathy from me.

      • I am good, thank you Jo. The work – and it really was work – to understand how and why i got myself into that situation took a few years, but I got there in the end. I value myself for me – not through the eyes of another. As has been said from others – really poor self esteem bred into me by years and years of abusive parent(s) and early situations. But y’know, this is no longer my problem. I do not take their issues on. I will not be a victim. I will not become the mangled product of abusive sad weird people. I get to choose who I am myself.

        Anthony Hopkins statement “It is none of my business what other people think of me” is profound I think. Once one takes full ownership of one’s life without the shackles of others (I cannot walk another person’s path), total freedom is within grasp. It is exhilirating.

        The ex continues to try to exert control – we’ve had another wrangle recently (I am finding the recent saturn – uranus square REALLY impacting in all kinds of ways). I find his attempts both surprising (I have so moved on) and not (wow – how sad is he?). I think he is only just beginning to see I have played the long game here – he is alone alone alone alone. And I have no intention of giving him any kind of bridge or rope to save him from the isolation he has created. It is not my problem and not my path to save him from the sad alone world he created himself. Any thought time I spend on him is actually wasted time that I would much rather have spent on almost anything else – sock knitting patterns is a good example of more worthwhile thoughts than thinking of him.

        • Wendy, Well done, you’ve come a long way. It is so lovely to no longer feel responsible for someone who was hurting you. I remember it well from days gone by. It’s one of the blessings of getting older – much of the crap is now old history.
          In a way it goes back to one of the points in the astrological predictions post – who has choices and who doesn’t. Who is alert/insightful enough? to learn from bad experiences and to eventually pull away from them, having gone round the roundabout several times. And others who, like your ex, stumble on blindly. One of the mysteries of life.

  9. It’s an impossibly complicated subject once you start delving into relationship dynamics.
    Stray thoughts: There was a ghastly study done with two groups of mice/rats in which both had electrical currents sent through their cages. In one case the door was left open and they escaped. The others were trapped. When it was repeated with the trapped ones and the door was left open they stayed put. So something in the brain circuitry had become damaged the first time round, leaving them less able to protect themselves.

    I once met an expert in domestic violence who’d been called in by the US military to try to stamp out domestic violence. She said they weren’t making much progress until they fell on the idea of linking it to the soldiers’ honour code. She got it into their heads that batting the wife was not an honourable marine kind of thing to do – and evidently it worked.

    Most of the damaged/fiendishly irritating behaviour you see in narcissists, sociopaths, perverts can be traced back to very early psychological dysfunction in their environment. Even the worst of their behaviour can be understood as a defence against unconscionable terror and/or a defence against falling into the empty chasm where their sense of self should be. Pushing them to understand their actions is most often counter-productive. They just can’t do it since it would lead to psychological implosion. That’s not to let them off the hook – if they can’t be cured they need to be quarantined away from society. But my sense of ‘some’ women in violent marriages is they understand they have a damaged baby on their hands who unfortunately is in an adult body and able to inflict considerable damage.

    • That’s interesting about the mice, though cruel. However, it shows that fear can completely immobilize you. We often hear the terms, ‘scared/frozen stiff,’ ‘so terrified I couldn’t run.’ I suppose the mice’s brains made them think ‘it’s bad in this cage, but what if it’s worse outside. What if we die out there. Just stay put. We’ll get to see another day.’ Fear is a very strange and terrible feeling and extremely damaging. And I so agree on what you say about abusers and such, ‘if they can’t be cured they need to be quarantined away from society.’ Most cannot be cured, so lock ’em up!

  10. Women, whether they are dirt poor or rich, who get stuck in these relationships, are often controlled by extreme terror. From a psychological perspective, it’s interesting to note that women who have been raped often ‘play dead’ during their vile assaults. This is known as a survival instinct to detach from the horror and not make the situation worse. Women who are often caught by predatory men will often use placatory body language, NOT because they enjoy the man’s company, but out of sheer fear of what might happen to her. So, it makes perfect sense that women who are terrified for their lives would stay rather than leave such sadistic relationships; the survival instinct is that it’s better to put up with the devil you know than have your skull stoved by the piece of excrement that has the nerve to call himself a husband or man.

    • There’s also, (as the stats show) the fact that leaving the abuser is actually are most at risk when they try to leave the abuser.

      Sally Challen, I understand was emotionally abused by her father. Often with DV, the individual has never had the experience of a healthy relationship.

        • Yes, completely agree, VF. I think most women are aware of this in their partner without even knowing the stats. They just know what is going to happen to them. What an awful and deeply sad situation to be in for them. It’s heartbreaking.

          My mother’s second husband was a violent alcoholic (plus racist and misogynist to boot!), though his abuse was more psychological than physical. They often wound each other up and my mother does love a good fight which I will never understand. Damaged people will find other damaged people to keep recreating thie dysfunctional patterns. I was pretty scared of my step-father for years. In the end my Mars conjunct Pluto erupted that he ended up baricading himself in his bedroom to stay away from me. And I am NOT violent at all. I just couldn’t bottle my fear and anger any longer. Mum ended up booting him out in the end, but the damage was done. He died a drunk a few years after. My mother’s first husband, my dad, was just a predator. My mother was always attracted to these kinds of men.

          I don’t have relationships but I’m okay with that. When men did come sniffing around, though I showed zero interest, they were always weird, creepy, and predatory and with anger/self-entitlement issues; just like the men I grew up with – so, I’ve dodged a bullet there being the way I am. I’m damaged obviously, but I will not recreate such toxic intimate relationships in my life if I can help it. Better to be alone for all the right reasons than be with someone for all the wrong ones. But had I evolved into relationships like ‘normal’ people do, I can’t even begin to think what my relationship history would look like. Quite frightening, I imagine.

          • I’m sorry Jo, it sounds like you had a tough start. I think one of the people I’ll always be grateful to is the girl who gave me a book about toxic relationships after a disastrous relationship with someone who needed ‘rescuing’. Virgo rising can tend to veer towards rescuing partners (Pisces descendant). It was about the mistakes women make in choosing partners, how we repeat the childhood environment and kind of parenting we had in our relationships, particularly in our romantic relationships. As Marjorie said, awareness of how we may be in danger of repeating a dysfunctional pattern and how we can, with work and greater self-knowledge make better choices can be empowering.

            Incidentally, I think the various studies carried out concluded that single women without a spouse and children are the happiest subgroup in the population.

      • Virgoflake, if Sally Challen was emotionally her father’s victim, she automatically was attracted to someone similar…….my belief is that women stay because of their children, and because they desperately want a “family” at whatever cost, think they are doing it for their kids….and have no conception of having power in or for themselves. She probably wanted her sons to love him, and I have every sympathy for her to have landed in the nightmare she did, for so long. Erin Pizzey was a phenomenally brave woman, I know someone who worked alongside her, but women have something within which says ‘ah, well, life isn’t perfect’ – without defining boundaries. It is all very subtle, happens gradually, until you realise you are not yourself any more.

        • Yes, Maggie. It can be very subtle so I understand and as you say, we do seek out the people who feel familiar to us, good or bad.

    • I learnt in addiction theories esp about alcoholics as I counsellor them that after long time the brain cannot resist so they go into alcoholism back..their will power to resist keeps going down…many I found able to resist till a week or a fortnight it then back to it

      Alcohol addiction of any kind does after long time does take away resistance powers

      Same seems with violence..even during lockdown as I had to take their help I felt again I m done but then I made up my mind come what may

  11. Damaged people often damage people, as the saying goes. I find its much harder for me, and i’m sure for others, to have sympathy for the perpertrator, male or female. I rarely read or hear about nasty pieces of work who do the extreme legwork of overhauling their character for the better. It’s almost always those who have been beaten, symbolically as well as physically, mentally, and emotionally, to the ground, who change their lives for the better. However, many never get the possibility of transformating and become engulfed in the dark grimness that is their life and become yet another statistic. Abusers, narcissists, sociopaths, control freaks, etc are just as damaged as their victims but how can you have sympathy for them when they CANNOT and WILL NOT change as it’s way too enjoyable for them?

    Wasn’t it Plato who said something like ‘Society does not create culture. Culture creates society’? Meaning; what we see in our culture is reflected back at us and how we should proceed as a society. It seems like its way off kilter here, but I think things like religion, politics, tv, films, music, fashion, literature, etc,. could have the power to change our programming and how we interact with each other because I believe ‘culture’ is already doing so and has done for milennia. I think it can help even when you come from a toxic background. And let’s be honest, most of us do in varying degrees. We are a traumatized species stuck in an endless loop.

  12. Fixed star Zosma, is the victim star. Looking at her fixed star parans, she has….
    1. Zosma culminating as Mars is rising….”to work in impossible or extremely difficult circumstances.”
    2. Capulus culminating as Mercury is setting…..”to express oneself in a confrontational manner.”

  13. Mimi is correct. I work in this field and it’s astonishing how exes spend their own time, money, contacts and the law (!) to continue the abuse of former partners who have left. Its a kind of terror that is practiced which is not only frightening and disabling, but is isolating too. The resulting trauma creates more problems that ripple through children and other family members. Another issue, tragically, is that so many women are simply killed at the moment they are leaving or soon after they have left. They are killed, often their children too. Just an example of some work on this:

  14. My sister spent 30yrs in a coercively controlled marriage. Over 30 yrs he cut off her metaphoric legs. Where we – her sisters – went wrong was when she did start to intimate that things weren’t great. Instead of saying “Oh, that’s awful, poor you….” we said “Pack your bags and leave him!” This caused her to stop moaning, button her lip, and continue. What we didn’t understand, being independent, proud women, was that she couldn’t possibly imagine herself in that way, couldn’t begin to imagine how she could possibly stand on her own two feet, and bring up her children. Had we instead offered sympathy, a space to confide, maybe we could’ve got her out of there sooner. All I’m saying is, it’s hard for independent women to identify with dependent ones, but our own negative judgements of them can be part of the problem!

  15. Like all empowered women and men you just make us all feel its our fault when in fact its EVIL perpetrated against us consistently. Its not just physical violence or sexual violence or even the putting up with blatant infidelity or even lack of money, its a total control issue that never ends even when you have left.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Read the post. It said some, not all. I had my spine straightened – apart from childhood – by psychotherapy which is a much harsher discipline than its touchy feely reputation suggests. It forces you to confront and take responsibility for your choices. You attract yourself to your unlived impulses – your partner is a symptom not the cause of your misery.
      These situations are enormously complex and not all of them have the same dynamic. Long term blaming the bastards for their bad behaviour and either punishing them or forcing them to change is only part of the solution. The other part is women asking themselves why they landed in that position, how they can get out and stop it happening again.

      • Marjorie. The law does not punish them, that’s the main problem unless they kill you.
        Women and men often attract the opposite of what they themselves are.
        For myself, feeling sorry for them because they have been damaged in some way.
        Done it twice and twice sucked in by total lies.
        Once they have you, they change into who they really are.
        Often the most charming of both sexes.
        They make you feel worthless in every way they can, then they turn on the sorry charm.
        It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, it’s the feelings of abject shame that really do you in.

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