The Sun

WEDNESDAY, 22 AUGUST, 2001

ARE MEN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE?

WOMAN

By SINEAD DESMOND
The Sun (UK)

WHEN most people hear the words domestic violence they think of an aggressive man beating a defenceless women. But not Erin Pizzey.

Erin, 62, who in 1971 founded Refuge, a charity which offers shelter and support to women and their children in violent domestic situations, now believes it is MEN who are in danger from women.

She says: "We know all too well that countless women suffer at the hands of men.

"But just as many men are being violently attacked by the women they are in relationships with — and this is something we can no longer ignore."

But how can Erin, who brought the plight of battered women to the attention of the nation, now suggest that it is men who are the real forgotten victims of domestic violence?

In the controversial new book she is writing, A Terrorist Within The Family, she makes the astounding claim that women are just as violent as men.

And she hopes her book will save men from becoming involved in relationships with violent women.


Campaign ... Erin

It is bound to outrage women’s groups and the women who have survived brutal domestic violence.

Erin based her book on the experiences of 300 men who she says have suffered physical abuse from scratches and punching to attacks with knives at the hands of their violent partners.

She also hopes it will make society and the authorities realise that men are just as likely to suffer from violence in the home as women.

Recently there have been more and more cases of violent women.

Jane Andrews, a former aide to the Duchess of York, was jailed for life in May for stabbing her boyfriend Tom Cressman to death.

Tracie Andrews is serving life for knifing her boyfriend Lee Harvey in a fit of anger then blaming the attack on a make-believe road rage killer in 1996.

Erin, who is single and lives in Twickenham, Middlesex, says: "The feminist movement has always insisted that all women are innocent victims of men’s violence. But I know that this a lie.

"When I opened the first refuge in the world, Chiswick Women’s Aid, it was for women and their children fleeing from domestic violence.

"I realised immediately that most women were genuine victims of their partners’ violence. They were dubbed ‘battered women’ by the Press and they won national sympathy and concern.

"But I soon became aware of another group of women who could only be described as violence-prone women.

"Many of them suffered violent and sexually abusive childhoods and I believed they needed help.

"But what of the men caught up in a relationship with violent women? They also needed help.

"However, for years society, the authorities and women’s groups have refused to accept that every day men are suffering at the hands of violent women.

"These ‘battered men’ have been hidden from us because for the last 30 years a blanket of silence has been thrown over their suffering.

"Because the domestic violence issue was hijacked by feminists, the truth was hidden.

"Only now are we beginning to see that domestic violence is not a gender issue."

Erin adds: "Both men and women can be violent and in addressing this problem we can help both the victims and the perpetrators.

"Men have been accused of failing to report violent partners.

"But as one man said to me, ‘There’s nothing I can do, the police just laugh at me. I’m 6ft 2in and my wife is only 4ft 9in. And nobody believes how violent she can be and that I can’t defend myself’.

"It is true that men are more violent and more likely to break the law than women.

"But women channel their violence into their personal relationships and behind the front door women are just as violent as men.

"They are also much more violent to their children and here begins the pattern of violence and dysfunctional behaviour that trickles down the generations.

"Until we are honest enough to protect men, women and children from this cycle of violence we will never achieve peace in our families."

Erin says: "NSPPC figures for the year ending last March show that 49 per cent of men were treated violently by their mothers as opposed to 40 per cent by their fathers.

"Women are more likely to be child abusers than biological fathers."

She added that a 1999 Home Office study on domestic violence revealed that a woman was assaulted every 1.17 seconds and a man every 1.31 seconds.

The report, the biggest of its kind, reported that equal numbers — 4.2 per cent — of men and women said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner in the last year.

Erin says: "We have to provide balanced statistics for both men and women."

There is other research which supports Erin’s views.

Last year John Archer — professor of psychology at the University of Central Lancashire and president of the International Society For Research On Aggression — revealed his analysis of 34,000 men and women which concluded that women lashed out just as much as their boyfriends and husbands.

This was backed up by Dr Malcolm George, a lecturer in neuroscience at London University. He believes men have been abused by their wives since Elizabethan times.

Even Hollywood tough-guy actors have not escaped.

Humphrey Bogart was battered by his wife Mayo Methot and John Wayne was beaten by his, Conchita Martinez.

Dr George is currently examining more than 100 papers on domestic violence from the past two decades. He believes they will reveal that women partners can be just as aggressive as men.

Dr George says: "It’s a complex argument but we do get more women aggressing against male partners than men against female partners.

"The view is that they are acting in self defence but that is not true. Fifty per cent of those who initiate aggression are women."

  • IF you are a victim of domestic violence, contact Refuge’s 24-hour national helpline on 0990 995 443. ManKind is a charity offering help and support for male victims of domestic violence. You can contact them on 01643 863 352 at local rates.

    VIOLENT WOMEN

    ERIN claims there is a profile of women who are prone to violence.

    She says: "Men should be really wary of women who show any of the following signs.

    1. Watch out for those who suffer from mood swings or get upset for no good reason and blame it on their hormones. Very soon they will put the blame on you.

    2. If she always wants to be the centre of attention you may be involved with a narcissistic exhibitionist who only loves herself.

    3. Beware of women who are very possessive. Men shouldn’t mistake it for love. A woman who is consumed with jealousy will isolate a man from everyone he knows and become violent when she fantasises about him seeing or having sex with another woman.

    VICTIM MEN


    Knife ... Jane Andrews' case

    THESE are the types of men who are at risk if they enter into relationships with violent women:

    1. Sensitive, gentle men, often in caring professions, fall for women who are violence prone. Erin calls it "the broken wing syndrome". A kind man sees a woman he believes to be insecure and hurt.

    He desperately wants to heal her but often ends up becoming the victim of her violence.

    2. Men with violent mothers will often subconsciously seek out a relationship with a violent partner to mend what happened in childhood.

    3. Violent men are also susceptible. They are largely very frightened individuals and when they meet violent women they don’t see the danger signs because they are ignorant of their own violent signs.

    I knifed my fiancé


    Closer than ever ... Jan's fiery
    temper cost Peter an eye

    JAN BRYSON has an explosive temper. She once saw red and lashed out at the person she cared most about in the world – fiancé Peter. He lost an eye and came perilously close to losing his life.

    Jan, 40, from Sunderland, says: "Ever since I can remember I’ve had a fiery temper.

    "At 24, I met Peter Bryson at a disco near my home. Four months after meeting we got engaged but it wasn’t until 1995 that we could afford to have a house.

    "Living together brought us close but it also meant Peter experienced the full force of my temper.

    "I can’t even remember what started the row but in August, 1999 six weeks before our wedding Peter and I began to bicker.

    "I stormed into the kitchen, reached for the vegetable knife in a rack on the wall and in sheer frustration tossed it over my shoulder.

    "I hadn’t realised that Peter had followed me. He had his hands over his face and blood was seeping through his fingers. The bloodstained knife was on the floor.

    "Shocked, I dialled 999 and explained there had been an accident with a knife.

    "Paramedics arrived – and policemen, who took me to the station. The next day I was told Peter had undergone a five-hour operation to save his sight.

    "The knife had gone three inches into his head. Another quarter-inch and it would have pierced his brain, killing him.

    "I was so shocked. I loved Peter more than anything yet I’d almost killed him – all because of my short fuse.

    "Weeks later I had to appear in court and saw Peter across the room. He was wearing dark glasses as he mouthed the words, ‘I love you. It will be all right.’


    Happier than ever ...
    after marriage in 1999

    "I was stunned. I could deal with whatever punishment I got as long as there was a chance that Peter would forgive me.

    "His solicitor told the court he didn’t want to press charges and the case was eventually dropped.

    "But I still had to live with what I’d done. Peter met me outside the court and we left together.

    "Fortunately our friends and family were incredibly supportive. On our wedding day, Peter stood up in front of our 120 guests and said how proud he was to be my husband.

    "It reminded me just how lucky I was to be given another chance."

    "I know four women who hit their partners. Strangely, it’s not the women who confide in me – it’s the men. Because I have a terrible temper and have been abusive, I can spot the signs of a battered man a mile off.

    "He is edgy around his wife, often won’t make a decision or give an opinion without looking towards her for the go ahead first and often flinches when she makes sudden movements.

    "I haven’t hit Peter since the accident and, sadly, it took something as terrible as him losing an eye to make me realise how dangerous my temper is.

    "I will never be able to forgive myself for what I have done to Peter and know I am so lucky that he stood by me.

    "I would advise any other woman who can get violent to count to ten and walk out of the room if she feels herself seeing red."

    Peter says: "We have had around 30 violent fights. I only ever hit back once and that was out of self-defence.

    "But we are now closer than ever. I am very happy to say that she hasn’t laid a finger on me since the day I lost my eye."

    Expert says Erin is just so wrong


    Refuge boss ... Sandra Horley

    SANDRA HORLEY, chief executive of the national domestic violence charity Refuge – which was founded by Erin Pizzey – strongly denies her claims that men are often victims of women.

    She says: "In 90 per cent of cases of domestic violence we are talking about women being brutally beaten by their male partners.

    "Ask any ward sister, police officer, or look at the court records.

    "In suggesting that women are lying or that men are equally abused we are making it easier for society to turn its back on the problem.

    "It detracts from the real issue which is that thousands of women and children live in daily terror of the man who supposedly loves them.

    "When we know that a woman is abused every six seconds in the UK, and every week two women are killed as a result of domestic violence, surely we should concentrate our efforts on finding solutions to this problem that effects us all."

    Sandra’s view is echoed by other leading domestic violence experts.

    Kevin Browne, Professor of Forensic and Family Psychology at the University of Birmingham, says: "It is extremely rare to find a situation where a woman is the one to initiate violence.

    "In my experience there are three categories of violence: One in which both partners hit each other, one where the man hits the woman and she hits the children, and one in which the man hits both the woman and the children.

    "I can understand that as the founder of Refuge, Erin would want to offer men the same kind of help but we haven’t even solved the problem of domestic violence towards women yet.

    "For her to suggest that men are just as likely to suffer from it as women is dangerous.

    "It gives men in countries where women are not protected the perfect excuse to physically abuse their wives.

    "As for surveys, such as the 1999 Home Office report, which record the same number of men as women reporting physical abuse, they are misleading because they do not look at the consequences.

    "If a woman shoves a man, he may just laugh after she did it. But if a man shoves a woman she may fall and break her arm.

    "Both shoves are classed as violent behaviour – but which is the more damaging?

    "In particular, statistics which reveal that the same number of men and women are likely to have been assaulted in the last year are always taken in isolation.

    "The Home Office report also revealed that women were twice as likely as men to have been injured in the last year and three times as likely to have suffered frightening threats.

    "They were also more likely to have been assaulted three or more times.

    "So it is obvious that we need to concentrate on women as the victims of domestic abuse and not men."

  • DO you agree with Erin Pizzey that women are as violent as men? Are you a battered husband – or a battered wife who thinks Erin is wrong? Write to: Domestic Violence, Sun Woman, 1 Virginia Street, London E98 4SN.

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