Feminists accused of suppressing truth about battered husbands


Ms Erin Pizzey has accused the feminist movement of hijacking the issue of domestic violence during the past 30 years and of suppressing the truth about violence against men by women.

In 1971 she founded the first refuge for women and children escaping domestic violence. Speaking yesterday in UCD at a conference on male victims of domestic abuse, titled "The Silence is Over", she said that of the first 100 women who came into the London refuge 62 had been violent to their male partners and children. Those women, she said, were not so much victims of male violence as victims of their own violent childhoods. "Unfortunately at this time (1971) the feminist movement, hungry for recognition and for funding, was able to hijack the domestic violence movement and promptly set about disseminating dubious research material and disinformation," she said. When she tried to draw the media's attention to the reality of male domestic abuse she met with resistance only. "All the papers sent female journalists who were largely radical feminists".

It was just in the last five years that "the huge pall of silence" about violence against men had begun to be dispelled, she said. This had come about through the findings of international research which established that domestic assault rates between men and women were about equal.

However, she remarked that "none of these findings made much impact in the media and (they) were brushed aside by the feminist movement who insisted that any injuries caused by women were in self-defence".

She referred to a recent British Medical Association (BMA) report which followed the questioning of 571 women and 429 men about domestic violence. One in three of the women reported domestic violence and a quarter said they had been forced to have sex against their will. "There is no mention in the BMA report of any result from the questioning of the 429 men. Upon further research we find that the men were questioned but only about whether or not they had physically or sexually abused women. The researchers failed to ask if they considered themselves victims."

Dr Malcolm George, a senior lecturer at London University, disclosed that in a "gender neutral" study on violence in heterosexual relationships which he had conducted for a 1994 BBC programme, he found that both verbal and physical violence was experienced more by men than women. Of the men, 18 per cent had experienced violence from a female partner, as compared to 13 per cent of women who suffered at the hands of a male partner.

Giving examples of famous battered husbands, Dr George said Abraham Lincoln, John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart were abused by their wives. John Wayne had been abused by his second wife Conchita who continued to make his life a misery after he divorced her, while Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary regularly beat him and once "hit him across the face with a block of wood".