In an ordinary overcrowded house in a London suburb, a group of women are trying to cope with a major social problem -- "battered wives", the women who suffer persistent violence at the hands of their husbands.
MRS. ERIN PIZZEY: "One came and said she'd been very badly battered and I took her in and gave her refuge. Within about three months I had 34 mothers and children crowding in from all over the country sleeping on the floor of this tiny house. And the numbers grew and grew and I suddenly realised that here was a national social problem that had not been explored. Sometimes they're discharged straight from hospital -- broken bones, broken jaws, fractured skulls, stitches, black eyes, kicks, bruises, the children battered as well and they come straight here otherwise the hospital wouldn't take them. They'd send them back to the husband. We collected evidence from across the world. For instance there's already a refuge set up just outside Sydney. There's group came to see us from there. Girls came from Canberra last week -- they're starting there. Dutch girls came and worked for a week -- they're opening a refuge in Amsterdam. America -- we're deluged with information from America where the problem is really crucial and not recognised oddly enough, usually American is in the forefront."
PHOEBE (Battered Wife): "I had ten children by my husband. I had fifteen pregnancies -- five of them that he kicked out of me. I had the last rites of the church I don't know how many times through haemorrhages from beatings that I had from him. I just hope to be able to salvage some of my children out of the wreck of my marriage, my 23-year marriage."
REPORTER: "Pat, what happened to you?"
PAT: "I came here two years ago very badly beaten. My husband kicked me around in the street and broke my cheekbone and he damaged my left eye so that I can't see out of it now. My nose was broken. That was two years ago on March 17. I put up with that for two years."
MRS. PIZZEY: "Ninety nine per cent of the men whether middle class or working class come from violent backgrounds where they are bettered as children or witness violence between the mother and the father."
REPORTER: "Unless something is done this process will continue?"
MRS. PIZZEY: "Unless we rescue this generation of children, these boys here will be the next generation of batterers."
STREET WITH WOMEN'S AID HOUSE: REAR WINDOWS: FOUNDER MRS. ERIN PIZZEY WITH BATTERED WIFE WITH BLACK EYES: MRS. PIZZEY SPEAKING OVER SHOTS OF CROWDED HOUSE: PHOEBE, BATTERED WIFE SPEAKING: BATTERED WIFE APT TELLS OF HER EXPERIENCE: MRS. PIZZEY SPEAKING ON FUTURE OVER SHOTS OF CHILDREN DOWN SLIDE.
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Background: In an ordinary overcrowded house in a London suburb, a group of women are trying to cope with a major social problem -- "battered wives", the women who suffer persistent violence at the hands of their husbands.
The group, Women's Aid, offer refuge, comfort and legal advice to women on the run from violent husbands. And they've found out that the problem is international and affects more women than anybody imagined.
Women come in desperation to Women's Aid in Chiswick with injuries which have ranged from fractured skulls and broken jaws to black eyes. One woman even arrived with second degree burns on her breasts, the result of her husband pouring scalding water over her. Women leave their homes to live in overcrowded dilapidated dormitories where at least they are safe.
It all began two years ago when Mrs. Erin Pizzey opened an advice centre in Chiswick for local women. A woman had been beaten by her husband for years arrived with her children and asked for shelter. Within three months there were 34 battered women and children sleeping on the floor.
In two years Mrs. Pizzey's Women's Aid has helped thousands of women and children. She believes there are at least 25,000 battered wives in Britain. Women's Aid refuges are opening all over the country.
Already the movement has spread to Australia. A refuge for bettered women has opened in Sydney and another is due to open in Canberra and a third in Holland.
"We're deluged with information from America where the problem is really crucial btu unrecognised", says Mrs. Pizzey who believes violence behind the front door is a world wide problem.
Women's Aid believes there are four main categories for wife beaters: alcoholics, psychotics, psychopaths and plain and simple bullies. Wife beating is a classless thing. The husbands of battered wives can be lawyers, architects or Irish labourers.
According to a Women's Aid survey 99 per cent of the wife beaters come from violent backgrounds nd have either been battered themselves as children or seen their mother battered. Women's Aid is an attempt to break the circle of violence.