UK

Domestic violence activist Erin Pizzey ‘flabbergasted’ to be made a CBE

The 84-year-old set up the organisation that became Refuge.

Erin Pizzey
Erin Pizzey Erin Pizzey (Ian Nicholson/PA)

A controversial feminist-turned-men’s rights activist has said she was “flabbergasted” to be included in the New Year Honours list.

Erin Pizzey, who set up the first refuge for women fleeing domestic violence in 1971, then known as Chiswick Women’s Aid and later Refuge, has become a CBE for her work as a campaigner and activist for victims of domestic abuse.

Later in her career she argued that women were more likely to commit domestic violence than men, which prompted a backlash from the feminist community.

The 84-year-old grandmother said she does not know why she has been made a CBE or have any idea who, if anyone, may have recommended her.

She plans to attend the investiture with several female family members, who were as “flabbergasted” at the honour as she was, and said: “I just think four generations of women [attending the ceremony] is a really powerful message to other women, that you can do it.

“I was in total shock, I never in my years expected it. if you look at my history I was not exactly uncontroversial, was I?

“Most people who know me wouldn’t dream of it. I’m not exactly leading a quiet lifestyle – I drink too much, I eat too much – I’ve still not recovered (from the news of the CBE).”

The feminist community revolted against her when she claimed women were more likely to be domestically violent than men, she said.

She said they were like “hyenas” and added: “That was enough to piss them off, I used to have pickets that said ‘Pizzey by name, pissy by nature’.

“I was at a luncheon in the Savoy, and there was this huge picket outside with all these banners saying ‘Pizzey condones male violence’. When we went outside they would all march around with their banners.

“I had to stay there in the Savoy, so I really appreciated it, I got [to stay for] a week – that was long ago.”

She celebrated the CBE – along with her and her twin sister’s birthday, which is in February – with a family gathering of 11 people.

She is writing an autobiography titled Born To Be Hanged, which she says she may self-publish.

Ms Pizzey said her father was previously made an OBE for his work as a consul.