Pioneers in Domestic Violence: Honoring the Women Who Started It All

As we celebrate Women's History Month, we want to acknowledge the unsung heroes who pioneered the fight against domestic violence. These courageous women, often working against societal norms and limited resources, laid the foundation for vital services and advocacy we have today.

The history of the domestic violence movement is a testament to the resilience and determination of these pioneers. 

Erin Pizzey

One such pioneer is Erin Pizzey, whose groundbreaking work in the early 1970s laid the groundwork for the modern domestic violence shelter movement. Pizzey, a British social worker, opened the world's first women's refuge in Chiswick, London, in 1971. At a time when domestic violence was largely ignored or dismissed as a private matter, Pizzey's refuge provided a safe haven for women and children fleeing abusive relationships.

Pizzey's work challenged prevailing attitudes about domestic violence and forced society to confront the harsh realities faced by countless women behind closed doors. Her pioneering efforts sparked a wave of activism and inspired others to follow in her footsteps.

Ellen Pence

Another trailblazer in the fight against domestic violence is Ellen Pence, a social activist and co-founder of the Duluth Model in the 1980s, an influential approach to addressing domestic violence emphasizing the importance of holding abusers accountable for their actions and providing support to survivors, including the use of resources like the Power and Control Wheel.

The Duluth Model revolutionized the way society understands and responds to domestic violence, shifting the focus from blaming the victim to holding perpetrators responsible. Pence's work laid the groundwork for the implementation of domestic violence laws and policies across the globe, saving countless lives in the process.

Despite facing immense challenges and resistance, these pioneering women persisted in their efforts to end domestic violence and create a safer, more just society for all. Their courage and determination continue to inspire us to this day.

As we reflect on Women's History Month, let us remember and honor the women who started it all in the fight against domestic violence. Their legacy lives on in the countless lives they have touched and the progress we continue to make toward ending violence in all its forms.