This film is part of Free

Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear

Shocking and unsentimental Thames documentary recording the experiences of a group of abused wives in a landmark refuge in Chiswick.

Documentary 1974 52 mins

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“Scream Quietly Or The Neighbours Will Hear” was a ground-breaking book by Erin Pizzey documenting the experiences of battered women. In 1971, Pizzey opened a shelter – Chiswick Women’s Aid on Belmont Terrace, now Refuge – that when this film was made by Thames in 1974 housed 18 women and 46 children. It’s powerful and moving, with women discussing horrific experiences, but also unsentimental in its depiction of life in a shelter. Directed by Michael Whyte.

Pizzey features in the film but does not dominate, with the director letting the women – of all races and classes - relate their shocking experiences. As well as chronicling ugly acts of violence and abuse, the film also shows in detail the difficult life for those in the shelter, with so many women and children, many traumatised by their experiences, living in close proximity. Many of the women are matter-of-fact about what they have been through, but one conversation with an Irish women is particularly traumatic. A fascinating and moving snapshot of social, domestic and political life in the 1970s.