(SNN) The Calgary Herald printed a story last week that was singularly heart-rending, in a news world that is already rife with pain and sadness. The article was about the suicide of Earl Silverman, a Calgary man who had been running a shelter for abused husbands out of his own home. When government funding was denied him and he could no longer keep financing his noble initiative any longer, he sold the house he had lived in and used as a shelter, and took his life in the garage he no longer owned.
In a number of interviews before his unfortunate death, Silverman relayed how support of abused men was a politically toxic subject to many government officials. He claimed, in a Calgary Beacon piece that, “Family violence has gone from a social issue to only a woman’s issue. So any support for men is interpreted as being against women.”
This is a tragedy since, according to the Alberta Government’s own website (www.child.alberta.ca) in the sample years 1999 to 2004, there were over 500,000 Canadian men who had a partner that was violent towards them. There is no reason to think the incidence has changed downward since that time. Still, that doesn’t translate to there being any support facilities to help these unfortunates. In the Calgary area, for example, where Silverman had his private shelter, neither the city nor the province has any safe-houses for men in danger of domestic violence. The closest facility is a single room about 100 kilometers away and is only available when not being used by a female victim.
Why is there such a disconnect between an obvious, recognized need and the political will to do something about it? Husband abuse is far more prevalent than our male-dominated society cares to admit. It’s time for this issue to be addressed by all levels of government who should be ashamed of the sexism that frustrated Mr. Silverman which, apparently, drove him to take his life.
What would be eminently appropriate would be to have facilities designated in every city where the need exists. By the evidence of the government’s own numbers, that would be the majority of them. Calling them “Earl Silverman Shelters” would be a small, appropriate, note of recognition for the humble, frustrated man that had personally championed the cause for decades.
If you are a male and experiencing possible abuse or know of someone who is, you may wish to check out the Alberta government page that contains information on the subject. It is available here.
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