Earl Silverman operated only safe house for men in Canada
Earl Silverman, the tireless crusader for the rights of abused men, died Friday of apparent suicide.
Silverman, who himself was a victim of female perpetrated-domestic abuse, founded the only men’s shelter in Canada. The Men’s Alternative Safe House was forced to close last month after running out of money and was never recognized by any government agency.
Earl Silverman had operated MASH out-of-pocket and was forced to sell the house in March, after continually being ignored for funding by the Alberta government.
Thomas Matty, a friend of Silverman’s who was staying with him at the time of his death, said he never saw it coming. But Matty said there were tough days for Earl, who fought without rest for abused men and never really saw a lot of results in getting the issue recognized and the much-needed services made available.
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“Earl presented a gruff exterior, but deep down he was a sensitive man who cared deeply for others,” Matty said.
“You put so much into something with so little return, it just drives the hope out of you. You give enormous effort and get virtually nothing. That’s certainly something that played a significant role in his decision.”
Earl Silverman began his fight for male rights 20 years ago, after he was forced to flee an abusive relationship. He found services for male victims were inadequate and decided to do something about it. For a number of years he operated a men’s helpline and offered his Calgary home to any male victim who needed a safe place to stay.
“Sometimes part of the healing process is being a healer,” Silverman told Beacon News in 2011. “I don’t know, I’m just crazy,” he said of why he continued to fight for services for abused men without making much progress. “But I have seen a need.”
Silverman dedicated his life to fighting for men’s rights. He felt government programs had ignored male victims of domestic violence and worked tirelessly to change the system and bring attention to the problem. In the end, the fight became too much.
“Earl so was so tired of the words. He doesn’t want words, he wanted actions and something tangible done. He fought this battle for 20 years,” Matty said. ”He was frustrated because nobody seemed to care or do anything about it.”
Matty remembers talking to Silverman the night before he killed himself and said everything seemed fine with him. Silverman had finished the sale of his house, had just bought a cellphone and was preparing for a trip to see friends for a month. Matty was departing for Edmonton.
“I said, ‘how do you want to say goodbye, Earl,’” Matty said of the last night he saw Silverman. “And in his typical gruff exterior, he said, ‘oh just say goodbye’. And I said, ‘okay, keep in touch’ and I shook his hand and said it had been nice staying with him and I went to bed.”
Earl Silverman was discovered the next morning. Matty said he and others will continue the fight for Earl and men everywhere.
“There was nowhere I could go to talk about [the abuse],” Silverman said in 2011. “There’s an effort to ensure that the voice of male victims of domestic violence is not heard. They don’t want to admit that there’s a problem.”
Funeral and memorial information is not available at this time.