Remembering Earl Silverman, Founder of Men's Alternative Safe House
It is with profound sadness that I report to you on the passing of Earl Silverman. For many years, Earl singlehandedly ran the Men's Alternative Safe House (MASH), Canada's only shelter for abused men. Earl was not independently wealthy, but he nevertheless funded the entire enterprise out of his own pocket.
I first met Earl 10 years ago at a conference on male domestic violence victims that I helped organize. While we were all trying to look and act professional and serious, Earl won everyone over with his irreverence and humor. The jokes he told had us nearly rolling on the floor. But deep down, he was as serious about the issue as any of us.
In the intervening years I phoned Earl on occasion, usually when someone in need of help had contacted RADAR and I needed to brainstorm with someone on where to refer them. In those conversations I got to know Earl a bit, and the one thing I can say about him is that this guy was a mensch! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensch)
For many years Earl tried in vain to convince politicians and bureaucrats that he was providing a much needed service that was as worthy of their financial support as the women's shelters that unabashedly discriminated against male victims – discrimination that was actually countenanced by the government itself.
Although Earl explained to the politicians and bureaucrats that, on a per-capita basis, he was able to operate his shelter at a fraction of what women's shelters spend, he was rebuffed at every turn by petty misandrists. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/misandrist)
Those misandrists have now achieved their goal. A compassionate man, who devoted two decades of his life to helping those who are ridiculed and reviled by the powers that be, is now lost to the world! A month ago, unable to afford to continue operating MASH, Earl was forced to close the shelter and sell his home. And on Friday, April 26, 2013 Earl took his own life. (The closing of MASH was reported at http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/20/privately-run-shelter-for-male-victims-of-domestic-abuse-forced-to-close-its-doors-due-to-lack-of-funding. Note: That article erroneously reports that Earl ran MASH for only three years. I don't know for certain how long Earl had been running the shelter, but I do know that it was already in existence a decade ago. SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) added Earl's shelter to their database of resources for battered men in September 2003. [http://www.safe4all.org/resource-list/view/9866])
Earl's dedication and selfless generosity saved many lives. The number of men who take their own lives while going through a divorce is ten times as high as the number of women, so there are undoubtedly many men who would not be with us today were it not for Earl's help.
As I said earlier, Earl was a real mensch! There is no higher compliment! Tonight, I will be saying Kaddish for Earl. And I ask that, whatever God you pray to, whatever language you do it in, please also say a prayer for him.
Mark Rosenthal, on behalf of the RADAR team
Date of RADAR Release: April 29, 2013
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org