In response to ‘Men suffer spousal violence too’
The Oct. 18 edition of The Reflector contained an article about a poster placed in men’s washrooms on the Mount Royal campus by the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter (CWES). The poster shows five men and states “One of these men abuses his partner, you don’t have to. Find a better way to handle relationships and change controlling or abusive behaviours.”
The poster incited conversation on campus about the lack of services available for men who experience family violence. The article focused heavily on one resource for a man in Calgary: Men’s Alternative Safe House Society (MASH4077) also known as Family of Men Support Society. It’s admirable the writer wanted to discuss the need for support for men, but the messages provided by MASH4077 go to the extreme by providing a message of misogyny.
The poster was placed by CWES, who help women and children who are escaping domestic violence and help men who need support managing anger.
Yes, Calgary lacks shelter options and supports for men who experience domestic violence. Currently there are four first-stage emergency shelters for women, and even with these four shelters in operation, women can find they are turned away because of a lack of space. A need exists for increased shelter supports for all individuals experiencing domestic violence, not just men.
The article discussed Earl Silverman, the man behind MASH4077, and his need for financial aid to keep his shelter open. Silverman is quoted saying he couldn’t secure partnerships with other organizations because “if they became our partners, they would lose their funding.”
It’s important to question why agencies would lose their funding if they partnered with MASH4077. Does MASH4077 have a clear mandate and business plan, and is it achieving its goals by spending its own funding responsibly and effectively? The article stated, “Silverman believes domestic violence committees in Calgary have a male exclusion agenda.”
The Family of Men site also accuses the Alliance to End Violence of excluding men. Looking at the accused’s website shows they support victims regardless of gender.
In fact, CWES’s (a partner in the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective) website offers information for understanding abuse, and various safety plans, not an anti-male scheme. They also offer links to facts about abuse with information which debunks statements such as “men are more likely to abuse than women.”
In contrast to CWES’s website, the Family of Men website offers no tip sheets about what to do if a person finds themselves in an abusive situation, or how to stay safe. The site instead offers such sections as “Women Behaving Badly,” which provides articles about females engaging in criminal activity, not always related to domestic violence.
Domestic violence is an issue that occurs in many different relationships, and can be perpetuated by both men and women. For additional information about domestic violence, please call the Family Violence Information Line at 403.310.1818, or go to http://www.child.alberta.ca.
– Angela Unsworth, third-year public relations student at Mount Royal University