In the early 1980's, two women out of Pictou County Women's Center, supported by grants from Secretary of State Women's Program and Canada Manpower, began to talk to women's groups, police, social services, doctors and community workers about the issue of battered women. We discovered that in a three month period there were 74 reported cases of wife battering in Pictou County- almost 25 per month.
With support from Secretary of State Women's Program, the Battered Women's Information Service (a telephone help line) was established in November 1982. Women calling in to the help line received emotional support and information from trained volunteers. If victims had to flee their home due to abuse they were then referred to Bryony House in Halifax. It became clear that there was a need for a transition house in Pictou County.
In the Spring of 1983, a group of people agreed to work toward the establishment of a transition house in Pictou County. We took our name from the Gaelic: Tearmann, meaning "refuge." Tearmann Society for Battered Women committed itself to provide shelter, support and information to battered women and their children.
Finally, October 15, 1984, Tearmann House opened its doors to serve battered women from Pictou, Antigonish and Guysbourough Counties under the leadership of our first executive director, Karen O'Hara (pictured below*). Karen continued in this role and as a champion for abused women until her retirement in 2013.
As a member of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, Tearmann has been a part of lobbying the Government of Nova Scotia and advocating for services to include a Children's Services Worker (now Child & Youth Counsellor) and Outreach Services.
Today, Tearmann Society for Abused Women is recognized as a leader and change agent, advocating for strengthened community support systems, for creating sustainable partnerships to eliminate violence against women and children, and providing services that transition women towards safety, independence and greater self worth.
Tearmann Society, guided by a feminist philosophy, is dedicated to preserving and promoting the dignity and human rights of abused women and their children.
The services of Tearmann have grown and developed over the years to include the following services:
- 24-hour distress line and 15 bed shelter
- Residential Group Programs
- Community Information Program
- In-House Child & Youth Programs
- Information, referrals and advocacy
- Drop-in counselling sessions
- Outreach Counselling
- Outreach Group Programs
- Outreach Child & Youth Programs
You can learn more about Tearmann services HERE