Transition Houses grew out of an identified need of women for safety and support in spousal abuse situations.[1] The first transition house in Nova Scotia opened in Halifax in 1978. The Transition House Association of Nova Scotia (THANS) member organizations provide crisis and transitional services to women (and their children) who are experiencing violence and abuse, including culturally relevant services to Mi’kmaw people. THANS eleven member organizations work with women and their children  in thirteen locations across Nova Scotia; Sydney, Waycobah, Port Hawkesbury, Antigonish, New Glasgow, Amherst, Truro, Millbrook, Halifax, Bridgewater, Yarmouth, Digby and Kentville.

Our organizations “…provide a full range of support services to women and their children in a safe, supportive environment and… provide survivors of violence with opportunities to learn about available resources and alternatives to facilitate informed personal choices and decisions.”[2]  Violence or abuse seldom exists without other presenting issues for our service users, and contributing factors include addictions, homelessness, mental heath issues, and conflict with the law. System navigation to address these issues has become a necessary part of our service provision.

The following basic core services required for ensuring the safety and well-being of women and their children experiencing violence and abuse are provided by THANS member organizations ( with the exception of the Naomi Society, which offers services on an outreach basis only, with an after hours phone link to Tearmann House:) 24/7 staffed emergency shelter services, with the provision of food and basic needs; professionally staffed 24 hour crisis line; crisis intervention; and individual and group counselling, on an in-house and outreach basis. Safety Planning is an important component of our services. Some of our member organizations also manage second stage housing units where women live for as long as a year, with outreach services provided.

All THANS organizations offer a variety of advocacy initiatives, secondary community programs and services; participate in community development and in research regarding issues relevant to violence against women. In-house and outreach programs are offered to past, current and potential service users, and  public education is offered re woman abuse, dating violence and sexual harassment programs in our schools and communities.

As agents under the regulations of the Domestic Violence Intervention Act, we also work with women applying for Emergency Protection Orders, and are one of six partners in the High Risk Case Coordination Framework, which identifies, supports and shares information for those women in extremely high risk situations.

Poverty, lack of safe supportive affordable housing, lack of childcare, literacy, education, transportation, and court support are frequent barriers that prevent our service users from moving forward in their lives. THANS works from a feminist-based perspective[3] that seeks to work collaboratively with other community organizations and the three levels of government, as allies, in addressing



[1] This Briefing Document will focus on the issue of men’s violence against women in relationships. This is not intended to ignore the problems of violence against people in male same-sex relationships, or of vulnerable males in heterosexual relationships. THANS  uses the language of men as the perpetrators and women as victims because those are the facts in the overwhelming number of cases of interpersonal violence between intimates, and is the reality of the member organizations of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia.

[2] Transition House Association of Nova Scotia STANDARDS of PRACTICE, ratified by THANS and DCS, July 2001, page 1

[3] Feminism is a philosophy in which women and their contributions are valued. It is based on social, political and economic equality for women. Feminism is a collective movement for peace, equality and justice.