In the spring of 1976, The Business and Professional Women’s Association of Bermuda held a seminar on ‘Rape’ in the Woodbourne Room of the Bermudiana Hotel. The audience was inspired by guest speaker Miss Christina Anderson, Det. Supt. John Sheehy, Chief Pathologist, Dr, Keith Cunningham, Dr. Elizabeth Mayall, and Mrs. Moya Boyd.
Some members of the audience were inspired enough to agree to meet again for further discussions. In June 1977 this group took a further step when it brought in two counsellors from Ontario, Canada, to lead a 5-day workshop on telephone and person-to-person counseling for volunteers. This was the catalyst for the organization that was registered as a charity on June 11, 1979 under the name The Physical Abuse Centre.
Special recognition must be given to the role played by The Business and Professional Women’s Association, under the President Audrey Brackstone, and its Civics Committee in particular, under the Co-Chairmanship of Annabella Gaye Fraser; for they were the catalysts for change in this area of social need.
Initially, the fledgling group had no elected officers, except a treasurer and corresponding secretary. Ad hoc committees were formed to deal with the various aims, which included: stimulating public awareness, instituting counseling services and a 24-hour hotline, training local counselors, and establishing a “safe house” for battered women.
The founding members went about their aim of educating the public by producing manuals and pamphlets for distribution to survivors, families, friends, and the public. It wasn’t long before another of their goals, a “safe house”, was realized, with the renting of “Ripleigh” on the corner of Victoria and King Streets in Hamilton, in October 1979. In its first six months of operation, the “safe house” gave refuge to 11 women and 15 children; with others being turned away because the home, with a capacity for only six women could not accommodate them.
That same month, their goal of securing a hotline was realized with the assistance of the Salvation Army’s “Helpline”, who agreed to transfer calls from any physically abused persons to The Physical Abuse Centre’s on-call counsellor. With some 20 trained counsellors working, in the first six months of its operation, the Hotline was used by 52 women.
According to the Constitution, are those who joined as of April 30, 1979. These include:
The Centre Against Abuse became accredited under the Bermuda National Standards Committee. Centre Against AbuseVision is to eradicate domestic abuse and sexual assault in Bermuda, and eliminate the need for our services. Centre Against Abuse Mission is to provide services to adult victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and offer awareness for our community.