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The TAMAR Project

MARYLAND WOMEN AND VIOLENCE


The Sidran Institute, in collaboration with the Maryland Mental Health Administration and the University of Maryland Center for Mental Health Services Research, was awarded a $600,000, multi-year grant from the Substance Abuse, Mental Heath Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant began October 1, 1998, and continued for two years.

Known as the “Women, Co-occurring Disorders, and Violence Study”, the purpose was to develop, deliver, and evaluate specialized services for women who had histories of traumatic abuse as well as co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. The grant also provided for trauma assessment and services for the children of the women in the study.

 

The Maryland group’s TAMAR Project was one of fourteen programs around the U.S. selected for this multi-site federal study, and the only one based in the criminal justice system. This project served identified trauma survivors in three Maryland county detention centers, beginning while the women were incarcerated and continuing after their release into the community.

The project was named for Tamar, daughter of the biblical King David, who was raped by her half-brother Amnon. Afterwards, she tore her clothing in an act of mortification and lived in disgrace in the home of her brother Absalom. However, the word “tamar” (in Hebrew) means “palm tree,” symbolizing both strength and flexibility. The Maryland Women and Violence project offered the Tamars of today a different ending to their stories, building on the themes of strength and resilience. The name was adapted to stand for Trauma, Addiction, Mental Health, And Recovery.

Sidran’s role in the Maryland project was to conceptualize, develop, and deliver training to the staff of all the agencies working with the women participants in the project, both in the jails and in the community after their release. This included departments of corrections, parole and probation, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, and social services in each of the three counties. The idea was to create a truly “trauma informed” support system for the women, at all stages of their recovery. 

Over two years, the following were implemented:

  • Intensive Risking Connection training and implementation consultation for mental health treatment staff specialists in the jails and in community services of the three counties.
  • Basic Risking Connection framework and crisis intervention training for all staff of all agencies at all levels.
  • Training on the Long-term Effects of Traumatic Abuse for frontline staff in all the service providing agencies.
  • Self-care for the Helper: Secondary Trauma Reactions, Making Meaning, and Sustaining Enthusiasm was taught to all clinical and research staff and peer advocates.
  • Growing Beyond Survival: Tools for Symptom Management was taught to all clinical staff.
  • The Essence of Being Real: Peer Support for individuals who have experienced trauma was developed by Sidran and a team of peer advocates who represented and worked with the women in the jails and upon their release in the three county communities.

 

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