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Partner Spotlight: Diane Harris; Executive Director of Ingamo Homes & Domestic Abuse Services Oxford (DASO)

Explain to us what inspired you to get into this work? I stumbled into this field, but once I was here, the work spoke to me.  Being able to assist women to see their own courage and strength while watching the transformation from what happened to them, to who they truly were was the reason I stayed as long as I have.

Can you explain a bit more about what intimate partner violence is?  It can be abuse of several forms between two people who have a relationship, whether it be a current, former or a dating connection.

What populations does it typically impact? It hits all populations, from early adolescent to older adult, unfortunately, no population is immune to IPV.

What are some myths that exist?  The victim provoked the violence, it is caused by what the victim is wearing, saying, doing;  That the victim would leave if it was really that bad;  That violence only occurs to those who let strangers into their lives;  that abuse/violence is only perpetrated by low-income, marginalized people to low-income, marginalized victims;  that people would notice IPV happening in their friends/family relationships and that it can’t be hidden; Perpetrators are mean to everyone they meet, so they can be easily identified as an abuser.

What supports and/or resources are available for those who have experienced violence in Oxford County?  A 24-7 Crisis/Help/Information line; a secure shelter accommodation service for women 16+(with or without children) who are impacted by abuse; assistance with safety planning;  a transitional program including housing and supports for assistance with family/criminal court,  therapeutic counselling, workshops, education and children and youth programs, assistance in navigating the varied services one needs to leave an abusive relationship;  one-to-one counselling;  Supportive Mothering  &  Believe In Me Programs to support a parent/child(ren) in dealing with effects of abuse; a Caring Dads Program designed for men who have abused, neglected their children or exposed them to abuse of their mother; sexual assault counselling through Oxford Sexual Assault Services.

What is one thing you’d want a survivor/victim to know?

I want to ensure that a victim knows that abuse is not their fault, it is not something to be ashamed of.  This is something that has happened to you, but it never defines you.  You are not alone, there are services and supports that will help you find where you want to go.

Can you explain a bit more about what services Wellkin offers within the community?  What is the population you serve?

Wellkin Child & Youth Mental Wellness delivers family mental health care with a focus on infants, children and youth living in Oxford and Elgin counties. Our programs and services support the needs of each individual based on their life and family circumstances. Wellkin maintains a well-rounded approach to service delivery to ensure everyone accessing our services will achieve stability through active participation in treatment plans designed to address safe, healthy, and manageable outcomes.

In order to meet client and family needs, Wellkin offers a wide range of programs and services offered in person, as well as virtually, based on client preference and needs. In-person services are available at our Woodstock and St. Thomas offices, as well as at our satellite offices in Tillsonburg, Ingersoll and Aylmer. Some community-based services are also offered in home, school or other community settings.

Programs and Services

Goals:

Stats over the last two years:

We have seen an increase in intake requests for those experience family violence over the last 2 years. In 2020-2021 we had 1 person request services in comparison to 2021-2022, where we saw 11.
These numbers have also risen. In 2020-2021 we saw 3 people request services, compared to 2021-2022 where we saw 52.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

For more information on how to access our programs and service, please call us at 1-877-539-0463 or visit our website at www.wellkin.ca

Explain to us what inspired you to get into this work?

As a young Social Work student, I had the opportunity to complete an internship at Windsor Essex Children's Aid Society. It was through this experience that I was able to begin to appreciate the complexities of the child welfare sector and the many challenges that families are charged to overcome; be it generational abuse, limited opportunities for families who represent equity seeking groups, substance dependence, domestic violence, and/or poverty to name a few.  I have had the privilege to be witness to the resilience and grit of the human spirit when individuals are able to overcome these challenges and work towards making an individual change which positively impacts the whole family system. The inspiration to continue on in this work comes from a desire to support and sustain a service response which is person centered, anti-oppressive, creates opportunity for everyone, honors the uniqueness of each individual  and at the end of the day, leaves people in a better spot.

There remain some preconceived notions about the role of CAS.  Could you explain to us what services are offered through CAS, who you support, and why these services are critical for communities?

Thanks for asking that question, I love to highlight that the majority of our work is with individuals and families in the community. I've often had to dispel the myth that child welfare service responses always include children coming into a foster home. We have been able to create a service response that recognizes children and youth are always a part of a larger network that care and support them and we strive to keep families together while planning for safety.  We have a Family Violence Counselling program, as well that is available to anyone in the community who is experiencing abuse or wants to stop using abusive tactics in an intimate partner relationship.  Our programs are for children, youth, women and men and are separate but complimentary to our child welfare services. We are a strong service partner and work collaboratively with other services to make sure that we are all working together in a way that supports the community as a whole. In addition, we also have some great programs that are available to everyone in the community, regardless if child welfare service is involved. Our early help offerings in the community include afterschool programs, breakfast programs as well as educational supports so children and youth are able to realize their full potential. We are lucky to have parent volunteers who support the community and are targeted to increasing community belongingness for children and youth.

June is PRIDE month, and we’d like to know what CAS does to ensure kids and youth feel included and seen?


In all of the services we provide, we honor the uniqueness and strength of each individual. This might include having opportunity for mentorship, ensuring our physical space is inclusive or participating in advocacy for children and youth who are struggling in their identity. We strive to offer a service response that resonates for all individuals who receive our service. This includes ensuring that we know who we are serving by asking for identity data which informs our service response for the people we serve. As an organization, we have a strong emphasis upon Equity and Inclusion and are committed to creating a safe service offering everyone by ensuring staff receive training and support in creating a psychologically safe space for all individuals. We have membership with the Rainbow Coalition in our community which has created community training opportunities for all service providers.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about CAS and the work you do in Oxford County?

The main thing that I would like for everyone to know is that as a service resource network, DART’s intention to creating a healthy and vibrant community that is safe and responsive is a goal that The Children’s Aid Society and Family Violence Counselling program is proud to be a part of.  Our best hope is that we are a part of a strong service network that is able to connect people to the service they need, regardless of which service they reach out to.



This year we created a community snapshot to reflect the realities of Oxford County as it relates to matters of gendered based violence. This snapshot was created in collaboration with many community partners.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any forms of domestic and/or sexual violence, or is at risk of human trafficking, please don't hesitate to reach out to Domestic Abuse Services Oxford. If you're looking for resources or to learn more about these issues and how you can support your loved ones, please check out our website under resources.

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