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.