A brief history of DASO
The Women’s Emergency Centre – Oxford was one of the first five shelters for abused women and their children in Canada.
The development of a safe place for a woman to go with her children when she wished to remove herself from a situation of physical danger was part of a change in the collective conscience. Originally meeting at the YWCA as a conscious raising group, the members of the “Women’s Centre” recognized the need for a service for women with children through their association with local agencies and organizations. The first meeting of the Women’s Emergency Centre was held in June of 1974.
The doors of ‘591 Hatch’ were officially opened to women in August 1974 with Lee Lakeman living in the home as the unpaid co-coordinator. Community volunteers assisted in staffing the Centre and women’s church groups provided the food.
During the first year, 114 women stayed overnight with their children in the small house. Some of the women came from outside of Oxford County, having learned of a “safe house” via word of mouth.
February 1975: The Women’s Emergency Centre (Woodstock) Inc. was granted its official name, recognizing both what it had developed out of (The Women’s Centre) and the services provided
August 1976: With CMHC funding, the Centre purchased a larger home at 768 Lawrason Street.
September 1990: The Sexual Assault Crisis Line operated by Telecare was moved to the W.E.C.
October 1991: The official opening of the 975 James Street facility which was funded through the Ministry of Housing fund. It was designed to ensure disabled women and children could access services. The new building also offered increased security, privacy and space.
2000: New monies were received from the Ministry of Community and Social Services for two new programs. A Women’s Transitional Worker was hired full time to assist women in overcoming barriers in moving ahead with their lives free of abuse. Funding for a Child Witness Program was received and our program Journeys was launched.
2003: The Women’s Emergency Centre (Woodstock) Inc. changes its corporate name to Women’s Emergency Centre – Oxford to better reflect the county-wide nature of our services. We participated in an on-line counselling research project with Shelternet.ca for “e-counselling.”
2007: Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is initiated by the community with the WEC Sexual Assault program being the recipient. Plans are started to restore sexual assault counselling in Tillsonburg with these funds. A new group “Survivor to Thrivor” is developed and funded by a small increase from MCSS. The CAW undertakes a massive Bob White Charity Golf Classic, raising $15,000 for the WEC and $65,000 for Women’s Community House in London. This is a very successful partnership!
2011: The agency changes its name to Domestic Abuse Services Oxford. The new name reflects the expanded scope of services offered and underscores the agency’s status as a community leader and a vital resource for domestic abuse issues in the county.