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“Women leaving an abusive partner need support in many areas of their lives.”

It’s important to understand what agencies and services exist within Durham Region to support women impacted by abuse and violence. Follow us through the “Behind the Scenes” series as we dig a little deeper into the network of agencies and individuals, responsible for helping women live free from abuse and violence.

To start off, we are taking a look at DRIVEN (Durham Region Intimate Relationship Violence Empowerment Network). They serve as a “one-stop shop”, bringing together co-located agencies who work collaboratively, to provide a more holistic environment and remove barriers for women accessing services.

Riley Spigarelli, Program Manager for DRIVEN is the author of the first in this series:

“Women leaving an abusive partner need support in many areas of their lives. DRIVEN brings together a variety of critical services for women. Our services are free, with on-site child care and assistance with transportation to and from our location, via taxi.

DRIVEN has ten on-site partners and seventeen off-site partners throughout Durham Region, that are dedicated to breaking down barriers and providing support that is safe, comforting and convenient for survivors of gender-based violence and abuse.

‘The goals of DRIVEN include prevention of re-victimization, increased safety, and maximizing a woman’s limited time and finances.

‘Leaving an abusive situation is an extremely difficult step to take. DRIVEN works to ensure the transition for women is as safe and seamless as possible. Providing access to basic needs such as food, housing support, financial assistance, safety and security for themselves and their children, is the starting point for women who come through the doors of DRIVEN. Once these essential needs have been addressed and put into place, DRIVEN member agencies can help women create the next steps in planning to break free from abuse and violence, which may include legal advice, court support and child protection.

DRIVEN’s excellence in service and continued success stems from a collaborative effort by community agencies, partners and individuals, in-kind donations of on-site staff and support of many allies. They are united by the common goal to provide ease of access for essential services for women who are impacted by gender-based violence and abuse.

‘To get a sense of what a woman can expect when she comes through the doors at DRIVEN, front-line staff were asked about their experience working at DRIVEN and what they would say to a woman thinking about accessing services:

‘As a front-line worker at DRIVEN, I have had the joy of working with dedicated women who are passionate about the services they provide. I have gained a greater understanding of the supports and services available from community partners and can more confidently refer clients to other agencies.’

‘My experience working as a front-line staff has been great because:

‘I can assist women with accessing multiple services on-site… Collaboration with community partners makes services for women better and so much easier for them to access and understand…I’ve learned so much from everyone and in particular, I’ve gained a new perspective on the different aspects of domestic violence and it’s effects.’

DRIVEN has been a wonderful experience that has allowed me to learn more about the resources and supports in the community, which helps me to feel like I can better support clients. It also helps me to understand the barriers that our clients face in terms of accessing services and how, as agencies we can work to make these transitions easier for clients. I have witnessed through this front-line work, the power in a client becoming aware of services that are in place to support them in various capacities, that they did not know existed before and how transformative gaining this information can be for them.’


‘To new clients who are thinking about accessing services, I would encourage them to do so. A lot can be accomplished during one trip to DRIVEN and many connections can be made to assist someone in becoming free of domestic violence.’

DRIVEN is a great starting point to learn about what services are available in the community. It’s a place where they (women) can learn about their rights, can develop a safety plan and can get support with coping with the abuse and with the process of leaving an abuser.’

‘I would want them (women) to know that going through DRIVEN is a great way for them at the very least to get an understanding and have knowledge of resources/supports that are available in the Region to support them through their experience. Even if women are not ready to take the next steps, having the knowledge of how they can access services, and what the whole process looks like for each service provider, will make it easier for them and removes barriers for when they are ready.’

DRIVEN is located in Oshawa, hours are Monday’s from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, excluding statutory holidays. For more information visit the DRIVEN website or call 905-432-7233, email: to set up an appointment or to learn more about what DRIVEN has to offer.”

Many thanks to Riley Spigarelli and the member agencies of DRIVEN for the wonderful work they do and for contributing to Behind the Scenes.

And thanks to you for sharing this link with those you think might be interested in ending violence against women.