Our History

In 1999, five Deaf women from the Washington metropolitan area founded DAWN (doing business as Deaf Abused Women's Network) in order to end domestic violence/sexual violence (DV/SV) in the Deaf community. In the fall of 2003, Dawn officially opened its doors and provided direct support services to women and their families in the Deaf community.

Over the past 14 years, DAWN served over 300 Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind survivors who have experienced DV/SV and stalking.

Today, DAWN continues to serve women in the Deaf community but has broadened its reach to serve Deaf male and female survivors across all demographics including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. DAWN is a Deaf-run, community-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to educating the community about domestic violence and sexual violence.

We will be forever indebted to our five founders:

  • Madeline Davis-Shelton
  • Lucielle Dorsey
  • Laureen Lynch-Ryan
  • Ralena McDevitt
  • Sandy McLennon