Protecting victims, preventing violence,  and empowering survivors

History, Mission & Goals


The Domestic Violence Center of Rutherford County was started in 1986. Deborah Johnson was the program founder and served as the Executive Director for 30 years until 2016. The program started with a tiny, one room office, with a desk and a phone, two salaries, and limited services funded by VOCA. In 1988, two safe houses and counseling services were added.

After 15 years of hard advocacy work, in 2003 the program was able to build a confidential, emergency, safe shelter – deemed the Bernard House. In 2007 Domestic Violence Program merged with Sexual Assault Services, becoming a duel program that provided hospital accompaniment, counseling, and legal services to victims of sexual assault and stalking, in addition to domestic violence.

The organization continues to grow and mold to fit the needs of its growing and changing community, to better assist the women, men, and children who find themselves in the crisis and critical situation of domestic and sexual violence.


At Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center our mission is simple: to PROTECT victims, PREVENT violence, and EMPOWER survivors.

We accomplish this by providing citizens of Rutherford County with the resources and assistance necessary to effectively deal with the personal, social, and legal implications of victimization by domestic violence and sexual assault.


  • CLIENT OUTCOMES: Deliver quality crisis services to ensure the safety of our clients and to help them achieve improved social emotional wellbeing.
  • EDUCATION & AWARENESS: Educate the community about the incidence and causes of domestic violence and sexual assault, and increase awareness of the critical importance of the services we provide.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Increase and diversify financial support to sustain our mission.
  • STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS: Continue to build relationships with public and private organizations to achieve greater impact.
  • ORGANIZATION CAPACITY: Develop and strengthen the organization’s capacity to fulfill our mission goals.