Mission Statement

To promote the empowerment of and equality for Ohio’s diverse Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities by offering culturally affirmative advocacy and education, while inspiring community accountability, in response to oppression and relationship and sexual violence.

We are a Deaf-run agency

We have been providing direct advocacy service for 20 years to the Deaf, Deaf Blind, Deaf Disabled, and Hard of Hearing Communities.


In the spring of 2000, a group of Deaf Women from Columbus was concerned about the safety of women and their children exposed to violence. An opportunity came along when Abused Deaf Women Advocacy Services (ADWAS), located in Seattle, Washington, received a federal grant provided by the U.S. Department of Justice to provide a series of training on domestic violence and sexual assault experienced by Deaf Women and their children.


After attending the training in Seattle, Washington, the group of Deaf Women returned to Columbus and formed a working committee that eventually became DWAVE’s Board. The Board developed bylaws and secured non-profit status by February.


DWAVE developed a working partnership with Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (SARNCO) recruiting Deaf volunteers to become Hospital Advocates. After attending SARNCO’s 40-hour hospital advocate training, DWAVE’s volunteers began to work in hospital settings.


DWAVE received its’ first grant money from the Columbus Fountain. The grant allowed DWAVE to hire several community presenters to educate the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Communities about domestic and sexual violence.


Ohio Department of Health and Department of Justice granted DWAVE funds to hire full time staff members. DWAVE was thrilled to hire a program director, prevention coordinator and an office assistant/interpreter.


DWAVE grew and currently employs four full time staff members that are actively involved in providing prevention and intervention of crime and trauma in the Deaf and Hearing Communities.


Schedule a meeting with our advocates

Learn more about the services we offer

Personal Stories

Testimonial #1
Testimonial #2
Testimonial #3
previous arrow
next arrow
Testimonial #1
Testimonial #2
Testimonial #3
previous arrow
next arrow


Schedule a meeting with our advocates

Schedule a meeting with our advocates

Meet our Team

Rose Larson
Rose LarsonExecutive Director
Sarah Bernholtz
Sarah BernholtzOutreach Advocate
Trenna Paxton
Trenna PaxtonOutreach Advocate
Denny Stark
Denny StarkTrauma-Informed Communication Advocate

Meet our Board

DeAnna Swope
DeAnna SwopeBoard President
DeAnna Swope is a community advocate at heart and has been involved in different fields. She is currently the president on DWAVE board. She is on several boards and is currently an interpreter mentor for NAOBI-Atlanta. She is currently working as a program director of BRIDGES, a Deaf-led domestic violence program in GA. DeAnna has obtained BA in social and criminal justice and MA in public administration. She is a happily married mother of 5 children.
Ty Shahan
Ty ShahanBoard Treasurer
Ty Shahan is a sign language interpreter from Canal Winchester, Ohio. He has interpreted on national and international levels in various settings. Currently, he serves as the treasurer on the executive committee of the D.W.A.V.E. Board of Trustees and is a founding member of Columbus Deaf Theatre. When Ty isn’t interpreting, he can typically be found in the garden or out playing with his dogs.
Marshall Harris
Marshall Harris Board Member
Marshall Harris, a 2013 Gallaudet alumni, is a Deaf professor at The Ohio State University. Originally from North Carolina Marshall moved to Columbus, Ohio in 2019. He has worked in various educational settings ranging from pre-k to university, as well, working with Deaf youth at summer camps for almost 18 years. He has a passion for providing support and improving his community. In his free time Marshall enjoys the outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and playing darts competitively.
Cheryl Prusinski
Cheryl PrusinskiBoard Member
Cheryl Prusinski identifies herself as a white Deaf woman. She is an assistant professor of instruction at Ohio University (OU) with the Communication Sciences and Disorders department. At OU, she teaches advanced American Sign Language and Introduction to Deaf Culture. Prusinski has a Master of Arts degree in Teaching American Sign Language from University of Northern Colorado in 2016 and a Master of Sciences degree in Educational Leadership from University of Dayton in 2012. She has held various leadership roles in advocating for equal rights of Deaf people and people with disabilities. One of her proudest accomplishments involved working with deaf women in Columbus, Ohio to implement a non-profit organization, Deaf World Against Violence Everywhere (DWAVE) to address the gap in service for deaf survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual violence. Working in this field requires ongoing dialogue and increased sensitivity about social injustice. As a classroom educator, Prusinski recognizes the value in creating an all-inclusive learning environment that respects and reflects all learners. She believes regular self-introspection is necessary to examine how our implicit biases may affect teaching and learning. Prusinski is interested in collaborating with community partners to examine best practices that foster inclusiveness.
Linda Adams
Linda AdamsBoard Member
Linda is a Southern Ohio gal at heart. Born and raised in Piketon, Ohio however she spent most of her time at the Ohio School for the Deaf also known as her second home. Growing up in a hearing family who knew minimal American Sign Language, Linda vowed to give back to the community especially the Deaf community. Linda became a very active advocate for Northwest Ohio. The past thirty years, Linda has been an ASL instructor, Deaf mentor, domestic violence survivor advocate and involved with Deaf organizations. In those Deaf organizations, she often serves as an executive board member. Not only that, Linda also worked alongside Governor DeWine to better serve our Deaf community needs. As you can see, the Deaf community is cherished in her heart. Linda currently resides in Clyde, Ohio with her longtime sweetheart of 39 years and beloved dog. Linda enjoys spending time with her family, grandchildren, antique shopping, dining out and interior design in her home.
Alli Kisker
Alli KiskerBoard Member
Alli Kisker (they/she) is an American Sign Language Interpreter originally from Lancaster, Ohio. She serves as the ASL interpreter for Deaf Faculty at Ohio University. Alli joined the DWAVE board in Jan 2023. In her free time, Alli enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and being outdoors.
Nico Fuentes
Nico FuentesBoard Member
Nico Fuentes (they/them; hearing) is a queer artist, activist, and ASL interpreter in the foothills of Appalachian Ohio. They previously served as a staff member for Southeast Ohio rape crisis center at the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program. While there, Fuentes worked with survivors in jail and in youth sexual assault prevention where dialectical art-making can catalyze community-building and systemic change. In their free time they’re often at home in the country cooking and eating or playing in the woods with friends.