The organization was started as a grassroots effort led by local residents, some of whom had been involved in abusive relationships themselves. CODA was established for two purposes:
To establish and support a shelter for survivors of domestic abuse and their minor children
To educate the community about the existence of domestic violence in the local area and across the country
Under the sponsorship of the Terre Haute Housing Authority, CODA opened its first shelter in 1985. It was a small, four-bedroom home that served as the shelter until December of 1986.
CODA leased a different facility from the Terre Haute Housing Authority for a year.
CODA purchased its first facility. Major renovations were required for the attic, bathroom and yard. Grant monies, donations and the hard work of many volunteers allowed CODA to convert the house into livable space by November of 1988.
CODA asked the City Council to rezone several properties on South 14th Street to use as transitional housing for survivors of domestic abuse. The request was approved.
The current shelter was acquired with funding from the redevelopment commission.
CODA transitioned into a dual-program and started serving victims of sexual assault in addition to victims of domestic violence.
The shelter capacity was doubled with an addition to the shelter and funding from the development commission.
In 2017 the Board of Directors and CODA Directors made the decision to make the shelter location public. This decision was made to decrease Survivor feelings of shame and humiliation, to take away the requirement for Survivors to be dropped off five blocks away from shelter and to have to walk, and allowing Survivors to walk right up to the front door to receive services. Extra security measures were put into place including a perimeter fence around the backyard, new security cameras and a security vestibule.
Perimeter fence around the backyard