NDCAWS was formed in 1978 as an informal group of five programs which had organized across the state of North Dakota to provide shelter and advocacy to battered women. In June of 1980, it was incorporated in the State of North Dakota. 1979 was a critical year, solidifying a statewide coalition through the passage of the state's first domestic violence protection order statute. In 1981, a director was hired through a grant from the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. In 1992, the Council on Abused Women's Services merged with the Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota. NDCAWS continues to seek legislation, policy, and systems changes to promote victim safety and offender accountability. Its 21 member programs serve on a variety of committees and forums designed to take action on specific relevant issues.