Dianne Levy was born on January 1, 1947 in London, England. When she was a child, she moved with her parents to the United States, first to New York and then to Kentucky. She moved back to England in the 1960s, where she became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement. In the 1970s, she moved to Cosby, Tennessee, and soon became aware of domestic violence in her community. She began housing women who were trying to escape abusive spouses and eventually founded Safe Space, a domestic violence shelter. She was an early member of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and helped to write legislation that provided protections for victims of domestic violence in Tennessee.