Dawn arrives in Emmerdale as the fiancée of Terry Woods. It was revealed that she is Bob Hope's daughter but she had not seen much of him since he left her, her mother Jean, and brother, Jamie, when she was four-years-old. Bob was against the idea of Dawn marrying Terry because of their 27 year age gap, but she married him anyway in March 2003. They had a son together: Terry Junior, or "T.J." as he is usually known. Dawn and Terry split up after he suffered a stroke just after T.J was born. Unable to cope with a newborn baby and an ill husband at such a young age, Dawn ended their marriage.
When Dawn's mother Jean arrived from Spain, Jean was jealous as she secretly loved Terry, but he knocked her back, so she persuaded Dawn to try to get T.J as sole custody. Although Terry appealed for joint custody, the court ruled that Dawn should have sole custody as they could not force Dawn to have joint custody as it's not what she wanted to live with. Dawn could not face that Terry had had a stroke, and gets tired and is a possible risk to T.J so she applied for sole custody just to be sure.
Dawn then began a relationship with her stepbrother, Scott Windsor. They begin their relationship just before she divorced Terry and the only person she told was Bob. Scott and Dawn moved in together and Dawn was devastated and angry when Scott agreed to flee to America with Zoe Tate. Scott had kept it a secret from everyone and sent Dawn a letter in the post explaining that she was his step-sister, and if it went further, people would think it was weird, so he had "convinced" himself not to love her, and he was leaving with Zoe to be with his daughter in his house, not stay in her house with her son while Zoe left with Baby Jean. Dawn then went to Spain to stay with Jean because she could not bear to see Scott. Dawn began to ignore Bob's phonecalls, unaware that he was ringing her to say Scott was in critical condition in hospital after being injected with ketamine after attempting to rape Zoe. Donna Windsor-Dingle finally managed to get through to Bob in hospital, and he told her about Dawn's letter from Scott. The letter was then snatched by Viv Hope, and Dawn flew back from Spain just in time for Scott to wake up. Although Dawn seemed to forgive him, when Paddy Kirk dropped out as a witness against Zoe, it came out that Scott had been blackmailing Paddy, and the witness meant nothing, and the court was forced to admit Zoe was not-guilty to attempted murder. Scott then attacked Paddy and Donna, and while Marlon and Dawn were breaking up the fight, he punched her by mistake. This led to Dawn locking herself in the house with T.J and calling the police. Scott was arrested for assault, and he tried to shout he was 'provoked' but was shocked when he found out that he was there for assault charges from Dawn. Dawn had seen Scott's true colours, and finally realized he was capable of what Zoe claimed he had done, so this ended their relationship as Dawn was scared he would rape her. While Scott was doing a prison sentence, Dawn then began dating Danny Daggert, but broke up with him after she realised she wasn't ready to settle down. Scott took revenge on Dawn for rejecting him by reporting her for benefit fraud. Dawn had been taking odd jobs to better support T.J and was officially charged and served three of the six weeks imprisonment to which she was sentenced.
Discovering, on her release from prison, that Terry and her mother were now a couple, she demanded they end their relationship. They refused and Dawn reminded Terry that it was her mother who dripped poison in her ear when it came to the custody battle, and that neither of them had a right to T.J as she had sole custody, and Dawn decided that neither Terry or her mother could see T.J and Dawn took T.J to Cornwall on holiday. On her return, she told her family that she had met someone in Cornwall and planned to take T.J and move down there. Terry did not want her and T.J to go but she refused to listen. She allowed Terry to take T.J out for the day on 13 July 2006, so she could pack her and T.J's belongings but Terry was late returning him, meaning she and T.J missed their flight. Wanting something to do, Dawn went with Marlon Dingle and his wife - Dawn's step-sister - Donna to view their new house, the King's River Show Home. Nobody knew that Sadie King had set up Kings River to explode, and when the boiler room door was open, the house went up. Dawn was one of the first people to be pulled out of the wreckage, and she made it out alive. Dawn was then taken in an ambulance with Bob to hospital, where she was checked in the ambulance by the Paramedic Peter, who treated Terry. Everyone thought Dawn was fine, as she was laughing and giggling as usual. The doctors were preparing to keep her for observation then release her, but when Bob went to get coffee for her, he returned to Peter telling him that Dawn hadn't made it. Bob didn't believe it as she was fine, but when he went to assess the body, he was told that Dawn had gone into Cardiac Arrest and died due to internal injuries and internal burns. As Terry and T.J arrived at the hospital, Terry broke down to hear of Dawn's death. When he split from Jean, he was awarded custody of T.J even though Jean thought she had more of a claim to him. T.J lived with Terry until 2011, when Terry was killed in the village fire. Dawn and Terry are now together, and T.J is living in Morocco with Jean