I am a novice player. I have seen many White players using the Queen's Gambit (1. d4, 2. c4) which actually dominates the center and inflicts humongous damage at the expense of only one white pawn. What should be my response towards such a strategy?
If White wants to gambit a pawn, then give him a taste of his own medicine. The Albin Countergambit takes the game in a rather different direction that might be more to your liking.
And of course, there's always the option of not playing 1... d5. Indian defenses (1... Nf6) are obviously popular, and the Dutch (1... f5) has a character of its own.
You do not have to accept the gambit with 2... dxc4. This is chess, not draughts; capturing is not mandatory. (You know that, but this is a standard reply to gambits and other sacrifices.)
Both 2... e6 (the 'orthodox' Queen's Gambit Declined) and 2... c6 (the Slav) are solid choices, many grandmasters have them in their repertoire. Black's position might be a little cramped in some of the lines that follow, but (s)he'll keep a strong influence in the center.