Preserving Independence, Hope, and Dignity since 1967

Help with Domestic Violence

If you or your children are experiencing abuse, Bay Area Legal Services can help you obtain an order of protection. This is called a restraining order or domestic violence injunction, and directs another person not to have any contact with you. The injunction may direct your abuser to:

  • Immediately stop any violence or harassment
  • Leave your shared home
  • Avoid contact with you or your children at home, work, or school
  • Attend a batterer’s intervention course or other appropriate counseling

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

What is Domestic Violence?

Under Florida law, domestic violence is any assault (threat or attempt to do bodily harm), battery (intentional, unlawful touching, or striking), sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking (repeated, willful and malicious pattern of harassing or following), kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another.

Domestic violence can also include a pattern of coercive behavior designed to exert power and control over a person in an intimate relationship, through the use of intimidating, threatening, harmful or harassing behavior. This definition includes multiple forms of abuse – physical, sexual, and emotional or psychological.

What are some of the warning signs that my relationship might involve abuse?

You should become concerned if your partner:

  • Controls all financial activity
  • Insults and calls you names in public or in private
  • Humiliates and belittles you in public or in private
  • Is jealous and possessive
  • Constantly accuses you of infidelity, without basis for doing so
  • Insists on deciding how you should dress
  • Isolates you from family and friends
  • Bans you from studying or working
  • Tries to prevent you from achieving any success
  • Destroys your property and objects of sentimental value
  • Threatens to reveal personal or damaging information about you to your family, friends, or employer
  • Uses child/children as pawn in relationship
  • Is cruel to children or animals

Where can a domestic violence victim obtain an Injunction for Protection?

Click on the link for your county for information about how to obtain an injunction in your community. Once you have your temporary order, you can call BALS, Gulfcoast Legal Services (Pinellas), HOPE Family Services (Manatee), and SPARCC (Sarasota) to apply for representation at your hearing. If you are not certain whether you should seek an injunction, we can also assist you with making that determination.

Hillsborough County:

Pasco County:

Pinellas County:

Manatee County
(look for "Violence Protection" at the bottom of the page)

Sarasota County:

Domestic Violence Centers:

The Spring of Tampa Bay (Tampa):
(also provides emergency shelter)

Sunrise of Pasco County (E. Pasco):
(also provides emergency shelter)

Salvation Army Domestic Violence Program (W. Pasco):
(also provides emergency shelter)

Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) (St. Petersburg):
(also provides emergency shelter)

The Haven (Clearwater):
(also provides emergency shelter)

HOPE Family Services (Manatee):
(also provides emergency shelter)

Safe Place And Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) (Sarasota):
(also provides emergency shelter)

Auxiliary Aids Plan - Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. - Domestic Violence Programs

Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. (BALS) shall comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794, as implemented by 45 C.F.R. Part 84 (hereinafter referred to as Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12131, as implemented by 28 C.F.R. Part 35 (hereinafter referred to as ADA).

This plan is available in alternative formats at the request of staff and participants.  This plan will be disseminated to persons and agencies working with people living with a disability and Limited English Proficient and will be posted on BALS’s website.

Single Point of Contact

The Single Point of Contact, Gretel Magdalena, will ensure effective communication with Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing customers or companions in accordance with Section 504 and the ADA. The Single Point of Contact shall ensure that employees are aware of the requirements, roles, responsibilities, and contact points associated with compliance with Section 504 and the ADA.


Provision of Auxiliary Aids and Services

BALS will at all times recognize that the customer or companion’s preference is the primary consideration in determining what auxiliary aids or services to provide. If communication through a specific auxiliary aid or service is deemed to be ineffective, staff will ask the customer or companion to determine a more effective auxiliary aid or service for communication.  Documentation shall be made in the customer’s file regarding the attempt to improve the effectiveness of auxiliary aids and services.

If a participant or companion is Deaf or hard of hearing, The Center’s staff shall obtain auxiliary aids according to the communication assessment and requested for services.  All ASL interpreters’ certifications shall be verified.

Staff that is unfamiliar with the auxiliary aid or service requested shall contact their Single Point of Contact (SPOC), 504/ADA Coordinator (Civil Rights Officer) or their Supervisor, for assistance in locating appropriate resources to ensure effective communication with clients, customers and companions.

Provision of Interpreters in a Timely Manner

BALS staff shall provide interpreters for customers and companions who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing in a timely manner in accordance to the following standards:

  1. Non-Scheduled Interpreter Requests: For any emergency situation that is not a scheduled appointment, staff shall make an interpreter available as soon as possible, but in no case later than two (2) hours from the time the customer or companion or staff requests an interpreter, whichever is earlier. If the situation is not an emergency, staff shall offer to schedule an appointment (and provide an interpreter where necessary for effective communication) as convenient to the customer or companion, but at least by the next business day
  2. Scheduled Interpreter Requests: For scheduled events, staff shall make a qualified interpreter available at the time of the scheduled appointment. If an interpreter fails to appear for the scheduled appointment, staff shall take whatever additional actions are necessary to make a qualified interpreter available to the customer or companion who is deaf or hard-of-hearing as soon as possible, but in no case later than two (2) hours after the scheduled appointment

Auxiliary Aids Documentation

BALS shall document the customer or companion’s preferred method of communication and any requested auxiliary aids and services provided in the customer’s program file. Documents and forms evidencing when and how The Center provided auxiliary aids and services to customers or companions shall be retained within the customer’s corresponding file for seven years. Forms include but are not limited:

  • Customer or Companion Assessment and Assessment and Auxiliary Aid and Service Record
  • Customer or Companion Request for Free Communication Assistance or Waiver
  • Customer or Companion Feedback form
  • Auxiliary Aid Service Record Monthly Summary Report

This documentation will continue to be kept for record keeping with the SPOC.

Denied Auxiliary Requests

Documentation, with supporting justification, must also be made if any request was not honored. The Center’s Executive Director is the only person that can deny auxiliary aid requests made by a customer or companion.  If a staff person is not familiar with an auxiliary aid request, please contact the SPOC for information as well as ask the survivor for any information that you may need to secure this aid, but reiterate that the cost of any auxiliary aid is the responsibility of the agency and not the participant.



If customers or companions are referred to other agencies, the provider must ensure that the receiving agency is notified of the customer or companion’s preferred method of communication and any auxiliary aid or service needs. In order to accommodate this, The Shelter will ensure that the referral is desired by the participant and that he or she signs a Release of Information Form.

Customer Feedback Form

The provider shall distribute Customer/Companion Feedback Forms to customers or companions that are Deaf or hard of hearing and provide assistance in completing the forms if requested by the customer or companion. The original Customer/Companion Feedback Form shall be mailed to DCF, Office of Civil Rights, 1317 Winewood Boulevard, Building 1, Room110, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0700 by the participant or if requested, by The Center. A copy of the Customer Feedback Form shall not be kept in the file.


Documentation/Record Retention

Original records relating to auxiliary aids and services provided shall be retained in the client or customer’s file or records.  All final requests for accommodations, along with relevant documentation, will be forwarded to the designated 504/ADA Coordinator.


The Single-Point-of-Contact will ensure that conspicuous Notices which provide information about the availability of appropriate auxiliary aids and services at no-cost to the deaf or hard-of-hearing customers or companions are posted near where people enter or are admitted within the center locations.  The SPOC’s name and contact information should be on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Poster as well at the name and contact information for the ADA 504 Coordinator.

The approved Notices can be downloaded through the Internet at:


Event Accommodations

The Center shall ensure accessibility to meetings, conferences and seminars to persons with disabilities, limited English proficiency, and Deaf or hard of hearing by placing the following statement on all event notices and advertisements prior to the event:

The Center will provide accommodations, including American Sign Language interpreters, assistive listening devices, alternative formats of printed materials and real-time captioning upon request for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or are living with disabilities. To ensure accommodations, please make your request within 7 days prior to the event to Gretel Magdalena at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Staff Training

The staff shall receive training on how to provide auxiliary aids and services for persons with disabilities and limited English proficiency (LEP) within 60 days of commencing employment. The Center’s staff shall receive an annual refresher training on auxiliary aids and services for persons with disabilities and limited English proficiency (LEP). The Center’s staff shall be trained to use the TTY phone and video relay call.  Training documentation shall be maintained in each employee’s training file.


AuxiliaryAid Resources

Florida Video Relay – 7-1-1

Through the Florida Relay Service, people who use specialized telephone equipment can communicate with people who use standard telephone equipment. To call Florida Relay, dial 7-1-1, or use the appropriate toll free numbers below:

1-800-955-8771 (TTY)

1-800-955-8770 (Voice)

1-877-955-8773 (Spanish)

1-877-955-8707 (French Creole)

Video Remote Interpreting

Through a video remote interpreter people can use an interpreter via technology to communicate with a participant in stead of an in person interpreter.  This is a good resource for emergency situations with limited time to get an in person interpreter as well as if there are few local community resources for certified interpreters.  Below is the phone number for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf which will provide contact information for certified video remote interpreting.

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf:  (703) 838-0030 (Video Remote Interpreters)

CART-Captioning Real Time and Providers

Captioning (Real Time). This is the simultaneous conversion of spoken words to text, through computer-assisted transcription or court reporting, and displaying that text on a video screen. This communication service is beneficial to individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing that do not use sign language or for whom assistive listening devices and systems are ineffective.

Kaptions4U, LLC
Brandi Kent, RPR, CBC, CRR, CCP

Tanya Ward English, CRR-CCP-CBC This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Florida Realtime Reporting

Marianne E. Sayers, RPR, CRR
Fort Myers Court Reporting
2231 First Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901
941-334-1411 941-334-1476 fax

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf:  (703) 838-0030


Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Certified Sign Language Interpreters:


(703) 838-0030


For Limited English Speaking Survivors:


Please use the following service:

Optimal Phone Interpreters (OPI)

Before Call:

Know the language that is needed

Be prepared to brief the interpreter about the nature of the call before he/she speaks to your Limited English Speaker

If you have non English Speaker on the phone call OPI and connect a 3 way call

For outbound calls, provide the operator with a dial out number and she will make a 3 way conference call

How to Make a Call to OPI:

Dial 1-877-344-9674 you will be asked

  • What language you need
  • Where you are calling from and respond: BALS
  • What is your first and last name
  • What is the code number for your agency---650

During the Call:

  • Speak in short phrases or sentences

  • Avoid slang, jargon, and technical terms
  • Check for understanding from your Limited English Speaker throughout the call.  If needed, rephrase the questions or statements until understood
  • When speaking to the interpreter, do not give and/or ask too much information at one time.
  • Ask questions in the first person

Ending the Call:

Be sure the Limited English Speaker and Optimal Interpreter know that the call is ending.

Customer Complaints

If you believe you were wrongfully denied access to services or discriminated against:

1. Inform the person who denied access to services that you believe they wrongfully denied you services and why you believe that is the case.

2.  Ask to speak to a manager, immediately.

3.  You may submit your complaint/grievance in writing or verbally.  Direct your concern to the Advocate Services Manager or Director of Victims Services.  Include the following information:

a.         What service were you denied?

b.         What were you told was the reason you were denied service?

c.         What person denied you services?

d.         What was the date you were denied service?

In addition to the above actions, discrimination complaints may also be filed externally with the state and federal government.


Assistant Staff Director for Civil Rights

1317 Winewood Boulevard

Building 1, Room 110

Tallahassee, FL  32399-0700



Executive Director

Florida Commission on Human Relations

2009 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL  32301-4857



US Department of Health & Human Services

Office for Civil Rights

Atlanta Federal Center, Suite 3B70

61 Forsyth Street, SW

Atlanta, GA 30303-8909



US Department of Justice

Coordination & Review Section

Civil Rights Division

P.O. Box 66118

Washington, DC  20035-6118



If you would like to apply now, click on the box below.
Serving Florida: Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties.
Hurricane Irma disaster resources.graphic