To the Editor: Domestic violence victim was deaf and at my doorstep

"I was completely vulnerable and helpless."

deaf culture, ocala news, marion county sheriff's office, ocala post, op, deaf community,

Note: Before readers jump to conclusions and attack the writer, readers should realize that this information was addressed with the Sheriff’s Office first and posted to their Facebook page. The post was later deleted. The Sheriff’s Office stated that they do not have a need for an interpreter.

Ocala, Florida — I usually keep to myself, try to be a positive person, and keep my nose out of other people’s problems, but this past week a situation was presented to me and I was completely vulnerable and helpless.

It was 10:30 at night and I was getting ready for bed. All of a sudden, there was someone banging on my door.

I looked out the window and there was a woman whom I have never met before and she seemed desperate. I opened the door and she was frantically trying to tell me to call the police. The problem was, she is deaf.

I left her on my porch and tried my best to tell her to hold on a minute so I could find a pen and paper.

I got my son to help with the writing back and forth while I called 911.

By this time, we had determined that her boyfriend was drunk and abusive. She had a black eye and visible red marks about her body. There were also three children she had to leave behind.

The dispatcher said deputies were on their way after taking all of this information and told me to call back if anything happened before the cops arrived. Let me state the obvious just in case you missed it. I was on my porch with a deaf woman whom I didn’t know, whose crazed boyfriend was four doors down, and the 911 dispatcher hangs up the call! [That] was a no-no in itself, and it gets worse.

I was afraid to let her in my house because you hear stories of people being victimized in these situations. Now, let me start this part by saying that I commend the deputies who finally showed up, even though It did take a very stressful 45 minutes for them to arrive.

While we were on the porch, the boyfriend drove by, and I thought the woman was going to lose her mind, so I turned off the porch light so we couldn’t be seen. I finally felt safe enough to move her inside rather than risk her boyfriend seeing her and stopping. I texted with my boyfriend while all this was going on, so I had somebody to help if something went wrong. But I was still very uncomfortable.

So the deputies got there and attempted to talk to her. I told them, even though they should have already been told, that she is deaf. So, they began using my note pad to converse with this poor woman. I showed them all the notes my son and I had already taken, and finally, out of frustration, the woman writes out that she needed an interpreter. Oh, thank goodness! What an awesome idea!

One of the deputies went to his patrol car to contact somebody about an interpreter while the other one continued writing back and forth with the woman.

Then, I got really upset.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office does not have a sign language interpreter on staff or standby. I was so upset! We had wasted and lost two hours with a drunken and abusive man, and three children who were possibly in danger because law enforcement could not communicate quickly with this woman.

This is not right! I know that we have many deaf people in Marion County; I see them in restaurants, grocery stores, and driving around town.

This is why I am writing this letter.

The deaf community needs to know that if they are in an emergency situation and need to communicate with the police, they will not be heard clearly. They will not be heard quickly. They will not be heard! They do not have a voice in an emergency situation and a lot of things could be missed.

So, the end of my story did work out. Three hours after calling 911, they arrested the boyfriend, who had the children in the car with him.

I drove the mother to get the kids and the car so she could get them back home.

A lot of things could have happened in those three hours, but this time we got lucky.

So please, share this information with friends, family, and anyone you know that is deaf or uses sign language to communicate. Check with your local Police and Sheriff’s Offices and insist they have an interpreter.

There is nothing worse than not being able to communicate when you are scared.

Becky Harbin

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  • tomfromocala

    Of course it was deleted. That is what they do best. MCSOs motto is “comply or die.” (That little cherry of a slogan was posted by one of THEIR deputies on open forum) Almost as funny as Don Maines comparing deputies to soldiers heroes.This shit pisses me off. When will people wake up. Blair and his goons are as corrupt as they come. The deputies did their best, but they are only as good as their POS leader. And people wonder why MCSO is being investigated. Come on people…OPEN YOUR EYES AND ELECT A NEW SHERIFF. Thank you OP for being on top of this and allowing this woman to tell her story.

    • Ms Betty

      All of MCSO should be replaced including “Major Don Maines”. He likes to monitor this site and has deleted responses that he doesn’t approve of or who disagree with him, I know that for a fact, Blair never should have gotten into office in the first place but we’re dealing with the good ole buddy system.

      • tomfromocala

        Completely agree. Don Maines is a troll and I, too, know he flags comments that go against the sheriff’s office. They don’t just need to be replaced, they need to be arrested and thrown into prison.

  • tiredofit

    The Blair supports waiting in line to suck his dick make me laugh. He was corrupt when he was a major and he is corrupt now.

  • DisqusGuest

    Disqus Guest post, unverified email address

  • RahRizzy

    I offered myself as a volunteer interpreter. Volunteer meaning as needed, pro bono, no cost to MCSO, the community, or taxpayers.. I was told that there was no need for ASL interpreters. I was then transferred to the jail’s HR director (because criminals need interpreters even if their victims do not) and told the jail pays a private contactor for anyone who needs an interpreter.

    • Ted Allen Hart

      It is illegal for the city to hire an interpreter without paying them so even if you offered to be a volunteer interpreter, they would have to by law say no.

  • TerpZ

    This article is enlightening and brings attention to the everyday reality of deaf people. Access to communication: its the biggest hurdle in our society for deaf people among other things.Access to communication is not only a human right, its the law. The ADA requires all public and private entities (with only certain few exceptions—and I mean FEW) to provide sign language interpreters for deaf people who are sign language users (note: not all deaf people know and use sign language). If a deaf person requests an interpreter the police department needs to do their due diligence in finding a certified interpreter especially in legal matters. Volunteer/pro-bono sign language interpreters is not appropriate or the standard. There are also interpreters who have special training and are certified SC:L (Specialist Certificate: Legal) but these interpreters come few and far between. Departments will not hire interpreters to sit on standby 24-7 due to the population size of deaf people who utilize sign language interpreters (this is true in medial ER situations as well). These are factors to keep in mind when we think about how can society make the world more accessible to deaf people.

    • RahRizzy

      Volunteer is better than nothing at all. In emergencies, the important thing is that the victim is understood well enough to be helped in a timely manner. Does MCSO/OPD need to retain certified interpreters? A thousand times yes. Should volunteers be allowed to be on call for emergencies? Also yes. At this time, that’s the best we can do until they are forced to comply with ADA. As deplorable as this is, a few dedicated volunteers could make it at least a little bit better for now.

  • Henry Exhaust

    This is from an internal mail from the Los Angeles, California Sheriff Department:


    The Sheriff’s Department established an annual encumbrance to pay for Sign Language Interpreting services acquired from vendors. The following list contains recommended vendors that provide sign language interpreting services and are registered with the Internal Services Department (ISD).

    The ADA Coordinator will update this vendor list regularly and redistribute to Department personnel. To ensure this list remains relevant and a good resource, the ADA Coordinator requests that you advise of any and all service-related problems you may have encountered while using any of these vendors by emailing the ADA Coordinator at

    Should you have any questions or need further assistance regarding Sign Language Interpreting services, you may contact:

    ADA Coordinator – Title II

    Bureau of Labor Relations and Compliance

  • Steven L Schrader

    Flag me, stalk me, delete me or arrest me, but I will NOT be silent. Them freakin’ goons came over when I was a victim of domestic violence and TOLD ME I didn’t need an interpreter when I asked for one. His name is Deputy Mitchell. He was very intimidating and acted like he was going to arrest me. For fear of being taken to jail, I shut my mouth. I hate it when they keep their hand on their gun. My first wife was deaf and she was raped five times by cops working as security guards in apartment complexes. More than 19 deaf women were raped by cops during the 1996 Olympic. There is so many incidents concerning cops and deaf that I am so PISSSSSED. I am a retired DEAF paramedic and firefighter from Atlanta for 30 years. So I know how freaking dirty they can be. Assholes. If you don’t believe me,…google me; ‘Silent Alarms on the edge with a deaf EMT’ *Gallaudet Press” They think just because we are deaf, we can’t talk, write or even fuckin’ point and that we’re dumb.