Due to domestic violence, I recently lost a wonderful friend, Dr. Amie Harwick. She was murdered as a result of poorly written laws that do not protect the victims and properly punish the offenders. I refuse to let her death be in vain. She was a Doctor in the Mental Health Field and advocate in the community. We need to do the same and advocate for Amie. So I am launching JUSTICE 4 AMIE!
Amie had a restraining order in place against a violent ex boyfriend she dated over a decade ago. The restraining order had expired before her untimely death. In the last week of January 2020, this ex boyfriend attended an event, at which she was making an appearance, and continued his harassment of her. He began to stalk her thereafter and on late Valentine's night decided to attack her in her own home. This man clearly needed treatment, incarceration and/or punishment for years prior to this attack. She should have never been in this situation like so many other victims. The process to get a restraining order is very difficult, traumatizing and must be repeated when the restraining order expires. With this in mind I believe the laws and statues need to be re-written as follows:
1. No expiration date or a longer protection term and to not be lifted until victim requests it to be cancelled.
2. Mandatory affirmative obligation for long term counseling for the stalker/abuser if a restraining order is violated even a minor offense. If they are deemed a harm to the victim or society, then institutionalization may be ordered.
3. Victims should not have to testify in a courtroom close to their abuser/stalker. There should be an option to live stream in a safe space in a satellite location for the hearing with the judge. It's a traumatic experience that the victim is already dealing with and should not be subjected to it again if they do not feel they can. That is why many abusers get away with their actions: many victims back out of trial due to fear of facing their perpetrator.
4. Just like sex offenders, a National Restraining Order Registry should be made to warn others of offenders that have restraining orders. There can be levels just like Sex Offender Registry. A national database so that you can look up an individual and see if they have multiple restraining orders out on them. It is very difficult to search an individual now to determine if they have had more than one Restraining Order without knowing the Victim etc.
5. Financial Abuse by Abusers is very serious and is another major reason why most victims find it difficult to leave their abuser. Identity Theft since the abuser may have all the personal and financial information of the victim. Their Credit Scores ruined by partners running up charges and not paying their debts to hurt the victim. Coercive Abuse.
UPDATE for 5. - SUPPORT SENATE BILL 1141 by Senator Rubio who is currently pushing for Legislation on this matter in California.
6. Free access to Attorneys just like criminals have free access to public defenders. A victim should not have to bear the legal fees that are incurred when seeking protection.
7. The personal addresses of anyone should be blocked from public access and remain private per individuals request. Voter Registration and Business Registration is an easy way to access someone's personal home information which gives Stalkers and Abusers access to the victim's home address. Privacy matters!
UPDATE for 7. = https://www.sos.ca.gov/registries/safe-home/
8. Supporting Current Bills to pass like
SACRAMENTO, CA – Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) has introduced Senate Bill 1141, which will expand legal protections for survivors of domestic violence by criminalizing threats, humiliation, intimidation, and other coercive actions that are used to frighten and control a victim.
SB 1141 makes coercive control a crime punishable by imprisonment in jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000. The bill defines coercive control as the deprivation or violation of the victim’s personal liberty, which can be established through a course of conduct including force, duress, isolation, or economic abuse. Examples of coercive control include controlling a person’s finances; isolating a person from family and friends; and monitoring a person’s day-to-day activities.
“Current domestic violence laws do not reflect how domestic violence is practiced in reality,” Sen. Rubio said. “The new crime of coercive control recognizes that domestic violence encompasses more than just physical abuse. This change protects survivors of domestic violence by making their cases harder to dismiss and easier to prosecute.”
“SB 1141 authored by Sen. Rubio recognizes that domestic violence is not limited to physical violence,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, the bill’s sponsor. “This legislation addresses the very real harm of coercive control and strengthens the State’s protections for domestic violence survivors.”
England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland have had coercive control laws for several years, encouraging changes in how their societies view individual acts of violence as part of a broader pattern of abuse. The unique harms suffered by domestic violence survivors occurs as much from the deprivation of liberty achieved through a pattern of power and control as it does from discrete physical acts of violence.
If anyone has any other ideas, we would love to hear them.
People shouldn't have to die to make changes. As she helped countless numbers of other people in life, we need to use Amie’s passing as a catalyst for change. So her family, friends, and loved ones’ pain from her death is not in vain.
Enough is Enough.
1 in 4 will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
1 in 3 women will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
3 women a day are killed by domestic violence.
Lets get a Million Signatures & More