What Domestic Abuse Victims Can Learn From Amie Harwick

Most of us do not understand the appropriate way to deal with serious issues like stalking, workplace harassment, abusive relationships, and violence.

In our capacity as private investigators, we see clients who have been living in fear of more violence or repercussions if they do anything to protect themselves. This can result in long-term damage, ongoing abuse, rape, and murder. Unfortunately, even when you do everything right, there is still the chance a perpetrator will react in an unpredictable way. We believe that you should not make the choice to do nothing out of fear. You should address the matter directly with a plan and support from a professional that is experienced in helping others deal with these situations.

Celebrity sex therapist Amie Harwick, 38, died on Saturday, February 15, 2020, following injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. She was allegedly thrown from the balcony of her home by Gareth Pursehouse, an abusive ex who had been obsessed with her. Amie Harwick had done at least some things correctly, but could more have been done? How do we know?

Harwick knew that Pursehouse was dangerous and had reported the abuse in the past. She even filed restraining orders against her alleged assailant. One of the orders expired just weeks ago. An acquaintance noted that a chance meeting between the two at an event may have rekindled Pursehouse’s obsession with Harwick.

Pursehouse posted bail, but was soon re-arrested and charged in her death on Wednesday. He is now facing the possibility of capital murder charges. 

Abusive relationships can have deadly consequences. If possible, take steps to avoid becoming a potential target for abuse. One preventative step that you can take is to run a background check on your partner as you move into a more serious relationship. This can give you a glimpse into what kind of person they are. A good background check may reveal issues in a person’s history you were unaware of. If you see signs that they are prone to abuse—through their behavior or conversation—it might be best to run a criminal background check. This can bring up any domestic abuse or assault charges or other criminal activity that could inform this is not a relationship to be in. You should never divulge to the subject of your investigation that you have previously, are currently, or are planning to investigate them. Often people will blurt-out this information during a heated argument and regret it. When you push someone’s buttons, this may compel the person to overreact.

If you are already experiencing domestic violence, it’s understandable that you can’t just run away from your problems. When you are ready or able to, seek help. (as soon as possible, you should seek help) Do your best to document instances of abuse in a diary or journal so that you have a history of evidence. Do not leave any of your documentation where the perpetrator will find it. Very commonly, victims think they have a great hiding place, only to learn everything has been discovered. Not good.

If you can, call the police for help when the abuse occurs or as soon as you are safe.  File an incident report very soon after so that there are official records of your partner or any other perpetrator being abusive against you. You should never let these incidents go by unaddressed. You must set the benchmark of no tolerance. If you file for a restraining order after a series of as-of-yet undocumented incidents, you will not be taken as seriously and will have much less chance for a better outcome. It will be your word against theirs.

When the situation arises, it may be best to consider a temporary restraining order or TRO. This Court Order is available to hopefully protect you from physical and mental abuse, harassment, stalking, or other abuse while you work to get away from harm’s way or work towards filing a permanent restraining order if necessary. You can file a TRO against a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, family member, neighbor, co-worker or anyone who causes harm.  However, it’s important to remember that TRO’s are temporary. They’ll have to be evaluated in order to be extended, cancelled, or modified.

Most of us realize that with most disturbed individuals, a restraining order will not stop them from continuing to act out. This can even escalate the situation. But you should not be afraid to be proactive because of what could happen. Plan for contingencies. Seek assistance and guidance and implement a measured plan. The good news is successfully obtaining a restraining order gives you a much stronger position for help and to have the perpetrator arrested and held if needed. This can serve as a wake-up call for them to stop. This is still not always enough.

If you are facing any type of abuse, take a moment to consider talking to a licensed private investigator who has experience with domestic violence cases in a free and confidential phone consultation. We can give you advice and options for steps to take. It can be as simple as requesting a background check, considering a surveillance, contacting the individual, or even filing a restraining order. There is much to be said for thoughtfully planning the best time and place to serve the subject and for monitoring their activity if necessary. There are numerous solutions you should discuss.


Helsel, Phil. “Ex-boyfriend re-arrested, charged in death of celebrity sex therapist Amie Harwick.” NBC News. 20 Feb. 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ex-boyfriend-re-arrested-charged-death-celebrity-sex-therapist-amie-n1139681. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Nathan, Sara. “Amie Harwick pictured in final public appearance before her death.” Page Six. 19 Feb. 2020, https://pagesix.com/2020/02/19/amie-harwick-pictured-in-final-public-appearance-before-her-death/. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Risling, Greg. “February 19, 2020: Man Charged With Killing Former Girlfriend in Hollywood Hills.” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, 19 Feb. 2020, http://da.co.la.ca.us/media/news/man-charged-killing-former-girlfriend-hollywood-hills. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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