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Dr. Amie Harwick, the 38-year-old Hollywood family and sex therapist who was killed over the weekend at her Los Angeles home, had sought multiple restraining orders against the man arrested in her murder, ex-boyfriend Gareth Pursehouse.
Harwick was a former Playboy model and Pennsylvania native who focused on psychotherapy, marriage and family therapy, and sex therapy in her West Hollywood practice. She also wrote ” The New Sex Bible for Women,” which was published in 2014.
Harwick, who was briefly engaged to comedian and ” The Price Is Right” host Drew Carey, worked with victims of domestic abuse and survivors of trauma, and was an advocate for better mental health treatment for sex workers.
Following Harwick’s death, one of her friends started a Change.org petition calling for updates to domestic violence laws. Since its publication 16 hours ago, over 11,000 people have signed.
One in three women have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and a 2011 study found that 40% of female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.
The restraining orders
Harwick previously sought two restraining orders against the 41-year-old Pursehouse: One in July 2011, which was dismissed the next month for “lack of prosecution,” and another in March 2012, which was “granted after evidence by both” on April 12, 2012, according to filings with the Los Angeles County court system.
Harwick had seen Pursehouse as recently as two weeks prior to her death, police said, and had “expressed fear” about her ex-boyfriend. A friend of Harwick characterized Pursehouse, whose LinkedIn page says he’s a software developer and engineer, as a “stalker.”
“When they broke up, he didn’t take it well at all,” Rudy Torres, a friend of Harwick, told ABC-7 in Los Angeles. “He’d do stupid stuff and say stupid stuff. You’d tell him, ‘Move on, dude. Leave her alone.’ And he wouldn’t.”
Harwick and Pursehouse lived together for a couple of years a decade ago, friends told the Los Angeles Times, until their relationship “deteriorated” and Harwick filed the restraining orders against him.
Friend Hernando Chaves told the Times that Harwick ran into Pursehouse at a professional event last month, which “seemed to “reignite his obsessive preoccupation with her.”
“She said that when he saw her, he just went ballistic. He lost it. He made a scene,” friend Vera Duffy told the Times. “She was very scared. … She said, ‘What am I going to do? I let my roommate know, I have home security.’”
Shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, police responded to a report of a “woman screaming” in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills neighborhood. Harwick’s roommate met them in the street and told them she was being assaulted inside of her home, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Upon arriving, police found Harwick “gravely injured” beneath her third story balcony, having “suffered significant injuries consistent with a fall.” She later died at the hospital as a result of her injuries. Police said they also found evidence of a struggle and forced entry into Harwick’s home.
The following day, a joint FBI-LAPD task force arrested Pursehouse and charged him with Harwick’s murder. Police said the investigation is ongoing and findings will be presented to the Los Angeles District Attorney on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner ruled Harwick’s death a homicide, as a result of “blunt-force injuries of the head and torso.”
“Amie and I had a love that people are lucky to have once in a lifetime. She was a positive force in the world, a tireless and unapologetic champion for women, and passionate about her work as a therapist,” Carey said in a statement. “I am overcome with grief. I would like to thank you in advance for giving myself and everyone who loved Amie privacy while we try to work through this tragic situation.”
Farrah Moan, a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and a former client of Harwick’s, said she “was the only therapist I’ve ever had, and she saved my life last year when I was really going through it.”
If you or someone you know is being harmed by their partner, call Safe Horizon’s domestic violence hotline at (800) 621-4673, or visit https://www.safehorizon.org for more information.
Cover image: LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 02: Dr. Amie Harwick attends the “Rock To Recovery” bvenefit at The Fonda Theatre on October 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)