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Domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to women in the U.S. with a 60% chance of a victim being assaulted by their attacker even after law enforcement is involved. This happened to my dear friend Amber Schinault on July 22, 2012. Even after a protective order was in place, it still was not enough to keep her murderer away.
In 2010 a bill was presented to start a program for a GPS tracking device to notify law enforcement officials and the victim whenever a violator enters a restricted area. 13 voted no and 8 voted yes. Since then this bill has been in limbo in Maryland. While other states such as Connecticut and Wisconsin have successfully piloted this program. My goal is to notify the legislation just how important this program is needed not only in Maryland, but for the U.S. Please help me make a difference.
It feels like yesterday when I received the call from my dear friend. She told me “you’re not going to believe this it’s like from a movie.” Right then I knew it had to be something out of the ordinary, but I wasn’t expecting what she told me. She explained to me that her boyfriend she’d been dating just over a year tried to throw her down the stairs and pushed her around. This surprised me because I’ve hung out with them both a few times and he seemed so nice. She told him to leave but he came back later that night and continued to push her around. She was assaulted by a vehicular 1st degree assault; she had both hands needing extensive reconstructive surgery. He dropped her off at the hospital that same night where she began treatment. She yelled to the nurses repeatedly to call the police and that he had hurt her. After her repeated cries for help they called the police. As soon as she was out of the hospital I went over her house to visit her. I remember sitting poolside talking about what had happened and catching up with everyday life. She told me that her mother took her to the court house, bandaged hands and all, and was awarded a restraining order. She also was working with The House of Ruth who was helping her out financially because due to staying in the hospital she lost her job. She stayed with her family while she was healing. She had a love for animals. She performed many rescues to help find homes for animals. She herself had four beautiful dogs that were being help taken care of by friends and family. Her plans were to find foster homes for a couple of her dogs and to move out of the house she lived in and find a new place. She knew she couldn’t take all of her dogs with her. That same day we went over to her house where an unmarked police car sat in front for safety. She showed me where everything had happened. Then we walked the dogs in the fenced in backyard, fed them, and freshened their water before heading back.
I kept contact with Amber throughout her surgeries and helped to keep her spirits up. She became so strong from what had happened and I was proud of her for everything that she was doing. She was so happy to be living life free and away from the abuse. The last time I saw Amber was on her birthday June 27th 2012. Her family had a small birthday party for her at their house. Friends and family came to wish her happiness and we all had a wonderful time. We kept in contact the next couple weeks. We tried to make plans to get together again but with her pain from healing and busy schedules we weren’t able to.
On July 23rd 2012 I received a call that I would not have ever been expecting. I was told Amber is no longer with us. A million things went through my mind at once. I was told that Amber had gone back to the house to start packing and to spend the last time she had with her dogs. He had entered the house when she wasn’t there and was waiting for her when she came home. My dear friend Amber was murdered.
So many questions came through my mind like everyone else’s that was a friend or family member of Amber. I thought what if there was something better than a piece of paper to keep people like this away from harming other people. I started researching programs and came across “GPS Tracking for Domestic Violence.” I saw how Maryland introduced a bill for this program in 2010 but 13 voted no and 8 voted yes. Some of the concerns were who was going to fund this or will this leave false hope for the victims. I’m helping to gather more research and bring more awareness to re-introduce this bill. With all the technology that we have, we should have something better in place. My first start is this petition to prove that people are concerned and are for this program.
Thank you for reading Amber’s story.
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