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family party, which nearly turned physical.
“Rebecca would do anything for anybody,” remarks Terry. “She loved her job and loved helping people. She was very trustworthy. Even before they married, he would come to her work and cause a scene if she was talking to a male customer. She married him because she thought she could change him.”
That change was not to be and Rebecca finally left Brian in December, 2008 after he had been unfaithful. Finally free of the verbal and physical abuse, Rebecca had been doing well; teaching at David Blight’s School of Dance part time. On Friday, June 19, Rebecca went back to get her dog, whom Brian was threatening to kill. When Rebecca didn’t come home for Father’s Day, her family and co-workers went looking for her and that was when she was found in the basement with her dog who had also been shot –the final act of a prolonged pattern of physical and verbal abuse, intimidation and control. Brian Amrowski was never convicted in a court of law, committing suicide the day detectives filed for the murder arrest warrant.
Terry says that knowing about the abuse and feeling powerless to do anything about it was the absolute worst experience. Roughly two weeks after his daughter was murdered, he had a dream that Rebecca was asking him to help other women who are currently being abused. Less than six months later, the first Concert for Rebecca was held –its purpose to celebrate Rebecca’s life and create awareness in the community of the signs of domestic violence, Terry wants to remind women that there is help, and encourages them to seek what Rebecca did not. “I believe that if my daughter had called for help she would be alive today,” says Terry.
The 5th Annual Concert for Rebecca to Stop Domestic Violence will be held at King’s Pizza on Saturday January 25th from 7pm-12am. Music will be provided by “Don Shappelle & The Pickups Band” along with Karl Metzger, and will feature guest speakers Tammy Rodgers from the Domestic Violence Center and Pat Rushton of the Victim’s Resource Center. Admission is free and all donations will be sent to those two organizations.
Terry says that he has learned a great deal about domestic violence since creating the concert and working with the Domestic Violence Service Center and the Women’s Resource Center to bring awareness to the problem and encourage easier access to help. He is also encouraging schools to implement awareness programs in schools, convinced that Rebecca would have benefited from such a program when she was a student.
According to the Domestic Violence Center of Luzerne County, some signs of an abusive partner are: Jealousy –your partner isolates you by executing control over what you do, where you go, who you see and who you talk to, as well as controls all the money in the relationship, even if you work. Your partner is emotionally, physically or verbally abusive and makes you feel it is your fault . Your partner threatens you or someone you love. For example, threatens to take away your children or hurt your pets . Your partner acts in ways that frighten you, such as death threats, physical harm or stalking
It is fairly easy to say that nobody in their right mind would stay in a situation such as this, but oftentimes a victim feels responsible for the abuse or to help the abuser, or they don’t recognize what is happening as dangerous or wrong, especially teens. What many, including Terry, also do/did not know, is that the victim is in the most danger immediately following the break up, where the abuser has lost control over the victim. It is knowledge he wishes he had in June of 2009.
“Wednesday she had told him she wanted a divorce and to sell the house,” recalled Terry “Two days later she was dead. After she left Brian, everyone told her not to go back because he would kill her, but she didn’t think he would, she was just worried that he would hurt her dog. He made numerous phone calls to her at work on Friday morning. He conned her over with promises and threats and emptied the house.”
For Terry and Theresa, the pain is palpable when they speak about their daughter.
“Silence is a classic form of abuse and that is part of the message,” says Terry. “Rebecca didn’t want to disappoint us. We had trust in her that she knew what she was doing; that she knew her own situation. What we thought couldn’t happen, happened.”
Getting away from an abusive relationship is a tricky business when one person wields so much power over the other. Terry would like to see every public bathroom in America have a number for a domestic violence hotline so women can make that call and get away without the abuser knowing. The Domestic Violence Service Center of Luzerne County provides such help. They offer a safe house for women and their children, as well as counselors, referrals to other community resources, legal assistance and a foster service for pets. All of their services are free of charge and kept completely confidential. Some tips they offer on escaping the situation include calling the police to stop the incident and help make arrangements for medical help and shelter, call the DVSC’s 24 hour Hotline, file a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order and to call a family member or friend to get transportation to a safe place to stay. The DVSC stresses that if you are in a suspected abuse situation now “is not a good time to ‘do it on your own’.” They recommend not waiting until a violent situation arises before putting a safety plan in place. They suggest knowing the possible cues of violent behavior, having an escape route from the home and avoiding rooms without an exit, designate a neighbor or friend you can leave money, important documents and spare keys with in the event you need to leave quickly and to call the police on your behalf and to, above all, rely on your instinct.
If you are thinking to yourself that nobody you know is touched by this type of situation, consider these statistics from the Domestic Violence Center: In 2009, nine persons from Luzerne County (including Rebecca) died from domestic violence and the county was ranked third behind only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the number of domestic violence-related homicides that same year. On average, law enforcement in Luzerne County responds to domestic violence calls 24 times each day –roughly one per hour.
For Terry and Theresa, it never stops. They know they can’t save their daughter, but they also know she is not alone in what she suffered.
“Losing a child is the worst pain a parent can go through, that’s why I believe in good and evil. If I didn’t help other people, then evil would win,” concludes Terry.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the Domestic Violence Service Center at 1-800-424-5600. If not, attend the Concert for Rebecca on January 25.