Sunday, March 30, 2008

Barwick-Ruschak Act merely feel good legislation...

In another political attempt at feel good legislation, another Florida politician has introduced the "Barwick-Ruschak" bill, named forTiffany Barwick and her friend Michael Ruschak, who were murdered by Barwick's ex boyfriend. They had reported his harassment and threats but according to news stories, the police apparently couldn't do anything because the law did not allow intervention based on the type of threats.

Tiffany Barwick should have had a gun. That would have probably assured her a long life.

Now, here's the tricky part:

House Bill 313, approved 113-0 on Wednesday, would allow law enforcement officers to act on threats of violence in dating situations as long as the relationship has existed for six months or longer and met certain standards that transcend mere friendship. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kurt Kelly, R-Ocala.

Eh? You mean right now, at this moment, there is not one single law out there protecting these individuals?

Why just threats of violence in dating situations? Why not threats of violence PERIOD?

Come on. I think that if nothing was done, it was because the police Tiffany talked to didn't want to do anything. But I'm not buying that without this law, police have no ability to act on threats of violence.

And then there's this---if the law is passed and someone makes a report, how do you prove the length of the relationship? You mean to tell me if you're dating someone 5 months you're not protected? If a woman in a one month relationship is being abused by her boyfriend doesn't she deserve the same protection as a woman who is in a long-term relationship who is being abused?

Anyone who is being stalked, harassed or threatened should be protected. Or better yet they should be protecting themselves. That's why I say Tiffany should've had a gun.


  1. Tiffany was my cousin. Should she have had a gun? I can't imagine that she would have ever used it. It is true that at the time of her murder, there were no laws protecting her from the worthless person who did this to her. The new law is not perfect. No law is. But something needed to be done to at least attempt an acknowledgment of the problem. We miss Tiffany every single day, and the thought that there were no available laws to protect her that day is heartbreaking.

  2. Hello Tracy and thank you for stopping here.

    I suppose it's difficult for those of us on the "outside" of the situation to know truly why the police wouldn't do anything to help her. It angers me that a person is stalked, harassed, and threatened and yet police say their hands are tied. Were their hands really tied or did they just think this was another relationship gone downhill? You know there are law enforcement officials out there who do not take the complaints by a woman in a relationship (dating or married) seriously because they're thinking "oh she's just upset because they had an argument" but they should be taken very seriously. I'd love to know what laws on the books prevented the police from taking action. Do you know what prevented them? This would help others investigate the laws in their own communities.

    I'm not against protecting innocent people from the violent population that surrounds us, but I'm against special legislation that is seemingly created for "looks" (not by your family or any other grieving family, but by politicians looking for votes!) instead of using the laws we have on the books. I'd really like to know WHY the police felt they were unable to help your cousin and her friend after they had been threatened and harassed. Perhaps they were negligent? Not claiming that, just asking.

    We've got to have tougher penalties for people who commit violent crimes. The penalties have to be so severe it should serve as a deterrent for those "on the fence" and absolute punishment for those who can't be deterred but do it anyway. This guy should get the death penalty for what he did. (Did he?)

    I am so sorry for the loss your family and the family of Michelle Ruschak have endured. There are really no words that could convey how millions of us feel for you and what you're going through right now.

  3. What prevented Tiffany from being helped was that the threats Andrew issued were not witnessed by a law enforcement officer. And because they were not in a legal relationship, she was not protected by any available laws pertaining to domestic violence. We don't know if he will get the death penalty (as of yet, there has not been a trial). Tiffany was told she could attempt to get a restraining order. I'm not sure if she was going to pursue that, and I'm not sure it would have done anything. A piece of paper is not going to compete with a gun. Additionally, law enforcement did not go speak with Andrew concerning his threats because they were fearful that by doing so, it would escalate the situation. I don't know what the answer is. And quite honestly, I wonder everyday what the outcome might have been if law enforcement had at least attempted communication with Andrew. I don't know what Andrew's state of mind was that day. I don't know if he could have been swayed from believing that killing my cousin was the only option left to him. It's a terrible situation. Thanks for responding. Your blog is very articulate and I've enjoyed reading it.

  4. Small correction: Tiffany's friend was Michael Ruschak, a 22 year old male, not Michelle Ruschak, a female.

  5. Thank you Natalie! I should have quoted the story because the one I was reading about what happened said "Michelle" but I am going to make the edit now.

  6. Hey Jess,

    I'm just getting in on this after doing a search on FL domestic violence legislation. I am a FL resident; but I left my residence after a spiral of events in the court system that failed to protect me from my abusive, military, ex.

    I feel that laws should be passed, but on the other hand, I'm like, so we weren't protected BEFORE?

    We need enforcement of our current system for fairness and justice.

    Please visit my site!