Many of us are obsessed with true crime stories (which is another story in itself!), but you don’t have to be a true crime fan to have heard of the horrific Shanann Watts case.
Chris Watts of Frederick, CO killed his pregnant wife & two young daughters in August of 2018, & heartbreaking details about the case were splashed across every tabloid, news station, & true crime social media page at the time… and still are.
While fascination with this appalling case has been consistent since its occurrence, a recent Netflix documentary about it has brought a flurry of focus once again onto the unthinkable- how could a supposedly loving husband and father kill his ENTIRE family in cold blood??
The sobering fact is, violence against women in relationships/marriages is disturbingly way more common than you might think.
A recent Facebook post highlighted some of the statistics regarding the abuse of women in relationships, & the numbers are a very eye-opening revelation about this very scary trend.
Like many of us, Facebook user Jessica Angelica caught the Netflix documentary “American Murder: The Family Next Door” detailing the events leading up to & following the tragic murders.
While most people were left wondering how this ever possibly could have happened in what looked like the “perfect” family, Jessica dropped a big old truth-bomb about the reality of violence against women by their partners.
She begins her post by referencing one of Shanann’s own Facebook posts professing her love for her husband, Chris:
We’ve all seen these picture-perfect social media posts from our own friends & acquaintances, right? It’s the portrait of the couple in love, with the adorable family, the big house, and the seemingly ideal life together.
But a very different reality could be taking place behind the scenes of those glossy social media highlights – it certainly did in this case. Because as Jessica points out:
Shanann said this man was her rock in May. He killed her and all their children 3 months after she posted this picture.
Three months later, Chris viciously murdered not just Shanann (& their unborn son), but their two little daughters.
While this case was certainly sensational, the murder of a woman by her spouse or partner is WAY more common than you could imagine. In fact,
Roughly 3 women are killed every day in the USA by an intimate partner.
Every.Single.Day. Every single day, a woman’s life is extinguished at the hands of the very person she had been most vulnerable with- ironically enough, the person she chose to spend her LIFE with.
While even “1” should matter, here’s a bigger number to grasp:
Between today Oct 1, 2020 and Dec 31, 2020 that’s another 276 of you.
The “of you” is chilling, isn’t it? The reality is, Jessica has read the room. She’s talking to primarily women (yes, men can be abused by their women partners too, but it doesn’t happen on the epic scale like the reverse scenario).
Some of YOU. Some of you may be in situations where there is escalating violence. Others of you may be involved with someone who has threatened you before… but it hasn’t quite escalated. Not yet, anyway.
There are patterns to this kind of abusive behavior in many cases. In terms of family annihilators, the majority of them fall into three categories that Jessica Angelica mentions:
*previous domestic violence history (prior domestic violence history is the #1 indicator)
*generally non-Hispanic white male
*own/access to a gun
Now before you assume these are just gross stereotypes and start howling in protest- slow your roll. We’re not attacking all men, or assuming men of these categories automatically hurt their partners.
There are many decent, kind men who carry guns & don’t abuse their wives.
There are men of many other skin colors & ethnicities who do. There are good men, & bad men, just like their are good women & bad women.
And for the record, not every case of family annihilation has previous history of domestic violence. Every family member of Shanann Watts admitted that Chris had never, ever been violent with Shanann or the children prior to murdering them.
Can you always see this sort of horrific violence coming? Unfortunately, no. But if you’ve got a history of it, it’s a helluva more likely possibility.
Jessica turned to the experts to drive this point home; she quoted David Adams, author of “Why Do They Kill? Men who Murder Their Intimate Partners” in defining the classic sign of a potential family killer:
The most common type of killer was a possessively jealous type, and I found that many of the men who commit murder-suicide, as well as those who kill their children, also seem to fit that profile.
(And can we take a moment to consider how sad it is that this is a common enough trend that there is enough material to write a book about it??)
While the statistics reveal that many women are killed in domestic abuse situations, Jessica points out that many, many more women are almost killed in these situations but survive, which is still really damn disturbing.
Here’s a scary stat for you about abuse against women in relationships:
There are 1 million women in the US who have survived being shot or shot at by an intimate partner.
A million. Picture that number in your head- ONE MILLION. One million women in our country have nearly died at the hands of a spouse or partner that aimed a gun at them to try & end their life.
One million women stared down the barrel of a gun, into the eyes of a man who has once loved them, or claimed to.
One million women were injured. Bleeding. Hospitalized. Nearly died on the table during surgery in some cases. Opened their eyes after this ordeal, thankful beyond description that –despite their man’s best efforts – they were still alive & breathing.
You may know one of them. You may know several of them. You may BE one of them.
Or… you may be in a relationship where you are at risk of becoming one of these statistics, too.
In Shanann’s case, no one saw the warning signs. And while there are the random cases of domestic violence that seemingly spring out of nowhere, the reality is that in most of them, the red flags are waving frantically.
Women, look deeply at your relationship. We have an intuition for a reason- we often sense when something isn’t right. Too often, the signs in these horrible domestic violence cases Jessica is talking about are already obvious.
You might be afraid to leave. If you’re already with someone who is violent, you might worry about the “consequences” of trying to get out.
Jessica Angelica’s shared these words to reach women who live this reality, or potentially could be. If you’re in a domestic abuse situation, you owe it to yourself to GET OUT.
And if you can’t get out on your own, seek the help of your trusted family & friends- the same loved ones that will face a grief that is hell on earth if you are murdered by your spouse.
Even a small step in the right direction could literally save your life. If you are in an abusive situation, please call the National Confidential Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); they are available 24 hours a day. They also offer an online chat option.
You deserve to be in safe, loving relationship where your partner treats you as though you are “one in a million”- not one of the million women shot by their partners in this country.
Shanann Watts & her precious children deserved a lifetime of love & laughter- no one saw their tragedy coming. But if you can see your own potential domestic abuse tragedy from coming, heed Jessica’s pleas:
Stay tough. Stay alive.
Abusers. Sometimes they have bad days, sometimes they have damn good ones but no matter what they are walking around…