Shanann Watts case: 20 reasons abuse stays hidden and can lead to death

The last time I wrote I gave you my observations on the Shanann Watts case; specifically my thoughts on the husband’s behavior in interviews. 

*Disclaimer: Abuse crosses all genders, socioeconomic statuses, nationalities, tones of skin, and religions. I minister to women and therefore I use the term woman in most of my writings.

Allow me to explain what it could have been like in Shanann Watt’s home based on my experience of domestic abuse.

Here are lessons I’ve learned from my own background as a survivor of domestic abuse, and from ministering to other survivors of domestic violence:

1.      You NEVER know what goes on in someone else’s home. Sometimes a spouse doesn’t know what goes on in their home, or during the other person’s time away from home. Don’t assume you know better than them.

2.      You can live with a person and not know if they suffer from mental illness or a personality disorder.  

3.      Many women don’t understand that the difficult marriage is actually a destructive marriage by an angry and controlling man. When a woman tries to talk through a problem the tables are turned on her and he insists the only problems are the ones she creates. He often shames, talks down, belittles, withholds, and throws temper tantrums while telling her, “It’s all you.” Or, “I never did or said that.” Lots of crazy making/gas lighting goes on in this type of relationship.

4.  Constant denial or justification of the hurt and wrong they’ve committed against you is the number one clue that you’re living with an abuser.

5.      It can be nearly impossible to know if your loved one could kill you. (If you question your safety, please take the free MOSAIC threat assessment to determine if you are a candidate for violence or death).

6.      Angry and controlling men rarely change; in fact, the abuse usually escalates…not improves.

7.      Often times the system fails abuse survivors. Victims are statistically not believed in a court of law when they bring up domestic abuse.

8.      Promoting an ideal marriage in social media posts may be an attempt to throw the abuser off the trail of an upcoming separation or divorce; especially if the victim fears for their life. It could also be an attempt to appease the abuser and ‘respect’ his orders to make him look good.

9.      Talking well of the spouse is expected in most social circles. Truth telling about marital problems has caused many abused women to lose friends, or their children’s playmates.

10.  Positive media posts can be a coping mechanism for surviving a traumatic marriage. Maybe it’s a snapshot of a good moment in the midst of many difficult circumstances. It encourages outsiders to believe they have a wonderful life. What person wants to admit to domestic abuse?

11.  Sometimes the abuser controls the victim’s social media and electronics by posting for them; as them, going as far as to place spyware on the devices and GPS tracking on the vehicle. (The women I minister to all report having spyware placed on their electronics right before or during the separation or divorce).

12.  Domestic violence doesn’t always equate to physical abuse. It can manifest as sexual, reproductive, verbal, emotional, spiritual, financial, and one I had not included in my list before today; digital abuse which would be secondary emotional abuse.

13.  Domestic violence causes health care problems.  The  trauma caused by domestic abuse can cause immediate injuries, and contributes to a number of chronic health problems, including depression, alcohol and substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, heart problems, cancer, and auto-immune diseases.

14.  Domestic violence is about control and power. It’s not about anything the wife or children are doing wrong.

15.  Women are objectified and viewed as property. Property is disposable. (I haven’t seen a case yet that didn’t involve the use of pornography). 

Shanann and Nickole Utoft
Shanann with friend Nickole Utoft. Photo credit: Shanann Watts’ Facebook page.

16.  Victims need support from family, the church, and friends; friends like Nickole Utoft who knew enough to know Shanann and her children were missing and in danger. Be the friend a woman can safely confide in without passing judgement on her. 

17.  Most of the women I minister to report that friends, neighbors, and church family always looked at their family as normal, happy, and healthy. Very few outsiders would have guessed there was a toxic personality in their home.  

18. Instances of domestic abuse are not limited to isolated cases and there isn’t just one type of person who feels entitled to abuse and/or kill their family. It’s becoming more rampant for men to abuse women. I have my opinion on why abuse is escalating, (Pornography mixed with hand-held electronics. Any woman at any time; instantly. The devaluing of life.), but that is an article for another time.

19. Family, friends, neighbors, and church family have a difficult time believing these men exist and are as bad as the wife knows he is. They aren’t the only people in doubt. Law enforcement and those who work in the court system also don’t believe the depth of the problem; leaving the victims unprotected.

20.  Court cases requiring legal intervention are overwhelmingly domestic abuse cases, but the courts fail to recognize and act on this fact. This leads to retraumatizing the victims, continued abuse…and sometimes…death.

 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Here are some possibilities of why Chris Watts may have finally went through with disposing of his family based on other domestic abuse cases.

·         He could have suffered from severe, untreated mental illness or a personality disorder.

·         He could have been having an affair.

·         He could have taken out life insurance policies on his family members.

·         He may have known she was leaving, and since angry and controlling abusers must maintain power and control; he may have decided to kill them rather than allow her to leave.

·         Financial reasons: There is a legal obligation the court would have enacted on him for child support. If he wanted relational freedom to wine and dine a new romantic interest, paying money to an ex-wife and three children would greatly hinder his fun.

I don’t believe one thing could have caused Chris Watts (or any other abuser) to snap, but rather numerous issues building up over time led to it. This is why the MOSAIC threat assessment is important. MOSAIC takes all these issues in to account and determines if you are at risk.

There is NOTHING; not a thing…zero, zilch, zip that this momma or her daughters did that could have caused Chris Watts to murder them. Abusers and murderers do what they do because of evil in their hearts. In many cases, the abuser’s brain is wired wrong and there is no making sense of it. 

If you believe you, or someone dear to you, may be in danger please check out the links in the margin for safety concerns and other help. If you wonder if you are in an emotionally destructive marriage there is a free relationship test for you to take.


Read: The Shanann Watts case: My observations


8/21/18  6:20 PM update: Chris Watts claims wife strangled kids

His account of what happened doesn’t make sense to me. I would think if you saw one daughter blue from death, and the other being strangled by your wife, you would call 911 for immediate help; not go kill your wife and then hide the bodies. I don’t own a newer baby monitor, but would you be able to clearly see on a baby monitor if a child was blue? And who on earth could have a conversation, kill a person, decide how and where to dispose of the bodies, clean-up the crime scene, and load a truck with three deceased bodies & evidence in under 3 hours?



Published by Carolyn Deevers's my spiritual superpower for surviving crises and complicated relationships. Here is where I share stories...or at least the ones I can tell you about. ;-)

10 thoughts on “Shanann Watts case: 20 reasons abuse stays hidden and can lead to death

  1. This is an excellent article and I believe needs to be read by everyone. Can you imagine how much hidden abuse there is that women don’t want to share because they want to look like the perfect family? The whole Social Media thing encourages lying (and therefore covering for the abusers) more than ever.
    I used to be married to a sicko as well and I left within a few years. It is many many years later and let me tell you, that was the absolute smartest decision I have ever made in my life. He proceeded to other women – one dying by suicide and the other one murdered by him. Thank you Carolyn for the education you are providing the public. I hope it can be shared with all religions, regardless of which universal loving energy people pray to. It is very valuable info.

  2. I use to think the same thing until I looked more into her video’s that she posted before she passed away and she was a very controlling woman and even admitted it to her friend in a text message. I’m pretty sure after seeing how she treats him in videos that she was right when she admitted to being “a controlling bitch” is how she described herself. She is very bossy and controlling in a lot of the video’s with him in them. In one video she even states after telling him to get her some wine and get her charger and he even plugs it in for her and she says Chris does whatever I tell him to do so I’m starting to think that the abuse was coming from her and not him which is why he started cheating and how do you not know how your kid’s was killed if your the one that did it? When he had to plead guilty to save his life he said he strangled the kids when the autopsy came back they were not strangled instead they were smothered. Go watch her videos on youtube and come back and tell us what you think after that. I think she used the kids as leverage to keep him and maybe she did kill the kids after all he said they were dead by the time he walked in so he didn’t know how they were killed and he said it happened after telling her he wanted a divorce so maybe she figured since the kid plan didn’t plan out after so many years than she killed them to hurt him and it angered him. If you see him interact with his kids on her videos he is at his happiest moments than she tells at him telling him to stop interrupting her video and another one she tells him she don’t want him in the video with the kids and he moves out of the camera with no complaints. I think he grew to hate her and wanted to leave and she made that difficult. A news source also just posted a text from her to her friend they got from the cops and it shows her telling her friend she doesn’t want the baby cuz he don’t hmmm

    1. Also, I have seen plenty of murder cases and cold blooded killers don’t cry in court and put their head down like he did when his kids are mentioned. He confessed to the cops in the pd that he killed his wife but never said he killed his kid’s. He had to plead guilty to all of it though so he wouldn’t get death. Let all of this sink in before you reply. Not only men can be abusive. Women can be abusive too. I thought he was a monster also until I dug in deeper. When you see him and her in videos alone without the kids he doesn’t act happy and outgoing but with his kids he acted very happy, interactive, and outgoing. Plus she admitted she was a controlling bitch.

      1. Chris disposed of his daughters through an eight inch opening. Do you understand what he had to do to those precious little girls’ bodies to squeeze them through an eight inch hole?

        He said he saw Shanann strangling Celeste yet the autopsy showed that the girls died by suffocation, not strangulation (there is a big difference in these terms) . It also showed that Bella died fighting for her life, bit her tongue, and had cuts inside her mouth from the struggle.

        Chris failed a lie detector test.

        The video of him loading his family like trash into the back of his truck didn’t show a man with any remorse or hesitation.

        The short window of time in which he killed, loaded, and disposed of his family member’s bodies was not done in the heat of the moment. It was preplanned.

        The news videos of him giving interviews in the hours his family was ‘missing’ were comparable to that of a sociopath. He didn’t seem distraught, but rather bubbling underneath with excitement. He had already texted his girlfriend that his family was gone. Called the girls’ school to tell them they wouldn’t be returning, and called a realtor about selling his house. His mind has to be pretty far gone to so confidently do all this planning and think he would never get caught.

        An emotionally healthy person could not possibly put on such a charming smile with confident answers for the cameras knowing they were being 100% deceitful.

        Perhaps he ‘acted’ happy in the home made videos with his children because he knew the videos would go to grandparents. Regardless of the reason, there is NOTHING Shanann or the girls did that caused him to murder them.

        I looked through videos and didn’t find any that looked like she was a mean spirited, controlling wife. But even if she was, many people are married to angry and controlling spouses but they don’t murder their family to escape a destructive marriage. That is what counseling is for, and why divorce is an option.

        Often times sociopaths and people with narcissistic personality disorder will cry like a baby in the court room. They cry not out of remorse or sadness for what happened to their victims, but out of frustration that their specialness is being brought into question. How dare people question or prove what they did! The rules/laws don’t apply to them and therefore they should not be looked at in a negative light.

        If you are a family member trying to come to terms with what your loved one did; I understand that you are trying to make sense of what Chris did to his family. Even the best of parents can raise sociopaths without doing anything to cause it. Chris’s actions don’t necessarily have anything to do with the way his parents raised him.

    2. The fact is that men and women both do not have the right to kill each other if they feel the other is “mean enough” to justify it. That just isn’t how it works. Chris And Shanann both did have the right to divorce the other if they chose to. There is NOTHING that Shanann did that would make his murdering rampage ok.
      With all due respect, you are incorrect when you state that he said he strangled the children. He never said that. He plead guilty to killing his entire family because he did kill his whole family. The reason he plead guilty was because he did it (not to avoid the death penalty – everyone on death row has already avoided the death penalty without needing to plead anything). Did you catch how he violently disposed of their bodies like they were trash? Loving fathers don’t do that. Please don’t be one of these people that makes excuses for the abusers and rationalize his murder spree. That behavior on your part just prevents other abused women from coming forward, because they become afraid they will be blamed for their husbands crimes as well. Thank you.

    1. Even if that were the case does it justify murder? Are you saying he had an understandable reason to murder his wife, daughters, and unborn son? If you are married to an abuser you demand they go to counseling or you leave…you don’t harm or murder.

  3. Shannon – you have a lot of opportunity for growth and need significant counseling to understand your dysfunctional beliefs. Please do your research on yourself and your own background to limit the harm you do to others.

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