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Netlix Documentary is “A Great Start” for Discussing Domestic Abuse

By Ella Malmgren

The Netflix documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door follows the true crime story of Chris Watts, a man who killed his wife Shanann Watts and their two daughters in 2016. It was released on Netflix this week, and has generated a plenty of buzz on social media.

Shanann Watts was originally reported as missing by her friend, who was concerned that Shanann didn’t respond to her text messages that day. Chris Watts, Shanann’s husband, was very involved in her case, which also included the disappearance of their two daughters. He posed as a concerned husband, and even went on the news to plea for their return.

Ultimately, he confessed to the murders when he failed a polygraph test. He tried to shift the blame to Shanann, and said that she had smothered both of their daughters, and he acted in retaliation. But during the court case he admitted that he killed Shanann when she found out about his affair with a coworker, and then killed their daughters. 

There has been outrage on social media condemning Chris for doing something so inhumane. Through its release and reactions from several celebrities, including Kylie Jenner, Shanann and her daughters finally get to be heard.

Although this case seems out of the ordinary, a statistic is shown on the screen that states “In America, three women are killed by their current or ex partner everyday.” This is an ongoing issue, and many organizations have been created to provide help to women that are experiencing domestic abuse, hoping to give them the care they need and trying to prevent tragic outcomes similar to Shanann and her daughters.

On the City of Tampa Florida’s website, they provide resources for victims of domestic abuse. They reference The Spring Shelter, the Abuse Hotline, the Centre for Women, and many more. They also list options to receive help, and define domestic abuse. The website states “NO ONE – Not even your spouse or someone you live with has the right to hit you or threaten you with violence – NO ONE! If you think you may be involved in a violent relationship, help is available.”

This is a great start. The fear of men is always lingering in women’s minds. It’s the reason why my friends carry pepper spray and mini tasers, and take self defense classes. It’s the reason why we’re advised from a young age not to walk alone at night or park too far from the store. 

Shanann Watts felt relieved to have found Chris. She had met him after she had been divorced, and learned how it felt to love and be loved again. Chris completely took advantage of her trust, and was manipulating and cold-hearted.

This case could have been avoided. Chris wanted to leave Shanann and his kids and start a new life with his coworker. “If he were this happy and wanted to start a new life, get a divorce! You don’t annihilate your family and throw them away like garbage,” said Michael Rourke, Weld County District Attorney.

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