Over the last couple of weeks, during a writing break, I was able to read through most of the 2000+ pages of the Christopher Watts (police investigation) discovery. If you don’t know who this is, Mr. Watts was cheating on his wife, Shanann, then proceeded to murder her, their unborn child and two daughters. I can only assume he did so because she found out about the betrayal trauma and wasn’t accepting of his plans to divorce.
As I was reading, it hit my heart pretty hard that I needed to write an article about the dangers of divorcing a narcissist, psychopath, or a person with a Cluster-B Personality disorder.
Cluster B includes Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder.
As I read the report, I started thinking back to the several times that I found out that my (now ex-) husband was cheating on me. I also expressed my disapproval for the situation very similar to how she did. There was a lot of righteous anger. I even sent my husband self-help books and asked him to go to “marriage counseling” so we could keep the marriage together for the children – that worked three times (until I stopped that!).
Each and every time there was evil in his eyes, a coldness to his heart and how he behaved. I remember how cruel and distant he was with me and occasionally the children. He didn’t care when I was sick. He could barely look at me and often refused to give me a hug. I just remember thinking he went from a loving husband to an evil man – not the man I married.
There was an image to protect and me telling friends, family, and our church about his adultery and sin, ruined that perfect image that he was trying to protect. I’m not sure how much my life was really in danger, but I see now that I missed some obvious red flags.
Domestic violence does kill.
As I was reading, I also recalled the first time I went to the local domestic violence shelter and what we talked about. I met with the shelter supervisor who explained to me that adultery is a form of emotional and sexual abuse. Then she asked me a shocking question.
“Does your husband have access to a gun?“
Whoa! That jarred me a little. But I told her no, I didn’t think so.
28% of the victims of family violence [are] killed. Females were more likely than males to be victims of family murder.
When an offender kills the victim, the weapon is usually a firearm, knife, or blunt object such as a club. Less frequent are murders that result from the offender’s use of hands, fists, or feet. Murders can also involve the use of items that are not typically considered weapons, such as poisons, narcotics, or incendiary devices.
Now, I’m realizing that it should have scared me more than it did. The Chris Watts case (and many, many others) have proved that a person doesn’t need a gun to kill, even his whole family.
All you have to do is watch Dateline or 48 Hours on a weekly basis to see that men are killing their wives, especially when involved with another woman and/or when facing a divorce. Adultery is a motive for murder in many of the cases. The other motive is greed. A divorce would cause the financial situation to change when splitting up money, property, and children – which is also part of his image. A narcissist doesn’t like to share and thinks everything belongs to him.
So the question doesn’t need to be, does he have access to a gun, but does he have two hands, motive and opportunity. Not all narcissists are murderers and not all murderers are narcissists (or psychopaths). But just knowing that a small number of men who are caught in adultery and/or going through a divorce can and will murder their wives, should cause all of us to be concerned for our own safety and the safety of other women!
[socialrocket-tweet quote=”Just the fact that a small percentage of adulterers kill their wives instead of divorcing, should concern us all!” tweet=”Just the fact that a small percentage of adulterers kill their wives instead of divorcing, should concern us all!”]
Knowing this fact should speak to your gut very loudly that we need to protect ourselves from harm – at least until the divorce is final and sometimes even after.
Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship. (Source)
Narcissists think they can fool everyone.
Narcissists are pathological liars. A narcissist who’s able to commit a murder without remorse is also a psychopath and/or sociopath. The narcissist believes he’s entitled to do whatever he wants without any consequences. And when someone tries to stop him or expose the things that he’s done, this is when a narcissist becomes dangerous.
Although the charismatic narcissist thinks he’s smart enough to get away with anything, he is often caught in his lies and sin, because people aren’t as stupid as he believes they are. He thinks he can talk his way out of anything. He believes his own lies, his own created dialog, his justifications, and that he can fool everyone to side with him.
Narcissists compartmentalize & rationalize their sin.
The narcissist is able to put his crimes and sin into a box inside his brain labeled “not my fault” or someone else’s fault. Normal people aren’t able to do this because their conscience convicts them of their crimes and sinful behavior. Most personality disordered people do not have an active conscience – it’s either seared from years of denying it or it was never there in the first place.
When compartmentalizing the sin they’re able to continue on with what they were doing and not even feel any remorse. They believe they weren’t to blame so lying is that much easier. Everything they’ve done and the lies being said are in that same box with their excuses.
Then the narcissist creates a storyline and just keeps repeating it over and over again (only deviating from the story as needed for different parties). The narcissist even believes this story to be the truth. It wasn’t his fault, the victim did this to herself, or some other wild story, that most times is not even believable – except to him (and a few people who believe his deception).
What we can all learn?
First, let me say, in no way am I blaming Shanann Watts for her own murder (or that of her children)!! She is a victim who probably had no clue that her husband was going to annihilate his entire family. Same goes for any other women who has lost her life to a narcissistic, adulterous, murderer. Very few knew the danger they were in. And no one deserves to be treated in such a way. (That’s why adultery is also domestic violence.)
We as women can learn a few things from what has happened in these types of cases so we can avoid further tragic deaths at the hands of abusive men. I think any female victim – as well as any man of integrity – would want all women to be kept safe from harm when divorcing a toxic and dangerous person.
Not all killers need a gun nor do they give a verbal warning or are physically violent before they act (and kill). Most narcissists or psychopaths are covertly predatory for years before they kill their victims. Many are sexual narcissists, using sex to lure new victims and get the supply that they need, as is the case with Mr. Watts.
So what do we need to know and look out for?
- Are you seeing two sides to this person? Have you seen recent changes in attitude and behavior? A once kind person is now very cruel? Look past the fake image and see the evil heart that is underneath.
- Does he lack integrity? Able to lie to your face or to others without batting an eye?
- Is he vindictive or seeming to want revenge on others, especially when exposing the truth?
- Does he manipulate others to get his way?
- Do you have a large life insurance policy on yourself? Who’s the beneficiary?
- Is he entitled and greedy with “his money”? Does he have a lot to lose with financially supporting you and a lot to gain with you being out of the picture?
- Did he or does he use sex to keep you emotionally entangled?
If you suspect that your spouse or ex-spouse is capable of murder, take the warning signs very seriously! You should always be thinking “better safe than sorry.” Do not trust this man or anything that he says if he’s proven that he’s not trustworthy.
What does the Bible say about evil hearted people?
Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people. – Proverbs 22:24
A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. – Luke 6:43-45 NLT
You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. – Ephesians 5:5-9, 11 NLT
Words of wisdom… but also stay safe!
How did love end in murder?
I’ve heard people ask why Shanann Watts posted all kinds of wonderful admiration about her husband on her social media. I believe this was because she knew she was losing her husband. Her texts to him shared it. He’d been having affairs (with men and women) for at least a year. She could’ve found out (or just felt it in her gut) and thought she could love him enough to convince him that his wife and kids were the better choice (the “Pick Me” Dance).
I’ve been there, done that… thankfully survived to empower all women to stop this dangerous dance. Stop putting yourself on the back burner and work on your own emotional healing! You are worth so much more than this!
UPDATE: An attorney for Shanann Watt’s family has shared information about the night of the murder. Apparently, remembering that this information had to come from a known liar, narcissist/psychopath, and convicted killer, Chris Watts killed his wife during an argument, where he said he wanted a divorce, and she stated that he would not see the children. Whatever the reason she is NOT to blame for her own death – he could have just left the home (as many men do – running to the mistress)!
As women who find out our husband has cheated, is cheating or were going through a divorce, we need to remember to watch what we say when we are angry and hurt. Threatening anyone, especially when trying to “keep him” does not help you at all – not legally or safety wise!!!
What have you experienced that made you feel fearful for your safety during or after divorce? What are you doing to protect yourself and your children? (Real name not required.)
May God bless you and keep you safe!
I had a PFA against my husband(covert narcissist). I was convinced to drop it by well-meaning friends. I later discovered two days before I dropped it that he had tried to have an affair by contacting a woman he had told me before was sexy (and single!) AND he had googled “strangulation.” I called him on it in front of our pastor and he had the weakkest explaination and his story changed every time he told it. Now I do not want to be alone with him although he has tried to get me to meet him.
There was a double murder/suicide on Jan 2 in Middletown, PA where there had been domestic violence and the husband murdered his wife and son before killing himself. Also, in a FB group, there was another recent murder invoving DV. A few years ago my sister escaped from a malignant narcissist who stopped at nothing to destroy her one way or another.
We were raised in Anabaptist churches where submission was shoved down are throats and men were treated with preference. I would love to start addressing this type of abuse, because, until that is addressed and overcome, Christian women would continue to be victimized.(as well as others)
Jen Grice says
I hope you are using safety measures as you divorce your husband. I would not trust him at all! If you need another protection order, get one. Thanks for sharing your story. I wasn’t able to start sharing my story or helping others until after I had worked through a lot of my healing with an abuse recovery counselor – I highly recommend it! Now, I’m better able to put objection words to what happened without the need to be influenced by my pain, hurt feelings or emotions. Glad to have you along on this journey to healing.
Wow. So much said there. Thank you for writing about this. This is so everywhere but seldom addressed. I know I can’t go back, only forward. ?
Jen Grice says
You’re welcome! Glad to have you along on this journey to safety, healing, and freedom.
I was battered after the divorce was filed. That was my wake up to go completely NC and protect myself and my teenage children. I keep hearing people tell me I can not stop talking to him because of the children, believe me it is possible. It was so hard, I suffered from withdrawal like an addict (guess with trauma bond I was one). I shook and circled the house all night checking to make sure the doors were locked for about a year. When he showed up at the house, I called the local police department and ask for a civil visit so I was not alone with him. (they felt he was a danger to me and my sons due to his actions during these visits) My EX soon stopped showing up because I would not engaged. He did pull the money to get even but we were safe.
My divorce was moved up and the wait period was waived because of violence. My EX rages and still tries to control my by money(cancelling the kids health insurance type of things) but I have not spoke to him or seen him in years. I do not react except to call a lawyer if necessary.
Believe me it was not easy or pretty, because I was so afraid and heartbroken. He would tell me he wanted the life I had built us with all my hopes and dreams as a family, he just wanted her there instead of me…. in hindsight I believe if he could have, he would have had me killed.
Jen Grice says
I’m glad you and your children are safe! Often emotional and financial battering is worse and harder to heal from than physical. The more you can separate from a man who’s continuing to do this the better. I agree no contact (NC) is the best way to heal. Thanks for sharing! Glad to have you along on this journey to healing.
Jenny N. says
I’ve been obsessed with the Watts story since it broke and I too read most of the 2000 page report. I got this feeling that this could have so easily happened to me. My ex was only physical with me once and that was when we were dating. It was during one of the times he turned into a different person — cold, mean, distant. I now know this is how he gets when a new woman comes onto the scene and he’s looking to cheat or is already cheating. My ex pushed me into a concrete wall and screamed in my face. I should have walked away and kept walking, but I had no clue why my Prince Charming was now a totally different person. I went onto see him turn into a different person many times over the next 20ish years. I so related to Shannon’s texts describing Chris as a different person and she didn’t know who he was anymore. And how his change in behavior happened overnight! When my exes mask dropped for the very last time (after I finally caught him out with another woman), I was afraid to be in the same house with him. I didn’t think he’d hurt me, but I was afraid of him. He scared me, because it felt like I was living in the same home with evil. It’s so hard to describe. Anyway…………..six month behavior I caught him out on a date, we went to Jamaica for our 20th anniversary. We had a great time and he even gave me an additional diamond ring to go with my wedding rings (totally surprised me as I never ever asked for anything like that!). While we were there, we took a small sailboat out. Ex had a hard time getting it turned around to go back to shore. We kept going farther and farther out into the ocean. I was scared to death! No one was around to help us and we were so far out that no one could really see us as we were so far from the shore. I was shaking and crying as I’m so afraid of sharks and I thought we’d die out there. But he finally figured out how to turn it around and we made it back to shore. A year or so after discovering my ex cheating (again), I thought back to our sailboat adventure and chills went down my back. He could have so easily pushed me off the boat and called it some type of accident. Everyone would have believed him, because he’s Mr. Nice Christian Guy and I never ever said a bad word about him, just like Shannon always talked well of Chris. I never shared this with anyone, because I’d be accused of being “crazy” or causing drama, etc. But they’ve never been in a relationship with a person like this and seen the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde transformation. My ex is even more dangerous then he was when I caught him out on a date. He has 100% gotten away with everything he did to me and most people still think he’s Mr. Wonderful. But God knows that truth and he won’t get away with it with God!
Jen Grice says
Yes, like you Jenny, I was very drawn to this case and the family dynamics before the murders. I felt I had lived a similar “great looking” family life – a house of cards. Everyone was fooled, even me, about what a great guy he was. I also had a similar issue with my inlaws when my son was young. They didn’t believe me that he was allergic to milk – after losing 2 pounds after birth, having stomach issues, and unexplained swollen rashes (even around his mouth). My ex-MIL gave my toddler a Ritz cracker (butter in the ingredients) when he had never had them in his life. She never even asked me. But I was “overacting” to be upset and worry about my child having a reaction. Of course, I was alone in this fight for my child. I see why Shanann would be upset with her MIL as well. What they do in these cases are psychological abuse and mind games – they use their tricks to divide family members and cause drama while blaming the victim. The other thing that hit me was when the OW (mistress) texted her friend talking about their sex life and when she said, “It seems like he’s too good to be true.” Yep, because it all is! You’re dealing with a sexual narcissist/psychopath. After her or without her he would have done it with someone else. I’m glad you’re okay… and safe! And thank you for sharing your story and encouragement with other readers here. We’re all in this together!
Jenny N. says
Jen, I’m happy you are safe too and that your son didn’t die or anything from the Ritz cracker! And I agree with your assessment of Chris Watts. If it wasn’t Nicole, it would have been someone else. And yep about “he’s too good to be true” statement. Even before I even started dating my ex, I said to my sister, “If I ever get married, it’s going to be with someone like Abby Normal.” He seemed perfect to me, but now I know it’s a big act and he has a lot of people fooled. He fooled me for a very long time and the times when he turned into the Mean Guy, I forgave as I thought he was going through a dark period or as he has called it a “lost time”. No, he actually is the mean guy with whipped cream and a cherry on top to disguise that he’s a turd.
I’m in the process of divorcing a narcissist. For almost three years, I didn’t understand the repeated lying and deceit, and the rages that resulted in verbal, emotional and at times, physical abuse. I didn’t understand what had happened to the “kind, honest, decent” Christian guy I had met and married!! Then, almost a year ago he gradually disclosed relapse into sex addictions and that he had betrayed me the whole time by lusting after hundreds of women. Even all this wasn’t enough for me to know what my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was all about. We have been separated for most of 2018, but it wasn’t until I sought the advice of an attorney to try to retrieve some of my finances that he had wiped out, that I first heard the word narcissist. As I have researched this, I see why my life was totally unbearable! He was a classic textbook case! I have since filed for divorce. Two days after it was filed, he changed passwords on all the bank accounts, has denied me any income, and become so cold and mean that he’s unrecognizable!! I watched Dr. Phil’s show about the Watts’ and shuddered!!! I thought, but for God’s grace, that could have been ME!!!! The divorce has been even harder than the marriage, if that is possible, because I still love him and miss what could have been, but I am SO thankful that God released me from this situation and has protected me from an ending like Shannon!
Jen Grice says
Thank you for sharing Beth. All of our stories seem very similar. Scary to know there might be more “Chris Watts'” walking around dating and marrying women. Glad to have you along on this journey to healing.
Two good books to start out with, regarding this topic, are: 1) The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker and 2) Your Most Powerful Weapon by Steve Tarani. I was referred to both of these during DV counseling sessions. I am still in a contentious post divorce and I read and educate myself on all things “Narcissism”. I prepare for the worst – that’s it. These people are cyclical with no end. Do not weaken during their “off cycle”. Remain calm, direct, with little to no in person contact. Never be alone with them, never. At children’s school events, sit next to trusted friends. You do not have to sit next to your ex for the sake of the children. He/She is a grown adult and can find their own chair – assuming they even show up. Your children will understand some day – much later. They don’t need to know the dynamics now. The sooner you establish your individual identity outwardly, the better. Above all, establish a relationship with a church family – not just someone to fill in the hole that this person has “dug”. You are #1 now so that you can be the best YOU, and be the best parent you can be. Awareness / Grace / Faith.
Jen Grice says
Thanks for sharing.
Heather D. says
Incredibly on point, Jen. Thank you, for writing this article.
My story is long, still painful and continually deepenes my relationship with God.
I am not at a place in my life where I can elaborate about the details.
I pray one day that will change.
Jen Grice says
I’m sure it will. Keep up the great work on your healing. Glad to have you walking with us.
My husband told me one night after I had found out about his cheating “I’m going to take so much from you and turn so many people against you and make your life so unbearable that you either get locked up in a mental hospital or you kill your self to escape the pain, and I’ll be left looking like the good guy”
He told me he would bully me to death and set me up and nothing would stop him. He has done exactly that having me falsely arrested, detained under mental health – the more you try and tell the truth the more crazy people think you are ….. there is no doubt in my kind he will end up bullying me to death.
Tenneil L. says
I understand this more than I would like to admit. He took everything from me over the years, even the kids…
He would claim I was crazy and with Dr. In front of his name everyone believed him over me. It is a miracle and true testimony of Gods love that I am still alive. Yet, hurting daily because just dont understand what they are capable of. Telling people ignore him, do not have contact etc doesn’t fix the worst…we did not talk for years; however, he still managed to use his power and control to assert a huge economic divide that enabled him taking custody and more.
Jen, I am so very grateful that I found you. Your writing has helped me on numerous occasions to process the surreal events in my 28-year marriage and divorce that I am still working through as it is not yet final. My husband finally(!) recently admitted in the court-compelled(!) interrogatories to multiple affairs that puts his infidelity on a 20+ year timeline. Not to mention his cheating while we were dating which puts it at 30+ years. His deception and my unconditional trusting nature were a toxic combination. To think that this man I’ve known for and started dating over 34 years ago is capable of the thousands and thousands of lies he told and the deep monetary cover-up is truly hard to comprehend. He was raised in a conservative Christian home and I am still close to his parents and his sibling/spouse who are still in shock at what he has done because his marriage to me kept up his image. Your distinctions of the continuum of narcissism has helped me so much … to better define and understand what my soon-to-be-ex did and is capable of. He is SO incredibly quietly charming and smart and knows what to say and not to say to keep him looking like a good person who is the victim in all of this. This glaring conflict of evil behaviors and deception and his charming way with others and how he so cunningly manipulates people sometimes defies description and even detection. So your experience and research has helped me bring clarity to things and kept my feet on the ground and from slipping into the “am I going crazy swamp” of someone coming out from behind the veil of deception and the pain of betrayal trauma. So….thank you. Thank you for sharing and caring. Thank you for shining a healing light to others and thank you for always bringing it back to God. God bless you in your mission and witness. You raise sensitive topics, with this safety issue being another one. <3
Jen Grice says
You’re welcome! So glad to help, encourage, and empower other women.
What do I do when he’s a cop and his entire department would cover anything for him? They’ve already helped cover numerous affairs, even found the women for him to have the affairs with. I feel scared but I don’t feel like I have any help because he’s a cop and the local “hero.” I’ve been raped, abused, cheated on numerous times and I felt like I could not report it ever because I would have to report it to his buddies. He makes me out to be evil while he put on his good cop face and I sit here scared, hurt, and alone. The corruption in law enforcement sets up a situation I feel so helpless and hopeless. I do not think he would hurt the kids or hurt me when the kids are around but I am so scared when I am alone.
Hi. I appreciate your words of encouragement. I am divorced from an abusive alcoholic EX who still threatens me just within the legal limits. He involves my daughter and manipulates her just as you state in your other videos. I need help trying to figure out how to manage my life with him. There are times I am afraid he will try to hurt me but the police here do nothing. I had videos and evidence of so many wrong doings and no one listens. It’s not until you are almost dead someone may take you seriously. How can we make a movement to stop the abuse ? How do the physically silenced get a national voice of the injustice?