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Mom Sheds Light on Domestic Abuse After Colorado Murders

GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters.  (Photo by RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty Images)
Photograph by DP

Following the horrific news out of Colorado, where a man allegedly killed his pregnant wife and their two little girls earlier this month, one mom wants to make clear what can really be going on "behind closed doors."

Single mom Julie VanderLaan recently posted a powerful image of domestic abuse. She began with an observation: Everything she had read about the family in Colorado indicated that no one "knew" what was really going on. VanderLaan noted that although victim Shanann Watts’ social media “boasts pictures of a happy family," her husband, Chris Watts (pictured above), might have been abusive "when no one was looking."

VanderLaan knows about this firsthand because it happened to her.

“I have lived this," she explained.

While we don’t know for sure whether Watts abused his wife leading up to her murder, which he has reportedly admitted to, friends of the couple admit to being "shocked" by what happened because, according to one person who talked to People magazine, "he never seemed like someone with anything to hide."

VanderLaan said that “everybody was so surprised” too when she ended her marriage, which she left out of fear for her safety and the safety of her daughter.

Photograph by Julie VanderLaan

In her post, VanderLaan revealed some of the harrowing abuse she endured at the hands of her ex-husband. "Does he call you a bitch? A cunt? A whore? Did he hock a loogie and spit on your face on Mother's Day? That's not love," she declared.

“Has he called you a fatass after you just gave birth to his child and told you, 'good luck leaving, nobody would ever want you'? That's not love,” VanderLaan wrote, detailing her ex's emotional abuse.

The physical abuse VanderLaan endured is also depicted in her post. She described being shoved so hard that she flew backwards into a coffee table and was injured, and how her husband immediately took her phone away so she couldn’t call the police—and then proceeded to apologize. “He's not sorry, and that's not love," she wrote.

In another instance, VanderLaan ended up in the hospital—but was hesitant to tell the doctor how she got hurt.

According to VanderLaan, the abuse she endured always happened “behind closed doors,” and she wants to reach out to other women who may be silently suffering at the hands of an abuser.

Leave. Now.

“Leave before you are the one on the news. Leave before your family is questioning what/how/why it happened. Because ‘they didn't know,’” VanderLaan wrote.

She ended her post with an important message: “There are good men out there. Men who won't even raise their voice, let alone their hand. Find him. You'll then know love.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

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