By Casey Gwinn
As the shocking news breaks about Chris Watts strangling his wife, Shanann, to death in Colorado and claiming his wife strangled their two young daughters to death before he killed her, the leading strangulation assault experts in America are gathered in San Diego this week for a summit on how to stop stranglers before they kill and develop national recommendations for policymakers. “Stranglers like Chris Watts are the most dangerous men in America but we too often miss it until they finally kill,” said Alliance CEO, Gael Strack. Dr. Jackie Campbell, one of the leading threat assessment experts in the country, also attending the San Diego gathering this week, noted that “If a man applies pressure to a woman’s neck one time in an intimate relationship, she is 750% more likely to later be killed by him.” The head of the CSI team from Charlotte, North Carolina, Katherine Scheimreif, also spoke this morning to the gathering of experts at the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention’s Masters Institute and said, “We cannot stop every gangbanger who is going to kill but given how predictable domestic violence homicides are, we can prevent murders if we stop the stranglers!”
“The most dangerous domestic violence offenders strangle their victims. The most violent rapists strangle their victims. We used to think all abusers were equal. They are not. Stranglers like Chris Watts are different. Our research has now made clear that when a man puts his hands around a woman, he has just raised his hand and said, ‘I’m a killer.’ He is more likely to kill police officers, to kill children, and to later kill his partner. So, when you hear ‘He choked me’, now we know you are on the edge of a homicide,” said Casey Gwinn, Esq., President of Alliance for HOPE International and Co-Founder of Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.
The Institute has now helped pass 47 felony strangulation laws but most of the American public knows little about strangulation assaults. When domestic violence perpetrators use strangulation to silence their victims, not only is this a felonious assault, it can be an attempted homicide, or in the case of Chris Watts, homicide. “Blaming the victim, as Chris Watts is doing, is nothing new. Stranglers, often referred to as ‘God Complex abuser’ always blame someone else for their own rage, violence, and abuse. But when you peel back the layers of their lives, you always find childhood trauma – the birthplace of their homicidal rage,” said Gwinn. “Strangulation is the most intense form of power and control and can have a devastating psychological effect on victims in addition to the potentially fatal outcome, including suicide and long-term consequences,” said Strack.
Dr. Bill Smock, the Chair of the National Medical Advisory Board of the Training Institute is also present this week with other leading doctors and forensic nurses in the country with specialized training in handling these cases, said today, “As the Police Surgeon for Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, I know without a doubt that strangulation is lethal. It only takes seconds to render someone unconscious and death can occur in less than two minutes. If a victim is lucky to survive, she may nevertheless suffer delayed death and/or devastating long-term consequences. Strangulation is the equivalent of torture. Our hope is to give everyone the tools they need to improve the investigation and prosecution of domestic battery by strangulation in order to save many, many lives”.