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New true crime documentary reveals the ugly eight warning signs of domestic abusers

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Last year on April 22, 2018, Hollie Kerrell was absent from her home nestled in mid-Wales, and was never to be seen again.

Hollie’s husband, Chris Kerrell, initially showed worry over her absence but police quickly caught on, as he later admitted to her murder.

At first, Chris said the murder had been one that happened in the heat of the moment but evidence from Hollie revealed this to be inaccurate.

The case, which is explored in Murdered by my Husband: The Hollie Kerrell Story, was the first of its kind in a week long domestic abuse focused program event from Crime+Investigation.

The documentary reveals a larger issue at hand: how controlling behavior can be a red flag that could lead to death.

Pictured: Hollie Kerrell
Image via Crime+Investigation

Dr. Jane Monckton Smith who is a police officer turned criminologist who commentates on the documentary: revealing her research of the ‘eight warning signs’ of domestic abusers.

In her work, Smith highlights how most of these domestic abuse crimes are not random but can be traced back before the relationship had even started.

Smith formally identified the “eight warning signs” model after observing 372 cases of domestic abuse killings, conducting interviews with family members as well as public protection professionals.

The first step is an individual’s “pre-relationship history.” The abuser more than likely has a criminal record, or a history of “control, domestic abuse or stalking” in previous relationships. And while victims may be aware of these allegations, they do not always believe them.



While the second step comes at the “early relationship state, where the relationship may accelerate with early declarations of love, possessiveness and jealousy.”

And the from this, the third step usually comes forth, where the relationship is “dominated by coercive control, usually with some of the high risk markers.”

Smith reveals how “the further you get along those stages, the more danger there is,” which makes recognizing these patterns as quickly as possible could save a life.

The fourth step is defined by “triggers,” where the abuser’s power is threatened by events like separation, illness or financial troubles.

Followed by the fifth step which is coined “escalation,” which could include more frequent or severe control tactics which could involve suicide threats, violent behavior, stalking and begging.

Pictured: Chris Kerrell
Image via Crime+Investigation

But later into these stages, the danger accelerates along with the risk of homicide rising by 900% following a separation. At this point, a victim needs to be careful when planning their escape.

The sixth step is defined by a “change in thinking,” with the perpetrator driven to make a decision based on “feelings of revenge, injustice or humiliation,” all which could involve “moving on, revenge, or potentially homicide.”

Step seven is the “planning” stage where the abuser purchases weapons, looks to get the victim alone and conducts stalking and threats.

The eighth step is murder, which potentially involves, “extreme violence, suicide, suspicious death, missing person, multiple victims.”

If you or someone you know suspects domestic violence in your circle, please click here for her more information and to get help now.

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