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Family of murder suicide victim speaks out about domestic abuse

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Nationally, one in seven men and one in four women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. This is according to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services or DAIS. Madison resident Sherry Waller was one of them.

Waller was 34-year-olds, she was a mother of five and her sisters Praviona Lawrence and Clairissa Yancey said she was always the life of the party.

They said the family had no idea Sherry was in an abusive relationship until it was too late, and now they are telling her story to remind people that some red flags can go unnoticed.

“She’s like my better half,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence and her sister Sherry Waller were inseparable.

Their other sister Yancey said even though Sherry was a year and half older than Lawrence, they were like twins.

“There like Ben and Jerry’s. You can’t have one without the other,” Yancey said.

If they weren’t hanging out, they were talking on the phone.

“We’ll sit and watch TV together like she’ll be at her house. I’d be at my house on the phone watch the same episode of whatever,” Lawrence said.

But there’s one phone call, from three years ago, that Lawrence can’t get out of her mind.

“I called her and so she picked up and I’m like ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ Even though we just left each other, and I heard some gunshots, and the phone went dead,” Lawrence said.

On September 29th, 2018, Sherry Waller was shot and killed by her boyfriend, who then killed himself, in the townhouse they both shared on Madison’s east side.

Sherry’s death was a shock to her family.

“I just thought she was happy. She seemed happy,” Lawrence said.

Especially since they had grown up with her boyfriend.

“We go way back to hopscotch like my grandma let you eat at our house, you know, spend a night at our house,” Yancey said.

“You took somebody that was like my everything like I am lost still to this day without my sister and it’s really hard,” Lawrence said.

The sisters said Sherry hid her struggles with domestic abuse from her family.

“Domestic Violence relationships like any other relationship start with a honeymoon phase so it doesn’t start with violence,” Domestic Abuse Intervention Services Executive Director Shannon Barry said.

“A lot of times it can be very difficult for people to even see that they’re their partners are systematically starting to isolate them and starting to control different aspects of their life until it’s going to kind of further down the line,” Barry said.

Looking back, Sherry’s sisters can see the red flags of abuse.

“When it came to her job, she loved her work. And then it just got to the point she was going less and less… where she just wanted to be at home and be there when he gets there,” Lawrence said.

Barry said if you see someone in a domestic violence situation, the best thing you can do is reach out to them.

“If you just need someone to talk to. If you want to just sit and have coffee. If you want support if you need to reach out for resources, I’m just here, and if you choose to be with this person, I’m still here for you, and I’m still that person in your life,” Barry said.

Since they didn’t get the opportunity to have that conversation with her, Sherry’s sisters are sharing her story with the hope of helping others.

“Encouraged people like to get out You do not have to stay just to get out,” Lawrence said.

To keep Sherry’s memory alive.

“As long as I’m living, she’s gonna live, she’s gonna always live through me,” Lawrence said.

If you or someone you know needs help. You can call the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services 24-hour hot line at (608)-251-4445.

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