DARLINGTON — Sharon Wand was described by her sister Wednesday as a simple-minded victim of domestic violence whose husband continues to control her from prison.
“Right now, she’s lost,” said Amy Peterson, the younger sister of Wand, 27, who wrote a letter to the Wisconsin State Journal recanting statements that her husband, Armin Wand III, and brother-in-law, Jeremy Wand, set the fire in early September that killed her three young boys and the fetus she was carrying.
Peterson said Wand, who was also badly burned in the fire and is still recovering from her injuries, wrote the letter after visiting her husband in prison about a month ago and then spending about a week living with her husband’s sister, Tammy Wand, in Argyle.
Peterson, who lives in Necedah and talks to her sister almost every day by phone, described her sister as gullible and easily susceptible to manipulation.
She said Sharon Wand told her she visited her husband in prison because she wanted closure. Instead, she said, Armin Wand was “lovey-dovey with her” and used the same controlling techniques he used during their marriage to convince her of his innocence.
“She wanted to believe he didn’t do it when she knows he did,” Peterson said.
Wand’s recantation of her story is not uncommon among victims of domestic violence, according to Tony Gibart, the policy coordinator for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.
Domestic violence victims go through periods of denial to “escape the trauma they are experiencing and the nightmare they are living,” Gibart said. That also makes Wand more susceptible to manipulation from her husband or his family, Gibart said.
“There are complex and contradictory feelings in this situation that can be manipulated by allies of the abuser,” he added.
Wand briefly left the Lyghthouse, a 16-bed facility near Platteville that helps people with brain injuries and mental health and other behavior problems, to stay with Tammy Wand, Peterson said.
“She wasn’t taking her medicine and she wasn’t talking to her doctors,” Peterson said.
In addition to writing letters to media outlets, Wand wrote several profanity-laden passages in her Facebook page that said her husband and brother-in-law were innocent and proclaimed her love for her husband. She later deleted several of those passages, Peterson said.
Wand’s guardian, Geri McKeon, took her back to the Lyghthouse last week, shortly after Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department detectives inquired about Wand’s Facebook comments, Peterson said.
Wand’s recovery as a victim of domestic violence may take longer than her recovery from her burns, Gibart said. Victims like Wand, “need to be around people who are understanding and accepting, people that don’t belittle or patronize them.
“They need to rebuild that sense of control and empowerment that the abusers take from them, so that healing process will take many years,” he said.