With heavy hearts, dozens of friends and family held a prayer vigil Wednesday night for a Middlesex County mother who was allegedly shot by her estranged boyfriend over the weekend.
The family says the vigil was to honor the life of 33-year-old Wendy Sabrina Billups, and to inspire other victims of domestic violence to come forward.
The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office says 34-year-old Travis Baker shot Billups twice Sunday at a birthday party for the couple’s young son.
According to investigators, Billups, who was raising the couple’s two children, had asked Baker to leave her home on Urbanna Road before the shooting.
A distraught Baker later turned himself into the Sheriff’s office.
While Billups’ family says they knew Baker was overprotective, they say they never realized why Billups was withdrawing from her family and remaining silent about the abuse.
“She was quiet,” says cousin Barbara Billups. “This situation opened my eyes, it opened my eyes a lot.”
According to the U.S. Government, between $600,000 and 6 million women are abused by their spouses or boyfriends each year, yet on average, just 21% of women seek help from outside agencies.
The victim’s family, while broke-hearted, say they hope Billups’ death will inspire the community to speak out against domestic violence, and for victims to seek the help they need.
“I’ve been in an abusive relationship,” says family member Jamie Lockey. “Just knowing you have someone to talk to, even if it’s just to vent or confide in somebody, no matter the situation and just supporting each other.”
A funeral service for Billups is planned for Saturday.