Cheryl Parsa says she endured cheating, lying, violence, and multiple personalities during her romance with the gridiron great.
A former longtime girlfriend of Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker has come forward to detail a violent episode with the football star, who she believes is “unstable” and has “little to no control” over his mental state when he is not in treatment.
The woman, Dallas resident Cheryl Parsa, described an intimate and tumultuous five-year relationship with Walker in the 2000s, beginning shortly after his divorce and continuing for a year after the publication of his 2008 memoir about his struggle with dissociative identity disorder (DID), once known as multiple personality disorder.
Parsa, who has composed a book-length manuscript about her relationship with Walker, says she is speaking out because she is disturbed by Walker’s behavior on the campaign trail, which she claims exhibits telltale flare-ups of the disorder she tried to help him manage for half a decade.
“He’s a pathological liar. Absolutely. But it’s more than that,” Parsa, who last had regular contact with Walker in 2019, told The Daily Beast. “He knows how to manipulate his disease, in order to manipulate people, while at times being simultaneously completely out of control.” She said that when she was with Walker, he used his diagnosis as an “alibi” to “justify lying, cheating, and ultimately destroying families.”
Parsa provided a detailed account of a 2005 incident that turned violent after she caught Walker with another woman at his Dallas condo. She said Walker grew enraged, put his hands on her chest and neck, and swung his fist at her. “I thought he was going to beat me,” she recalled, and fled in fear.
Parsa is one of five women who were romantically involved with Walker who spoke to The Daily Beast for this article. All of them described a habit of lying and infidelity—including one woman who claimed she had an affair with Walker while he was married in the 1990s. All five women said they were willing to speak to expose the behavior of the man they now see running for Senate.
The Daily Beast sent a Walker campaign spokesperson detailed questions for this article. The spokesperson declined to comment.
This is the first time in the campaign that a woman has gone on the record with accusations against Walker. His candidacy, however, has been dogged by other allegations of domestic violence, specifically from a 2008 interview with his ex-wife that resurfaced ahead of his announcement last August.
Parsa’s story comes at a critical moment for Walker, who finds himself in a fight for his political life. Though his campaign was plagued by accusations of serial lies, violent threats, secret children, anti-abortion hypocrisy, and general incoherence, Walker finished only 35,000 votes behind Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in Georgia’s general election in November. Neither candidate cracked 50 percent, which set the stage for a runoff to decide the winner on Dec. 6.
“He is not well,” Parsa said. “And I say that as someone who knows exactly what this looks like, because I have lived through it and seen what it does to him and to other people. He cannot be a senator. He cannot have control over a state when he has little to no control of his mind.”
Walker has openly discussed his experience with dissociative identity disorder, most extensively in his 2008 memoir, Breaking Free. He claims to have vanquished his DID; a campaign advertisement this October said he had “overcome” his mental illness, and that same month he said in his only debate with Warnock that he is not under treatment. But DID specialists say the disorder is difficult to control.
Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who has not treated Walker, told The Daily Beast that DID is a real but extremely rare disorder, typically treated through intense, regular therapy.
“There’s no medication that treats DID. The treatment of choice is psychotherapy, which typically extends over years,” Appelbaum said, noting that periods of stress can exacerbate the condition. One of the “fundamental principles” of that treatment, he noted, is accountability, “to get the patient to take responsibility for the actions of all of those personalities.”
“In that sense, DID should not be used as an excuse for behavior,” Appelbaum said.
Dr. Veronica Fiske, a New York City psychiatrist who specializes in DID, told The Daily Beast that while the disorder is “not exactly curable,” it can be managed with treatment.
“I don’t think a lot of people have any control over it, and I don’t know someone who would say they don’t need therapy anymore,” Fiske said.
Parsa said that, at Walker’s request, she attended several sessions with his therapist, Dr. Jerry Mungadze, beginning in 2005. Mungadze, a controversial Dallas-based “conversion” therapist and self-identifying DID specialist with a PhD in counselor education, began treating Walker after he left the NFL in 1997 and checked himself into a California behavioral hospital.
Not long after he entered therapy, Walker and his first wife, Cindy Deangelis Grossman, divorced. She later went public with claims of domestic violence, telling ABC News in 2008 that Walker once held a gun to her head and said he was going “blow my brains out.” (Walker doesn’t deny the allegation but says he does not remember it.)
The domestic violence accusations have clouded Walker’s campaign. His adult son, Christian Walker, claimed in October that his father repeatedly threatened to kill him and his mother, forcing them to move “six times in six months,” and her 2008 allegation appeared in an anti-Walker attack ad this summer.
Walker responded to the “dirty” attack ad in a video statement, saying his political opponents “dug up an old video and took it out of context.” He added, “My opponents think they’re hurting me, but I am glad they did this ad.” And while Walker hasn’t directly addressed the veracity of his son’s allegations, he tweeted a response, saying, “I LOVE my son no matter what.”
According to Parsa, Mungadze and Walker seemed to work like a team, playing off each other—with Walker leaning on his diagnosis, and Mungadze allegedly casting her in a “savior” role as “the only person who could get through” to Walker.
“Jerry told me that he had treated dozens of people with DID, but that Herschel’s was ‘the worst case I’d ever seen.’ He said the only thing worse than having DID is Herschel Walker having DID,” Parsa said.
The Daily Beast reached out repeatedly to Mungadze. He would not comment about Walker, citing doctor-patient confidentiality, though he has previously spoken to the press about Walker’s violent behavior in his office. Mungadze did not deny Parsa’s claims about their own private interactions.
Parsa said Walker’s general claim in his book was true: His mind had over the years given rise to several distinct personalities—Walker calls them “alters”—which he had subconsciously created to deal with a repeated childhood trauma.
“He created someone to go to school, someone else to play football, another to be a father, to be a businessman, to be a boyfriend,” she said.
Citing her own experience, along with what both Walker and Mungadze told her, Parsa said most of Walker’s alters weren’t fully developed personalities. (He had “about 20,” she estimates; Walker’s memoir counts “as many as twelve.”) The majority, she said, were childlike, volatile, and only loosely aware of reality. Some weren’t even aware of each other, she said, and were “highly sensitive and frightened.”
“He has all these people there inside him, competing all the time,” she said, likening his mind to an unruly classroom. “It’s chaotic and unpredictable.”
(Fiske, who has not treated Walker, said it is “quite common” for DID patients to have childlike personalities. The goal of therapy, she said, is to “get the parts communicating with each other” and integrate them into a whole.)
According to Parsa, Mungadze said the next level up in the “pyramid” of Walker’s mind were the businessmen and family men, and at the top was “Herschel.” She said one of Walker’s alters once told her “there were three ‘Herschels,’” boasting that “Jerry didn’t even know it.”
“In my opinion, no one really knows Herschel,” Parsa said.
Mungadze, Parsa said, had warned her that Walker had “little to no control” over which of his alters ran the show.
“I would watch him change in front of my eyes, multiple times in a single conversation. It was terrifying,” she said. He would deteriorate with stress and conflict, she said.
She said she believes the campaign has inflamed his condition.
“I am once again witnessing the child alters who cannot construct a complete sentence on the national stage, now speaking out on issues like gun violence and environmental issues,” Parsa said, referring to two moments during the campaign where Walker’s incoherence went viral. “Personally, it is so sad to watch, and even more scary for our country.”
Walker’s memoir assigns roles to the various aspects of his personality, each named after their essence—e.g., the Enforcer, the Hero, the Consoler, the Judge, the General, the Daredevil. He explains distinct identities in detail, and Parsa said that he and Mungadze also shared those details with her.
Parsa, who today runs an independent high-end commercial and residential interior design business, provided evidence of an intimate, sustained relationship with Walker, which she describes as “loving.” She first spoke with The Daily Beast in July, and decided to go on the record with her story after watching Walker deny two women who in October accused him of urging them to have abortions.
Along with her manuscript—which she says she wrote over several years, based on contemporaneous notes and journal entries—her documentation comprised cards, business plans, gifts, and an array of photos, including pictures of a charity bike team they started together and Christmas celebrations with their families, featuring Walker’s son Christian. Their romance was also corroborated by four people close to Parsa, including one of Walker’s former romantic partners.
In the beginning, Parsa said, she missed the clues that all was not well. She first chalked up Walker’s inconsistencies and disappearances to his work schedule and the nature of his celebrity, but he became increasingly deceptive and unpredictable, she said.
Parsa recalled a fight one night in 2005, when she first confirmed her suspicions that Walker—who she said would sometimes disappear for weeks at a time—was cheating on her. He had invited her earlier that day to his condo for a motorcycle ride, but when she arrived that evening, she claims, she found another woman on the bike—wearing Parsa’s helmet. Walker had previously acknowledged a relationship with this woman, Parsa said, but claimed repeatedly to have ended it.
When Parsa confronted Walker, she said, the soft-spoken gentleman that she had grown to love vanished. He grew rageful and physically intimidating, she said, yelling at her repeatedly, “You want to see a man? I’ll show you a man!” He pressed his forehead against hers, she said.
“His massive hands were on my chest and throat,” Parsa said. “I thought he was going to beat me.”
Then, she said, “I saw a fist flying toward me. As I ducked down, he hit the wall beside my head and staggered backwards toward the bedroom, saying, ‘COME ON! I’M GONNA SHOW YOU WHAT A MAN IS!’ And I heard him from the bedroom beating himself up against the wall repeatedly and with force.”
The other woman was sitting on the couch the whole time, Parsa said, trying unsuccessfully to calm Walker as he “punished himself.”
Parsa fled the condo, rattled. Afraid for her safety, she said, she didn’t go home, where Walker might find her. Instead, she decided to take Walker’s earlier advice to speak to Mungadze and visited his office soon thereafter. That’s when, she says, Mungadze first told her the extent of Walker’s disorder, and cast her in the savior role—a move Parsa says incentivized her to continue the relationship against her instincts.
The Daily Beast corroborated Parsa’s story through a person close to her, whom she told about the above events at the time.
According to Parsa, Walker’s temper could be precarious. She recalled other “frightful moments” when Walker, in another mental state, demonstrated anger and instability, and she said he exhibited an unsettling interest in serial killers.
Complicating matters, she said, Walker often carried a gun, which he would sometimes play with in front of her. It made her uneasy. Parsa knew about a few threats Walker had made in the past—not just with his ex-wife, but also his memoir’s account of an incident in which he wanted to shoot a delivery man.
She also recalled a third instance, as described to her by Mungadze, in which Walker took his doctor, his ex-wife, and another woman hostage. Walker, Parsa said, was threatening to kill everyone in the room and himself, until Mungadze talked him into letting the women go and called the police. Mungadze recounted this story in a 2011 Playboy article (“That incident ended with him hitting the door and breaking his fist”) but did not mention the third woman—the same woman who had worn Parsa’s motorcycle helmet. A person with knowledge of the events corroborated Parsa’s account.
Knowing all that, Walker’s gun habit put her on edge, she said.
Once, Parsa recalled, Walker pulled a handgun during a trip they’d taken together to a food industry trade show. When she asked why he’d brought it, she said, Walker tried to reassure her by saying he was an FBI agent and used to play Russian roulette—a suicide game he has claimed to have played more than half a dozen times.
Parsa said that Mungadze once told her he believed Walker himself was “gentle,” but had “people in him that are capable of killing.”
Walker, it appears, would not disagree.
“I’ve got personalities that do a lot of things,” he told Sports Spectrum in 2013, including “a guy who wanted to kill someone. That’s why I needed treatment.”
(Appelbaum, the Columbia professor, said DID “is not typically associated with violent behavior,” and that there is “no evidence” people with the diagnosis are likely to be more violent.
“DID is not the totality of a person’s behavior; it’s one component,” explained Appelbaum, who chairs the steering committee for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He said we all have “pre-existing modes of behavior,” which determine to a significant degree how we react to our conditions.
“So, DID in someone prone to lying and antisocial acts will be associated with lying and antisocial acts,” he said.)
At the time of the incident at the condo, Walker had been in treatment for several years. But Parsa says she soon came to feel manipulated by both Mundgaze and Walker, as she felt the lines between Walker’s central persona and the facets of his disorder increasingly blurred.
Walker, she said, leaned into his illness to “avoid accountability for his actions.” Far from the difficult but sometimes beneficial challenge portrayed in his book, to Parsa the diagnosis appeared more like a firewall that Walker used to shield himself from blame—for everything from the violent episode she described to his infidelity.
Parsa said her romance with Walker lasted from 2004 to 2009, followed by a few years of friendship. That relationship also overlapped with other girlfriends, including Walker’s current wife, Julie Blanchard.
Parsa claims Walker had multiple cellphones, in part to help him keep his girlfriends straight. He frequently changed numbers, she said, recounting that at one point another girlfriend told her she asked Walker to disconnect his “girlfriend phone” after a suspicious extended trip.
Four ex-girlfriends in addition to Parsa spoke with The Daily Beast for this article. All described Walker as unstable. All said he called them, “My Dear.” And all but one of them said that, to some degree, they fear him.
Their stories reveal another side of Walker.
The college football legend has long evangelized his Christian faith while cultivating a public image as a wholesome family man, including during the campaign. In reality, these four women say, Walker lied to them habitually, vowing his undying devotion in order to secure their trust and love while secretly seeing other women. He made these same promises to different women at the same time, they say, including after he published his 2008 memoir.
Walker often points to Breaking Free as an inflection point for an internal metamorphosis. In its pages, Walker and two co-authors recount some of his struggles with DID and write at length about his Christian faith, a narrative that portrays Walker emerging on the other side of hardship as a new and fully integrated person.
The book does acknowledge that Walker had an extramarital affair in the 1990s, which it attributes to his mental state before he sought treatment. But Walker’s claims about his sexual purity after he published the book defy belief.
The following year, now several years into treatment, Walker was again juggling a number of women—resulting in one son born out of wedlock in 2009 and an abortion later that year with another woman, who three years later gave birth to another son by Walker. One of the other women he was seeing at the time is now his wife.
In 2010, two years after Breaking Free published, Walker told radio host Howard Stern he’d only had sex with two women. By that time, he had fathered three children with three women and reportedly paid for abortions for at least two other partners.
Still, after releasing the book, Walker became a public advocate for psychological treatment. And he styled himself a “champion for mental health” while campaigning. He focused those efforts largely on using his status as a sports hero to connect with members of the military, frequently encouraging troops at bases around the country that there was no shame in seeking help.
The ex-girlfriends who spoke with The Daily Beast said Walker lied and cheated so frequently that they suspected he sometimes used military base visits as cover to get away and see another woman.
One of these women said she had an affair with Walker in the late ’90s, but ended it when it became clear he was not in fact separated from his wife, as he had claimed. But the publication of the memoir struck her as a sign of emotional growth, she said, and inspired her to reconnect with him. She then described a 2008 visit where they had sex at his Dallas condo.
“It was dark because the lights were out, but the place was lit up like a landing strip, with baby monitors all down the hall,” this woman said. “He told me he was taking care of his son and not to wake him up.” Christian Walker would have been around 9 years old at the time.
That night, she said, Walker chided her for ending the affair, saying “You left me when I needed you most.”
“He offered to help my schizophrenic sister with some counseling and didn’t come through,” she continued. “When we discussed his DID I told him my sister was clinically schizophrenic, and he said, ‘Well, if you ever need anybody to chat with her just let me know.’ He was always trying to reassure me that he could do something more. I told him when he was ready to talk to her to just let me know.”
He never did, she said, even after she prompted him multiple times. “He’s a fucking asshole,” the woman said.
“He knows right from wrong and he has wronged all of us. He has been deceptive, hypocritical, disingenuous, a liar, a cheater, and adulterer.”
The woman said she hasn’t slept with Walker since 2013, but claimed he tried to connect with her romantically as recently as 2019, when he called from a White House event for the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition to arrange a rendezvous. She acknowledged that she had always been “protective and sympathetic” towards Walker, largely due to his condition. But that changed this year as he stepped up his attacks on abortion, and the mother of his youngest son revealed in October that he had urged her to terminate two pregnancies.
“He knows right from wrong and he has wronged all of us. He has been deceptive, hypocritical, disingenuous, a liar, a cheater, and adulterer,” she said. “The list goes on and on.”
The women all provided evidence of their relationships with Walker, with all but one of those relationships lasting at least three years. All the women said they at some point learned they were not his only love interest.
Like Parsa, the other women recalled Walker as a sweet-talking charmer, a positive and sometimes childlike idealist who frequently declared his perpetual love for them alone—and asked theirs in return.
“He got me at a low point in my life,” said one woman, who lives in New England. The others echoed the sentiment, all recalling being in positions of emotional vulnerability when Walker first charmed them.
“I was coming out of a bad divorce, and he knew that. The man has no conscience,” she said.
“He was proclaiming his love for everybody, all of us, all the time,” the woman continued. “But it was like everything that you believed, like truly believed, it was just like none of it’s true.”
“One year, he had three Christmases,” she recalled. “He was with Cheryl [Parsa] Christmas Eve, [another woman] Christmas Day, and he flew to see me on the 26th.” (Parsa, who knows both women, confirmed the account; the third woman declined to comment for this story.)
This woman provided a three-page handwritten letter Walker left for her after he showed up at her house in New England unannounced.
“I didn’t want him in my house, so he chose to sleep in my car. He slept four nights in my Lexus in my garage,” she said, explaining that at the time she had recently learned Walker had proposed to another woman.
But Walker—who had also asked this New England woman to marry him—denied he was engaged, reasoning that “he had only bought [the other woman] a ring and it was nothing,” she said.
In his letter, he wrote, “I would love for you and the kids to share what [Christian Walker] and I have, share in our life.” He signed off saying, “I love you and always will. No games, no playing, no women, no men, no exs [sic] just a loving relationship of family and honesty. Two people make a relationship. I’m one. Do you want to be the other?”
They had been dating for three months, she said.
A second woman who came forward in October, going by “Jane Doe,” accused Walker in a press conference of pressuring her to have an abortion during their extramarital affair in 1993, noting that Walker would also send her letters declaring his undying love, and occasionally got her tickets for the family box during Cowboys home games. The woman who rekindled her affair with Walker in 2008 told The Daily Beast she also sat in that box, where players’ families identified her as his “girlfriend.”
A person who worked from 1996-97 as a front desk supervisor at a Dallas hotel on the same street as Cowboys headquarters told The Daily Beast that Walker had secretly enlisted him to use his credit card on file to check him into rooms for his “agent” four or five days a month for a period of about a year.
“He would call me at the hotel, request to be checked into a room and leave the key hidden near the room to be retrieved by [women he would meet there],” said the worker, who provided proof of his employment at the hotel. “I witnessed two different women during this time retrieve the key that I hid. [O]ne time he called stating the key wasn’t located and to bring it personally to a female.”
“In one instance, he was on camera arriving in a karate uniform before knocking on the door and entering,” the person said. “I surmised that was his alibi to leave his home.”
The woman who reconnected with Walker in 2008 recalled extramarital encounters with Walker at this hotel at the time.
All the women interviewed for this article share common traits. They’re all fiercely independent, many with successful business careers. And they’re also close to Walker’s age, with one exception—a woman who is now 39.
That woman revealed to The Daily Beast in October that Walker, now 61, had reimbursed her for an abortion in 2009. Three years later, she gave birth to Walker’s youngest son, claiming Walker asked her to have another abortion instead. After the child was born, she said, Walker—who has repeatedly blasted absentee fathers in the Black community—refused to play an active parenting role and has not seen this son in person since January 2016. He lied about the existence of this son to his own campaign staff earlier this year, The Daily Beast reported.
Asked how this pattern of behavior stacks up against Walker’s claims to have “overcome” his disorder, Parsa shrugged.
“People have always wanted something from him. Run the ball. Sign this. I need money for fill-in-the-blank,” Parsa said. “But there is no help for him. He is a mentally ill and unstable man. Period.”
Walker, it appears, disagrees. He says he is “healed.”
In a 2012 speech to soldiers at Fort Bragg, Walker counseled an audience of active-duty soldiers not to be afraid to ask for help with things you can’t fix on your own.
“Before, I was in the darkness. Before, I probably wouldn’t be here, ’cause I can guarantee you one thing: If I’m not going to a hospital, I would have killed my wife. If I’m not going to a hospital, I wouldn’t stand here before you today,” he said. “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.”
Today, Walker claims he is not in need of treatment.
During his one and only debate with Warnock, with three weeks to go until the general election, Walker was asked whether he was actively tending to his disorder. He demurred.
“I continue to get help if I need help, but I don’t need any help,” he said. “I’m doing well.”