My passion for starting SELAH was born out of my own personal experience with domestic abuse. I know firsthand the destruction, confusion, and fear that domestic abuse brings. It may surprise you to know that 1 in 4 women experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Women from every walk of life find themselves in abusive relationships.
Women who find themselves in abusive relationships often don’t know where to go for help. They feel very alone. It’s my desire for SELAH to be a safe place for each woman to share her experience and receive the help and support she needs.
Hello! My name is Misty LaFree and I am a Limited Licensed Profession Counselor.
I focus on trauma care within the family system as well as with individuals. I currently serve as a counseling advocate for Selah Empowers.
I have nearly 7 years of trauma-focused care. I held an internship in a Women’s Center and focused on children experiencing domestic violence. I worked with Bethany Christian’s refugee program which included some work with human trafficking. I had the privilege of participating in full DBT groups in my internship and worked with self-harm and suicide.
Additionally, I spent a little over a year working directly with domestic violence and sexual assault at the YWCA. I have extensive knowledge of navigating the court process as well as the process of obtaining PPOs, etc.
My own story also includes domestic violence, so I'm extremely passionate about serving this population. My available therapies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavioral Skills (DBT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT), and Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT).
I often approach therapy somatically because I believe the mind and body connection is critical to understanding trauma fully.
Educational groups will teach and equip members to find clarity and direction in their life and relationships.
Groups are open to victims, survivors, family members, or women who simply want to learn more about this issue.
All participants are encouraged to begin in our Level One Classes which cover the following topics.
Power and Control
Characteristics of Abusers
Effects on Children
Emotional & Verbal Abuse
Patterns of Abuse
These classes are completed in 10 weeks but can be repeated as many times as you'd like and can be started at any point in the curriculum. Once you haven grasped the content of these classes, we encocurage all our participants to join the Level Two Group for the "What's Next" conversations. This group caters to those ready to have open conversations about the next steps in their life. We often craft the class as a book club or reference conversation. It creates a safe place for real conversations and support to happen. Friendships, support, dynamic discoveries, and real conversations are made in this class. Participants often stay more than a year in this group.
When faced with an abusive relationship, individuals often feel isolated and need to be connected with resources in the community. Several agencies, experts, counselors, and advocates are involved in Selah to give direction to individuals through their journey to a healthier life.
Education can be powerful. Understanding the dynamics of domestic abuse helps to validate your feelings and empowers you to see that positive change is possible.
SELAH can provide you with free educational materials (books, handouts, etc) to help you grow in your understanding of problems and possible solutions.
Telling a personal story and finding a listening ear can make a huge impact on those who have been isolated and overwhelmed by domestic abuse.
SELAH offers individuals the opportunity to find clarity by processing their experience with qualified compassionate team members.
The series continuously runs throughout the year.
You may join at any time.
To register, for information on meeting locations, or to join virtually:
Call: (616) 510-6305
Class curriculum and topic handouts can be provided upon request to Shirleyr@selah-empowers.org.
All attendees are invited to register prior to attendance.
I started coming to Selah last year. I had been in a very destructive relationship for over 18 years. It was so bad that twice I needed to leave my home for safety reasons. After seeking help from both a domestic violence shelter and a counselor, I ended up being referred to Selah. Selah educated me and empowered me with knowledge, and I finally realized I was in an abusive relationship with no end in sight. It didn’t matter what I did, I would continue this unhealthy destructive cycle. Through the classes, I learned that there was a lot of manipulation, isolation, and power and control that I never saw before. I learned that no one deserves to be mistreated or to feel less than. I learned that God didn’t want me to endure the devaluing behavior that broke my spirit and that the destructive behavior was also deeply hurting my children. The support I found through the other women made a world of difference to me. I can’t express enough the positive impact they’ve made in my life for me to see my worth and value. I started living in TRUTH and felt HOPE I never felt before. I realized that I was loved and that God didn’t want me to feel broken or live that way any longer. Selah truly opened my eyes to what was really happening and that I wasn’t alone. If you or anyone you know is in this type of relationship, please help them get the support they need. It’s important to realize that abuse is not a marriage problem. It is a behavior problem within the abuser, and you cannot fix that. The only person that can fix it is Jesus. It took a lot in me to come to that conclusion and Selah really helped me with that. I believe God wants us to know our worth in Him and to listen and trust His voice and not others that are putting you down. If you are in this kind of relationship, I want you to know that there is hope. No one deserves to be treated this way. You are a child of God, and He does not condone abuse in any form. If you or anyone you know is in this type of relationship, please help them get the support they need.
I was emotionally drained and exhausted when I found the Selah group. I remember listening to one of the coordinators discuss the power/control wheel and a light bulb went on in my head. The ‘marriage difficulties’ now looked very different. I began to put to words all the things I was confused about: gaslighting, triangulation, isolation, projection etc. I met wonderful women who were welcoming and continue to openly shared their experiences. This has made me realize I’m not alone and I can overcome the experiences that I’ve been through. Through Selah, I’ve learned The difference between a difficult marriage and an emotionally destructive marriage, How to advocate for my young daughters and get them help to be emotionally healthy and How to have a solid self-care plan. After a year of attending Selah, I’m at the point where I can say that it does NOT matter what negativity (in words or deed) is directed towards me, I will not let anyone affect my joy and peace of mind.
I have been with SELAH for 2 1/2 years now and I cannot express the level of thankfulness when you find a community of other women that help bring clarity to your hurtful marriage and demise of it. To realize that I wasn’t the only one, education that helped reaffirm everything that I was experiencing was very real, to be able to express how I feel and be heard and understood. Although each marriage is different, many of them are the very same in nature. To watch one by one, us come together and at different stages of our healing, from despair, to becoming victorious and empowered by one another is a gift from God I will forever cherish.
I began attending Selah shortly after I filed for divorce. At that point, I had been married 11 years. I knew very soon after getting married that something was very, very wrong with my marriage. I just couldn’t fully make sense of what was going on. For far too many years I lived in fear, I was extremely emotional, I had severe anxiety, I had debilitating migraines, I felt like I lost my sense of self. Selah has educated me and shed light on what was really happening in my marriage. I had seen the Power and Control wheel prior to Selah and at that point I had experienced every form of abuse. Selah addresses this Power and Control wheel further but also educates you on what a healthy relationship looks like. I also learned about gaslighting, trauma on the brain, trauma bonding, the cycle of abuse and so much more. One of the most powerful classes for me covers trauma on the brain. This specific class helped me gain a better understanding of the trauma that my kids and I lived through and how I can take steps to help each of us begin to heal. Selah helped me make sense of my destructive marriage. This group is educational, but also provided me with the supports, tools and resources that I needed to get through my divorce and on my path to healing. These women helped me through every step of my journey. I have met many amazing women who have become my friends. These women are helping my kids and I on our journey to healing. Selah was my Saving Grace.
September 2021 Selah was introduced to me through my counselor at Pine Rest. He actually introduced it to me three times, but I was very much in denial about what was going on in my house. In the Spring of 2020, I fled my house for safety reasons and that is when I knew that it was time to get Selah involved. Selah has been my rescue for so many different things. But there are three main points for Selah. The guest speakers that are brought in are huge. There was one specific guest speaker that was brought in that helped explain what domestic violence does to the victims brain as well as the children’s brains that are witnessing these domestic violence outbursts. Whether you think that your child is seeing it or not, it can play in to a lot of different bigger problems with the children and I had no idea half of these issues that could go hand in hand with a child’s witnessing a domestic violence issue in their house. The second major piece was the attorneys that were brought in. I started my divorce case in the heat of Covid and there were a lot of attorneys that were not practicing at that time and I jumped with the first one that meant something to me. He had a military piece to his background and I have a military piece to my story. Weeks down the road and more education from Selah, I realized that he was not the best fit for me. I actually have a really great attorney team that I have now that I got through Selah. The third piece is the empowerment. As a victim of domestic violence you lose your self worth and you lose your identity as a human being. While a lot of the other women in the group share stores, there is a very unique piece to it all that we all share and with that alone, it has brought a sisterhood between a lot of women that are in the group and an insane support group. For that alone, I am beyond thankful for what Selah has done for me.
As I reflect on my “SELAH journey” I wonder….. where do I begin? Do I begin this reflection as a 20 year old starry-eyed bride? Or the next nearly two decades of exhausting all of my soul, mind, and strength into holding this beautiful institution of God’s design together? Fixing my marriage became my sole purpose for living, but my efforts were failing. I felt hopeless, helpless, confused, and trapped.Gripped in fear and severe depression, my body began to physically break down causing debilitating panic attacks, I couldn’t sleep or eat. I became very sick, I wanted to die. I began counseling, and made an appointment with my doctor. My doctor ordered panels of blood tests, hooked me up to a heart monitor, but the answers to my physicalsymptoms were more than medical. My counselor suggested I reach out to SELAH. I looked it up, and completely confused, I confronted him. “This is a support group for victims of domestic abuse. I came to you so that you could help me change and become a better (good enough) spouse to improve my marriage.” He simply responded by encouraging me to meet with others who may be able to speak into my life. Abuse was a terrifying word I would never have used to describe as a cause for the problems in my marriage. I was convinced my counselor was delusional, but I thought I would visit SELAH to see what it was about, because who knows, maybe it would be a good resource for me to share with others who ACTUALLY might need it. At SELAH, Sherry and Vicki began by using curriculum and tools to define power and control. As I returned to SELAH week after week, I discovered that God loves me more than the institution that I was dying to keep together. That my identity was not defined by the success or failure of my relationships and experiences. God used SELAH to empower me to seek safety and healing. Years later, SELAH continues to strengthen my roots in the soil of grace where I am growing to be the woman God created me to be. SELAH is ground zero, where victims become survivors who grow together changing lives and building lasting relationships.
We understand this may be a very trying and difficult time for you. You might not be sure what you need or what the next steps look like. You're not alone. We're here for you. Feel free to reach out and call us at 616-510-6305 anytime. - Vicki