Journey of Restoration
Women helping women affected by trauma
By Sonia Duggan
Every Saturday night at 7:15 p.m., a group of women impacted by past trauma meet to walk their healing journey together as they learn God’s plans for them.
Ministering to the group at The Cross Church in Wylie are Lisa Middleton and Sarah Idlett, women who truly understand the trauma of domestic violence and the journey it takes to heal.
The program, Restored Women, is based on curriculum created by Middleton and Gina Cooper, the churches’ worship & women’s discipleship pastor. Classes started Aug. 19, but women are encouraged to join any time they feel ready.
“If you realize today that you are ready for help, I’m not going to turn you away,” Middleton said. “I’ll bring you
up to speed wherever you are. Because the thing about healing from trauma is you’re not on a calendar. You’re not going to be ready Sept. 1 or Oct. 1, but you’ll get to a point in your walk where you’re just ready.”
Middleton and Idlett co-facilitate the group designed to offer support for women as they “walk through the pillars of healing from trauma and reset lives shattered from domestic violence and all forms of abuse that have led to dysfunctional relationships in women’s lives.”
Topics discussed throughout the semester include types of abuse, unhealthy life patterns and cycles, triggers and emotion management, coping skills and much more.
One of the biggest barriers to getting help for some of the women, said Middleton, is access to therapy and the lack of trust created by previous traditional counseling settings.
“One of our hopes in this class is for those people that really feel like they can reach out to traditional counseling services — this is a start,” she said. “This is a place for them to dip their feet in the water.”
Middleton said she and Idlett emphasize the importance of getting appropriate professional help “and maybe through all of the right work, they’ll be able to reach out.”
Another barrier to seeking help is childcare, and by meeting at the church during Saturday night services, women have access to free childcare there. And if security is a concern, police are also present on the campus.
“What we’re hoping to do for these women, particularly women of the community that don’t already attend The Cross Church, is create a community of people that are outside their normal circle that can just kind of speak life into them,” Middleton said.
The group is confidential, said Idlett, adding “and we all can share whatever is on our hearts and know it will stay in our room.”
Advocating for healing
Wylie Police Department Crime Victim Advocate Kisha Voss is passionate about helping people get the services they need such as crisis counseling and counseling referrals, criminal justice support and advocacy, referrals to appropriate social service agencies and much more.
However, Voss’ passion for those affected by domestic violence is far reaching. Last year, the police department supported her vision to host a Domestic Violence Awareness Network luncheon. At the event, Voss said she met Middleton, and viewed her “as a strong woman of character passionate about helping women heal from trauma.”
In January 2022, Voss said she started facilitating a Stronger Women Domestic Violence Support Group at the Wylie Police Department. Stronger Women is a grass-roots faith-based nonprofit that provides education for individuals and businesses: prevention tips, certified facilitator training, survivor support groups, among others, to enable them to respond to and heal from domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
“I learned quickly that I needed a partner/predecessor to help me carry out the responsibility of this mission after leading the first Stronger Women support group,” Voss said. “I couldn’t do my crisis intervention job, carry the weight of the support group long term and live a balanced life.”
The support group needed a solid foundation to remain and heal women from trauma. Voss said she prayed for God to reveal a Wylie resident who had the same heart and vision to carry God’s mission “to heal the land, to carry the torch.”
“It was, and is, vital for victims/survivors to have access to a local relatable empathic leader and support system within a positive community,” she said.
Middleton ultimately answered the calling.
“By the grace of God and the support of her husband, Lisa has partnered with the Cross Church to create and provide Restored Women for survivors of abuse,” Voss said. “I support her and refer survivors/victims who appear to be ready for the group to Restored Women.”
Idlett and Middleton are not licensed therapists, yet both have faith, compassion, and their own reasons for walking with women on their healing journey.
Middleton said she grew up watching her parents’ abusive relationship, eventually landing in foster care, where she was later adopted by a loving family.
As a result of her experiences, Middleton said it became her life passion to understand her own trauma and how it affects the brain — even going a step further to explore how it affects faith.
Middleton said she and her husband have seven adopted children, now ages 10-21, “all who come with their own trauma background,” including domestic violence.
She said she’s spent the last 15-20 years of her life researching and understanding trauma, and her goal is to help churches “bridge the gap to help people with trauma backgrounds come to faith.”
Idlett not only experienced childhood trauma, her 20-year-old daughter Nicole died on January 30, 2022, after enduring years of “horrible domestic abuse.” She said her daughter was expecting her third child and left behind two babies, adding “one of the babies is still with the abuser daddy who is walking the streets freely.”
“God led me to Restored Women’s Program and my heart has already been so blessed being a part of this group,” she said. “I was not able to save my own child from domestic violence and feel like my purpose now is to help women and children find safety away from the abusers and heal from the trauma of their abuse.”
Understanding domestic violence
“Domestic violence doesn’t start with hitting,” Middleton said. “Domestic violence begins with psychological abuse and control.”
The types of control, said Middleton, can include financial control, a lack of freedom in their relationships to make their own choices, feeling trapped, any form of coersion, or issuing a “do this or else” mandate.
“If any of those other things apply,” she said, “you fit the abuse category and you need to get help.”
Idlett said the weeks before Nicole’s death, Plano police were called again to her home for domestic violence and CPS was called out.
Her daughter’s abuser, his attorney and his father convinced/threatened/manipulated her daughter multiple times to retract her police statements of his domestic abuse.
“Had she not been forced to retract these statements over and over, he would have been in jail and would not have been able to hurt her and her children,” Idlett said.
According to the National Domestic Violence hotline, over one in three women and one in four men in the U.S. have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
Voss said her highest number of cases at Wylie PD involve family violence.
“My biggest plea is for individuals to come up with a safety plan, especially if they have no intention of leaving the relationship or dangerous situation,” she said.
“Usually, victims who are ready for a change have attempted or taken initial steps toward healing or freedom before interacting with a victims advocate or therapist,” she added.
The week before Nicole’s death, Idlett said CPS referred her daughter to Hope’s Door, a nonprofit that aids survivors of domestic abuse, and she told her mother she was going to call.
“I do not ever want anyone to stay in a situation like my daughter was in,” Idlett said. “I want everyone to know that God loves them unconditionally and that there is hope and there is a way out.”
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Stronger Women strongerwomen.com
Restored Women Call 430-252-3992 or email
Kisha Voss, Wylie PD Crime Victim Advocate call 972-429-8005