Podcast Episode 75: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Sandy Phillips Kirkham’s Fight Against Clergy Sexual Abuse

By Karen Robinson

Heal Thrive Dream 

Sandy Phillips Kirkham, a beloved figure in her church, was sexually abused by her pastor for five years, and despite the abuse, she was blamed and exiled from her safe haven, forcing her to keep her trauma a secret for 27 years.

"Victims need to understand that you are not responsible for what was done to them. You were targeted. You were trapped, and you only could deal. And the only way you knew how was with the coping skills was you had at the time."

Sandy Phillips Kirkham is an advocate and spokesperson for victims of clergy sexual abuse, having experienced it herself at age 16. She has spoken before the Ohio Senate and a Maryland court, serves on the Board of COCA, and works with survivors conducting victim support conferences.
Sandy Phillips Kirkham was an active young girl in the church and looked to her youth pastor as a father figure. Over a year, he groomed her with kisses and hugs until he eventually sexually abused her for five years. He used a technique of love and fear to keep her under his control and when he was caught, he was given a going away party and accolades. Sandy was told to keep the secret, or she would be blamed and for 27 years she kept it. Eventually, she confronted him and sought healing. Her journey was messy and full of lies, deceit, and low self-esteem.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

1. Exploring the Impact of Sexual Abuse at a Young Age: Learn how being sexually abused by a church youth pastor affected Sandy Phillips Kirkham, and what it meant to be a victim of abuse in a church.

2. Uncovering Abusers' Tactics: Find out how abusers groom victims and manipulate entire congregations, and how Sandy's abuser used fear and control tactics to keep her in a relationship with him.

3. Discovering the Long-Term Effects of Trauma: Understand the trauma-bonding, gaslighting, and imposter syndrome that Sandy experienced, and how it took her 27 years to come to terms with her abuse and begin the healing process.


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Karen Robinson

  Karen Robinson  

About the Author

I'm licensed therapist with 25 years of clinical experience. Service driven, specializing in trauma recovery, anxiety, and depression, holistic care, and transformation to create an impact for trauma survivors globally. Services include coaching, therapy, virtual courses, digital products, and on-line memberships.

Are you a survivor in need of HOPE?