EPISODE 108: Rising Above Clergy Abuse – Sandy Phillips Kirkham’s Inspiring Story

Welcome back to Warriors Unmasked - The Podcast!

In this deeply moving episode of Warriors Unmasked, we sit down with Sandy Phillips Kirkham, a wife, mother, and grandmother who has triumphed over trauma. Sandy bravely shares her journey, from growing up in a divorced family to finding solace in the church and her relationship with God, only to experience abuse by her youth pastor.

This conversation takes listeners from sorrow and sadness to compassion, understanding, and empowerment as we explore Sandy’s lifelong journey of healing and forgiveness. Sandy’s story is one of hope and overcoming trauma. At 16, she was sexually abused by her youth pastor, an abuse that continued for five years until his actions were discovered.

She wasn’t his first victim, nor his last. After being told to leave the church due to her “behavior,” Sandy hid her past from her husband, family, and friends for 27 years. A triggering event eventually forced her to confront her abuse, hiring a private investigator to locate her abuser and confront him. Sandy’s journey isn’t just about the abuse she endured, but also about how she overcame the trauma, learned to forgive, and reclaimed her life.

Sandy speaks candidly The pastor began grooming Sandy for abuse, starting with seemingly innocent gestures and escalating to sexual contact. He manipulated her guilt and devotion to the church, convincing her that their relationship was sanctioned by God. Trapped by his control and fearful of not being believed, Sandy suffered in silence for years.

Despite the damage done to her spiritual life and relationship with the church, Sandy has managed to find healing and forgiveness. She admits to still feeling uncomfortable in church at times but has learned to accept and understand her triggers. Through her healing journey, Sandy has become an advocate for victims of clergy abuse, serving on the board of the Council on Child Abuse and volunteering for The Hope of Survivor’s Ministry. She has even spoken before the Ohio Senate!

Sandy Phillips Kirkham’s story is a testament to the power of resilience, healing, and forgiveness. Her experiences offer invaluable insight and encouragement to others who may be struggling with similar traumas. Hit play to hear more!

In your corner,

Chuck and Clint


  • 0:00 Introduction from Chuck + messages from our sponsors
  • 2:52 The church started as a perfect place for Sandy
  • 6:27 When the abuse started for Sandy
  • 13:46 How to spot the many tools of manipulation and abuse
  • 18:27 An eventual reckoning….yet without justice
  • 24:58 The journey of confronting the truth
  • 31:57 The motive for bringing the truth to light
  • 34:56 When they made Sandy the villain of the story
  • 39:56 When Sandy shared the truth with her husband
  • 43:51 A look into Sandy’s new book “Let Me Prey Upon You”
  • 47:02 It’s a much bigger issue than we can wrap our heads aroun


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