|ASI Convention Update—Sandy Kirkham|
(From the October 2012 edition of HopeSpeak)
Raising awareness in the hopes of preventing clergy sexual misconduct and victim support are two of the goals of The Hope of Survivors (THOS). I saw both in action at ASI, as it was my honor and privilege to exhibit on behalf of the ministry at this year’s convention.
It is not uncommon for someone to see our booth, pick up a brochure and ask, “Does this really happen? Do we really need a ministry for this?” Being able to raise awareness on this topic is vital. By failing to recognize clergy misconduct or acknowledge its existence denies healing and hope not only for the victims, but for the church and the offending pastor as well.
Our presence at ASI helped to accomplish the goal of raising awareness.
Victim support continues to be the main goal of THOS. Having experienced first-hand the love, support and understanding of the ministry, after dealing with my own abuse at age 16 by my youth pastor, I know how important this part of the ministry is.
I will share with you two examples from our time at ASI. The first was a young woman who said she just wanted to say “Thank you”. Three years ago she picked up a brochure. She didn’t read it for two years, but finally deciding to read it, it changed her life. For the first time she understood what had happened to her was not love but abuse and healing could begin.
Secondly, a young man in his early twenties said he too wanted to thank us, but on behalf of his mother. She had been a victim of clergy sexual abuse and found help and support after contacting The Hope of Survivors. This ministry does have an impact.On a personal note, since the convention was held in my hometown of Cincinnati, my husband came by to visit, as well as some of my friends, to get a first-hand look at our ministry and to see what we do. I appreciate their love and support.