Sanctuary Outreach a ministry for sexual abuse survivors
Sanctuary Outreach Ministry tries to provide just that – a sanctuary, a safe place for women to come who are survivors of sexual abuse. Almost a year old, the nonprofit operates out of Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church on Driver Street. The Rev. Tammy White Rodman, founder and director, talked about her ministry this week at the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham’s roundtable, which also meets at Shepherd’s House.
Sanctuary Outreach Ministry is a Christian-based ministry, she said, but does not exclude anyone. There are events like Saturday morning prayers, Friday night social gatherings and Thursday night Bible studies. The ministry evolved from Rodman’s doctoral dissertation at Union Theological Seminary and from her own experience as a survivor of child sexual abuse.
Rodman calls Sanctuary’s program “Walking Wounded Willing Witness” and references 2 Samuel 13, in which Tamar is raped and out of that lived a desolate life because of the abuse. Rodman also references Luke 8:1-3 and the many women who were followers of Jesus.
Sexual abuse is a subject a lot of people don’t want to talk about, Rodman said. One moment of abuse could be a lifetime of desolation for that child, she said. Millions of women never say a word about it, she said.
If trauma and abuse is not acknowledged, she said, it manifests in different ways including anger and addiction. She put up a façade for long time, too, Rodman said.
“If we do not address it, it will take over a person’s life,” she said. Sanctuary Outreach uses four elements of Jesus’ ministry to address it: prayer, teaching, preaching and healing.
“Jesus loves you no matter what,” she said. “There’s healing in just being able to acknowledge your pain.”
Women in the group share their lives through multiple activities and eventually talk about the abuse, and at that point she begins to minister to their specific needs.
“Part of the healing process also is testimony,” Rodman said. Gatherings also include just talking, and “you come into a safe place, you feel comfortable and can breathe.”
Rodman said that she appeared successful on the outside, but inside was hurting.
“It’s going to come out eventually, one way or another. If you’ve been hurt, it’s going to come out,” she said. “Thank God, he accepted me in the middle of my mess … and turned me around.”
Sexual abuse of children is a major issue, she said, and, “we need to stop the silence.”
For information about Sanctuary Outreach Ministry, call 919-638-5163, email firstname.lastname@example.org or www.wwwwministry.com.