i wish

out of nowhere

out of nowhere
Written by Cathoel Jorss,

My dad trained me to be raped, by minor and persistent infringements which he would not withdraw or desist in, no matter how I protested. He taught me saying No had no importance. I had no sovereignty over my body. For he would still cup my butt in his hand, rove his eye over my breast and comment on it. This started when I went into puberty and in later years the family made the excuse that he had done it to all of us: but not my brothers, no. Or, they said, he had always done it, as a mark of his harmless affection. But I remembered. It started when I grew hair and curves. It never happened when we were children.

I was – I am – spirited, and fought back. When I told him to stop he looked invariably surprised and injured. “Oh, but darling, it’s only a bit of fun.” He would say, “I’m only tormenting you, pet.” I tried carrying my breakfast into another room when he sprawled at the table with pubic hair showing through the loose fly of his pyjamas. I tried sewing up the fly of his pyjamas in a scarlet thread. Right into his seventies he used to call me and my mother “my two girlfriends.” No amount of rage on my part could ever get him to let this go. In my teens I tried again and again to talk to my mother, who kept insisting I had a ‘dirty mind.’

Dad used to come in at night to ‘say goodnight’ – always to me, never to the boys – and would fall asleep on my bed. When a boy at university when I was 17 started raping me regularly, these attentions from my father, creepily, stopped. It was like he had handed me over. After nearly a year I found the courage when this boy’s violence intensified to overcome the shame and tell my mother. I begged her not to tell Dad. They broke through the flimsy lock I had begged for on my bedroom door and beat the crap out of me. Calling me a slut and a tart. They stripped the sheets off me while I cowered. In the bed where I’d passed out from sexual pain so many times one held me down while the other walloped. Next day a neighbour my own age crept round, she had waited til Mum went out. Was I ok? she asked. She described how she had listened in agony, thinking she ought to call the police. She said, very quietly, “I thought they were going to kill you.”

For years afterwards every time my father visited he would bring with him stored up stories of women who, supposedly, had concocted malicious fictions about rape as a way of destroying the careers of blameless men.

80 comments on “out of nowhere

  1. You are strong, brave sister. My thoughts are with you.

    Kara November 3, 2017 at 12:12 am
  2. Jesus Christ almighty, I’m so sorry you went through this. A horrible story, and heartbreaking, devastating. Also brilliantly clear and brave. Jesus fucking Christ (I don’t know why I keep invoking the poor guy’s name, as far as I know at least, HE never screwed over girls & women) you are not alone, just know that. And you need to speak this truth to evaporate its power. And you’ve done it. xox

    Miranda Field November 3, 2017 at 12:13 am
  3. Terrible

    Jeff Spargo November 3, 2017 at 12:41 am
  4. Oh Cathoel. I have nothing to say except I’m so sorry these terrible things happened to you. You are such a wonderful person, may you be blessed in every way.

    Jameela November 3, 2017 at 12:43 am
  5. I am appalled that anyone can be treated as you’ve described. It’s almost beyond belief that a parent can do that to a child. At least it’s beyond my ability to comprehend. In writing that, I do believe what you’ve written. And I know that it is not uncommon because it has affected other family and friends.

    His retort that “… it’s only a bit of fun.”, echoes the words of so many who engage in bullying, racism, misogyny and sexual harassment. How can they respect others when they have no insight into the harm they cause others by their actions.

    I’m sad to hear that you experienced this. I hope that writing about it and the comments you receive give you some solace. I also hope that the many recent revelations by others of sexual harassment and assault will lead to changes in this area: a first step seems to be raising awareness of the extent and horror of such actions, and the condemnation of those who perpetrate them.

    Ian Law November 3, 2017 at 2:11 am
  6. Darling Cathoel. I am awed by your courage and kindness that you were there for this man and this woman when the man was dying.
    I am awed by your loving heart that still finds such beauty and love and life.
    I am awed by your generosity and incredible talent when she share the beauty, love, and pain in your life.
    You are a treasure. If I wasn’t so angry at those people for their violence and cruel domination of their own child, I would pity them for having a treasure of a child that could have brought them such joy and pride if only they weren’t so small minded and pathetic.
    If I could physically reach you I would (with your permission) give you the biggest healing loving hug in my universe ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

    Josephine Frankland November 3, 2017 at 2:20 am
  7. I am sorry this was done to you by people who abused their positions of trust and power.
    I am heartened that you are no longer reluctant to name those people.
    I am sure your testimony here will stand as an inspiration to others everywhere.
    I am hoping that you are feeling a lightening, a relief, and a further freedom.

    Jess O'Neill November 3, 2017 at 2:59 am
  8. I am amazed and impressed that you were able to forgive them, and go on to have an adult relationship with them. I don’t think I would have had that ability.

    Suzanna November 3, 2017 at 3:02 am
  9. My love to you Cathoel. You deserve nothing but the purest and most steadfast love. I hope you find healing in these writings 💜

    Amanda November 3, 2017 at 3:23 am
  10. Some of this is very familiar. Such a shame that the feminist movement is diluted and operating on the fringes, with the more militant totally shut down and shunned. I miss Andrea Dworkin. And what jumps to mind is Sylvia Plath’s ‘Daddy’:
    So I never could tell where you
    Put your foot, your root,
    I never could talk to you.
    The tongue stuck in my jaw….

    …Daddy, daddy, you bastard, i’m through”…
    Fathers have done some lifelong damage preparing their daughters for a man’s world. So good you are talking about it, Cathoel, and bringing it into the light of awareness for all of us.

    BaronessJennifer November 3, 2017 at 6:16 am
  11. Fuck. This is truly insane 😢. I’m so sorry this happened to you. My father (in his 70s) still feels entitled to my body, ever more strongly since I learned to set boundaries (because he has anxiety about us not being close enough). I have spent tremendous mental energy at casting myself as someone who will not be beaten or raped since i was a little child, so I know this implicit threat very well. Still can’t believe yours reacted this way…. 😭

    Vira November 3, 2017 at 6:26 am
  12. I hear you. This is horrid. Tomorrow I am leaving my Husband who is clueless as to the horror he has inflicted.

    Regina November 3, 2017 at 7:17 am
  13. Truly awful. I’m so sorry you had to go through such a terrible thing(s). And for you parents not to believe you?!? 😫

    Beth November 3, 2017 at 9:18 am
  14. Cathoel, you’ve spoken. Thank you. Hug!

    Russell November 3, 2017 at 9:19 am
  15. Oh, the many ways they try to break us and still the words keep crawling back to remind us of the injustice.

    Yong Sun Gullach November 3, 2017 at 9:33 am
  16. Words of sympathy can’t lessen the burden of those experiences, what you went through. So sorry to read that, Cathoel. I wonder when a critical mass of men will break through into enlightenment, and see our daughters sisters mums and neighbours as the beautiful gentle vulnerable co-humans you are, and treat you with respect, and leave you the fuck alone. So sorry for all this. Shocking that so many women experience a similar story.

    Martin November 3, 2017 at 10:11 am
  17. Heartbreaking..just heartbreaking…what a brutish, perverse and utterly twisted betrayal of your courageous move to share your woundedness …I cant imagine what that must have done to your head…you tell the truth..and your parents want to violently destroy you……that was something that struck a chord….the truth telling and the getting smashed for it….those of us who cannot help but say what is really happening are a great danger to family hierarchies made of denial and lies …and therefore must be silenced …and a great way to do this is violence and headfuckery CONSTANTLY…until the recipient truth teller is depressed/totally self doubting/thinks there half mad etc etc….However your wonderful honesty wasnt extinguished…it now burns brightly to free others and shine a bright light on abuse of every description…Mygod they certainly didnt win…your spirit was stronger that all those lies and violence…..thankyou…FOR YOUR FABULOUS ELOQUENT HONESTY…what was such a threat to them has become a great call to liberation and freedom for your readers…we are often born into a tribe that doesnt know us or recognise our treasures…your current tribe thrives with every generously scattered word…all power to the truth tellers!!!❤🐝🐣

    Susan Brame November 3, 2017 at 10:30 am
  18. Cathoel, it’s hard to know what to say to an experience so shockingly universal and yet so awful. I have never understood the “blame the victim” mentality around rape, and I’ve had too many friends who were abused by their own fathers. Kudos to you for growing into the strong, outspoken, graceful and loving person you are despite this.

    Raelene November 3, 2017 at 10:40 am
  19. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Caren Florance November 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm
  20. There was an article published online about the powerlessness that is disseminated and subliminally promoted publicly just by the words reporting rape. It is never “A man raped ….” It is always “a girl was raped”, making her the passive victim, and always the man seems to have little focus on his action, his evil brutal actions. We also need to change how rape and sexual assault is reported across the media and take back women’s strength and power by reporting the criminal not concentrating on the victim. The rapist needs blamed and identified and described, actively as a person who assaults! If I can find the article about the semantics of reporting these rapists and the disempowering words describing passive voiceless victims I will post it. Most people are assaulted by family members of family friends as it is a trust thing… That is the atrocity of it.
    Much love to you, dear Cathoel, and much healing comes from speaking your truths plainly and freely and being authentic. Cathoel you are so strong and amazing! XXX

    Balkan Falcons November 3, 2017 at 2:59 pm
  21. how badly does one have to be treated before they are denied visiting rights? before they are warned off?

    jen November 4, 2017 at 5:24 am
  22. So sad. Good on you for standing up for yourself in spite of the odds, you obviously have an irrepressible fire and that’s a gift. May the next generation in your family fare much better. Xx

    Mia November 4, 2017 at 5:37 am
  23. My dear Cathoel, I am so sad to read what happened to you. When you mentioned your ‘atomic’ family I was expecting something difficult but this is beyond anything I could have imagined. I have so much admiration for your for being the loving and kind person you are after all that has happened. Many would have been distroyed by this and you somehow managed to grow strength out of this dreadful experience. You are so brave for having dared to write that and share it. The world really needs people like you, who are ready to out their feelings to make a difference (maybe you should consider TED talking, for you inspired me and many would benefit from hearing this!). You are such a gifted writer and a beautiful human being. I am happy for our paths to have crossed! I wish you well in hoping that outing your thoughts somehow helped you processing the feelings that must be still very present… Stay yourself for it is your best person ! Grüße

    Caroline Röber November 4, 2017 at 8:55 am
  24. You are one of the most courageous and perceptive people I know, Cathoel. Your lucidity is valuable to us all. I salute you and sympathise, having just recognised similar prepping in my own early years – though not to the extent of yours. Thank you for being the spokeswoman you are…woman putting a spoke in the norms…

    Alison Lambert November 4, 2017 at 7:14 pm
  25. Liebe Cathoel,
    Whilst we’ve only met once, thanks to your writings and postings I feel to have a sense of what an amazing person you are. Power to you for sharing such painful and lasting experiences. How downright awful, when the place of refuge and shelter is not only physically/sexually but also emotionally abusive and traumatising. No wonder that setting these painful truths free is completely exhausting. May the tears and cheers (to your courage) be cathartic and cleansing. Please take refuge in the inspiration you are to all of us (and so many more..!). So much respect and compassion and aroha. May I be lucky enough for our paths to cross again soon sometime.
    Sincerely and in solidarity

    Iain November 5, 2017 at 11:58 pm
  26. I am so sorry to learn that this is part of your history, Cathoel. Thank you for being brave enough to write about it.

    Patricia Winters November 7, 2017 at 12:35 am
  27. I have no words 💚

    Shona November 7, 2017 at 12:12 pm
  28. Cathoel, you are amazing and beautiful and strong, and I’m so sorry for your pain. Thank you for sharing this and helping all the rest of us come to grips with our own lives.

    Jennifer November 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm
  29. Dear Cathoel, your courage, humanity, grace and clarity, your lucidity, not to mention a thousand other things, each hold aloft candles offering flames of light, hope, love and connectedness of a kind rarely glimpsed but always greatly needed. You are precious beyond compare. Thank you so very much for sharing your story. May you live for a very very very long time.

    paul anthony fogarty November 7, 2017 at 9:13 pm
  30. We are such kindreds you and I, and I always take great pride in being a survivor not a victim. We’re awesome hahahah. Love to you sister,thank you for sharing your story with brutal honesty as it should be heard. You are fierce sister. xxxA

    Andi November 8, 2017 at 9:39 am
  31. Godalmighty! Fucking hell, Cathoel. That is so fucking terrible.

    How on earth did you come out of being raised by such assholes as brave and beautiful as you are???

    I can’t tell you how glad I am that you figured out at some point that it was them who were doing wrong, not you. I just want to dive into that story and form a protective shell around that lovely, lovely girl. Keep her safe from monsters and tell her it’s just bad luck that her people are horrible, it has nothing to do with who she is.

    Now I understand why you’re an artist. That sort of stuff can kill the spirit, if we don’t have a way of making it into art.

    I can only guess at how you felt to relive that and write it. I hope people’s reactions give the 17-y-o girl inside you hope that this world has love and kindness and appreciation of talent in it, as well as that hideous bad shit.

    Bless you and bless your talent. ❤️❤️❤️

    Kirsten Tona November 8, 2017 at 10:01 am
  32. Anything I say is inadequate for all the trauma you have suffered. Your courage in sharing your pain is truely inspiring. I hope you can find peace. Sending lots of love xxx

    Dominique November 8, 2017 at 11:25 pm
  33. Oh Cathoel, I’m so sorry to read that this happened to you and commend your bravery in sharing it. Sending you love and healing thoughts. Xxx

    Beth. M November 11, 2017 at 12:44 pm
  34. Oh, my dear sister. I am so very, very sorry to read your story. I cannot imagine the strength and bravery it must have taken to write this. I have no words with which to adequately express my sorrow and outrage for what happened to you. I wish with all my heart you will find peace and healing. I think it is amazing, that you are amazing, to live a life of hope and creativity and still seek and find the beauty in the world. I am sending you lots of love and solidarity. Please stay strong and remember that you are loved and you are supported. Our families are not always those people with whom we share genes but those with whom we share our dreams and hopes and affection. Take good care of yourself. Huge hugs to you xxxx

    Jo Liptrott November 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm
  35. Horrendous! Blown away how you are after all this – strong, talented, amazing. So, so sorry all this happened to you. So sorry women are so devalued and so badly treated in our society.. xxx

    Sandra Kelly November 17, 2017 at 9:16 am
  36. They make it seem so normal and innocent; themselves blameless, your pain and protestations minimised to nothingness – and in your case taken beyond, to the point of being physically beaten in response to a cry for help! That your family were so complicit and protective of your abusers is truly shameful and disgusting. Thank you for sharing this story. I have such deep pain and grief that my abusers to this day do not understand the damage they caused; that they will never be the people I wanted them to be. That last sentence of your story was just like something another family member said to my sister. Others have tried to quantify our experiences, to measure how deserving of compassion we are, or how justified we were in pressing charges against our parents. I find the horror of all these things in how casual the abuse is. It’s just a bit of fun that has the capacity to shape a person’s psyche – that which they take with them throughout life and must always ‘work’ with. Yes we can rewire the brain pathways but damn it takes a lot of effort, which could have been spent on – any – other pursuit!
    I commend your courage and am grateful for your openness. Thankyou X

    Guinevere November 17, 2017 at 10:58 am
  37. My heart breaks for you Cathoel, the younger you and you now. I hope it is cathartic to write about your harrowing experiences. Despite all you have had to deal with, you are beautiful inside and out.

    Catherrs November 17, 2017 at 4:12 pm
  38. Your story is powerful and painful. I am sorry for the pain you endured from the people you trusted, and should have been able to trust. But I am so happy you have been able to share this difficult story; i hope it helps you move forward in your journey. Keep at it. Hugs.

    Kim Lifton November 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm
  39. I’m so sorry your family did this to you, they don’t deserve to be your family.

    Diana Selene November 19, 2017 at 9:10 pm
  40. I was in tears reading your story. I’m feeling so angry on your behalf. Your family do not deserve you. Sending you lots of love and hugs and strength.

    Eleanor November 19, 2017 at 9:12 pm
  41. Just read this and shed a little tear for you. I never appreciated what a lucky childhood I had. I always assumed all parents were kind to their children. I’m so sorry yours weren’t kind to you 😢❤️

    Catherine Drury November 21, 2017 at 11:15 am
  42. Cathoel, I’m in awe of you and all others who have the courage to share their stories, their wounds and show the world the cost of such betrayal and cruelty. Every time it breaks my heart. How long will it take to erase this sadistic culture of power and exploitation? I wish there was some way I could give you, and other survivors, more support.

    John Treason November 22, 2017 at 12:46 am

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