The True Sisterhood Versus The Sisters of NO Mercy

Mary Marshall with a narrative of abuse endured at the hands of Roman Catholic nuns. Mary Marshall is from Sydney Australia. She is a Christian who is strongly opposed to clerical abuse and cover-up within the Roman Catholic Church.

'The sisters of NO mercy cannot hurt us anymore’ by Mary Marshall.


The painting depicts the impact of abuse on a minor resulting in dissociation of the victim from their body.

We are the True Sisterhood

Beautiful, brave and bold

We are the stories which were never told

We are the voices of the broken young

We are the anthem of liberty being sung


You would think a female adult in the role of a Catholic nun would want to nurture and bring well being onto young girl’s lives. You would expect a Catholic nun to promote a young girl’s self esteem, respect their individuality and nurture their capabilities. For many young girls being entombed in a world of Catholicism in the 1960’s and 1970’s the opposite was experienced. I was raised a Catholic and attended Catholic schools from childhood into puberty. As a young child I rapidly grew to loathe the nun’s pompous, saintly names, the huge crucifixes dangling on their black doomsday robes, the sound of their feet coming down the corridor, their voices, bulbous eyes and pasty, white faces protruding from their habits.  Enmeshed we young girls were in a world of their sinister smirks, sadomasochistic mores and utterly, unchallenged power.  

Nothing was out of bounds for the nuns to perpetrate onto young girls be it psychological torment, physical violence or sexual abuse.  Pure hate burning in their eyes like acid rain which tore and ate at our psyches. I clung tenaciously to a golden thread of hope eventually I could flee it all. Why did you not tell someone about it all? one could well ask. The era was one where you couldn’t talk about it and didn’t talk about it. No-one did. The priests and nuns were revered to the extent that no-one would have believed you even if you told them – somehow it would always be your own fault and in a twisted way (aka misplaced shame) I thought it was too. No-one would have helped you. Of that I am certain.

The day I turned 16 years old I left the Roman Catholic school system and my rabidly Catholic family home but the damage had been done.  I was deeply traumatised from years of abuse by the nuns but stuffed it all down inside myself.  Inevitably it all emerged sideways in the form of addiction, rages, self harm, self hate, nightmares and general dysfunction.  Decades of it.  But that was then – this is now. I want to tell you about the True Sisterhood.

We are the true Sisterhood

Beautiful, brave and bold

We are the stories which were never told

We are the voices of the broken young

We are the anthem of liberty being sung


Sisters bound together from years of unshed tears

We are more than an obscene curse which raped our childhood

We no longer implode our rage

We are the child-girl-women all bound into one

We are more than times of washing and washing our bodies but never feeling clean

More than terror, thrashings, bruised bodies

More than cruel words piercing brain

More than enforced shame


We know exactly where to place the blame


We have scaled the mountains of self hate

and sailed the ocean of misplaced shame.

We have grown wings and soared far

above suicidal ideation.

We have learnt to choose life not death.

We have learnt how to love, laugh and cry

We are all about healing and the feeling

of being IN our bodies NOT dissociated.

We are the older women always here for our young sisters.

We are scarred and show you our scars

so they never become yours.


We are the True Sisterhood

speaking into young girls lives

words of hope, clarity and love.

True sisterhood builds up never tears down.

True sisterhood takes a young girl’s hand

and guides her into fulfilment.

True sisterhood recognises the vulnerabilities

in young girls and protects them.

True Sisterhood never inflicts trauma and decimation.


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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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