Bleach on Colored Clothes

Content Warning

This memoir, Bleach on Colored Clothes, deals with adult themes, which includes sexual assault/rape, survival sex work, strong language, alcoholism, sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse. It is the raw and unfiltered story of the author’s life.

Bleach on Colored Clothes is the life story of first-time author, Joretta King. A young girl raised in a very small South Carolina town, initially her life was idyllic. Her family was poor, but Joretta didn’t know it. Her parents did everything they could to provide a loving and stable home. She spent her time playing with her siblings and sitting under the weeping willow tree in front of her house reading and writing stories.

Circumstances changed, requiring her parents to move to the next biggest town, which gave them access to better-paying jobs. When the bars began calling her parents, it wasn’t long before loving and stable were replaced by alcoholism and dysfunction.

Soon dysfunction gave way to sometimes going without eating anything more than potato chips and soda and some days going without food. Arguments between her parents went from verbal to physical with Joretta and her siblings witnessing too many instances of her father beating her mother, sometimes to a pulp.

Milestones in Joretta’s adolescence are ones no child should have to experience. When she got her period, her mother was nowhere to be found, so a schoolmate was kind enough to buy her a box of Kotex. Joretta was introduced to sex at 13 when one of her parents’ “friends” raped her, which would be the first of dozens of rapes. At some point, Joretta realized that “survival sex” was the only way she would … survive.

By the time Joretta was finally ready to have a relationship with a man, she couldn’t point to a single functional relationship to model, so she would end up repeating the same mistakes her parents made.

But this isn’t a story just about a horrific childhood of a woman whose past was filled with unspeakable horrors and a future that would invariably be bleak. Instead, it’s a story of triumph as Joretta uses some unconventional methods to stare down her demons, overcome and eventually excel.

As you will see from reading this book, Bleach on Colored Clothes becomes a double entendre to describe first her chaotic life, but eventually to describe a road less traveled and sheer determination and the strength to rival Hercules.


From Chapter 2:

Two months after being in the ninth grade, I came home from school and like most days, no one was there, only this time it felt different. Things were scattered all over the house. I went up the street and Howard nor Bert was there. I went back home and waited until night started to fall and decided to walk back again. My parents never came back. After several days, the house was boarded up. I found out from Mr. John Jr. where Mr. Billy lived. My mother, Bert, was shocked to see me standing at the door.

Out of all the things I learned in school and church, I was 13 years old and nothing had prepared me for a night on the streets in the middle of winter. I wandered aimlessly through the cold, dark, silent streets hoping someone would see me and Shawn and take us in. I prayed every prayer I knew, but no one came to our rescue.  I had no idea which direction to go, but I needed to stay close to Hardee’s so I could use the bathroom to wash up before going to school. I sneaked in the utility barn of one of the houses in my old neighborhood. I stayed awake while Shawn slept. When the rooster crowed, I knew it was time to leave. “Shawn, it’s time to go. I’ll find you when I get out of school.” I was so exhausted, I slept through every class. There was no way I was going to be able to function at school with no place to sleep. I went back to Mr. Billy’s house again after school expecting to stay, and once again, was turned away.

From Chapter 3:

It felt so good being back in a classroom even though I was behind and had a lot of catching up to do. Mr. Andrews made sure I had everything I needed: books, paper, pencils, etc. “I want you to get your diploma. I’m here to help you. If you come to night school and come on time, you can do it.” I thanked him but wondered why a white teacher cared about me getting my diploma. Evidently, he saw something in me no one else did. I kept my word and showed up every time on time.

“Why you standing out here?” Harry asked.

“I’m going to night school and waiting for class to start.” I explained.

“You wanna cut a block?” Harry asked me.

“No, class starts in thirty minutes, and I don’t want to be late.”

“Come on, get in. I’ll bring you right back.” The few times I had seen Harry, he was always nice to me. I didn’t get the funny feeling in my stomach like I did when I got in the car with some of the other men. Harry didn’t drive in the direction leading to the woods like other men. He drove around the city as agreed and parked just a few blocks from the school. He passed me the joint.

Any other time I would have been delighted to smoke, but I was serious about getting my diploma and I didn’t want to let Mr. Andrews down.

“I can’t. I have to go to school.” I reminded him.

“Relax. why you so uptight?” Harry was beginning to scare me.

“I need to get to school. You can take me back now.” I was practically begging him.

“Oh, so now you wanna play hard to get? You know what time it is!” Harry looked angry.

Harry wasn’t being aggressive, and he even smiled as he talked to me. I told myself to stay calm and be polite so I could make it back to school. “So that’s how you gonna be? Well, if you want to go to school, you can walk.” I only had a few minutes to get there. If Harry took me, I would be on time, but if I had to walk, I would be late for sure.

Before I could open the door, Harry grabbed me. “Take your clothes off!” Harry ordered me.

“PLEASE! DON’T!” I begged him.

“Imma ask you one mo damn time. Take your clothes off!”  How could I be so stupid to trust him? How could he be so bold as to park so close to the school? He parked there intentionally knowing no one would suspect anything. I could hear cars passing by, unaware that I was being raped in the back of the white van. Harry’s behavior was just like the other men who had raped me; it didn’t faze him at all. When it was over, he tried to carry on a conversation as if we had just made passionate love. “What books dem is you reading?”

I held onto my books tightly ignoring him, wondering what Mr. Andrews was thinking as to why I didn’t show up for school.

Harry stopped at a gas station. “You wanna a beer?”

I didn’t answer.

“Lemme see what you reading.” He snatched the books out of my hand. “You ain’t gone need these no mo.” The pain of watching him throw my books in the dumpster felt almost as bad as the rape.  “You don’t need to go to school no mo; school done played out.” To make matters worse, he dropped me back off at school, knowing class was over. This time I gave myself permission to cry a little bit harder and longer than I normally did. I owed it to Mr. Andrews to tell him what happened, but why bother? He wouldn’t believe me.

See What People Have to Say about Bleach on Colored Clothes:

I really appreciate the opportunity given to me to read and review Bleach on Colored Clothes. From the first chapter, the description of the house and trees, I could see it vividly. Joretta’s attention to detail brings this book to life.

The truth and rawness took me on an emotional ride from high to low, sad to mad, and hopeful to despair. It drew me in. It’s engrossing in a way that you want to keep reading and want to know what happens next. That’s what a good book will do, keep your attention.

The pace of the storytelling for me, worked perfectly. I have read mysteries, thrillers, fantasies and autobiographical books. This book, I believe will do quite well if given the chance. Word of mouth will be the key because once I started reading it, I didn’t want to stop.

Edward Reed, Georgia

Bleach on Colored Clothes will have you turning each page in anticipation. She tells her truth in full living color. Sometimes I read her agony with one hand over my mouth. I looked throughout her life for that one adult, just one who could have changed her path. Children shouldn't have to live the way she did. She fell through every crack there was and more. Joetta shows the reader a subculture and injustices that are sometimes hidden in plain sight.

I read the book twice because characters dropped in and out of Joretta's life and story, and I couldn't keep up. A second read only solidified my thoughts about those who failed her and her brother. While reading, I often thought and wondered about him. I hope she finds healing in the sharing of her story and it provides a light toward an enlightened path.

Lauren Johnson, Illinois

A thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking read, Bleach On Colored Clothes is a phenomenal story of hope, perseverance, and the humbling depth of the human spirit.

Joretta’s stories invoked sincere empathy for the shared, yet unique, forms of struggle and her profound resilience to just keep going. Heart-wrenching at times, Joretta’s experiences embodied the potentially terrifying realities of inherited chaos and generational trauma, and how even in the most extreme cases, salvation can be found.

I was captivated by Joretta’s journey, experiencing a roller coaster of emotions as her life story unfolded; it’s humbling to realize that she actually lived through it all. I admire Joretta for having the courage to share her experiences, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have learned about it through Bleach on Colored Clothes.

Khalid Raoof, Puerto Rico

About Joretta King

I’m a first-time author living in Atlanta, Georgia.  I have a B.A. in English. As an avid reader of books about self-esteem, healing and love, I love yoga, healthy eating and deep breathing. Apart from reading and being healthy, my other love in life is helping others heal and finding themselves. I love giving therapeutic facials at Facials N Such.

When I look back on the totality of my life, I am often drawn to the words of suffragist, journalist and advice columnist Dorothy Dix, née Elizabeth Meriwether (November 18, 1861 – December 16, 1951).

As you read the words of my life story in Bleach on Colored Clothes, please keep something in mind. I wrote Bleach on Colored Clothes at various points in my life. Initially, it began as I wrote in my diary as a child, taking note of things children observe. Over time as I had to learn to work through the struggles you will read about, writing was a way to keep me sane. As I matured and set out on the journey to heal myself and become who I am today, I was able to finish writing my story. 

Bleach on Colored Clothes is an unfiltered and raw look at who I was and who I evolved into. Apart from editing for clarity (to avoid confusion), my editor and I decided to do something not often seen in memoirs: leave my words entirely intact. As you read my story, the hope is that you will see the entire evolution: not just my healing, but how my writing has evolved, which keeps pace with my story as it unfolds.

In the words of the late George Michael, I ask you to “Listen without prejudice.” 

Joretta's Reading List

Since I was 15 years old (already homeless off and on since I was 13), I have been an avid reader. I remember very clearly spending as much time in my local library in those days. Initially, I was using the library for protection against the cold. Eventually, I was drawn to certain books. I will never know what drew me to those books because it’s not as though they were written by authors who would be recognized in my home growing up. And yet, this 15-year-old girl seeking answers to life’s toughest questions found works by Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, Leo Buscaglia and many others.

This list includes what I read as a teenager and those throughout my life. I feel all of them are still very relevant to my current circumstances. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

    1. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
    2. Living, Loving & Learning by Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D.
    3. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
    4. A Still Small Voice by Echo Bodine
    5. Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
    6. Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain
    7. The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome by Wayne Kritsberg
    8. Sacred Woman by Queen Afua
    9. Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne W. Dyer
    10. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
    11. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy, Ph. D., D.D.
    12. Sexual Reflexology: Activating the Taoist Points of Love by Mantak Chia
    13. To Thine Own Self Be True by Cort R. Flint
    14. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay
    15. See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar
    16. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
    17. Man Against Himself by Karl Menniger
    18. I’m Okay—You’re Okay: A Practical Guide to Transactional Analysis by Thomas A.Harris, M. D.
    19. Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell
    20. Kundalini Yoga YouTube by Gurmukh
    21. The Strangest Secret: Earl Nightingale: YouTube

Where to Buy Bleach on Colored Clothes

Bleach on Colored Clothes is available for purchase through Amazon.


Contact Joretta