From 2000 – 2009, while my mother was terminally ill, I tried to report several crimes including this underage assault, firstly via a solicitor who did not have my best interests at heart, then via my brother who would not take my calls, and finally via a friend acting as a go between with the police. Shortly before my mother passed away in 2009, my go-between’s Facebook messages were hacked. The net result of all this was that nothing was resolved while my mother was alive and a ton of evidence, involving several separate cases, went unreported. Following my mother’s death, there was little incentive for me to become further involved with these cases, most of which should have come to light long ago.
Anyway, the year is ending on a real low as I recently received the predictable news that this underage assault has not been crimed by Northumbria Police, meaning that not one prosecution has resulted from any of the reports I have made to this force since 1972 (including two domestic violence incidents and two sexual assaults).
It seems to follow the same format each time I report anything from when I was a child. Northumbria Police firstly pathologizes me, then isolates me from my main witnesses or corroborators, sometimes for years, and seems to harvest them for information about me. In the meantime the accused says any old rubbish and the case is dropped. I have been through this routine before and am beginning to feel as if there is a formula at work.
As I have said to the investigating officer, depriving abuse survivors of contact with anyone who might support their allegation is a barbaric practice, which results in much unnecessary suffering for victims who don’t understand why they can’t speak to their closest family or friends, and that in turn results in failure to report other crimes. My own experiences (detailed in older posts) are testimony to this.
I have begun to feel that it is just not worth the hurt and upset to keep making allegations which are not progressed or lost, so it is unlikely I will report any further cases to this force. I try to remain positive by kidding myself that people read these news posts, and that they are accessible to all, as this is a paid for website.
I hope to be able to write about something more cheerful next time.
When I was 23, I was lucky enough to be selected for the Motley Theatre Design Course, then based at the Riverside Studios in London, and under the direction of the late Margaret Harris. We were fortunate enough to work on projects with Danny Boyle, Edward Bond, Bill Gaskill and Hayden Griffin, which included Early Morning by Edward Bond, The White Devil by John Webster and The Father by August Strindberg.
It was a very special year, and the influence of both the course and the other students has always formed an enduring part of my creative life. Meeting up with my fellow students again was a privilege, and after much conversation and reminiscence, we joined to drink a toast to the late Paul Brown, one of our year who sadly passed away in 2017.
Sadly my father passed away on 3rd July this year at the age of 90. He was a complex man who stayed pretty energetic and living at home to the end. It remains difficult for me to appraise his less tangible legacy.
Out of many facts about me, the fact that I am an assault survivor was not an issue I ever thought I would need to discuss on my outdoor blog. Unfortunately I was outed by an organised group of trolls and gaslighters who were constantly haranguing me on my outdoor sites. I really resented feeling pressured into confiding about this issue on my blog, rather than here on my personal site.
And so – I am still feeling my way around how to express this issue. Although I have fought not to let aggression towards me as a child affect the present, moving back to Newcastle meant that those old fears began to affect all aspects of my life.
Since my twenties I have successfully used techniques from a type of cognitive therapy to help me to overcome my anxieties and remain positive. To this end I set myself various targets to master (it doesn’t matter how small they are). I then make a list of how I will achieve those targets and continually appraise my own progress in achieving each aim towards my ultimate goal. At first my targets were tiny things which seemed huge at the time, like going for a walk.
I used to write it all down but I have been using these techniques for so long that they are totally internal now. I have rarely explained them like this, as I’ve never considered it to be all that interesting to anyone other than myself. The techniques may not work for everyone but they continue in the background, whatever else is happening in my life.
To illustrate using an example of this process, I often set targets which challenge or conquer my fears, so I set myself a target to become experienced at wild camping on my blog. To achieve that target I set five goals:
To set myself some hard and fast challenges which would give me a reason to wild camp, and some deadlines to work towards. (I made the mistake of sharing an early challenge on Twitter, and it was savaged by trolls).
To gradually assemble a kit in which I have confidence.
To progress gradually from bed and breakfasts to wild camping on my long distance trails.
To seek advice and support if needed. Some people have been very helpful (hopefully they will know who they are, and who they are not).
To recognise when people are trying to undermine me.
I can only hope that some good will come of my making this post, and that these methods may be helpful to some readers. My advice is not to share it on public social media platforms such as Twitter, as trolls can and will undo the work of twenty years in half an hour if you let them. Remember that this is entirely their problem and not yours. Hopefully social media safety people will realise this eventually and toughen up their responses.