Overcoming Fear

Personal

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.

Storyboard
What did you do in the war mum? Storyboard

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.

Rimers of Eldritch
Set model for the Rimers of Eldritch by Lanford Wilson ©

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 Pagliacci
Set sketch for I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo

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.

January 2017.

Surviving

Personal News. October 2017

When I was about 12 years old I eventually called 999 from a nearby phone box regarding aggressive behaviour by my dad, which had been escalating to the point where he had punched me in the face. When the police arrived, I was told off, returned home, sent to my room and medicated for the rest of my teens. I was never questioned, no statement or discernible action was ever taken by the police, apart from involving the NHS. Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to tell the police about a couple of school friends who were being abused either.

In my darkest moments since then, I have consoled myself with the thought that somebody, somewhere out there would now know what was happening to me, that they would be doing whatever it is that these people are supposed to do, and that in some dusty pre-digital file, there would be a record which would eventually vindicate my story.

It has taken until now, on receipt of a direct request by me, for the local authorities to finally admit what had become obvious to me, that they either never made, got rid of or lost any record of my call, which is presumably why I endured further assaults and continued to be pathologized throughout my adult life.

Although I really have fought not to let my father’s aggression or my subsequent pathologization determine the rest of my life, the truth is that it really has. Since returning back to Newcastle, those old fears began to affect many aspects of my life again.

One of the more enlightened decisions made during my twenties was to refer me to a cognitive therapist. Since then I have successfully used techniques from a type of cognitive therapy to help me to overcome my fears, restore my self confidence and remain positive – all the while imagining that piece of paper in that dusty file.

Unfortunately I don’t think this technique was ever meant for some of the enormous issues I have had to deal with over time, such as decision making while my mother was terminally ill and long term gaslighting by my father and my brother. I often wonder what my cognitive therapist would advise.

Sanctuary
Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral

I saw this Sanctuary knocker on a school trip to Durham Cathedral when I was about 14, trapped at home, on medication, understanding nothing. Although it was apparently intended to offer sanctuary to criminals, I remember wishing that I could find some kind of sanctuary from things at home. This idea imprinted itself on my consciousness and I still find it a powerful symbol.

I hope this post may be helpful to other people who have had similar experiences.

Rape Allegation

Personal News. April 2015.

I have been making a rape allegation against 3 men since 1987. Unfortunately for everyone, around 2000, a decision was made to ignore these confidences and protect people within the authorities. Following advice from the police in 2002 that they didn’t intend to pursue the allegation and a death threat from a member of the health service, I withdrew the allegation in 2003 in order to try and protect my late mother, who was at that stage terminally ill.

Following the death threat in 2003 and various attempts to blackmail, frame and incriminate me, I reported the case to a well known conflict resolution organisation, in the belief that this would enable me to position family or friends as go-betweens with the police. My main aim at that time was to resolve things whilst my late mother was alive. Instead, I wasn’t permitted access to any intermediaries or legal representatives for the remainder of my mother’s life, when the use of hacking and blackmail became completely intolerable. Because of this, much evidence and another separate case remained undisclosed.

As I have now lost all the people I was fighting for, I have withdrawn from any involvement in the case. My health, as well as my family and work life have all been affected. I mentioned the rape in order to do the right thing but it has achieved the exact opposite and I really wish I had never mentioned it.

Resurrection storyboard
Resurrection storyboard xv

News Section

Work and Personal News. July 2017

I created this news area for work and personal news. Because it had become quite depressing to see the extent to which visitors to my sites seemed more interested in my personal news than my work, research or interests, I took a break from work to reflect on where this left my life and my career.

My late mum was the tragic casualty of hacking and harassment up to her death in 2009.  For the avoidance of doubt, where all this leaves things is at an end. I really don’t know what I was thinking when I confided in people about the rape and assaults which are a part of my past at a time when my mother was terminally ill. All I can say is that I genuinely thought people would care about my family during such an awful time.

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the victim counsellor who rescued me from distress which had become completely disabling by 2016, and gave it a name.

In memory of my mum and dad.