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 this blog. Unfortunately I was outed by an organised group of trolls who were constantly haranguing me on my sites about various issues. Those people should be aware that I have screenshots of their comments and that I really resent feeling pressured into confiding about this issue in this way and in this place, rather than in my own time on my personal site.

River Coquet
The River Coquet near Barrowburn, Northumberland

And so, I am still feeling my way around how to express this issue which began at the age of about three. Although I have fought not to let aggression towards me as a child determine my present life, the fact that I am back up north has meant that those old fears began to affect all aspects of my life, including my walking. Since my twenties (in the pre digital era), I have successfully used cognitive therapy techniques to help me to overcome my fears and remain positive. To this end I set myself various small and large targets to master (it doesn’t matter what they are or how small they seem to you) and then I make a mental list of how I will achieve those targets and I continually appraise my own progress in achieving each aim towards my ultimate goal. At first my targets were tiny things which seemed huge, like going outside each day.

I used to write it all down but I have been using these techniques for so long that they are totally automatic and 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 are my ‘work in progress’ which continues in the background whatever else is happening in my life.

View from Shillhope Law, Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland

To illustrate using a relevant example of this process (which has up to now been private), I often set targets which challenge or conquer my fears, so I set myself a target to become experienced at wild camping. 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 completely 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, because my own development matters.

I can only hope that some good will come of my making this post, and that these methods may be helpful to some of my readers. My advice however, 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.

Sunrise from Shillhope Law
Sunrise from Shillhope Law, Northumberland in winter

I have shuffled this page around a bit as I am not sure where it belongs on this site, but trolls have really convinced me that it needs to be here somewhere. I really dread the thought of bumping into any of these people online or out on the hills now.

January 2017