Climbing mountains, defeating bullies

By Pearl Going

As a publicist and celebrity agent, Pearl Going used to swim with the sharks. It's a world that made her friends and enemies. Once, she exploited the social and mainstream media, but in recent years the sharks have turned on her. In particular, those that swim in the murky, unregulated waters of social media. After being accused of making false rape complaints, she has spoken out against cyber bullies and the devastating effect they can have

To these young people I say taking your life is never the answer.

RAPE is not a horror that terrorises and makes only the victim a victim. It is a horror that also terrorises the people who love that individual the most.

During the past seven months, my closest loved ones have had to bear witness to the dark places this horror has taken me. They have had to deal with my denial, my hurt and my inability to communicate when they needed it most. My body has struggled to recover from the injuries I sustained. The six-week course of Combivir (HIV inhibitor) left my body in a state of decline.

Papua and Indonesia is a hotbed for HIV and, during the first few months, my focus was my health.

I have been given the all clear which has been a huge relief for me.

Then has come the reality of what it meant for my climbing. I was unable to participate in the ascent of Denali when planned as I was still under treatment.

In my denial, I was determined to continue my life as though nothing had happened. I struggled to accept that the landscape of my life had been changed against my will. I thought my will to return to normal would be enough to get me back on the mountain, only I found my will betrayed by a body that refused to co-operate.

I hit rock bottom.

It is only in recent months I have come to accept because of what happened to me, I will not be climbing the Messner seven summits.

This has been challenging as I am a climber and the Messner list was always my ambition.

In the past four to five years, I have been repeatedly attacked on the internet.

I have had my privacy invaded, some of these keyboard warriors have gone as far as to insinuate I am not a member of my own family and that I have not or do not climb mountains.

I have never commented on this abuse.

I have to ask now, though, "when is enough enough?"

How many years can you harass and claim destructive lies about an individual who you have never met. I will not tolerate this any longer. My family will not tolerate it. I am aware that to a large degree my commercial success in climbing has been aided by the profile afforded to me for being who I am. I accept that this leaves me open to criticism and I am discussing this incident publicly because I understand I am accountable to a degree to explain myself when it comes to my climbing.

That being the case, it is never okay to attack another human being in such a manner.

I have been asked repeatedly what can be done to help the pandemic of cyber and social media bullying that is running rife through our nation. My answer is that this is not a problem exclusive to New Zealand. What we can do is take responsibility as human beings to not condone this medium of abuse no matter who it is aimed at. Bullies hunt in packs and they rely on others to condone their behaviour.

New Zealand may be small in size, but not stature. This nation is not a vindictive or nasty place. I believe this is the greatest nation on earth. We are a nation that strives to be the best and more than bats above its weight on the world stage. We have a history for standing up for the things that matter, a history of resilience. I believe that, as a whole, Kiwis are good and caring people with a strong dislike for nonsense.

We need to educate people more widely. Just because something is written on a blog, Twitter or Facebook, it does not make it fact and is no basis to judge another.

These forums are not moderated media and are open to anyone with an opinion to be afforded the luxury of hiding behind a computer screen.

Possibly, if we focused on this message, young people would not place their lives in such undeserving hands, and think it is the end of the world when they are attacked this way, and turn to suicide.

Whether I understood the full ramifications of my choices or not, I accept that I was put out in the public eye at a young age. I take responsibility for that.

I have also learned that if you can't take the criticism to a certain degree, you don't deserve the praise. I have learned that you have a choice in life, you can get caught up in praise, and criticism or you can work on loving yourself despite your flaws. The people I worry about are the young people who do not put themselves out there, who are not in the headlines and whose families feel helpless.

To these young people I say taking your life is never the answer.

Suicide does not permit anyone to win and all it does is hurt the people who love you most.

Please believe me that nothing stays the same forever, life will move on.

- Northern Advocate

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