Imagine waking up one day to find nude pictures and videos of you online. Images that you weren’t aware existed, did not approve of and have no control of removing. The person who committed this atrocious act, you once lived with and loved, lives in a different country and wants to humiliate you and destroy your reputation – and no legislation can prevent this from occurring or ensure those pictures are removed.
Longtime Pittsburgh resident, former NBC/WPXI TV News Anchor and Emmy award-winning television personality, Darieth Chisolm, found herself at the very center of such an assault. She was cyberstalked and cyber raped by an ex-boyfriend, who put up a website with harassing memes, nude photos and videos that she was unaware of and taken while she was asleep, while living with him. He also threatened to kill her if she didn’t return to the controlling relationship.
“He couldn’t kill me so he used a different weapon: his cell phone, loaded it with my naked body and fired it for the world to see,” stated Darieth. She is seeking civil and criminal charges, but is stalled by a legal and justice system that is archaic and not prepared to protect thousands of cyber crime victims, especially those involving international perpetrators. The website has since been shut down but the emotional scar is far from over.
After months of isolation, suffering in shame and silence, Darieth rose from a very humiliating, painful and potentially professionally damaging incident to tell her story and build a global movement called 50 Shades of Silence to bring voice and dignity to victims of cyber harassment and online crimes.
Specifically, 50 Shades of Silence aims to advocate for stricter laws and tougher enforcement for cyber sexual crimes, encourage the accountability and responsiveness among online companies, promote social responsibility for texting, posting and sharing online, and restore dignity and respect to victims and survivors. The multimedia project includes an upcoming documentary, anthology, a website with resources, a social media awareness initiative, and a fundraising campaign. Supporters are encouraged to donate and lend a voice to the film, spread the word about the campaign, and become a “Patron” in the Patreon crowdfund project to raise money for the film.
Cyber harassment is the unauthorized sharing of private sexual photos or videos of another person, often for the purpose of harassing the victim. Many times, the pornographic content includes victims’ names and other identifying details*.
“Non consensual pornography (NCP), also known as “revenge porn” or “cyber rape”, is an online form of sexual abuse. Much like other forms of sexual abuse and assault, NCP is often used to control or shame its victims. Darieth’s case is no exception to this and I applaud her courage to speak up about her experience and use it to launch a campaign that will help others who have been the target of online abuse.” Holly Jacobs, PhD Board President, Executive Director Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.
According to a report by the Data and Society Research Institute regarding online harassment last year, 47% of Internet users have experienced online harassment or abuse, and 72% have witnessed at least one harassing behavior online. The report also found that many victims disconnect from support networks and information as a side effect of online harassment and abuse.
Darieth states, “In order to make real change, we must remove the veil of silence and be prepared to help others in need. I am sharing my story – a very personal story, in order to give others the freedom to do the same.”
50 Shades of Silence is a multimedia campaign that includes an upcoming documentary, an anthology, a website with resources and a social media awareness campaign. The project is designed to educate, advocate, and bring awareness to the needs of stricter law enforcement and penalties for perpetrators, encourage social responsibility among online companies and Internet users, and restore dignity and respect to victims and survivors.
For more information on the campaign, resources and to hear more of Darieth’s story go to www.50shadesofsilence.com
*Definition from World Net Daily.com