We are dedicated to ending the crime of covert harassment by raising awareness, creating legislation, advocating for victims, and working to ensure that current laws on covert harassment are enforced.
In late 2017, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s method of using private investigative firms to stalk and harass his sexual harassment victims into silence was exposed to the public in The New Yorker (Weinstein raped or sexually harassed 80+ women over 30 years). Suddenly, the public became aware of the predatory system of Covert Harassment that the rich and powerful have been perfecting over time. At the same time, we also realized how effective this exploitive system was — in that it silenced these women victims for so long.
Covert harassment is a protocol where a victim is harassed in covert ways; in other words, crimes that intimidate, disturb, frighten, or otherwise break down the victim — but are difficult to detect or hard to prove, by design. Covert harassment techniques include: stalking, hacking, coordinated harassment, noise campaigns, and slander. The powerful have recognized that there is a gray area they can exploit between legality and illegality — to intimidate without a trace, to harass in a way where the victim cannot easily prove the perpetrator.
Soon after Weinstein, other prominent examples emerged such as former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes having the phone of a woman he was accused of sexually harassing hacked in order to spy on her (according to sources at Fox News and those close to Ailes). But the extent goes well beyond a few well publicized cases in the newspaper.According to a Department of Justice study “Stalking Victimization in the United States”, over 400,000 Americans suffered stalking from a group (3+ people). Over 200,000 Americans suffered electronic stalking (ie: hacking of cell phone, GPS). In other words, covert harassment is widespread. Victims include whistleblowers, sexual harassment victims, journalists, and ordinary people who manage to offend a powerful individual, group, or corporation.
Covert Harassment is a nightflower — it grows in darkness. LiveFree was formed to shine a light on these predatory practices — to create public awareness of the reality of covert harassment techniques, and to work with legislators to outlaw its practice. We all want to prevent another case of Harvey Weinstein. Those who would use their wealth and power to abuse others have stayed one step ahead of the law; it’s time for laws to be modernized to keep pace with reality. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans depend on it.
Photo credits: Top left and Harvey Weinstein – AP Photo. Photo of Roger Ailes – Matt Furman, Redux