Former Pittsburgh television anchor Darieth Chisolm is speaking out about cyber harassment by an ex-boyfriend that left her shocked, humiliated and embarrassed.
She has launched a website and advocacy organization, 50 Shades of Silence, to bring attention to the issue and press for legal change. She is also fundraising for a documentary she plans to produce on the subject.
“I am a survivor of cybersexual rape and assault, harassment, stalking, and extortion,” she wrote on the website. “During this time, I spiraled into the most unimaginable sense of pain, frustration, anger, isolation, confusion, and heartache possible.”
Ms. Chisolm was a longtime on-air personality at WPXI, joining the station in 1993 and resigning her anchor role in 2013, with a four-year hiatus between 2000 and 2004. She is now a businesswoman, author, public speaker and life coach.
Ms. Chisolm dated the man last year and lived with him in Jamaica. She broke up with him, in part because of what she viewed as his controlling behavior, and months later received a threatening phone call at 2 a.m. on Jan. 1 of this year, in which he threatened to kill her. He then began to harass her, she said, texting her naked photos of herself that he had taken while she was sleeping.
“I couldn’t even breathe,” she said in a phone interview. “I couldn’t believe he was doing this to me. It sent me into this dark place where I couldn’t tell anyone about it.”
The situation worsened when he created a website where he posted those photos and assorted nasty memes about her, she said, and called her friends, business associates and clients to direct them to the site.
She went through a frustrating month or so where she attempted to get the website taken down, and was told she could only do so with a court order. She then paid for a service that removed it within days. She is still in court pursuing civil and criminal charges, though prosecution is difficult in part because the photos were taken in Jamaica.
She decided to go public after conversations with her friends and family, including her son, who told her, “‘He chose the wrong woman to mess with.’”
“It emboldened me,” she said. “It gave me the courage to stand up and fight… it occurred to me, I have a voice, I have a platform and I can make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Ms. Chisolm launched the website this week, which includes resources and opportunities for victims to share their stories, both privately and publicly. She is pressing for change in what she believes are outdated or ineffectual laws that govern cyber crimes, as well as in the policies used by internet service providers.
She has assembled a team across the country and possibly internationally to shoot the documentary, and has launched a fundraising campaign through the Patreon service to enable people to become “field producers.” She is shooting to have the movie finished by the fall of 2018.
Anya Sostek: email@example.com or 412-263-1308.