It’s Ben here. I’ve been very quiet over the past year, and haven’t been sending my usual updates to supporters of ‘The Human, Earth Project’. It’s time I let you know what’s been happening here.
First of all, for those of you who aren’t familiar with my work:
In 2013, following the abductions of my friends, I founded ‘The Human, Earth Project’ to raise awareness of the global human trafficking crisis. Our work – including the feature documentary ‘Sisters for Sale’ – has been extremely highly regarded, has won international awards, and has been seen and heard by millions of people via ABC, CBC, CNN, Discovery Channel, Newsweek, etc.
I’ve dedicated more than a decade of my life to this work, from which I’ve never received a regular income. I do this work because I strongly believe in the importance of assisting the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society.
2022 began in an extremely promising way for ‘The Human, Earth Project’ – yet it proved to be the worst of all years for us.
Last year I became the target of a deliberate and deeply destructive campaign of character assassination, which has had serious repercussions not only on my own life, but on the past, present, and future work of ‘The Human, Earth Project’.
What is character assassination? Wikipedia says: “Character assassination is an intentional attempt, usually by a narcissist or his or her codependents, to influence the portrayal or reputation of someone in such a way as to cause others to develop an extremely negative or unappealing perception of them. It typically involves deliberate exaggeration or manipulation of facts, the spreading of rumours and deliberate misinformation to present an untrue picture of the targeted person, and unwarranted and excessive criticism.”
The campaign against me was instigated in May last year by a prominent and highly influential member of the arts and writing community in my hometown of Newcastle, Australia. It began as a form of intimidation, in an attempt by this person to conceal their own unethical behaviour.
The campaign was perpetuated by prominent members of a regional charitable organisation under this person’s leadership.
A clear pattern quickly emerged of abrupt, extreme changes in attitudes by industry figures who are directly connected to the instigator, and who had been previously friendly and highly supportive of myself and my work. I’d had no other interactions with these people that could possibly have accounted for these dramatically altered attitudes.
The evident intent of this campaign has been to destroy my reputation and future opportunities, on a regional, national, and perhaps international level. As part of this campaign, there have also been severe impacts to the reputation and future opportunities of ‘The Human, Earth Project’.
Friendships and valuable professional relationships have been destroyed, major opportunities have been lost, and I seem to have become a pariah figure within the regional and national arts and writing communities.
At this stage, it’s impossible to know how far the damage has spread. When you’re the target of a character assassination, people begin turning away from you, and it’s not always clear why. You don’t always know what they’ve been told, or by whom, and you can’t always see the connections. The rumour mill works underground.
This experience has been a nightmare, as it was intended to be. It has done incalculable damage, deeply impacting our good work with ‘The Human, Earth Project’, and deeply impacting every aspect of my life – as a writer, artist, member of the community, and human being.
Perhaps the worst part is knowing how brutally selfish this has all been on the part of the campaign’s instigator and enablers.
As a result of these events and the uncertainty surrounding any future plans, a planned fundraising campaign for ‘The Human, Earth Project’ has been cancelled, our planned ‘Sisters for Sale’ graphic novel has been cancelled, and we’ve scaled back our activities. While ‘The Human, Earth Project’ continues to operate and to host screenings of ‘Sisters for Sale’, we are now doing so at a greatly reduced level. We are no longer operating or promoting our own events, are no longer handling or promoting our books, and are no longer producing new media.
All of this has severely impacted our ability to fight human trafficking, and to assist the most vulnerable members of society, who need all the support we can offer them.
Part of my work with ‘The Human, Earth Project’ has been attempting to understand human traffickers. Human traffickers are people who do terrible things to other people, very often as a result of poverty, desperation, and a lack of education.
The perpetrators of this campaign are well-educated, well-fed people who have done terrible things because it has made their lives a little more comfortable, and because they believe that people like you and I are powerless to stop them. There are no excuses that can cover what they’ve done.
While I understand that the instigator of this campaign is no longer formally associated with the charitable organisation, the organisation continues to uphold the instigator’s disgraceful legacy. By involving themselves in a campaign of intimidation and defamation, I believe they’ve involved themselves in criminal acts.
Here’s where you come into the story.
I’ve spent the past decade of my life helping those who most need it, and right now I could really use your help. Many of you have applauded my efforts to make a difference when it mattered most, and now I ask you to make a difference.
If you’ve been following the work of ‘The Human, Earth Project’, then I hope you’ll already have a good understanding of my character, how much of my life I’ve poured into this work, and how heartbreaking it has been to see it destroyed in such a selfish, unnecessary, and deeply unethical way. I ask for your support during this time.
If you’ve heard any unflattering rumours about myself or ‘The Human, Earth Project’ over the past year, I ask you to question the source and veracity of those rumours, and I ask you to reach out and speak with me. If you’ve turned away from me over the past year, or have been part of the problem without realising the unfairness of your actions, then please help me to correct it.
A campaign of character assassination is most effective when the perpetrators are able to divide people and take control of the narrative. It’s time for us to speak with each other – especially if the perpetrators of this campaign have told you not to speak with me.
If you’re able to offer financial support so that we can continue the work of ‘The Human, Earth Project’ through this difficult time, any contributions will be much appreciated and make a real difference.
I can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you – and here’s to a better year ahead,