What are the implications of causing someone distress in some subversive fasion to the extent that they quit their job, get a divorce, run away, leave my establishment, or begin to cause defimation?

That is to say if I can cause a reaction that incites a person to become hostile and toxic, what are the legal implications and what proof do they need? If I cleverly avoid being pointed out or I can make people think they are crazy, delusional, or paranoid, and they can't proove anything or don't have the resources or means to get evidence against me, if I just piss them off, but make it look like they are the villian, can't I avoid any legal reprecussion?

I know that socially I can form a narrative as this has already been proven to be highly effective, I just want to cover all my bases.

  • 4
    You seem to be looking for ways to harass and persecute someone without being held responsible for it. Apart from the highly doubtful morality of doing that, if you had posted questions in a forum asking how to do it, that could be used as evidence that you had done it. Oct 25, 2023 at 20:01
  • 2
    One should especially not do this if they have linked their Github account to their stack overflow account.. And their Github account contains both their name and face.
    – Questor
    Oct 25, 2023 at 20:12
  • Understood, still the question remains if no legal precedent can be obtained, can a person be held legally responsible for subversive harassment? Even to the extent that someone might selectively use such a legal response if say the person just felt particularly spiteful against me but typically just plays along?
    – Chezzwizz
    Oct 25, 2023 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


Most U.S. states recognize the torts of intentional infliction of emotional distress, sometimes called "outrageous conduct" instead, and the tort of intentional interference with contractual relations. An intentional course of conduct calculated to cause distress to someone implicates the first tort. An intentional course of conduct intended to make someone quit their job implicates the second tort.

Some states also recognize a cause of action for "prima facie tort" which allows for a lawsuit to recover damages for intentional conduct to harm another that does not neatly fit in the category of other recognized tort claims.

All but a few states (most notably among them, North Carolina and Mississippi) allow someone to sue for intentionally causing someone's marriage to fall apart. In North Carolina, Mississippi, and some of the other states where lawsuit of this kind are permitted, the damages can be very high. And, a judgment on this tort claim in one state is enforceable against the defendant found liable, in every other U.S. states, district, commonwealth, or territory, as a result of the U.S. Constitution's full faith and credit clause. In fiscal years 2000–2007, there were an average of 230 alienation of affections filings in North Carolina per year — a bit over 0.5% of the number of all divorces. The tort is also recognized in Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Utah, but it is frequently litigated only in North Carolina and in Mississippi. Many of the states where the tort is not commonly used impose restrictions on it that make it less attractive. In Illinois, Hawaii and New Mexico, these limitations make it exceedingly difficult to prevail in an alienation of affections case and recover substantial monetary damages. The standard of proof is lower in Utah and South Dakota, which continue to have actively litigated alienation of affections suits, although not used as often in these states as in North Carolina and Mississippi, for reasons that are presumably unrelated to the relevant legal standards that apply to these lawsuits.

A plaintiff prevailing on these causes of action is entitled to damages to compensate them for the economic harms they suffered, for the emotional distress that they suffered, and punitive damages (in addition to pre-judgment and post-judgment interest from the time the torts were committed at a statutory rate and the out of pocket costs of litigating the case apart from attorneys' fees).

If a judgment is awarded on these causes of action, it usually can't be discharged in bankruptcy.

This course of conduct might also be a crime in some states, although the question isn't detailed enough about the means contemplated to know.

Contemplating whether you can do something that is illegal and tortious to harm another person without being caught, that appears to be contemplated by the person making the post, just like contemplating whether you can get away with committing a crime without being caught, is beyond the scope of what is appropriate in questions and answer at Law.SE.

But keep in mind that these torts only need to be proved to have been more likely than not been committed in a civil lawsuit, and can be established entirely with circumstantial evidence. People who think that they are clever enough to get away with violating the law and harming others routinely find out that they were wrong.

  • Noted about the "comtemplation" issue. I do appologize for the uncomfortable nature of the question, but try asking this to anyone without sounding crazy from the victim standpoint...
    – Chezzwizz
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:47
  • @Chezzwizz Some questions are not appropriate to pursue.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 26, 2023 at 20:49

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