Frequently Asked Questions

Many questions can probably be answered by reading our April 13, 2020, Medium post.

01

Who are you?

We are a group of (currently 11) women and non-binary people who have experienced relational harm and harmful behaviors from well-known polyamory writer Franklin Veaux. We share a broad variety of experiences, ranging from mildly unpleasant or creepy behavior to outright emotional, psychological and financial abuse. We ranged in age from 20 to 36 at the time we met Franklin (currently all in our 30s to 50s), and represent a time span of experience with him from 1986 to 2018.

02

How did this project get started?

After ending her relationship with Franklin, Eve began to learn from a past partner of his that he had been dishonest with her about both his current and past relationships, and that some of his past partners had been traumatized in the same way she had in the relationship. At the same time, Franklin and his partners began to publicly lie about Eve and their relationship—sometimes even appropriating things others of us had told him about our own experiences—causing her to question his stories about other past partners.

Having written with him and helped publish his stories, it was important to her to piece together the truth. Over time, she spoke with many of us, some of whom wanted to tell our stories publicly—often as counterpoint to stories Franklin himself had published about us.

The project began with six of us: Celeste, Elaine, Amber, Melanie, Eve and Rose. After we went public together, in February 2019, five more of us came forward after learning of the project.

03

Why Franklin? It seems like there are a lot of guys like this—why single him out?

It’s a good question. One thing we would really like to make clear is that this is a systemic problem, not a problem with one man. These patterns are all over, and they reflect larger patterns in society—it’s what makes misogynistic abuse so common, and so hard to stop.

Franklin’s behavior isn’t special or unique in any way. The fact that he has enjoyed a large platform for years to talk about relationship ethics isn’t really special, either. What’s special about this situation is us: that we found each other and decided to work together, and that we found allies who were able and willing to work with us to document and corroborate our stories.

As Franklin has willingly admitted many times, he has a taste for strong, smart, driven and creative women. For many decades he has enjoyed the benefits of relationships with people like us. This group of strong, smart, driven and creative women and nonbinary folks is tired of watching Franklin cause harm to people like us without accountability, and we have the wherewithal to do something about it.

04

Aren’t you just a bunch of disgruntled exes?

If this were purely a matter of us being harmed by someone in a relationship, we would probably only want our friends and loved ones to care about our stories. But Franklin continually uses his own narrative of our relationships in an exploitative and dishonest way in order to build his brand and place himself as an expert exerting influence on the culture of polyamory and alternative relationship practices such as BDSM. We believe that it is important for people to know the truth of what lies behind his “expertise” and hence, what lies behind his prolific advice on relationships and sexuality.

We truly believe that he is perpetuating harm by using our harmful experiences and twisting them for his own gain. While we have moved or are moving on from our own experiences with Franklin, we hope that by shedding light on the true nature of his advice and expertise, we might be able to prevent others from experiencing harm—either directly from him or indirectly from the advice he disseminates through his writings.

05

Why should I care about your stories?

You should care about these stories if you have an interest in hearing all sides of the story (since Franklin has had a megaphone for decades), rather than just the famous cis white man’s side of the story. You should care about these stories if you would like to foster integrity and safety within communities for those stepping forward with accounts of harm. You should care about these stories if you exist in these communities and you are interested in learning what causes harm so that you can see it and help to contain and mitigate it for yourself, your loved ones, and your broader community. There’s something to learn from every story, even if you ultimately do not agree with the motivations for publishing said stories to a wide audience.

06

This seems like a private matter. Why did you have to go public with it?

First, because Franklin went public with his breakup stories, often without the consent or approval of his exes, and because he has long been revered in many polyamorous circles as an expert in ethical polyamory—often using his relationship stories as the foundation for his this status. This was already a public matter, albeit a one-sided one.

Second, because people have tried to intervene privately with Franklin for over twenty years. If he were going to address his harm on his own before now, be would have.

Third, we did make one final attempt to address this privately with Franklin, with a letter sent to him on behalf of the original six of us in February 2018. Franklin responded by immediately going public on Quora about the letter, lying about its contents while denying the existence of five of us. Only then did we take the step of going public—as a last resort.

This essay provides additional food for thought on when it can be important to use a public venue to address harm when there are power differentials at play.

07

I don’t know, this just sounds like different relationship styles to me.

Our relationships with Franklin left some of us with lifelong trauma. Our experiences with him left, for some of us, permanent scars that have affected our ability to trust others and form intimacy. A couple of us still have panic attacks and nightmares, even years or decades later.

If you leave a string of traumatized people behind you, and you express no remorse for this, blame and lie about the people you harmed (or brush it off as “we were incompatible”), all while skipping along to the next partner to repeat the cycle, that’s not a “relationship style.” That’s abuse.

08

Is this a transformative justice project?

While at one point we were attempting to work within what we understood to be a transformative justice-style framework for this situation, it has come to our attention that these processes are rarely credibly used in situations of misogynistic relationship abuse, specifically because abusive men are often impossible to get to engage in good faith. Communications we have seen from Franklin, his polycule, his friends and his pod bear this out.

We believe the only valid option for an abuser trying to reform themselves at this point is voluntary participation in a program specifically dealing with abusive men. Even then, the success rate of such programs is low. There are currently not enough cultural boundaries, consequences, and containers to motivate most abusers to effect real change within themselves. It is simply easier for them to move on to another vulnerable place or person instead of doing their own work. 

In addition, given the lack of experience of many of the pod members (ours and Franklin’s), and the lack of skilled capacity and credible expertise within the polyamorous and sex-positive communities we were part of, problematic dynamics emerged through the process that caused serious harm and hindered the overall effectiveness and integrity of the project.

As a result, we have closed the transformative justice process and are now simply publishing an archive of survivors’ stories. Franklin published his stories so the world could read them and share in his narrative account. We are taking an opportunity to do the same, to let the world hear another side (or few) of the stories you are already familiar with, to fairly represent all the characters in these stories, and to draw attention to harmful dynamics in polyamory that are being replicated throughout our communities.

09

What do you mean by “missing stair”?

“Missing Stair” is a term coined in this blog post. It references people in a community who cause harm, and are widely known to do so, but who are still welcome and allowed to participate in these communities for one reason or another, and often to wield power. Often, this is because of the high cost of trying to challenge harmful community members. Sometimes it is because people insist that allegations of harm are “just a rumor mill,” and they don’t want to believe poorly of another person until it happens to them. Abusers are often very charming to the folks they aren’t abusing, and this contributes to making it hard to hold them accountable within a community.  The folks who are not their victims cannot imagine them being capable of something so vile.

A missing stair is someone that most people know is harmful, and that experienced community members try to avoid and maybe attempt to warn new folk against.  But this strategy is not always perfect, and the missing stair is often able to find new victims regardless of the efforts of community members to alert others to the danger.

There are many missing stairs in polyamorous communities and in leadership positions, of which Franklin was only one. His behaviors are not unique. What is unusual here is the solidarity among the people he has harmed.

10

I don’t like that you’re posting screencaps and PDFs of Franklin’s writing, especially when he’s deleted it. Isn’t that abusive?

Even people who have caused harm or committed abuse have a right to privacy. We are intentionally not publishing any private or friends-only communications from Franklin or others, even when these support our stories. Everything we have published was originally posted publicly and is therefore part of the public record. All private communications we’ve published either were written by us or are republished with the consent of the original authors.

Over the years, and throughout this process, Franklin has shown a pattern of attempting to rewrite history by deleting, rewriting or disclaiming ownership of harmful things he has published. We are therefore linking to backups in order to prevent him from doing so in this case, and to shine light on this pattern. While we believe in people’s rights to start over and not be defined by their worst mistakes, Franklin has not yet shown any willingness to take responsibility for this pattern, or to stop it. Until such time as he does, we will continue to hold him accountable by maintaining a record of his public behavior.

Franklin is a public figure with a large online following. His published work is fair game for critique.

11

I know that guy! What should I do?

  • DO:
    • LISTEN to us.
    • LISTEN to us.
    • LISTEN to us.  There’s a reason this is up here three times.  If you’ve really done that and really understand what we’re asking for, then:
    • Share the information with people, especially with local community leaders and anyone who might give Franklin a platform. Have an earnest conversation with them about the types of people they want to give a broad spotlight to.  
    • Help to interrupt victim-blaming and shaming behavior that you see from other people in regards to this situation (and others!).
    • Continue to promote shared projects (such as More Than Two and other co-authored works), but do so with a caveat to your audience that points toward survivor accounts and makes them aware that there are many active allegations of harm.
    • Analyze your own communities for similar patterns of behavior. Franklin is not the only missing stair out there. The more you learn about this type of behavior, the easier it is to see and do something about before it becomes catastrophic within any given community or polycule.  
    • Encourage anyone who has experienced harm from Franklin or other well-known poly leaders to submit their stories to this site if they feel that it is safe for them to do so.
  • DON’T
    • Pick up your pitchfork. Seriously. Many folks who do believe survivors often have a gut reaction to burn everything to the ground. This is not necessary, and this is what makes it hard for survivors to get the support they really need. It is often overreactions from the community that lead to folks accusing survivors of trying to wage a vendetta or get vengeance, even if this is not what they were asking for. Most of us loved Franklin, and some of us still do. We don’t want him harmed—we just want him stopped.
    • Keep indiscriminately sharing or promoting Franklin’s material without comment on this situation, unless or until he shows a genuine ability to be accountable.  
    • Continue to give a platform to other harmful actors.
    • Try to stir the pot by being critical of the survivors, especially if you are more critical of our stories than of his, or being critical of things we are doing while allowing Franklin to do the same things without question.
    • Pressure anyone to come forward with their story (about anyone) if they aren’t ready or don’t feel safe doing so.
    • Out any survivors who are using a pseudonym to tell their stories. Their privacy has, in many cases, already been stripped from them by Franklin. Please do not exacerbate this harm.

You can also read this essay by one of our group, with some ideas on how to respond to harm in communities, drawn from her experiences in this process and elsewhere.

12

What introductory polyamory resources should I link to instead?

Since Franklin created his site, lots of great new introductory polyamory resources have come online. Here are a few basics that you can use to replace links to Franklin’s pages: