Marissa’s Testimony With Franklin Veaux
Marissa’s experience with Franklin Veaux, as interviewed by Kali Tal on December 2, 2019.
Marissa: I got involved with a man who—I knew his wife. And I trusted her as a good person to get good judgment about for someone to date. I wasn’t really super attracted to him from the get-go, but I felt that he was safe, based on what she told me.
He was poly. Very hierarchical relationship. He started going through a divorce shortly after we started dating. And I kept hearing more and more things around their relationship. And about him, but through him, and also her, of course. And at the time, I didn’t know how to establish my rights, my anything. I just kind of felt like, okay, well that’s, you know—even if I want to know something about his relationships or who he sleeps with or what he does, I don’t feel like—he made it seem very much like that was his private business. I shouldn’t ask those questions.
I went through a very bad breakup with him about that, and I realized fairly quickly that that was an emotionally abusive relationship. But my only experience with other poly people at the time were similar. People who had tertiary relationships around the primary couple were treated well.
I didn’t really like it. I felt—it made me feel really gross. Yet I had no basis for anything healthy. So I remember after that relationship, I did a bunch of research, and I came across the Secondary Bill of Rights. And I think it was on Andrea Zanin’s blog. Somehow I found More Than Two. I started following Franklin and Lily’s stuff and feeling really excited that somebody else was talking about secondary partners having a bill of rights, and the idea of ethics that involved non-hierarchical relationships. And then through that I ended up kind of swearing off poly for awhile, because I didn’t see that actually happening with anybody.
I met a friend who was friends with Franklin, and it happened to be that Franklin was down to promote The Game Changer. And we met up. I got a book signed. I’d heard of Franklin, and I was really excited about reading The Game Changer with the idea of you know, again, non-hierarchical and hierarchical poly and having rights, and feeling like you have a voice in your relationship was exciting to me. And the idea of actual poly ethics and open communication was just exciting for me.
So I developed a friendship with Franklin. I went to Portland for Thanksgiving there, and I went and I had coffee with him one day. We would text back and forth. A lot of the stuff [inaudible] me talking about my relationship and him commenting on how it wasn’t healthy and I deserved better, et cetera, et cetera. There was flirtation that went on as well. Because, I mean, I’m a flirtatious person, and I also tend to enjoy some level of attention.
I never had any interest in Franklin in a sexual or romantic way. I also am a burlesque performer and do erotic performance art. So to me, being naked or sending naked pictures does not mean I’m actually interested in someone.
So we developed a friendship, and it was just a friendship. He was very supportive of me getting out of a relationship that was ultimately unhealthy for me. And was supportive throughout. It was very nice.
I met Lily at one point—we met twice actually. We met at a concert. And then also Franklin and Lily came to a Halloween party that I threw. And Lily went to bed, and Franklin and I stayed up talking late—but it was just talking. I’ve never—I think Franklin and I have hugged a couple of times, and that’s the amount of, kind of, physical anything we’ve ever had.
So that was Halloween. And then I think it was what, February, March-ish. Franklin—right, I wrote him or something, or he wrote me—I can’t remember how it started—but I found out that he and Lily had broken up. And we talked about it, and I was upset because of what Franklin was telling me was going on. And I didn’t know Lily very well at all. We’d spoken a couple of times. But we weren’t close. Everything I knew was coming by Franklin.
So Franklin said that Lily had kicked him out in Vancouver. And I can’t remember if he was still in Vancouver, or if he had already gone down to Portland. But there was like a week’s time where we were talking. And then he was in Portland, and we were chatting, and he tells me that he had had an incident where he got a burn on his foot from boiling water.
Oh, and he told me that Lily wouldn’t allow him to contact her. And they were talking through somebody else.
And then Lily contacted me, because she found out about his injury, and she was trying to figure out if he had had a medical—gone to the hospital—if he needed information about insurance, because he was under her insurance, I believe, because of work. We were trying to coordinate care. And he was being difficult about that. Like he seemed to need a lot of handholding about getting to the doctor, getting care. And I was kind of trying to help out. But I didn’t quite understand why there was so much communication issue.
I think that she said that he wasn’t responding to her. It wasn’t that she wasn’t talking to him. He mentioned that she was being overly emotional and wouldn’t tell him why she broke up with him. That he had no information, that it was a shock. All of this stuff.
And the way that Lily was acting was very concerned about his injury. Showing a lot of care.
Basically it didn’t connect. What he was saying about her did not connect at all to the way that she was acting, to me, and it—she seemed very normal and caring. Trying to make sure he had medical attention. And he was just very—it was very strange, the way that he was acting.
And so at one point, I just remember saying to him, like, “Why—I think there’s miscommunication. I think you guys, there’s something going on. I think you guys just need to talk each other.” As soon as he knew that I was talking to Lily, he started shutting down and getting very upset that she had contacted me at all. And he seemed to be getting angry that she was telling me anything, and then ultimately ended up—not not talking to me, but we just stopped contacting each other. And that was right around the time when I was trying to make sure that he had medical care, et cetera.
And we just broke contact, and I didn’t respond to him, because I realized at some point that he—I believe—was lying to me about what happened, and he was trying to—to me—to make her seem like she was irrational, abusive, etcetera. I don’t feel he was being honest with me about what was going on. And I feel like always that Lily was being honest with me.
So a few months later—Lily and I kind of kept up in contact. Because we had both—I had gone through a breakup with an abusive situation six months or nine months prior to that. So we were kind of chatting back and forth. And she said to me something about, “I know you were in love with Franklin.”
And I said, “Excuse me? What do you—what is that…”
She said, “Well, you were in love with him?”
And I said, “No, I definitely was never, never in love with him.”
And this could have been like two weeks after Franklin and I stopped talking. And she sent me a screenshot of a conversation they had where he told her that I had asked him to dominate me, but he had to establish boundaries with me. Never. No. That’s not something that Franklin I ever—like that was never…I never asked him to be my dominant, and he never established boundaries with me.
I’ve never been attracted to Franklin. And I never had anything but platonic, friendly, nor have I—I’ve never had any kind of thoughts about us being a good match in that capacity. I had no sexual attractions at all.
So when Lily said that, I was just completely shocked. Because I—it doesn’t even fit into my wheelhouse of what I’m attracted to.
So yeah, apparently that was something that had come up a few times for them. And to me it sounds like he was using that to get to her in some way. Upsetting. I don’t like that he was using me to get at her.
Also there was some other boundary pushing too. Where—I’m into erotic hypnosis. And he wanted me to teach his partner April. He wanted me to teach April erotic hypnosis. And I said that I would do that. But what he did is, he put me in a group chat with him and April where they were being very overtly flirtatious in front of me and teasing each other sexually in ways that I never consented to. And I’m not really into group stuff. So while I was fine teaching her how to do it, I found that to be, again, a boundary violation, as I didn’t consent to that.
That was before the breakup, I believe. It may have been right after, though.
Looking back, I kind of recognize that there was boundary violation and weirdness. And then there was all this, you know, him saying that I was interested in him, and that I had established interest is like, a blatant lie—or a complete misunderstanding of any kind of flirtatiousness. Which I suppose could be there. But I never asked him to dom me. I never wanted to be anything more than us just being friends.
It’s shocking to me seeing now what has come of everything, because I did think of him as being somebody who had a stake in ethics.
Kali: What would you like to see come out of all of this?
Marissa: Ultimately I would like to see people being more conscious about who they’re looking to for guidance, and what those people’s motives are. Ultimately, I think that people who have a history of misguided power and causing harm to others, especially when they don’t apologize and make amends, I think that should be inconsistent with teaching positions. You know, speaking at conventions, for example. And I prefer there to be eye opening to the larger communities to recognize these kind of like, cults of personalities. So ultimately I just want people to be more aware of where they’re getting their information.
Kali: You mentioned a point where what Franklin was telling you did not seem to jive with what you perceived of Lily as doing. And that disjunct bothered you. Was there any sign of that beforehand, or, at what point did you really—when it happened with Lily, did you go, “Oh my God, I never expected that!” Or did you go, “Huh. That’s an interesting thing. Now, looking back, I can see precursors.”
Marissa: I can’t say that I’d seen precursors, because I didn’t have a relationship with Lily where we were chatting back and forth. But what I can say is that in my experience, when something becomes so out of the ordinary, and I’m only getting one side of a story, and then I start talking to a person with a different side of the story, that usually tells me that there’s a reason why I have been kept from the other people involved. And that’s something that I had in my own life, where getting closer to metamours, or friends of somebody that I’m dating, and if they don’t want me to get close to people around them, that tells me something.
So for me, Franklin, the fact that he was—finding out later that he was talking to Lily in a way to try to make me an issue. And that there is proof of that, where Lily has a screenshot of Franklin saying that he had to establish boundaries with me. That tells me that with Lily, there was a precedent of trying to keep us at a distance. So while there was no precursor for me—there may have been on Lily’s side of things—but in my own experience with that in relationships that I’ve had—not shocked. Having been on Lily’s side of things, where I then felt like I was kept from other people that were involved with the person—so for me, because I’d experienced that side of things, I can see precursors to that, because I wasn’t involved with any of Franklin’s friends or partners.
My own experience with people who tend to have large followings in poly and kink communities makes me now very wary when anyone does, because I’ve seen quite a few times where people will use that as a power in order to use other people around them to enable their bad behavior. So to me it’s no long, it’s not shocking anymore. But there wasn’t anything that I could see at the time that led me to believe it was happening.
Kali: And did you discuss any of this with Franklin at any point?
Marissa: No. Other than, I said something about how I think that there’s a miscommunication happening, because I’m not getting the same story from both people. And so I didn’t assume that one was lying. I assumed that there was a misunderstanding between the two.
And then I realized later. I think it was not a misunderstanding. I think it was lies.