Preamble, posted to Rose’s personal Facebook on April 14, 2020:
The material on the website reflects an interview that I had with Louisa Leontiades last year. I’m going to be telling a bit more of my story here to add some coherence and clarity about my experience.
First, I was never abused by Franklin, nor did I ever have an experience with him which I would have defined as creepy. I was very interested in him and in developing a relationship with him at the time. Most of what my testimony does is add to the notion that this man is either unwilling to or incapable of walking his talk, and that he should not be held up as any sort of expert on how to have healthy relationships. I was also able to help one of his survivors, Eve, to hear a different side of a story that happened when he and I were exploring a connection. Through our discussions, we were able to find out that he was telling us very different stories about what was going on, and lend support to the notion that he was lying to her as part of his abuse (though she didn’t use that word at the time) and triangulating between the two of us.
In short, I met Franklin at the Poly Living Philadelphia conference back in February of 2015. For three weeks, he and I stayed in nearly constant contact and I experienced what has been the most intense NRE of my life. I observed that the intensity seemed to be mutual. However, in mid-March, Franklin requested a video chat with me where he told me he had been unaware of how much younger than him I was (I was 26 to his 48) and that he and his partners were uncomfortable with such an age gap and that he wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with me. He also made a point of repeatedly telling me that Eve was struggling with the connection between me and him and experiencing jealousy.
I was blindsided by this, and quite heartbroken. Franklin told me at the time he would like to maintain a friendship, but he refused to set any boundaries or expectations for what that meant for him. I tried to foster conversations between us for some time after that, but I was mostly ignored or given dead-end replies. I eventually gave up and removed him from my social media so that I wouldn’t be exposed to him anymore and could try to move on.
In spring of 2018, Eve reached out to me to ask about my experiences, and to tell me about hers. Not too long after, Franklin reached out to me to “apologize” for the way he treated me back in 2015. However, he again made a point of telling me how his behavior towards me was a result of him “getting lost” in his relationship with Eve. That is not a real apology, and that is not accountability. In the interest of closing the conversation, I accepted the “apology” and thanked him for it and said I hoped he would be able to do better in the future. I have had no further contact with him.
So, of the stories, I believe I have the most mild or tame experience. It was painful, and it hurt for a long time, but it was not abusive. It did not last long enough to become so. That will be obvious in my testimony. I’m not sure I consider myself a survivor, as such, in this situation. However, In being able to observe things Franklin has published that are directed at partners or exes of his, I have no doubt in my mind that he is capable of abuse. I’ve seen him talk in condescending ways to partners or exes and try to make them look stupid in old forum posts. I’ve seen the way he acts and reacts to the work being done now in trying to name harm he has done. These are things I’ve watched him say under his own name, aside from any stories any of the survivors have told me. I believe this man is dangerous, and I believe the non-monogamy and BSDM communities need to take these stories and accounts very seriously. I believe the survivors.
Rose: I first learned about non-monogamy when I was about 15 or 16. I was doing a research project for something else, and I stumbled across studies on human sexuality. And I remember one of the questions asking if someone would be turned on by the idea of their partner with another partner. And it was like a light bulb went on in my head. And I was just like, “Oh, I had never thought of that!” And it just made sense.
I tried and failed at non-monogamy in high school. Mostly just didn’t find other non-monogamous people. And I had pretty much given up on the idea until later.
So when I entered the polyamory community, I was with my ex-husband. We got involved in the local polyamory scene. Me and my ex husband were both on the founding board of the organization. And as that was all happening, he and I got married in June of 2014. We had been together five and a half years. And the other boyfriend that I had at the time deployed shortly before our wedding to do a tour in Afghanistan.
August, I think, was when the boyfriend broke up with me. October is when I broke up with my ex-husband.
To give a little bit of background on mine and my ex-husband’s relationship. He was very, very attached to me, very much had me on a pedestal. And I had started to get into better ideas of like, boundaries and compatibility at the time. Like, I’ve only just this year started to recognize that there was a lot of emotional abuse going on in that relationship. Specifically like…he would do things to like cut me down, just various things like…like he would want me to be comfortable doing certain things around him. And whenever I would get into a happy, strong, confident place is when he would have meltdowns over things and like, start a fight, or have a jealous episode or… It was hard to put my finger on a lot of it, cause again, I was like, always like—
And towards the end, if we ever had arguments or fights, he wouldn’t let me leave. I had to be there and let him spew his anger at me, and he would tell me that I was like a bad partner for not wanting to be there for that or saying that I needed space, or things like that. Because I should want to be there for him when he was having a hard time, if I really loved him, that type of stuff.
That was 20, 21-year-old me. Not really having a good concept. My father was an alcoholic. And so me overcoming a lot of emotional abuse dynamics like that took me quite awhile.
I moved out in December and got my own place, a studio. I was financially independent for the first time in my life, and I was living on my own for the first time in my life And that’s where I was when I went to the conference, when I met Franklin.
So I was feeling good about life, and expansive, and wanting to connect to people. The thing that stood out about Franklin, the thing that really made me interested in him, was a quality of this type of really enthusiastic intelligence, like passionate intelligence, and wanting to talk about things and late into the night. These are the types of things that like feed my soul. And that was the type of energy that I was getting from him.
Louisa: Like a childish exuberance?
Rose: Yes. But it’s….for me, there’s a quality to it—so I have been called “the smart girl” through most of my childhood. Like, this is a thing that was made a big deal of by my parents and the adults in my life, and the the teachers in my school district, counselors. But before Franklin, there was like one person I had really met—there was a woman that, she ended up—and this was in my early college days, even before I met my ex-husband. This woman was someone—I didn’t know at the time, but I fell romantically in love with. But I didn’t have a sexual attraction, so I didn’t know what it was. I had no idea I was actually in love with her. I just, you know, this is my best friend.
She was the first person I didn’t have to spend energy dumbing myself down around. And she had that energy and intensity, too. And I felt that same thing around Franklin. And I hadn’t for a long time. And so it was that quality, like, the exchange of energy that I had with him, actually reminded me a lot of her. So it was like that idea of like, just being able to get on this like intellectual, fun, energy pinging back and forth and like, talking about things and just being excited. Like, I enjoy high-energy connections, and that was the feeling that I was getting from him.
We both admitted to having a crush on each other, towards the end of the conference, and then started videochats on Skype and stuff afterwards. One of those, I know that we spent over 12 hours in a single 24-hour period on videochat. So it was very intense, very quick. Seemed very mutual.
At that time, that was the strongest NRE I’d ever felt in my life. And it might be since—like, I had really strong mutual NRE with my live-in partner, but I don’t think the peak intensity was anywhere near as high as this.
And I do remember during some of that time that he said that like, some of his partners were struggling a little bit. But because I looked up to all of them, and I thought that this was, you know, telling me what was going on, and I was, “Okay, That really sucks. I hope things get better.” I didn’t identify until later that he might’ve been trying to drag me into like, creating an adversarial dynamic, but I didn’t bite. I didn’t take that bait, cause I was just like, “Oh, well that really sucks. I hope things improve.” So like I didn’t buy into the adversarial thing.
So this only went on for like three weeks. It was like three weeks between when he and I first met and—yeah, I don’t know exactly. I think maybe the third weekend in February was that conference. And I still remember the date, this is how much it was seared into my head. It was March 15th, ‘cause I was making jokes about the Ides of March.
When he requested a videochat, and just kind of seemed like out of nowhere told me that they had no idea how young I was. And that he was uncomfortable, his partners were uncomfortable. And that he couldn’t have this type of connection with me until I was older.
Louisa: And how old were you?
Rose: I was 26.
Louisa: And he was 50.
Rose: Yeah, I know that he’s 22 years older than me.
Louisa: Okay. Okay. Yeah so he was born, he was born in ’66.
Rose: Okay. And this was in 2015.
Rose: So it was right before his birthday, too, so yeah, he wasn’t quite 49 yet. But the—and I remember just feeling kind of bewildered. It felt like it came out of nowhere. I remember thinking that it kind of sucked that for all of like, they had talked about not making unilateral decisions without another person present, that I wasn’t able to talk to anybody about my age, or how those problems could be mitigated, or have any communication whatsoever about that. And how it just kind of came out of nowhere, like an edict on high.
Like, oh, like, “Oh, well. This is over. And that’s weird.”
Louisa: So, which partners have made this decision?
Rose: I don’t know. He always said that it was him making the decision, and not because of his partners’ discomfort. But he always made a point of letting me know how uncomfortable his partners were. And like I always did blame him. Like I—
Louisa: That’s some plausible deniability.
Rose: Yeah. I always blamed him, ‘cause I was a very strong RA philosophy at that point in my life. And I didn’t accept “My partner made me do it” sorts of excuses for behavior like that. I was just really surprised to see it out of him.
So I felt a little icky about his other partners, or like maybe there was something going on. But at the same time, I still held him responsible for his own stuff. Like I might not have had a reason to like them, but I never blamed them.
Rose: I blamed him for not being able to communicate clearly and set boundaries and have discussions about things with everybody involved.
He said at the time that he wanted to try and continue being friends. But then he basically disappeared off the face of the planet. Would not respond to messages, would say that they were welcome, but then like wouldn’t respond. If he did have any conversation—he wasn’t feeding back into the conversation, he would just let it die. ‘Cause like at the time, like being RA, I was like, “So what does this mean? Do you just not want to have a sexual or romantic connection?” And I’m like, “What does that mean to you?” And like, “How do we have a friendship? And what does that include?” And he wouldn’t have those discussions. He just kept saying, “Well I don’t know what that would look like,” or “I can’t put labels on things.” And so it just ended up like, we pretty much stopped talking.
It actually—that held onto me, like the bewilderment and all the stuff with that, like that kind of remained like a thorn in my heart until Eve contacted me last year. ‘Cause like, I was just bewildered, like the type and intensity of the connection. I can’t imagine having that type of connection and then just ejecting somebody so completely from my life if I felt that way about them. And so I didn’t understand what had happened.
I had just met him at that one conference. He and I have never kissed. I think the most we ever did was like hugging at that conference, and then the videochats. But I’ve never been in the same physical space as him other than at that one conference. I know he was the keynote speaker for our local conference this past November. But I’ve not been at that conference for various other reasons.
But in all reality, having heard some of the other stories, it sounds like I dodged a bullet. And I—once Eve told me about some of the ways that he pitted partners against each other, I kind of get the sense that what I didn’t realize, that I unwittingly protected myself when I didn’t take the bait about Eve being jealous. Then I became not as good of a target for him, because he couldn’t pull me into that drama. And that may be the moment at which he lost interest, or didn’t want to pursue it anymore, because I wasn’t taking the bait and blaming her for having issues.
And I didn’t pursue it, because I didn’t want to be nosy, or to insert myself into their relationship dynamic. Like, that was something, that was somewhere that was somewhere where I was maturing and learning to better than—like, I wasn’t going to try and rescue them. I was just, expected them to be adults and deal with it. And so I just took it as him reporting. I offered emotional support, you know, “That sucks. I’m sorry to hear that.” You know, “I hope things get better for the two of you.” So I was offering emotional support. I wasn’t coming in to rescue, and I wasn’t coming in to go to battle for it. And I think that may be the thing that probably saved me from getting more deeply involved there.
Louisa: Did Franklin tell you any stories about any of his other relationships?
Rose: A few. Most of the stories that I was told were, they were just like, the fun variety of like, fun shit I got into when I was younger–type things.
I know we talked about being relationship anarchists. So like, a lot of what like happened was like, we were trying to figure out, cause I was relationship anarchist and he was like, “I’m not sure, I have a lot of stuff going on. I don’t—” Like, something, talking about it, like didn’t know if he had room or whatever for other partners. And I was like, that—trying to figure out what label is going on isn’t really that super important to me. I’d rather just spend any mutually enjoyable time together that’s available and see what happens. You seem like someone I’d like to have around. Obviously I would have liked to get close, but I was in a much more, like, economy of abundance at that time in my life. And I was just like, well, it might suck to not be able to spend a ton of time, but this is someone that I value. And like, I’ll take what I can get.
So…I know we talked a little bit about that, or what relationships meant to us. We never formalized or gave a label—that’s why I would feel uncomfortable with what he did on the 15th saying that he couldn’t have a relationship with me. It feels weird to me even calling it a breakup, cause it was like three weeks of just getting to know someone, and we never formalized into a relationship structure.
What else did we talk about? I know I told him a lot of my history, like stuff with my ex-husband. Like where I was at. He told me a lot about his cats, and how they were mad that he was gone. I know that I initiated a bunch of games of like, questions game. Like, that’s something I like to do when I’m in NRE with someone, is just to basically go back and forth, like answering questions. It’s like truth or dare without the dare component.
I had barely started to dip my toes into the local kink scene. And I remember that during this time period he introduced me to music. I was having a burgeoning awareness of what I now believe is synesthesia that I can receive different sensory stimuli from music.
And that was fun, and at the time it was expressing itself in a very sexualized way. Certain music would really get my sexual energy up, and he was able to find—like some of the music he introduced me to actually had that component. I remember telling him, I did my very first rope suspension with a local rope top here. And I remember just flying high listening to the music that he had introduced me to and being on this like, rope space high, and being in NRE. And I remember telling him all about this, that I’d done this rope suspension. I was super excited. I remember we talked and shared sexual fantasies a lot.
I think Eve might have saved me from a second round of this. Because she contacted me in May of last year, and in June he reached out and apologized to me over all of that, and told me about how he “lost himself” in his relationship with her, and how he didn’t treat me well, and that it was completely his fault. So again, it was like taking responsibility-ish, but making sure I knew it was because of her jealousy. And had she not reached out to me, I might’ve been in a pretty vulnerable place to like—”Well maybe we could reconnect,” cause he was coming for that conference. And I’m just so glad that I was just like, “Oh well…thanks for the apology, and I hope you can do better in the future.” And, and just didn’t continue that conversation. Did not engage really beyond just accepting the apology and telling him that I hoped that lessons were learned.
And she and I ended up just talking a lot. She told me a lot of the story of like more recent—their business dealings coming apart and… Like how, she mentioned how she had had a hard time letting go of the thing that went on with me and him and told me that it had been kind of a turning point for them, too, in terms of their relationship just gradually going downhill. And how she was reaching out to other women and realizing that it might not have been the other women—as she had been thinking for awhile.
Some of the LiveJournal stuff that Eve linked me to was like—I hadn’t seen that side of him. But the way that he was talking to his, I think it was Celeste, I was just like, “Hoooolee shit.” Like, the way that he was talking to her, I was like, “Well, that’s an abuser.” Like that—more than any story that Eve told me, it was his LiveJournal posts that I was just like, “Oh God.” Because I, when I see it now, it fucking stands out like a neon sign. And those LiveJournal posts were intense.
What I saw in those LiveJournal posts was definitely abuse, with the intent of keeping partners quiet. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was a hidden side—like I said, I only got three weeks of real interaction with Franklin, and I think I didn’t give him the footholds he needed to drag me in the way that he does, from what I can observe and from what I’ve heard of other people.
I was in a weird place where I sort of got hooked, but like, wasn’t able to be pulled fully in, which is probably somewhat rare and based on the development point I was at. Because I don’t know how vulnerable I am to being hooked like that from a total stranger anymore. It’s possible, but I see it as way less likely than it would have been at that time period.
I didn’t talk about it a lot publicly, because I was kind of embarrassed about it? Like, I didn’t know how to articulate—like, I talked about it with friends, but I was kind of in a very cautious place about putting myself in the center of any other things that people would view as drama. So I just didn’t make a big stink about it at the time. I kept it to my friends groups.