A message from the polyamory #metoo survivors
If you need a quick intro to what this is all about, read our FAQ here.
Oh hey there. It’s us.
You may know us as Elaine, Celeste, Amber, Lauren, Melanie, Lisa, Joanna, and Eve — plus a few you haven’t met yet — collectively known as “the polyamory #metoo survivors.”
We’ll be speaking for ourselves from now on.
We’ve been quiet — but not inactive. There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes. There are four more testimonies to release, and they’ve taken a long time to prepare. And also, some stuff’s happened. It’s taken time to process, and the end result is, we’re going a new direction with all this.
The short version is that we’ve launched our own site. It houses just our testimonies, an FAQ, and anything else of our own we later deem appropriate to add.
We’re also no longer framing what we’re doing as a “transformative justice” process, or any other kind of intervention. It’s now a survivor archive. Just our stories, as we experienced them.
Now for some background, takeaways, and requests.
As you read, please keep in mind that we’re a diverse group — almost a dozen of us now — with different needs, values and experiences. The one thing that unites us is that we experienced harmful behaviors from the Author. Despite the similarities, we all had different experiences, were affected differently, have different values and came to this process for different reasons. And while we stand in solidarity with one another, we cannot speak to a singular experience or position — either with regard to the Author, or to this process.
A new website
Louisa Leontiades poured her heart and soul into documenting and corroborating our stories. The work she did and the archive she created are an incredible piece of work. Many of us, talking to her, felt seen in our relationships with the Author in a way we never had been able to before, and for this we are immensely grateful. She put nearly a year of her life toward bringing our stories to light. This fact, and the work she did, must not be diminished.
The stories of Elaine, Celeste, Amber, Lauren, Melanie, Lisa and Joanna as originally published on Louisa’s website are true as we experienced them, as are the “notes and materials” she added to supplement each of our stories. We are grateful for this work.
As the story collection continued, some of the rest of us began to feel that the overall arc of that site was out of alignment with our experiences. Because of the nature of the work Louisa was doing, in addition to telling and corroborating our stories, she was documenting a larger story. And while the narrative developed on her site may be true from the standpoint of an external observer, it isn’t a framework that we all feel can support our emotional truths.
It is important that all of us feel our stories are being safely held. And because it is also important that our stories stand together, and because when presented together they are strong in and of themselves, we have decided to migrate all our stories to a new site that belongs to us, where they will stand on their own.
You will find there all the previously published first-person accounts, as well as new testimonies from four people. We are also linking to outside analysis, including Lousia’s and Kali Tal’s, and will continue to do so if and when other valuable analysis is published. We welcome additional analysis — scholarly, journalistic, or otherwise — and are happy to speak with researchers and provide additional background documents upon request to people who earn our trust.
As the name of the site indicates, we may also publish first-person stories in the future dealing with abuse in a polyamorous context by people other than the Author. If there is one thing we have learned in this process, it’s that this particular kind of harm is ubiquitous in polyamory. If you think that calling out the Author has gotten rid of the problem, you’ve missed the point.
Louisa has said more about her perspective on this handover on her own blog.
On “transformative justice” and the pods
Again, we wish to acknowledge the enormous efforts extended by the members of the survivor pod, who came together with good intentions and a powerful desire to intervene in harm in their communities, and to help create a structure where our voices could be heard. Many of us received much-needed support and empathy from members of the pod, and we have forged valuable friendships in the process. We also recognize that many of them paid steep personal costs for their involvement in this work.
With this in mind, we wish to correct the record on a few matters that affect our choice of a future path and framework.
In our understanding of transformative justice practices, the survivor pod centers the needs and input of the survivors, in turn informing the actions of the accountability pod. That didn’t happen in the part of this process that involved the Author’s pod. From the time that someone representing an accountability pod first made contact with the pod’s liaison until just before “An Announcement About Pod Boundaries” was posted, no survivor was consulted or given meaningful opportunity to influence the actions of the survivor pod toward the Author’s pod, or given access to the communications between the pods. Our list of asks was not sent, and we were not given an opportunity to make additional requests, or to decide what information, if any, to share with the Author’s pod. The survivor pod has said more about this in their wrap-up statement.
Those of us who have taken the time to read through the correspondence between the pods do not agree with the approach the survivor pod took and do not believe it represents us, or the values this process was intended to be founded on. We also disagree with some of the characterizations made in the pod boundary statement. Because this cannot be undone and does not materially affect the way forward now, we will leave it at that.
To be clear, not all of us were even invested in a transformative justice framework when we came forward. Those of us who were, sincerely believed in it. But regardless of intent, it is clear that such a framework was not in place during this process. Nor do we believe that the Author would ever have engaged in an accountability process in a way that was ever more than performative — we believe his many public pronouncements about us prove as much. This clarification should therefore not be taken in any way as a vindication of Franklin or his own pod members. But it is time to set aside any pretense that a transformative justice or accountability process has occurred here, or will.*
Our site, going forward, is a survivor archive. Nothing more, or less. If the Author chooses to learn or change, it will be in his own time and way — and away from us.
(*Note: Between the time we completed this statement and the time we published it, we received, via the pod’s liaison, an email from someone on the Author’s pod. As it fails to meet any of the requirements for a response laid out in our former pod’s statement of boundaries, we will not reply. However, its contents support our conclusion that the Author’s harm cannot be addressed by a community process, and confirms the necessity of the new boundaries stated below.)
All of our stories are published now. Please read them, and share. These should be the focus now.
We also have some final offers and requests.
For other survivors
We welcome outreach from other people who have experienced relational harm from the Author, or current partners considering or in the process of leaving him. You do not need to be willing to tell your story publicly to seek solidarity and support from our group. We have established our own email address, email@example.com. Messages received at that address will be shared with all of us. (We reserve the right to publish abusive or harassing messages from people who do not identify as being harmed by the Author.)
We also understand that some people who have been involved with the Author have experienced harm from other partners of his, including some within our group. One of the benefits to us of this process has been the opportunity to heal relationships damaged by the Author’s triangulation and lies, and we hope this may be true for you, too. But this is not a requirement: we wish to extend to anyone harmed by the Author the opportunity to receive support without having to interact with others who harmed them. If you send an email to our joint address asking not to communicate with a particular person or people, we will ensure you have a private channel of communication going forward that includes only people you feel safe with.
Of course, any current or former partner of the Author who has a pre-existing relationship with any of us is welcome to continue that relationship on its own terms.
For polyamorous communities
By refusing to take any responsibility for his actions and continuing his overt and covert public attacks on us, the Author has made it clear over the past year that he’s unwilling to change or even examine his behavior.
While we initially requested a temporary, limited deplatforming along with some event management to protect individual survivors, we now think there’s enough evidence to conclude that the Author is going to continue the behaviors that harmed us, as well as teaching those behaviors (and the beliefs that drive them) to others. In addition, our stories show a clear and consistent pattern of the Author using his platform to harm women. Continuing to book him as a conference speaker, interview him and present him as a relationship role model will further perpetuate these harms. We are therefore expanding our original list of asks to include a permanent ban on any form of public platforming on relationship or sexuality topics.
Some specific things we’d like to see:
- Don’t interview the Author, or refer him for interviews on relationships, polyamory, sexuality or abuse.
- Don’t book the Author to speak on these topics.
- Avoid sharing the Author’s polyamory or BDSM pages or blog posts.
- Stop recommending or buying The Game Changer.
- If you ever promoted or reviewed The Game Changer, or interviewed the Author, add a note with a link to www.itrippedonthepolystair.com at the top of the page. We prefer this over deleting the content, as deletion rewrites history and will just ensure that only supportive content remains visible.
- Don’t harass the Author or anyone connected to him. Our purpose is to limit his harm and tell our own stories. We do not wish to contribute to a cycle of violence.
While some may see these as punitive measures, consequences and punishment are not the same thing, no one is entitled to power or a platform, and removal of power is not the same as isolation or ostracism. the Author has many skills with which he can earn a living, and many friends who will remain loyal to him. And if he wants to remain in any polyamorous or sex-positive communities he is involved in, he may do so in the background, helping others and lifting up other voices — washing dishes and stacking chairs, as so many others have done for him.
For the Author
We don’t want anything for the Author, or from him. At this time, none of us desires any form of contact or relationship with the Author. He has access now to our stories, and we are offering nothing more. the Authorhas the information he needs to stop committing harm, and whether he does so is up to him.
There is only one form of communication we are willing to receive: Should the Author ever decide to be assessed by a program for abusive men, and should his counselor within such a program or assessment decide that some form of communication with his survivors would be beneficial, we are willing to receive communication from the counselor to our group email address. Such a communication must include their credentials, information about the program, and the nature and purpose of the request. We will then decide together whether and how to respond to the request, collectively or individually.
We will not respond to any other communications from the Author, or anyone representing him.
For everyone else…thanks for following, learning and growing with us. Take care of yourselves, and each other. That’s it.
Elaine, Celeste, Amber, Lauren, Melanie, Lisa, Joanna, Paula, Eve, Rose, and Marissa.