March Updates from the Franklin Veaux Survivor Pod
Thank you for your patience between updates. We are grateful to have your attention and consideration as we proceed through our work.
Since our first statement went up on February 11, we have heard from numerous additional women who have experienced the harmful behaviors from Franklin described in our post. A number of these new reports also include resulting trauma. The additional accounts come from women widely separated in space and time, and contribute to a stark, overwhelming pattern of behavior. These reports have been supported by further accounts that both corroborate the women’s reports and show similar behaviors in a non-romantic context. We are not releasing numbers yet, as data collection is still in progress, but the number of known women harmed has at least doubled from our first post.
Significant time and effort is involved in taking testimony from survivors, corroborating their experiences with public information and witness accounts, and distilling hours of interviews into a format that renders the patterns of harm visible. This process takes time and is being undertaken for the survivors that they may correct the record. We understand many community members are eager to witness and support survivors and thank you for your patience.
Contact from Franklin’s pod
Franklin announced on February 12 that he planned to form an accountability pod. Through our liaison, the survivor advocacy team received communication on March 2 from an individual representing themselves as part of that pod. We provided that individual with a more detailed list of the harmful behaviors reported, and we are also making that document available to the public in the interest of harm reduction and transparency. We will be posting a separate update on this matter.
A number of people have reached out to us to offer financial support. Accepting money risks creating real or apparent conflicts of interest; however, there have already been considerable costs involved in this process — which have until now been borne by us or the survivors — and some of us are doing uncompensated work that is also part of our professional expertise, and for which we are usually paid.
We have therefore set up a Paypal pool so that those who wish to support us in this way can do so. More details on how the funds will be used are available at that link.
Pepper Mint’s departure from the survivor pod
As a result of information about his own behavior that surfaced in the course of our story collection process, Pepper Mint has decided to step back from his work with us for the time being, in order to make time and space for some accountability work of his own. We have no details about his pod or action plan yet, but will share them when they become available.
Launch and removal of website
On February 20, we launched a website with the bios of some survivor team members and the beginnings of a timeline related to the survivor team process.
This launch was premature. The timeline and other content was incomplete and had not been reviewed by the full survivor team, and the survivors had not been properly notified or prepared.
The site has been replaced with placeholder text in the meantime and will re-launch when it is fully ready. We know this caused confusion, and we’re sorry.
What is a pod?
Both we and Franklin have been using the word “pod,” which we have used interchangeably with “team.” We have seen some confusion over what a pod is, and in particular, how pods relate to survivors. The idea of pods comes from the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. To quote them:
“Your pod is made up of the people that you would call on if violence, harm or abuse happened to you; or the people that you would call on if you wanted support in taking accountability for violence, harm or abuse that you’ve done; or if you witnessed violence or if someone you care about was being violent or being abused.”
Importantly, none of the survivors are members of the survivor advocacy pod or are directing the work of the team. We are in communication with the survivors, receive input from them, and do our best to meet their needs and act in accordance with their wishes (so long as those wishes align with transformative justice principles — which they generally do), but they are not part of our day-to-day work or decision-making.
The complete membership of the survivor pod, along with our backgrounds and reasons for joining this work, can be found here.
Misconceptions about our intentions and process
“In resolving interpersonal or group conflicts, conflict transformation, similar to transformative justice, addresses issues of inequities, injustices, oppression, and domination. Conflict transformation, unlike conflict resolution, requires larger socio-political concerns to be addressed, while conflict resolution is only about addressing the specific incident.” — Anthony J. Nocella II
Another point of confusion we have seen is the idea that we are attempting to initiate a restorative justice process, or attempt to facilitate contact between Franklin and any of the survivors. This is not the case. As of this writing, none of the harmed parties desires any direct contact with Franklin. Nor are we trying to restore some “pre-harm” state, either in individual relationships or in our communities as a whole. Our desire is not only to identify the harm done, but to support the dismantling of the conditions that allowed it to go unchecked and unnamed for so long, as well as the systems and ideas that perpetuated it and allowed many others to experience similar harms. To do this, we are using a transformative justice framework, guided by consultation from Aida Manduley, a practitioner and educator in this field.
For more on the differences between restorative and transformative justice, you may wish to read some of the links from these two categories at transformharm.org.
As Jess Mahler wrote in her reflections on this situation, and as we wrote in our original post, it’s not just Franklin. Since the publication of our first post, many people have commented on having had similar experiences in their polycules or polyamorous communities. This has happened in plain sight, and with the support of our communities, our spokespeople and our literature. Something is going very wrong in the way that many of us have been approaching nonmonogamy, and it’s causing serious harm.
Franklin has written at length on the idea of disruption, which he frames as primarily a positive force. We are disrupting. The status quo isn’t good enough: it’s not good enough to have communities that claim to be focused on “ethical” relationships that are leaving behind trails of traumatized people. It’s not good enough to elevate spokespeople who tell us things that make us feel good while looking away from their actual effects on the people they’re in relationship and community with.
We don’t know what comes next — and we shouldn’t be the ones to decide. Too many other voices and ideas have been shut out of the conversations about polyamorous ethics for too long. We welcome critique, not just of Franklin and his work, and that of the other dominant voices in our scenes, but of our own work and our own ideas. We are doing what we can to help make space for these conversations to happen.