FV Survivor Pod: Who we are and why we’re doing this

Please read this April 13, 2020, update from the survivors and read their stories. To view everything that’s been released publicly, visit our tracking document.

We are the members of the FV survivor advocacy team. We thought it would be helpful to those following this process for us to introduce ourselves, share our relevant skills and experiences, and explain how we got involved in this process and why we believe the women who’ve come forward.

Table of Contents

AV Flox

On May 22 we announced that AV Flox was stepping back from her work with us for the time being. We will issue an update if and when this changes.

I’m AV Flox, a writer in the Bay Area. I joined this process because I believe in confronting harm in my communities. I personally know both Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, his co-author, co-founder and former romantic partner, who is now among those coming forward to ask Franklin for accountability. I support her and his other former partners in this call, and mean Franklin no harm in doing so.

I started reading Franklin’s writing in the aughts and met Eve through him. In 2015, I wrote the foreword to his memoir, The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love and was later asked to advise his tech venture Tacit Pleasures. I agreed to assist in searching for investors to further enable the refinement of a prototype prosthetic capable of transmitting sensation to the wearer. While I did not succeed in the latter (investors being uncertain of sex-related tech and founders who have too many irons in the fire) and not active in the project since late 2017, I continue to believe in that technology.

In the foreword to his memoir, I said a few things that I now find disconcerting in light of recent events — I will need to personally account for the way in which that foreword further isolated and silenced women whose stories were being told for them within its pages. However, there are things I said in there that I think remain relevant now: “No exploration into unknown lands is without hardship [ … ] If such journeys came with maps, they would be marked with the telltale label of unknown lands: HIC SVNT LEONES. It takes great courage to admit that sometimes, it is we who are the lions. It is we who maul those who take a chance on the road not taken. But this is not a redemption story. This is a story about people trying to do good by one another without knowing how. [ … ] This is a story of love, yes. But more than anything else it is a story of learning how to become a safe place where love can grow.”

In this book, Franklin told stories that according to the accounts of former partners do not reflect their experiences. In calling for accountability, the women who loved him and community members who support them are asking Franklin to have the courage to face the ways he was and remains a lion, that he may become a safe place for future loves.

I believe in the transformative power of recognizing the harm we do to others and taking ownership for it. I’ve been called out myself and though it wasn’t easy, I’m grateful for the opportunity given to me by the person I harmed to own my actions and grow. I know that this internal work is hard, but I believe in its power. I know we are all on the same page — we all want communities that are safer, communities where people who get hurt have a chance to be heard and get the shelter they need to heal, and people who harm are encouraged to face their harmful patterns and given the opportunity to grow.

Full disclosure: Franklin and one of his former partners co-founded Thorntree Press, the company that is publishing my upcoming book.

Calum Campbell

I’m Calum Campbell. I’ve been involved in the poly community since I joined the triples mailing list in the early 90’s, and I’ve been a member and organiser in the UK bi/queer/poly communities since 2004, particularly through BiCon and other events that have spun off from it. Through that organising, and through travel, I’ve also met quite a few people in similar communities in other countries. Eve was one of the people I met, and we’ve been friends now around 9 years.

In the communities I’ve been part of, I’ve facilitated workshops on consent, attraction, and relationship skills. I’m a firm believer in the collective wisdom of communities, sharing our experiences to help each other — rather than looking to experts to lead.

One of the reasons I really loved “More Than Two” as a book was that I saw it as a collection of community wisdom — particularly parts like the Relationship Bill of Rights, which draw on many and diverse inputs to affirm what treating each other as people in a relationship looks like.

So, when I was asked to help organise the “More Than Two” book tour in the UK, I was very happy to. I helped Thorntree Press find a new event organiser at short notice, put them in touch with poly communities, co-organised a local meetup and book reading, helped with shipping books, and more small things. “The Game Changer” had come out by then, so of course the tour was promoting that too. Despite having kickstarted the book, I hadn’t more than skim-read it by then.

When Eve and Franklin were in the UK, I spent some time with Eve, only a little with Franklin. Franklin and I hardly spoke at all, so I can’t claim to know him. But I wasn’t comfortable with how Eve was. She was withdrawn, quiet — and conversations and things I saw led me to believe her relationship with Franklin was the reason — even though I don’t think she saw that herself at the time. But somehow I wrote it off as exhaustion from the tour.

At the book readings, more than a few people were uncomfortable with The Game Changer. I remember asking Franklin during the Q&A, “What does Celeste think about the book?”. He went silent for a long moment, then Eve answered. After the event, in the local poly group, there were hard questions about parts of the book. The prom scene… The lack of women’s voices. I hadn’t properly read it yet.

I met Eve and Franklin again at the last stop on their book tour, in San Francisco. I didn’t speak to Franklin beyond saying hello. But I spent time with Eve, and I was worried about her. I kept justifying it to myself as exhaustion.

With hindsight, I see how easy it is to be a bystander, to reason away what we’re seeing, and what we know on some level is wrong. It’s all too easy for us to look past the suffering of women (and others, but often women) in relationships.

I met Eve in Vancouver last year, and she asked me to be part of the support group — as a friend, a community organiser, and someone in Europe — because there are people affected in Europe. Since then, I’ve spoken to one other woman affected, and read the accounts from the others. I believe them. What they say fits with patterns I’ve observed personally, with writing online by Franklin and others, and with each other.

I feel that I promoted the Game Changer in my local communities without really having read it, or questioned the narratives in that. I fear I may have caused harm by doing that. So as well as supporting my friend, I want to support my communities. Reflecting on my own role as a witness and bystander to something that I knew deep down was wrong, I want to be part of a process that raises awareness of these problems, so that we can all be part of changing these patterns.

I don’t know Franklin, really. I wish him no harm at all. I think that he’s had nearly two decades to tell the stories of his relationships, and I think it’s time to support the women in those stories, and give them space to tell their own stories, in their own ways.

I really hope that Franklin will step up, engage, and accept that it is their time to be heard.

Chelsey Blair

My name is Chelsey Blair. I am a writer, a student, and an activist. I am currently working on my bachelor degree of social work at the University of Northern British Columbia. I have been active in the non-monogamous, queer, and sex positive communities In Vancouver for about eight years. I have organized events for our local polyamory scene, as well as run several discussions about non-monogamy and relationship anarchy. I write online about these subjects on Quora.

I have known Franklin Veaux for years; he participated in my community while he was in Vancouver, and came to see me as a hairstylist during that time. I joined the team of people providing support to women/partners who have been harmed by him because it seemed the logical next step after providing support to one of the survivors, and learning there were others, realizing the long history of continuous erasure of women’s voices. I am staunchly feminist, which drives my activist work, as well as how I conduct my personal life. I am committed to undermining Patriarchy as well as I can, and acknowledge that I will have blind spots. This process, however, is one in which I can see very clearly: I am a member of the class of people who have been tasked with more invisible labour and suffering in normative non-monogamous relational life. I see this because I live in it, and experience it, still, in the landscape of my community. Women are the social engineers, and we labour amongst ourselves to make sure these complicated relational structures are “working”, to the benefit of everyone. We are disproportionately assigned this work. It is thankless. The harms identified by survivors as a part of Franklin’s pattern are not foreign to me. I have experienced them at the hands of others like him.

I am involved in this process because I believe the survivors, and I think it is important to give women space to speak their stories. Women, femmes, and non-binary people are so often erased into the backgrounds of the narratives of others, to their detriment. The silencing of those who bear the brunt of this labour in the face of a broader system is integral to that system maintaining its function. We are erased and ignored, and that is how society manages to continue exploiting us. I am part of a group that has come together to elevate the voices that until now have been erased and ignored, while Franklin Veaux has had his run of the storyline for decades. We seek to acknowledge them, their hardship, and give them a chance to exist in the discourse Franklin has been the sole narrator of for a very long time. They want to be heard. This is at the root of a lot of oppression: the erasure of suffering is a structural function of most abusive hierarchies in which the benefits go to the ruling class, and this one is no exception. I am committed to the voices of these survivors being centred.

I have no designs on Franklin’s outcomes; I hope that he will, at the very least, try to listen to people who have loved him over the course of his life, and hear how they have been affected by him. This matters, and it ought to matter to Franklin. The support of survivors and making sure they are heard is my work, and the team he selects to help him do his accountability work will be tasked with supporting his.

Jakob Liljenwall

My name is Jakob Liljenwall. For a few years starting on 2013 I worked as an employee and later a contractor at two companies run by Franklin and one of his former partners. I’ve done no work for either company since 2016. During my time in Vancouver I was loosely associated with the polyamory community. I met Franklin in person several times during this period and while I didn’t get to know him well, it would be fair to say I’ve spent more time with him in person than most of his 100k Quora followers.

When I was first approached about the pod I had misgivings. First, though the claims about Franklin didn’t surprise me I had never directly observed the behaviors described. I’m inclined to trust such claims and I trusted their original source, but I didn’t yet understand the scope of the damage or the plan to respond to it. Second, not being close with any polyamory community and not being an expert on transformative justice, I doubted my own usefulness.

The first misgiving was addressed through access to evidence. The information provided to me supported what I was being told and gave me a clear picture of both individual incidents and decades-long trends. Comparing Franklin’s public posts to the documentation shared with me made it very clear that a false narrative was being promoted on an ongoing basis, and the dishonesty revealed this way further supported the survivors’ reports of gaslighting, manipulation, and retaliation.

My second misgiving was addressed through a more in-depth discussion of what the pod needed to accomplish. Much of the work requires significant expertise and relevant lived experience. But there are also many mundane tasks that require little more than time and a willingness to complete tasks. This is the category that I chose to take on, leaving more resources free for the experts to concentrate on their respective areas.

I did some writing and editing on the call-in letter and public statement and I currently admin the public-facing accounts including updating posts and engaging in comments sections. I also maintain the story collection form and manage the pod Gmail.

I’m part of this project because I was shown that a long series of wrongs had been done, and asked to use some of my abundant free time to help address it. This project draws on previous efforts but is also fairly novel in its goals and approach. It has already made quite an impact but has the potential to achieve some really extraordinary things in later stages. Participating has been a strange and frequently disturbing learning experience.

Marissa Stein

Hi, I am Marissa Stein and I met Franklin Veaux through a mutual friend. I had been reading bits of the More Than Two blog for a while as I was struggling with issues in an unhealthy poly dynamic, and from the posts I felt a sense of validation and community knowing that I wasn’t alone in feeling like I deserved respect in a poly relationship. Franklin was doing a reading of his (then) recent book The Game Changer in Seattle, and our mutual friend brought me to hear him speak. I was thrilled to be able to talk to someone who was supportive of relationship values I wanted for my own relationships.

Franklin and I became friends after that, speaking often on social media as well as private texts on Facebook messenger. I visited him for coffee once, and he and his former partner Eve invited me to a concert in Seattle. That was the first night I met Eve, and outside of that night and a Halloween party they both came to at my home. They spent the night at my house, Eve went to bed earlier than Franklin and I stayed up talking for a bit before he also went to bed. As a kinky sex-nerd, Franklin and I would often text about these topics, and the occasional flirt would happen, but the relationship itself was purely as friends, and I never had any interest in pursuing anything other than friendship with him.

Franklin contacted me a few days after their breakup to give me his side of the story. I was upset to hear that my friend was in pain, and had no reason to question his narrative at that point. Within the ensuing week or so Franklin ended up having an accident which required medical care. I was texting with him right after it happened, and talking him through what he was doing, asking if he needed to go to the hospital, inquiring about a support system near him, etc... and he was also continuing to speak about what he was going through because of the breakup, and I also had more time to ask about what happened to lead to it etc. Within a few days I got a Facebook message from Eve, who was in distress because she heard that he had an accident.
Her concern was palpable, and we went back and forth with me as a go-between because she was trying to make sure that he was covered by her Canadian Insurance in America, because at this time they were not communicating directly. Eve went above and beyond to try to make sure
that he got proper medical attention, even suggesting that he spend some time at her mother’s place in Canada to get the care he needed. On Franklin’s end things were different. Franklin’s narrative was that Eve was trashing him online, speaking poorly about him to his friends, and once he found out that she had contacted me he began to get distant. In speaking with Eve I began to see that the two narratives did not match, and ultimately recognized that Franklin was not being honest with me about their breakup and what happened to get to the point where they were speaking only through a mediator. At some point I told Eve (with consent) some of the things Franklin had told me about the events leading to their breakup. It then came to light that Franklin had told Eve things about our relationship that were not true, and he was using this information as an emotional weapon to use against her. Eve shared with me a screen shot of this, and then we began to piece weirdness together from the previous 1–2 years. I made a decision to step away from Franklin at that point.

I was his friend. I believed his story until I just couldn’t anymore. I have personally experienced him pushing my boundaries, and I have seen the screen shot where he blatantly lied about me to his nesting partner. I feel for those who still believe him, as we want to believe that our trust hasn’t been misguided. I had to recognize that my faith in him was misplaced, and I am sorry if I have been part of validating his narrative. I believe Eve and the other survivors, and I wish to advocate for them. I also am a firm believer in transformative justice, creating healthier communities, minimizing and preventing harm, and in teaching toxic people how to be healthy members of society.

Outside of this, I am currently in my second year of a Masters program in clinical psychology, with a specialization in sex therapy. Part of my professional focus in going to be on helping survivors of abuse to have healthy and satisfying sex lives. In addition to this I feel strongly about working with those who have a history of being abusive themselves to be healthy and functional members of society. I personally have been involved in both consensually non-monogamous relationships in past, and consider myself to be part of the much wider kink community.

My aim with this pod is to be part of a healing solution for this community, and that I can carry this work forward to help others in future.

Pepper Mint

On March 25 we announced that Pepper Mint was stepping back from his work with us for the time being. We will issue an update if and when this changes.

Pepper Mint is an activist, educator, and community organizer in the polyamory and BDSM communities of San Francisco. This post will be updated with his full statement on his involvement in this process when it is available.

Samantha Manewitz

I am primarily here in my capacity as a trauma informed therapist. Therefore, instead on focusing on my relationship with Franklin and the women who have come forward, I will share my professional background and why I decided to participate in this work.

My name is Samantha Manewitz, and I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, educator, and AASECT certified sex therapist. In addition to my private practice, I am on the faculty of the Institute for Sexuality Education and Enlightenment, a continuing education organization for aspiring sex therapists and educators. I have given talks on kink, non monogamy, and trauma recovery at, among other places, the AASECT annual conference, The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, Fenway Health, The Children’s Cove (a violence prevention and response organization on the Cape), and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I’ve also been quoted in articles for Slate, NBC News, Yahoo News, and Global News.

Among the many hard lessons I’ve learned since working with abuse dynamics is that if you think abuse can’t happen here, and you think it won’t happen to you, think again. No matter where here is or who you are. This is an issue that cuts across all demographic lines. I’ve also learned that abuse thrives in secrecy and silence. It is therefore important to me to shed light in the dark corners of communities that are important to me and to the people I care about.

My goals and core values align with those of the pod. I believe that it is possible to have empathy for someone, and recognize a person’s innate humanity while also holding them to account for harmful behavior. What is important for me is not that we run Franklin out of our communities, but that the people he’s harmed can tell their stories and be believed. I am here not only as a support for those who have been harmed, but also to share my knowledge, help the pod make choices that are ethical, thoughtful, and rooted in best practices, and share my knowledge as best as I can.

Support Roles

Aida Manduley is working with the survivor advocacy team as a consultant in transformative justice processes. Aida has published a statement about their involvement here. [**Update: The FV survivors do not currently recommend Aida Manduley for continued work in accountability or transformative justice, due to serious harm resulting from Aida’s advice over the course of this process. Aida has been invited to participate in specific, limited requests for accountability, understanding and repair to address this harm, but has so far declined. Should this change, we will update this note accordingly. We also encourage anyone considering involving Aida in another process to read this account from a survivor in a different process.]

Louisa Leontiades is assisting the survivor advocacy team by documenting and verifying the stories of the survivors. She has published a statement about her role.

Reid Mihalko is acting as a liaison between the survivor advocacy team and Franklin (or his accountability team, when he forms one). Reid has made a statement about his role here, and Chelsey Blair has explained the pod’s reasoning in asking him for this support.

Other Signatories

The additional signatories to the call-in letter and public statement were chosen because of their relationships with Franklin, their standing in polyamorous communities, and their history of support for abuse survivors and transformative justice work. They were each given access to key survivor testimonies, corroborating public records and supporting documentation to enable them to make fully informed choices about signing.

Written by

Formerly Survivor Support. We are a group of women and non-binary people who have experienced relational harm from well-known polyamory writer Franklin Veaux.

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