Last November, an ex-partner of Franklin Veaux contacted me to share some pretty dire experiences of psychological abuse.
I didn’t want to believe her. What I wanted to believe was that the harm Franklin caused was not intentional or conscious. That it was a one-off. That Franklin was a nice guy who had made a few wrong steps. I hoped against hope that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. What I have discovered since talking to other survivors and examining primary sources is worse. Not only that, but at current time of writing the rabbit hole goes deeper than I ever suspected. Layer upon layer of a false reality I bought into, keeps being peeled back. More women. And more stories. These stories are independent of one another, detailed, specific and identify similar harmful patterns over years. Above all these stories need to be heard. They need the amplification that they always deserved.
I have enabled harm through ignorance and privilege—I mean that in general. Inescapably. But most of the time I thought I had caught and corrected myself before it got too bad.
This time is not one of those times. I have twice interviewed Franklin Veaux in order to promote his work. I have contributed 5 star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I have recommended his website in my capacity of Chairwoman of the National Polyamory Society of Sweden and as an author published by his co-owned company Thorntree Press. My words have power, and I have used this power to recommend Franklin’s work. In doing so, I have effectively silenced the other side of the story. The women’s stories. As an abuse survivor myself, this is one of the worst things to face. It is also hard to write and share my own culpability in public. But like many others, I believed in him and his online persona.
Or I wanted to.
After some soul searching I believe that I wanted above all, was to align myself with the concept of ‘ethical polyamory’. I wanted the power that this brings. I wanted to be an advocate! What sad words those are. After so much pushback and rejection from my own families and communities, I wanted to legitimise my polyamorous relationships and my beliefs. When you want to be on the side of right, when you believe yourself ethical, and when you’re fighting for your identity, I guess the mind can ignore almost anything.
Specifically, I didn’t pick up on a legitimate concern raised by my colleague and person of colour Michon Neal, regarding their own interpretation that Franklin Veaux’s accounts were highly problematic. I, a white cis woman, privileged him, a white cis man, whose work I found valuable and had helped me in my own polyamorous journey. There is no excuse for this.
Still guilt serves no purpose here. What counts then, is firstly my apology and secondly, how I can make amends.
Writing stories of people who have experienced trauma is something of a speciality of mine, as a memoir author. My stories have been heard and witnessed; that has helped me to heal. Some years after their publication and in order to fight the rise of fascism I went back to school to do a third masters, this time in journalism. I recognise my privilege in doing so. It is fortunate, and only right then, that I can now employ these journalistic skills to help those people who need their story witnessed and told in the best way I can. So it’s what I’m doing and it’s why I’m here.
NB: I want to establish on the record, that I have high hopes in the transformative justice process and really feel that Franklin is capable of stepping up and owning these harmful behaviours. He’s smart. And I say that having read almost 20 years of his work over the past two months.