Some days ago I read a statement against Franklin Veaux by a group of people who teamed up in order to support several of his past nesting partners. The statement deals with emotional and psychological abuse exerted by Veaux to his former partners.
As a poly queer person who has read Franklin’s writings and has been inspired to implement in my relationships the principles contemplated in More Than Two (the book he wrote in collaboration with Eve Rickert, one of the women who came forward as one of the victims), I was deeply shaken.
This text is a series of scattered thoughts about all this, about the clusterfuck at the other side of the Atlantic ocean, the clusterfuck I have noticed at times in the circles which I am a part of and the clusterfucks which I have been involved myself in my personal life up to this day.
I will refrain from making judgments on the merits of the case brought against Veaux and the clusterfucks I have noticed, experienced and been a part of. I just want to stress some things I have been thinking about since the moment I read that statement.
1. Human relationships are very complicated, given the fact the different worlds, mentalities, personalities, needs, boundaries, wounds and journeys come together.
2. During the last years an effort is made to establish principles in love and war, namely in our interpersonal relationships (negotiation and consent, honest non-violent communication, the metoo movement, education on abusive behaviors.
3. Although intentions are good and people read and soulsearch, since a relationship is comprised not only of one person but of two, it is very easy for someone to exhibit behaviors (through both actions and OMISSIONS) which may hurt the other person even if such behaviors are not considered abusive “by the book”. This is because these two people feel, experience and interact with reality DIFFERENTLY.
4. Even if a person does not feel abused in a relationship, due to all these differences, there will be conflict. This is inevitable. Lasting relationships do not last because there is a lack of conflict or change. On the contrary, they last because conflict is resolved and because the people in the relationship adjust to changes, often by changing themselves.
5. Our relationships with other people are our mirrors. But be careful here: I am talking about the relationships, not other people per se. Other people are neither mirrors (as I have heard some woke people and quantum fuckbois say) nor need-filling machines. Saying something like that is a form of objectification, which invalidates other people as bearers of their own internal world which is different from our own.
6. No matter how emotional we find ourselves at times, we must cultivate the ability to see other people as equal with us, as whole people with their own needs and their own internal world. If there is a power dynamic which makes this hard (and I am not talking only about d/s relationships at this point, but also about any kind of privilege or an imbalance created by the psychological/emotional condition of a person due to which consent might be compromised – for example if one partner is in love and the other isn’t) this must also be taken into account.
7. A large part of abusive behaviors is exhibited by people who are not “by-the-book abusers” because we make a mess at points 5 and 6 above, and because we don’t know how to communicate gently and empathically when the shit hits the fan. Our own pain makes us fail to see and acknowledge the pain felt by the other person.
8. In general, from what I have noticed and experienced in my life, I have come to the conclusion that all of us, more or less, enter relationships thinking a) that relationships are easy by definition, b) that conflict is per se bad, c) that if there is conflict between us this means that we are not a good match and d) that people don’t change (which is the case if they don’t want to change). And that we do not have a code for conflict resolution in our relationships.
9. I think that it’s right to push people who exhibit abusive behaviors away from a community, when such people do not understand that their behavior is harmful and undesirable. What happens, though, in mere clusterfucks created by people who try to become better and nevertheless fuck things up?
10.How can I, you, we, communities, help people who feel that they have been harmed by someone who may not be a “by-the-book” abuser, but they experienced trauma nevertheless, felt abused and feel that they can’t talk, that they must keep their mouth shut?
11. And, on the other hand, how can I, you, we, communities, help people who exhibit abusive behaviors but they know that they have caused harm and want to change this, people who do not want to be ostracized from the community, who want to make things right towards the person(s) harmed by their behavior, towards themselves and the community? How can a community, a group, a relationship network establish principles for conflict resolution?
12. Let’s not forget that there is a kind of butterfly effect in all this: a troublesome relationship between two community members may tear apart and shake a WHOLE community or a relationship network.
13. Personally, I don’t even find myself a part of a concrete community (except humanity, perhaps). But I have seen relationships break, networks dissolve, friendships destroyed due to behaviors of some people, even though they did not intend to cause any harm. And it hurts every single time.
14. At the other side of the Atlantic ocean, they have set up survivor and accountability pods – which require great financial, material and educational resources, expertise and tons of emotional labor. Thanks to the work and labor of these people, concepts like restorative and transformative (and under no circumstances punitive) justice are being made known.
14. Here, we don’t have these resources. And maybe you, like me, don’t feel like you belong to a concrete community. But you, and me, know how to read. And despite the fact that we don’t belong to a concrete community, we can read the labor of other people and start establishing commitments for ourselves and our relationship networks. We can build common principles with the people we have chosen to share our lives with, in the extent we can. We can educate ourselves on how to create less pain, how to mitigate the pain caused and how to help each other in our healing journeys.
15. Obviously I don’t have all the answers. Maybe everything I have written here is a big pile of bullshit. But I think I’ve had enough of all this pain, and I think that I am not the only one.
If you are interested in the procedures taking place regarding the clusterfuck at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, here is an article with the most recent developments and a public tracking document with statements and articles from various sources.