It’s been a busy time, not just for the world at large, but also our survivor support team. Not only have the Women of the Game Changer stories gone live, but two public statements from Franklin’s pod have also come also come on the radar. The first is a Quora post, which we discussed in our most recent update. Our part time consultant, Aida Manduley LCSW, gave their thoughts about that post here
The second public statement, which I’ll be addressing, was released on Dr. Elisabeth Sheff’s website, which you can read here. Louisa Leontiades has released her own response to Dr. Sheff’s critiques, which you can read here.
Dr. Sheff gives a thorough and comprehensive breakdown of the major themes and commonalities between the women’s stories. She also lays out what she sees as clear instances of harm in those dynamics.
I want to honor the time and care that Dr. Sheff clearly put into her analysis. Furthermore, it is encouraging that she is taking the stories of Franklin’s past partners to heart. She is also urging Franklin to take these stories seriously and commit to hearing them, which I wholeheartedly support.
As a member of the survivor support team,
I stand by our core values that no one is disposable, the process is centered on the needs of survivors, and we strive to prevent future harm in our relationships and communities.
I, and my fellow support team members, appreciate the spirit in which Dr. Sheff offered input. That said, if Dr. Sheff is speaking as a member of Franklin’s accountability pod, formulating remedies without applying TJ principles is an odd choice, praxis wise. Since the work of an accountability pod is by definition based on Transformative Justice principles, sociological analysis of survivor stories and making recommendations to the survivor pod are outside the scope of her identified role. I hope Dr. Sheff takes this opportunity to learn about TJ frameworks.
Transformative justice is not founded on the basis of unbiased and detached observations. As Aida so beautifully articulated on twitter, in TJ, our connections and relationships are our strengths. This is why I am disappointed that members of Franklin’s accountability pod have rejected the survivor support team’s good-faith efforts, through Reid Mihalko, over the last three months to resource and educate them about Transformative Justice principles.
Eve is identified as a survivor in this process. She is doing her own work, with trauma-informed professionals, to identify and be accountable for harm she has caused (as discussed, for example, in her Sex Gets Real interview) while healing from the harm she has experienced. Our team has no intention of isolating her from the structure, solidarity and support this process was designed to provide. The accountability process we extended to Franklin is informed by but separate from survivor support work. None of the survivors wish to re-engage with Franklin, so his concern about engaging with Eve, or any other survivor for that matter, is moot. This was explained to him in our initial call in letter, and reiterated to his pod in an email on March 11, 2019
If Franklin has specific boundaries in this process, it is his own pod’s responsibility to create a safe emotional container in which he can do his work. The choices of the survivor pod do not factor into this.
It is my sincere hope that Franklin takes Dr. Sheff’s words of wisdom to heart, even though our own work does not hinge on whether he ever changes his behavior.