Wes Fenza, The Polyamory Leadership Network, and Spinning Tables

There’s no good way to start a post like this. This is a difficult post to compose, and a terrifying one to publish. But I don’t feel as if I can leave this unsaid.

I feel as if I must say a few of things about Wes Fenza, because I think it’s worth saying in the interest of people within our community being able to make more informed decisions concerning an individual who seeks to have influence and respected status within our community.

Many people out there like Wes Fenza. Hell, I did at first as well. He’s smart, entertaining, and he throws a pretty good party. Then I lived with him and his family for 18 months or so, and eventually saw beneath the mask he wears for most people and saw him behave abusively to many people, myself included. Later, I found out that he was much more than a mere assclown, but we’ll get to that.
Recently, his family has been painting themselves publicly as the victims of a vendetta and smear campaign, the seeming intention of which is to ruin their reputation, by people formerly close to them.
And what form has this imagined vendetta taken?
Wes was, for a while, a member of the Polyamory Leadership Network (PLN). He isn’t a member any more.
Wes was removed from the PLN due to some people coming out from their various hiding places in order to tell their stories about how he had abused, sexually assaulted, and manipulated them. I don’t know very much about those stories, but what I do know is deeply upsetting to me and all too familiar. From what I know about the people who contacted the PLN, they were offended, hurt, and angry that a person who was so criminally insensitive to boundaries, consent, and the truth was allowed to be in a position of any respect or leadership within our community. If Wes Fenza is to be representative of our community, then we are failing as arbiters and examples of healthy and loving relationships.

Wes, as well as his family, seem to think this action was the result of an ongoing campaign by “delusional” people who have been trying to smear his reputation. Nobody has done more to damage the reputation of Wes than he has done through his own actions. Nobody had to make up any stories, all they need to do is talk about their experiences with him and his reputation takes the hit it deserves.

The fact that a growing list of people have started to speak about their experiences is a sign not of a conspiracy to ruin them, but of something much simpler; it’s an attempt to warn people of what he has done, how he responds to people he hurts, and how he tries to control narratives to protect his image.

What people are responsible, according to him? Well, he apparently thinks this is “team Shaun” in action. Let me make something absolutely clear; I had nothing to do with the process to remove him from the PLN.  In fact, I did not know he was a member until I was informed that the process was already initiated to remove him. I did not initiate the complaints nor did I contribute when it was brought to my attention that it was going to happen. I knew about it because some of the people involved informed me, but I decided to keep my distance from the process.

Wes does not know who was responsible for him being removed from the PLN, but that does not stop him and his partners from casting blame and crying “abuse” towards the people he assumes it was. He may have some guesses as to who is responsible (I mean, all he has to do is remember who he abused, right?), but the fact is that this action was not a smear campaign by any “League of Evil Exes.” This was the result of a number of people, unknown to him, sharing their stories with the PLN, and the PLN taking appropriate action.

His pointing blame towards the people who have been abused by him, and calling them “evil,” is nothing more than an attempt to re-frame themselves as the victims; it’s a distraction.  Calling the people who Wes has emotionally abused, sexually assaulted, and manipulated (among other infractions) “evil” is hugely inappropriate at very least.

People have come out, bravely, to share their stories and they are being treated as the aggressors. Let me emphasize this; people who have had the strength of character to stand up against a man who abused, manipulated, and sexually assaulted them are being mocked, dismissed, and attacked publicly for daring to tell their stories–and not only by him! For a person who talks a lot about consent, ethics, and abuse, I find that highly problematic, disturbing, and horrifying.

Speaking only for myself, I wish I could put this all behind me more easily, but a year of actual smear campaigns against me, PTSD caused by the abuse leveled against me, and running into other people with similar experiences has not allowed it to die away. Wes and his family claim to want to be able to move on and not be bothered by others’ “misery and delusional hatred” of them, but those who commit abuse while claiming to want to move on are tragically missing the point.  When you hurt people, you don’t get to simply move on and put it behind you.

Wesley Fenza is not only manipulative and abusive, but when he is confronted with these facts he consistently turns the accusation around and paints himself as the victim. I’ve rarely heard him even directly address the accusations (in fact, when you directly accuse him of hurting you at that very moment, he has been known to ignore it and argue with you more), because he understands that a good offense is better than playing defense. Also, some of his friends and family have flatly denied that there is any reason to take the allegations seriously. The fact is, Wes is not universally abusive, so those who don’t receive it (at least, not often) get to be his choir.

speaking up [edited title]

[edited for clarity and out if respect for privacy]The people Wes has harmed [/edited] have been speaking up over the last year about his behavior, and will continue to do so until he actually takes some responsibility for his actions. Wes and his family can dismiss us, mock us, and ignore his deep flaws and crimes all they want, but we are not “planning attacks”.  To the contrary, we are responding to the toxic, abusive, and unconscionable behavior shown by Wes. Whereas I (for I can only represent myself) have been forthcoming about my mistakes, Wes has never acknowledged his own without blaming someone else for them or simply denying it.

Wes has cultivated credibility both locally and nationally. He likes attention. That he speaks at conferences and goes about the poly world publicly decrying the behaviors he often practices in his private life is hugely problematic for the people he has hurt, those he seeks to control, and the polyamorous community as a whole. And, to our partial relief, some of that community is listening now.

There are too many stories, too many people, and to much harm done for those of us who Wes has hurt to remain quiet. Even if I were to stop writing about this, others have their own stories to share. RabbitDarling has shared part of hers here (and elsewhere), previously (and she has more, if she decides to share it). I have written some things too. I have heard the stories of others, and if they decide to share, they will.

We are not delusional and we are not wrong. And we are not afraid to speak about what we know.


No doubt that Wes and his family will respond to this, as is their wont. He will invariably try to re-focus the attention on what we have done to hurt his family, which has become their childish “nu uh” narrative. In anticipation, allow me to say one last set of things.


I have been talking with some close friends over the last few days about whether to post this or not. We all know the type of response he will make. We all know that writing such things will not convince them, or anyone they are close to, of anything. I write such a thing knowing what kind of response we have gotten thus far, and that writing this will not likely change Wes’ behavior or his family from crying “we’re being attacked.”

But here’s the thing. Every night this last week, I have not been able to sleep well. Why? Because stepping out of the shadows, being in the same social space as Wes, is terrifying to me. Writing this was terrifying to me. Publishing it is, I believe, necessary, but terrifying. I’m traumatized. Not pretend traumatized, but actually terrified of his lack of scruples or concern for any meaningful self-reflection.

So, why am I speaking? Am I crazy? Am I delusional? Am I maliciously trying to ruin his reputation so that I can “win” (that’s their goal; to “win”)? No. I have had moments when I thought I might be seeing this wrong, but the more I have talked with other people hurt by him, the more I see the pattern of how he inflicts fear, destruction of self-esteem, and unhealthy self-doubt in people. He actually rationalizes his emotionally abusive behavior, in some cases, by saying that he treats people who he trusts and respects that way (they should be so lucky!).

nice, 'stache, bro
nice, ‘stache, bro

The process seems to be to treat some people who gets within his trust/respect sphere like an asshole, and anyone who does not object to being treated like shit? keep them.  If you object, then he argues with you, berates you, and only occasionally is nice to keep you guessing. It’s a bombardment upon self-worth he launches until either you turn out to be able to take some selfish mistreatment (or are equally willing to give it to the same targets), you submissively relent, or you are deposed from the court of Lord Wesselton and labeled as “terrible,” not worth his time, or “abusive” for daring to tell people what he did.

And also to treat the people he knows he won’t get away with that bullshit decently. You know, mostly.

Wes creates, within the people he repeatedly hurts, the fear that has two edges. If you say anything, you know he will respond with his rhetoric and effectively market himself as the victim. If you say nothing, then he can continue to paint whatever narrative he likes, knowing that if you later speak up then he’ll be able to call you “dishonest” for not saying anything sooner, “delusional” because what you are saying does not match the narrative he subsequently manipulated people around him to believe, and “abusive” because playing the victim allows him to turn the tables on those he hurts. No need to actually deny anything, because everyone’s too busy wondering if it’s true that Wes has been judged unfairly.

Arguing with him, when he’s being abusive in the way that many people have seen, is pointless and only seeks to deepen the hurt he’s causing while allowing him to paint his own victimhood and distance himself from addressing how he’s hurting someone. It’s sort of brilliant, is a terrifying way. Power, control, and manipulation at its sociopathic best.

The more I have become convinced that my experiences, feelings, and thoughts about Wes are not only valid, but shared by many others, the more I’m certain that this needs to be said publicly. And yet, I write this knowing I’ll receive more abuse, whining, and counter-narrative from him.

Why would I put myself through this, unless I thought that it was necessary? What do I have to gain by this? There are plenty of people who have hurt me, who I don’t like, and who I would not speak reverently of in private. Why stick my neck out here? Why take this risk? Why expose myself to the inevitable and childish responses?

Simple: he’ll keep doing it.

[images removed. It was wrong for me to include screenshots of private posts not directly relevant to Wes’ behavior]

[RabbitDarling has posted more of her side of the abusive, exploitive, and narrative-controlling aspects of the Fenzorselli home. She talks about things that I could not, and I appreciate her willingness to step forward. She has my full support.]

89 thoughts on “Wes Fenza, The Polyamory Leadership Network, and Spinning Tables

  1. Hi Shaun. I just wanted to state for your readers, and perhaps as a reminder for yourself, that I am not simply “Wes’ Wife” in this story. I was also your serious partner of 2.5 years. 1 year of that was spent cohabitating with you in the house I still share with Wes and Jessie. 1 year (at least) was spent enduring countless incidents of emotional and verbal abuse at YOUR hand. This is clearly not simply a selfless act of service to the community.

  2. As he is calling on Wes to do, Shaun has already publicly admitted his problematic behavior, apologized, and sought to make amends. More importantly, he has actually changed that behavior.

    Counter-acusing an abused person of abuse does not negate one person’s culpability. It is possible for more than one person to have done abusive things. They are both at fault. The problem here is that one person is contrite while the other continues to deny ever having done anything wrong, preferring to promulgate a consipiratorial counter-narrative instead.

    Moreover, that culpable party has the temerity to sell himself as a national expert on consent and communication. It is bad enough (but could be dismissed merely as delusional) if he himself merely claimed to represent the poly community. When other people, who have no knowledge of his hypocrisy, begin to think that he represents the larger poly community, the poly community gets pissed. So there’s your “League of Evil.”

    I suppose it’s possible that all of these people accusing Wes are just delusional, bitter exes, ex metamours, etc. But we’re supposed to be skeptics, no? Shouldn’t we apply Occam’s Razor here? Perhaps the common denominator is…the common denominator.

  3. I don’t understand how anyone can fall for these crocodile tears. Shaun himself in an earlier blog explained that a common tactic of abusers is to claim to be abused. I’ve never met Wes, to my knowledge. I have no idea what he’s done or not. But I do know that just the fact that Shaun is saying it, makes it suspect. I knew Shaun many many years ago. He admitted to me about a shocking act of physical abuse towards another person. In front of her, he was amazingly contrite, promised to spend the rest of his life making up for it. Privately, to me, when he realized that I had some concerns about that situation, he “explained” how the whole thing was actually her fault (by the way, it wasn’t). This is someone with a LONG history of physical abuse and manipulation. Even if he WERE right about the things he accuses Wes of (and again, I have no way of knowing, nor no reason to care), anyone who believes he is actually doing this out of some sort of fight for justice is sorely deluded.

  4. Thank you for exposing yourself to inevitable childish (and hurtful) responses by naming this sexual predator.

  5. “rachel”, I don’t know who you are. There are things I have done, earlier in my life, which I am ashamed of. I don’t know what you are referring to, but I have struggled with the effects of early trauma which I have been working to overcome for many years.

    I am not the same man I was many years ago, and I don’t know what any of this has to do with the culpability of Wes.

  6. Let me clarify, Gina. I apologize for the mistakes that I made that hurt you. When you say that I you endured “countless incidents of emotional and verbal abuse” at my hands, I’m sorry but that is, at very least, a gigantic embellishment.

    Unless you are referring to the fact that I repeatedly tried to talk to you about concerns I had about Wes’ behavior. Or that one time I said that Wes was abusive, and if you can’t see it you’re delusional (which, I admit, was not an acceptable thing to say).

    I will take responsibility for what i actually did, but a year+ of emotional and verbal abuse did not happen.

    Edit: if you felt that way, I was doing something wrong. I’m sorry for making you feel abused.

  7. I think it is important to register on behalf of survivors everywhere that you are not accountable for the actions one of your allies regrets. That someone speaks up for you or stands up on your behalf and is imperfect does not negate the severity or seriousness of what you have experienced. The message you should be receiving is: I believe you, what happened wasn’t your fault, and there are people who want to support you. I would also like to stress how important it is, perhaps especially in the poly community, for us to stop treatin accountability as punishment or poisonous. Our duty then, is to practice calling people to be accountable /well/. There aren’t a lot of models for that, and I think it’s important that if people have constructive feedback for Shaun about his model or choice so we may all improve, that be voiced here. It’s important for us to build these models cooperatively, and with our goals in mind. So I might ask that we shift our focus to concrete suggestions and discussion of how to call each other to accountability well, and what our expectations should be of someone accepting, rather than sloughing, accountability. Thinking of everyone on this difficult day. RD

  8. In my experience, where there’s a they said/they said situation, and one side shows their ability to apologize and try to make amends while the other consistently refuses to accept any culpability, it’s pretty clear where one should put one’s money in deciding who is telling a story closer to “the truth”.

    No one is innocent; no one has the entire burden of a situation going wrong. But when one person cops to their mistakes while the other continues to cry complete innocence and claim victimhood, it’s pretty unconvincing.

  9. If you had no interest in seeing Gina’s Facebook, maybe you should have told your friend that. Posting a screen cap of her status on your blog only assures that you WILL see her facebook status again and again,every time you see this page, which is contrary to your admission of disinterest.
    None of us named who we believed to be in a League of Evil Exes (a Scott Pilgrim reference, alluding to exes intruding on the lives of others). I did not name anyone in that group, so if you have not done anything to contribute to the PLN reports, then you have assumed inclusion in that group upon yourself. You have been on this path for a year, admitting to have hurt people, to have learned lessons, but when the voice of someone who felt wronged was heard, you once again shifted blame to your obsession with Wes rather than thinking of your actions that had nothing to do with him. Your actions at the previous two years of Poly Living are not Wes’ fault, your attitudes regarding condom use and relevant conversations regarding condoms have nothing to do with Wes, your behavior the night of Gina’s show is not because of Wes.
    In EVERY blog I can think of, you seemed to continuously allude to wrongs against you and the ignorance of others while trying to promote your own growth, development, and aspirations to move on. I have yet to see you write about taking a healthy look at yourself, without you also taking a moment to reflect on someone else. Change in yourself has to be for yourself to truly be progress, not to spite the changes you feel others will not make to learn from their mistakes.
    Wes has acknowledged times he felt he’d done wrong or was negligent, he tried to apologize to a number of people whose grievances distressed or even surprised him, some of them want nothing to do with him and may not have received those apologies because they were sheltered from any further communication from him. It is a human response to refelect upon the actions of others, and to retroactively feel extremely hurt or violated by those people. But when those grievances are fertilized by those who know how to exploit pain, who know how to maximize the deepest pain and experiences of themselves and others, then no acknowledgement, apology, or accountability from those who are accused will ever be enough.

  10. I remain committed to the fact that the tactic of focusing on Shaun’s past actions is a transparent and repugnant distractionary tactic. These responses are damaging and show absolute disregard for accountability. As a community, it’s important we take note of the strategies employed to discredit and malign those who have the courage to come forward and name their experiences. It is just further evidence in an effort to control and bully, rather than hear, respond, and change.

  11. Moreover, as one of those parties, allow me to assure the group: no apology was ever made. While I am sheltered from communication from the person in question, all communication from him is sent directly to my partner. There was no apology. No accountability was taken, and bullying and micro aggression continued for 3 months after my egress.

  12. RabbitDarling, this will go around in a circle, those who felt Shaun was abusive, manipulating, and violating of his partners’ consent will continue to question the credibility of his accusations that he himself suffered the same treatment. Those who feel Wes was inadequate in his efforts to repair or change any damage he’d done will continue to ignore HIS claims against Shaun. WES is not present here, HE is not here making comments that comply with your prediction of ” abuse, whining, and counter-narrative from him”.
    Furthermore, RabbitDarling, I was not talking about him apologizing to you. You told us that you would block our emails, YOU walled US off with the explicit instruction that any further effort to contact you would continue to violate your boundaries. We did not know that emails would go to your partner, so why then, would anyone even TRY to message you with an apology? All prior efforts to explain our confusion, actions, or regrets was only met with additional messages from you about how those communications were unwelcome. We thought you were filtering messages, we thought you were blocking messages, we thought you just wouldn’t read them if they were so intrusive, we thought you wouldn’t bother wasting your time responding to us if you never wanted to speak to us again. But YOU continued engaging while we tried to understand where your pain was coming from, and then YOU continued to repeatedly allude to US in your blog. After the WEEKS you had access to take photos YOU posted down from our sites, the task was finally set to me to do it. *I* failed to do so in a timely manner, ME, not WES. SO by all means, comment here, or post on your own blog what bullying and micro-aggression was conducted by WES in those months.

  13. I continue to be disappointed by how this dialogue proceeds. It makes sense to cut off contact with someone who has bullied you. In fact, it is the only action that makes sense.

    I am failing to see how alleged attempts at verbal or written apology (which by the accounts of the other women involve /also/ do not exist, quite the opposite) make up for actual sexual violation.

    So again, I ask: what does accoutability for sexual assault and violation look like, and how can we build safe communities in which when someone comes forward, publicly, to name their experiences, we can rebuild and support both the survivor and his/her/their assailant?

  14. I will add, that if the concern of the post is about accountability for Wes’ abuse of anyone, Why does Shaun use posts from Gina and I, why is he involving the non-abusive parties (especially when they essentially required someone else to follow us on our personal accounts and report back to him). It still stands that when asked to be accountable for his lax introduction of Gina, Shaun’s ex and a former writer on this blog, Shaun acknowledged her, first apologizing then claiming Gina was delusional. He claimed that he did not abuse her and deflected to once again to gaslighting Gina that she must be counting Shaun warning her of Wes’ manipulation as Shaun being abusive. This is a habitual pattern of Shaun’s, to be faced with a conflict about himself, then wonder why Wes was not also being blamed. He is NOT holding himself accountable, he is deflecting, which makes any claims he has against Wes less credible, it creates a demand on Wes to be accountable to an entire group as a whole rather than to the individuals who each have independent complaints against him. Shaun and RabbitDarling do not get to demand action from Wes on behalf of others and then claim that he didn’t do enough for those people. That demand becomes even more unreasonable when Wes does not feel he wronged Shaun and RD, so they in turn fight extra hard on behalf of the other people they believe to be victims.

  15. Jessie wrote:
    “Wes does not believe he wronged Shaun and RD.”

    Wes never seems to believe that he has wronged anyone. He’s written for this blog (posts that have now moved to his blog, I believe) about how the people who offend others are not responsible for that offense. It is the person who feels that they have been offended who must check their assumptions and/or confront their offender. Apparently, he also seems to think that people he has abused must check their assumptions and/or confront him personally. That is an incredibly entitled and (in my view) empathy-deficient position.

    When one is bullied (and I know whereof I speak, because Wes bullied me too), confronting the bully is not usually one’s first choice. When that bully is the kind of person who never seems to believe he’s done any wrong, to the point of enlisting his partners to publicly attack and attempt to discredit his victims, confronting the bully becomes impossible.

    “Wes has acknowledged times he felt he’d done wrong or was negligent, he tried to apologize to a number of people whose grievances distressed or even surprised him, some of them want nothing to do with him and may not have received those apologies because they were sheltered from any further communication from him.”

    The fact that some people take the extreme measure of making themselves completely inaccessible to Wes (and again, I am one such person) should tell him everything he needs to know about the impact of his actions. I honestly can’t believe that you’re trying to say that people who have felt so harassed and hurt by him that they have literally cut off all contact are somehow to blame for not making themselves available so Wes can eventually apologize to them. You understand that you are victim blaming, right?

    Do you also understand that the logic you are espousing here is a logic in which the ultimate arbiter of whether Wes has wronged someone or not is whether *Wes* feels he’s wronged that person? He doesn’t get to decide that. When someone tells you that you have wronged them–and especially when many people tell you, your partners, and anyone who will actually listen–your job is to *listen* to them, to try to see things from their perspective, and to consider whether, just maybe, they might have a point.

    Your job is not to question or challenge the validity of their claim, to gaslight, etc. Your job is not to look for any reason that they are misguided, disgruntled, or bitter, or to ascribe any motive to them that will absolve you of the responsibility of self-examination, change, and amends-making. You must assume that their motive is that they are in pain, and that you might have hurt them, whether you intended to or not, whether their reaction seems reasonable to you or not. If your first response is to try to convince them to examine their motivations and assumptions, you are doing it wrong.

    The last e-mail I received from Wes was so hateful and vitriolic, and ascribed to me such ill intent (which Wes had no evidence to support), that I blocked him for good. This was after a series of interactions in which he was, to be charitable, disproportionately contentious and which demonstrated a complete unwillingness to see things from another person’s perspective. When you genuinely believe that you are absolutely right, and when you also believe that radical honesty is the best path, this is predictable. True honesty requires all people involved in a communication to tell their truths and be heard. For that to happen, everyone has to understand that mutliple truths are possible.

    Wes’ modus operandi seems to be to assume that he is the arbiter of what is true and that anyone who disagrees with him is either ignorant or misguided (thus, they need to be convinced of the rightness of his way of thinking, and if they refuse to accept his truth, their arguments are simply dismissed). Evidence of this modus operandi exists on the pages of this blog, in his interactions with commenters and posters. It should come as no surprise, then, that when he has demonstrably wronged someone else (because they said so, which is the only burden of proof necessary), he does not seem capable of admitting that he could have actually done anything wrong. His response is to look for flaws in the other person’s logic, to ascribe nefarious motivations, etc. Meanwhile, the actual issue of the offense/abuse is never addressed.

    Wes owes a lot of people apologies, and they shouldn’t have to wait until *he* decides he’s hurt them and wants to apologize (again, this means everything is done on *his* terms–that’s not how it works). He should listen when they say he’s hurt them and not try to counter-spin the narrative into one in which he is the aggrieved party. When a group of people come forward to tell you that you have abused them, they have not abused you. They have done you a favor by showing you a part of yourself of which perhaps you were not aware. You should take that gift and do some self-examination, with humility and a willingness to consider that maybe you’re the one who needs to change.

    I think we all hope Wes will do that. Until then, we will no longer remain silent.

  16. Alex, that is quite a lot of message to respond to, especially considering you and I have had VERY little interpersonal interaction with each other for me to address my own perspective or witnessing. Wes HAS NOT enlisted his partners to defend him, I am here without having discussed my comments/presence with Wes. I am here independently of what Wes might have me say, and you never knew me well enough to know that I do NOT always agree with my partner, and that I do NOT always do what he wants. No matter how much some of the other people in this thread don’t like me, they would still probably give me that much credit. As for Gina, she was here to defend herself, as a human being actively involved in Shaun’s time living in our house, I fail to see how her enforcing her own personhood and relationships in this narrative has anything to do with Wes, but then, I know something you do not- I was loudest voice encouraging her to comment about her relationship with Shaun because labeling her simply as “Wes’ wife” is a gross understatement in this case.

    Regarding Wes’ apologies or acknowledgements, one I am aware of pertains to something that occurred in 2011, he discussed the matter with the offended partner when it was brought to his attention and it was not brought up again until Shaun moved out of our house almost exactly one year ago. The other occurrence I am aware of was brought to Wes in July by the partner of the offended woman he dated, Wes was mortified by the woman’s perception of their interaction and wrote his apology to the forthcoming partner. He acknowledged that his perception of their date may have been terribly misunderstood and did not deny her interpretation of the events that transpired. The household is well aware that an apology does not undo her pain, an apology doesn’t change or heal her experience, but beyond the email Wes sent to her partner, what more is expected for him to show his remorse? If this audience represented here on this blog and accompanying thread does not know about his remorse, the email he sent, or the changes he has made to try to assure the comfort of future partners from here on, then I cannot convince you and neither can he. None of you will ever believe anything different if that is the case, none of you will ever believe he believes he is accountable or has been held accountable without a more public demonstration. But even then, I believe you will continue to accuse him of speaking falsehoods and being a hypocrite rather than believing his recent commentary, posts, etc are a direct result of the lesson he has learned.

    My point is simply that in many circumstances we do not know we have hurt or offended someone, sometimes those occurrences cross boundaries that feel violating, so we cannot change behaviors we have not been informed cause damage. So yes, silence is damaging to BOTH parties in that case. There are two very different circumstances I believe you accuse me of victim blaming in, one is the situation with RabbitDarling, in which I explained why she wouldn’t have heard from him anyway. The second, I have explained above, assuming the partner who confronted him received Wes’ apology, it is then NOT Wes’ fault the directly upset party did not receive the apology at the discretion of her primary partner.

    When complaints are reported to an organization and the offenses are not detailed to the accused, then he cannot effectively change any or all behaviors because he does not know what he is accused of. When a group of people have varying grievances against one person, then the issues cannot be addressed as a group since the complaints might all be handled differently depending on the individual/offense. For example, changing his policy regarding ongoing consent throughout a date/activity or habitually asking if a consenting partner would like to change an activity is a very different area to approach than that of than you believing his communication with YOU is aggressive and the difference between him just being 1. honest and you didn’t like it, 2. an asshole versus 3. him actually being a bully.
    As for your interactions with Wes, once again, I was not witness to them, he is not here to tell me what you’re talking about or to let me judge web communications for myself. Based on my own calendar that must have been at least two years ago, and so now I just feel like you’re whining at me because I am here and he is not. You can call that victim blaming if that’s how you feel, but I’m going to risk being unsympathetic and say that you throwing your hand up in the air and saying “Yeah, me too!” with a vague accusation of him being a bully just sounds like when three year olds tell me “You’re mean!”
    I am here advocating for the changes I am aware of him making. None of you are exposed to Wes on a regular basis as of late so you would not be involved or included in his decisions to be attentive to changing his behavior. And since whoever has been communicating with all of you about him has been hanging around our Facebooks pretending to be our friends, maybe you want to consider how trustworthy your sources are and if communication is going both ways/what they are saying about you.

  17. Shaun, I sincerely thank you for not only removing our content, but also for mentioning the edit directly should people notice the change.

  18. For those whose would dispute that Wes has had any remorse over his actions, or who believe that he has not even considered changing his interactions with future prospective partners, he has blogged publicly about it here.
    If you don’t want him to get the “hits”, that’s up to you, the point is it’s right there, him acknowledging fault and accountability. Wes Fenza thinking twice about his actions, admitting he got something wrong. As I said in a previous comment, this doesn’t undo the woman’s pain, it doesn’t undo Wes’ mistake.

    So at this point, it does go back to RabbitDarling’s focus, her frustrated question “How do we account for accountability? How do we create a safe space where people don’t suffer with their pain for 9-48 months when they’re hurt? And how can assailants who have the capacity for change and regret re-establish trust and safety in the community on a public and private level? And for the assailants who are ‘unreachable’, how can we enact healthy, effective consequences for everyone to be safe?”

  19. So I read your link and it refers to one incident where he unknowingly pressed a woman sexually on one occasion. That’s a pretty long way away from what Shaun, Rabbitdrarling, and Alex are talking about. It also must be a pretty long way away from whatever got Wes removed from PLN, since that involved multiple accusations by multiple people.

    I’m only tangentially related to this actual incident, but I have a keen interest in consent and abuse of consent in subgroups Returning to the original point made in this article–Wes was removed from PLN because of accusations of abuse by multiple people and he is also accused of abuse by 3 people in this post, at least 2 of whom had nothing to do with the PLN situation.

    So it is clear that there are multiple accusations, serious and specific enough for people in authority, people who previously liked Wes, to take action. As far as I can see, this means one of three things is true.

    1. Wes is an abusive bully who uses charm and rhetoric to cloak his actions as long as he can. The accusations made against him are true and his refusal to apologize to the vast majority of those people confirms he is a deliberate predator.

    *If this is true, Wes absolutely should be shut out of leadership positions and indeed, removed from the community completely*

    2. Wes is a clumsy, inadvertently hurtful person who goes through life accidentally damaging people without realizing it. While he does not mean to be abusive, all of the people who have come forward with accusations of abuse are telling the truth about what happened. This fits well with the link Jessie provided–Wes ignores or misses signals, hurts people and doesn’t find out until months later what happened. This doesn’t quite explain why none of those hurt by Wes feel safe confronting him directly, since usually people can tell when someone is being hurtful without deliberate malice, and generally move to fix the problem.

    *If Wes is in fact so clumsy and inattentive as to repeatedly hurt people badly enough that they fear even explaining what happened, Wes absolutely should not be allowed to assume a leadership position.*

    3. Wes has never been abusive and there really is a league of evil exes, a group of people who hate Wes (even though he did nothing to engender that hate) and are deliberately out to destroy his standing in the community for revenge.

    *If this is true, then Wes is still the common denominator and I submit that the poly community cannot afford as a leader or spokesperson someone who continually makes such bad personal choices. One unstable, vindictive ex is perhaps understandable, but a gang? That has to indicate really horrible interpersonal skills on Wes’s part*

    So I could care less about all the carefully couched pseudo accusations flying about in the comments. I care about whether a group that represents me–PLN–is making good choices. From the evidence, I have to say that removing Wes is a very good choice.

  20. As a related party, Jessie, in regard to the so-called “apology” Wes sent, it does not exist as you were told. The victim DID see it and Wes did not apologize as much as blame the victim completely and deny any wrongdoing. The above link is filled with lies and is completely self-serving. (And this is obvious to anyone who reads it.) This is also ONE example of the many women who have come forward to talk about how Wes has hurt them. To be clear, it is NOT your job to answer for him, but if you feel you must do so, do not assume that his victims are sheltered or do not have good reason for their actions. To do so IS victim-blaming.

  21. Apologies for implying only women are speaking up about hurt experienced because of Wes, especially as there are several brave examples above of others who have spoken out PUBLICALLY.

  22. Publicly posting an account of a sexual assault one has committed is really *only* okay if you have made adequate amends to the victim, and the victim agrees to have their experience written about from your perspective. Neither of these was true in this case. The above-linked post is an appalling co-opting of another person’s traumatic experience, in order to make the perpetrator look better. (To say nothing of the lies and distortions it contains.)

    I have seen many “apologies” from Wes and they always deflect blame and responsibility. He parrots the words that a person is supposed to say, and then peppers the message with implications that the other person was also at fault, or that it was a complete accident. I have never once seen him acknowledge that he, personally, has deep flaws that he needs to work on improving, or express genuine sorrow for the pain he has caused other people. I have never seen any messaging from him, public or private, that did not seem primarily aimed at preening his own image and manipulating perceptions of himself.

  23. Jessie:

    Your characterization of my description of interactions I had with Wes as “whining,” and your ad hominem attack (comparing me to a three year old) both prove the point I’ve been making all along: no one in that household is listening to the people expressing grievances against them. Instead, you are minimizing other people’s experiences and expressions of the impact of those experiences; in my reading of the situation, this is a diversionary tactic, but I cannot say for certain if that is your intention. Only you know why you all have chosen this method of reckoning with what is quite clearly a long-overdue airing of grievances.

    I am not saying “me too!” two years after the fact. I said so at the time of the fact, and my saying so prompted Wes’ ire. At the time, I did not share my feelings publicly–beyond the circle of people directly involved–in part because Wes had many allies in my own polycule (most of whom no longer welcome them into their homes and lives, incidentally) and it was clear that they were not willing to hold him accountable, and in part because I had already learned that saying “ouch” to Wes would generally result in the kind of infantilizing condescention you so conveniently demonstrated toward me in your previous comment. It’s telling to see that same tactic employed by another member of the household.

    I also find it ironic that your first assumption is that Wes “was just being honest and [I] didn’t like it,” since it was when *I* decided to be honest about my interpretation of the situation that the full force of anger was finally directed at me. I’ve heard the “but I was just being honest” line before. It seems that in your world Wes’ “honesty” has the force of truth (hence your use of the phrase “just being honest,” as if we can’t possibly blame him for telling the objective truth), but as I’ve been trying to get you to consider, other people’s truths can be as legitimate as yours, and healthy interpersonal interaction is built on a foundation of intersubjectivity.

    I see no evidence that anyone in your household respects other people’s expressions of their truths. Instead, you become defensive, insult them, questions their motives, and generally do everything except take them seriously. You’ve demonstrated that multiple times in your comments here, which does not suggest a desire to change in the face of new information but rather indicates futher entrenchment.

    I’m not asking you to believe that I am (or once was) legitimately aggrieved. It is not your place to decide whether my grievance is timely or to determine if it is “properly” motivated. That you seem to want to do so further demonstrates your (and I use the collective you, since it is now obvious that the entire household employs the same rhetorical strategies) continuing unwillingness to *listen*. Don’t you dare try to tell me why I feel what I feel, or to minimize my experience. You have no right to do so, and I will not countenance it.

  24. I’m sorry, I have to say one more thing. I am in absolutely no way comparing my difficulties with Wes, and the feelings I’ve had regarding the experience of interacting with him and the people around him at the time, to the grave charges of sexual consent violation also being leveled against him. Obviously, these experiences are not comparable.

    What I am attempting to contribute to the conversation is corroboration of characterizations of Wes and his household’s reaction to people’s expression of disagreement with and/or grievance against them. That is something with which I have direct experience, and that is all I seek to add to the discussion.

  25. I have seen the emails Wes SENT to the partner of the woman who felt assaulted by Wes. His apology admitted that he did not realize she felt violated at the time but deferred to HER experience. He outright said he felt horrible his actions resulted in her feeling that way, and that nothing he could say can undo that experience. I was accounting for the statement that “no apology had been received” which I took to mean as “by anyone”. So when he steps forward with a blog admitting his lack of awareness regarding a partner’s consent, it still isn’t good enough, you don’t believe him and call him manipulative for it. As I said before, you are the group calling for change, when it is presented to you, you claim it as calculated and false, you already permanently hate Wes, nothing will change that.
    Once again, I take on RabbitDarling’s platform:
    If Wes has failed to make ammense to the particular people he HAS TRIED to apologize to/acknowledge, then what else can he do to respect their space and healing?
    To those who I consider irreparably incompatible with Wes, and who will not personally receive the apologies/actions they seek, if you insist on advocating for the pain of others who Wes does want to be accountable for, what then do YOU call for on their behalf?
    Continuing to call for accountability, for retribution, for restitution for ANYONE means you have to set your terms. Kicking him out of groups, orgs, and communities that will not detail his wrongdoings will not give him the information he needs to change, nor will it create an environment where that change can be monitored.

  26. “Kicking him out of groups, orgs, and communities that will not detail his wrongdoings will not give him the information he needs to change.”

    First, no private group or individual is obligated to “detail wrongdoings.” I point out again that Wes is not entitled to a leadership position or entry into any group, and this continued insistence that the PLN is automatically in the wrong for this choice is simply incorrect.

    Second, I don’t know about anyone else in this comment thread, but my point here is simply that PLN is obviously right in its belief that Wes is not fit for a leadership position and that is not something that requires “healing” or change.

    Third, if Wes really has absolutely no idea what he did that was so upsetting that multiple people came forward to complain about him, well, that complete lack of self-awareness is not the responsibility of others to fix. If he really wants to change but has no idea what he did or how, he should seek out a good therapist and detail his interactions with PLN and his last 3 or 4 exes. I’m sure the therapist will be able to figure out what he did and work with him.

    And as I said in my first post, someone who is so completely unaware of the way he affects people, someone who claims to be totally clueless about committing multiple consent violations, would be a terrible, terrible choice for a leadership position.

    Perhaps Wes and his girlfriends should start by admitting that rather than an sort of “vendetta” every single thing that has happened makes utterly clear Wes is not currently a viable candidate for leadership in the poly community.

  27. I will be publicly posting my experiences this week, once I feel a) that the written account is finished and adequately expresses what I feel and have experienced, and b) that it is being shared on my, rather than my former polycule’s terms.

    I ask for everyone’s support in this matter as I fully expect to be targeted, doxxed, maligned, and belittled.

    As for concrete suggestions? Maybe don’t tweet about #abuseinpoly when you’ve been notified you’ve been reported for #abuseinpoly. Continuing to present oneself as an authority figure on an issue in which you are clearly incompetent is an affront to survivors, and insensitive to the people you are well aware have come forward. And that’s just for starters. I’ll have an extensive list by Friday of this week. I will do all I can to protect identities and private communications, but if pushed for evidence, exact words, or transcripts, I feel the only way I can honor the survivors I love is to provide them.

    I cannot f*cking believe this.

  28. So after reading through the comments, I have some observations and questions for the group.

    First off Jessie, you said this:

    “It still stands that when asked to be accountable for his lax introduction of Gina, Shaun’s ex and a former writer on this blog, Shaun acknowledged her, first apologizing then claiming Gina was delusional.”

    Is that referring to when Shaun said this:

    “Unless you are referring to the fact that I repeatedly tried to talk to you about concerns I had about Wes’ behavior. Or that one time I said that Wes was abusive, and if you can’t see it you’re delusional (which, I admit, was not an acceptable thing to say).”

    If that is what you were referring to, Shaun did not accuse Gina of being delusional in this blog post or in this comment section. He was asking if Gina was referring to a previous time he had called her delusional, a time he appears to be sorry for. Now if you were referring to the fact that Shaun disagrees with the notion that the 1+ year of abuse didn’t happen, it doesn’t immediately follow that Shaun is accusing her of being delusional. There are plenty of other possible explanations beyond delusion for Gina believing in the 1+ year of abuse while it not being the case that said abuse occurred. Misunderstandings, or being manipulated into believing it, or legitimate anger clouding one’s memory are just a sort list of examples that would not qualify as delusion, and while I’m not maintaining that it must be one of those things or that Gina must be wrong, but nor can you say with certainty that Shaun must have been accusing Gina of delusion. Those that own the truth require no embellishment, so we must be careful to call things exactly what they are in the interest of fairness.

    There is a difference between bad behavior and abuse. We should not get comfortable with the word “abuse” and should such words be used I think it is fair that it first be established what happened that qualifies as abuse. Abuse shouldn’t be defined merely by the perception of the victim, lest someone feel something inane like chewing with your mouth open is abuse. This is NOT to say that the perpetrator gets to define what is an is not abusive, but we must be clear. I hear that Shaun was abusive, but I don’t know what he did that would qualify as abuse. Wes’s alleged crimes seem well documented in this thread alone.

    Certainly Wes should be given the same courtesy, though the evidence does seem to be against him. The fact that he was removed from the PLN tells us a number of things. For one, those complaining about his behavior do not seem to be in a position of authority to remove him from the PLN, therefore there must be a number of people who have complained about Wes’s behavior, and the stories must be detailed and numerous enough to warrant his removal. Given this fact, it seems reasonable to conclude that Wes’s actions in the past have qualified as abuse, as a group of people in leadership roles found the evidence quantitative and compelling enough to warrant serious action.

    There also seems to be some bait and switch going on. While I do wish to know for the sake of fairness whether Shaun’s previous actions qualify as abuse, this should be ENTIRELY irrelevant to whether Wes was abusive. Jessie has called into question the validity of the claims based upon the premise that Shaun has been abusive, but Shaun’s claims seem immaterial here, or at least unnecessary. There have been several WOMEN who have come forward, so regardless of Shaun’s character, again we must consider that extensive evidence exists for Wes having in the past been abusive, yet those defending Wes seem to try to counter the claims of his abuse with an ad hominem attack against a completely different person.

    To put it more succinctly, even if Shaun has been abusive, that does not diminish the overall claim made by numerous parties of Wes’s abuse, and those claims must be acknowledged. They so far have not been.

    Furthermore, one cannot demand a full account of the PLN abuse stories as a pre-requisite to responding to them.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume Wes has been abusive. A common tactic of an abuser is to intimidate their victims from speaking out. They rely on this tactic, that their victims know any attempt to speak against them will be met with further harassment and bullying. This is how they keep things quiet, which is why the privacy of the victims is so important here.

    Whether Wes can or cannot apologize for these instances should be an issue separate from whether the abuse happened. So far, the only evidence of there being an acknowledgment from Wes or his defenders that abuse happened was referenced in the one blog post where he admitted to crossing boundaries. A cursory look over this reveals some troubling things about this example. Wes only admits to crossing boundaries under the presumption that the person whose boundaries he crossed gave him mixed messages. While he apologizes, the real blame is put on the victim. This does not bode well for a defense of Wes not being the things he’s being accused of (abusive, manipulative, etc.). Even if everything happened exactly as the blog describes, this is at best an admission of a misunderstanding and not an example where he owned up to a serious error.

    So if anyone cares to respond to this comment of mine, I would ask the response directly address two things:

    1. A description of what Shaun did to Gina and\or other people in that household that qualifies him as an abuser.
    2. A definitive stance on whether abuse occurred on Wes’s part, and if that stance is that no abuse happened, an explanation for how this can be the case with multiple witnesses seemingly from various groups not directly affiliated with one another claiming the contrary.

    If anyone would like to respond to this comment with more than those two things, that is of course perfectly acceptable, but again I would ask that it at least directly address those two points. Thank you.

  29. Shaun, unrelated to the dialogue going on here about the validity of the claims against Wes — as a survivor of assault, I err on the side of believing claims like these unless I have a reason to doubt them — I just want to say that I appreciate both your writing this and your willingness to acknowledge and try to learn from your own mistakes. I know that that opens you up to attacks from people who aren’t willing to respond in kind. As someone close to one of the women involved and as someone who would like for Wes to stop hurting people, thank you.

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