Update January 19, 2023
When we published this website in June 2020, we did so with the following intentions:
- Protect others by stopping Warren Ellis from continuing the pattern of behaviors we described.
- Provide a place for targets of Warren Ellis to support each other while we process what happened to us.
- Make it easier for people to recognize this type of abuse and encourage the dismantling of systems that allow it to thrive.
We also said we were open to mediated transformative justice with Warren Ellis, and listed four actions we would like to see from him as part of that process:
- Acknowledge his behavior in its entirety
- Acknowledge his pattern of harmful conduct
- Acknowledge that he has callously hurt people
- Contribute to transformative work to dismantle the systems which allowed this to go on
We saw valuable progress on all three of our intentions, but, to the best of our knowledge, Warren Ellis took none of the steps we hoped he would. A mediated accountability process with Warren Ellis is not possible at present, and we do not anticipate our involvement in any progress he might make in the future.
ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY PROCESS
After Warren Ellis made contact with us in June 2021, SMOU-TJ (the group working on transformative justice with Ellis) approached community accountability with a sense of unity, and of being on the same side with him to work on goals of accountability, healing, and effecting wide-reaching positive change. We found an experienced facilitator who tried to help us communicate with Ellis. All of our exchanges with Ellis happened through this facilitator. The process is necessarily slow in order to offer all parties time for emotional regulation in communicating. We spent months carefully drafting emails to present our goals and to ascertain his.
As a good-faith gesture, we agreed to Ellis’s request to publish an update reiterating our position that he and those he works with should not be harassed or canceled. While we made clear in that update that only tentative contact had been established, it was perceived by many that accountability work had begun.
With the guidance of our facilitator, we asked Ellis to take the steps* necessary for community accountability work to begin. During the process, as far as was communicated with us, Warren Ellis did not take these steps. Despite numerous discussions and hours of writing, working with Ellis remained contentious; he and our group were unable to achieve community together. Our facilitator concluded that a community accountability process with Warren Ellis is impossible under current conditions, and we agreed. In October of 2022, in a conversation with Ellis which was conveyed to us with Ellis's consent and approval, our facilitator discussed this conclusion and our group’s intention to move on from working with him.
*Read more about what a community accountability process like the one we wanted to undertake could look like.
WHAT WE FEEL GOOD ABOUT
While it is undeniably disappointing that, after nearly three years of our conscientious labor, Warren Ellis did not take the opportunity we offered, there is a lot to celebrate here. We have raised industry and public awareness of coercive control, particularly in situations of power imbalances. We are reasonably confident that we have stopped Warren Ellis from continuing his harmful patterns on a large scale. Our website and process are now used as blueprints for other groups coming forward. Many of us were able to begin our own healing processes as a direct result of compiling and discussing our experiences, and of other intensive work we did amongst ourselves. These achievements represent progress for all three of our original intentions.
We hope Warren Ellis will directly acknowledge the harm he inflicted. We continue to hope that Ellis will use the privilege of his high-visibility position to effect sweeping positive change by working with creators and the companies that employ them to foster a safer industry. We also hope this website continues to help identify and stop harm.
Update January 31, 2022
A tremendous amount of progress and process has been underway. We have fielded questions and requests from various groups and individuals and so, as part of this update, we want to share what we are working on and how people in different roles might choose to participate.
The path of So Many of Us:
- Today, SMOU’s active membership is significantly smaller than the original group of 60+ people who drove the publication of somanyofus.com. We celebrate those who have found peace in disengagement and consider it a win that many have moved forward in their healing. The group working on transformative justice with Warren Ellis will be referred to as SMOU-TJ. All members, past and present, are invited to engage in planning, support, and decision-making at their preferred level of participation.
- We continue making progress in a guided transformative justice process: First, we found an extraordinary facilitator who has helped us to understand our options and clarify our goals. Second, we undertook internal processes to define and practice accountability, flexibility, and democracy within our group. Third, in a facilitator-led survey, SMOU-TJ identified fidelity (“the decision is in line with our values”) and unity (“the process of decision-making does not tear us apart, but brings us together”) as our two priority factors for decision-making. Our forward motion may be slow, but it is intentional.
- SMOU-TJ entered into a mediated conversation with Warren Ellis in August 2021. It has taken a great deal of effort and foundational work in order for us to begin communicating effectively with Ellis. We acknowledge this slow, challenging process and also acknowledge that it is simply too early to report where it is heading or where it may end up. We would like to emphasize that Warren Ellis has the option of working on healing and recovery independently, and this work is necessary whether or not he continues to work with us.
- Here is the clarity we can offer: our goal is to transform harm, not "cancel" Warren Ellis (or anyone else). We cannot and will not sign off on his moral progress. We decline to be the authority on who is allowed to work in what context. We reaffirm our support for the right of creators to be paid for their work, as well as the right of publishers, creatives, and others to determine who they work with.
Opportunities for supporters, friends, and peers of both SMOU and Warren Ellis:
- Please keep your engagement respectful. Both parties have experienced undue harassment. Please do not harass Warren Ellis. Please do not harass his friends and collaborators. Please do not harass SMOU. We understand the difficult feelings like frustration or anger that can surround this topic, but trolling does not serve to reduce harm, nor does it move the conversation forward.
- Structures for accountability within industry are necessary and must come from within the industry itself. Industry leaders ought to develop, apply, and maintain systems to protect and empower vulnerable groups. Specific systems we’d like to see dismantled include: the “protected” status of celebrities, the limited public understanding of both abuse and consent, the way irony can be used as a shield, and the implementation of enforced and toxic hierarchies. Read more about these systems here.
- Please keep engaging with the topic of accountability in general. We are heartened every time we see someone insist that an organization address issues surrounding abuse by the people they hire. Keep supporting transparency. Similarly, we are glad to see people discussing how to recognise patterns of abusive behavior, including adult grooming, abuse of power, and consent violation. Knowing about these types of abuse is the first step to being able to recognise it and address it.
- We ask and encourage those close to Warren Ellis, as well as those willing to support him in his efforts towards accountability, to reach out directly to our facilitator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update June 24, 2021
Author Warren Ellis reached out to this collective for the first time today. We will update this site when appropriate as we attempt to begin a transformative justice journey. For full transparency, (with permission) we've included his message below.
Update June 23, 2021
When we published SoManyOfUs.com on July 13, 2020, we expressly did not want to “cancel” author Warren Ellis. Rather, we shared constructive ways to address the all-too-common issue of powerful men's abusive behavior. We challenged people to rethink past actions and to consider how—and why—they may have facilitated harmful behaviors and environments. We called for openness, accountability, and growth, extending an offer of working with Ellis on some form of transformative justice.
Since his public statement a year ago, to the knowledge of these authors, Ellis has still not taken direct responsibility for his destructive behavior nor attempted to tackle the circumstances that allow such behavior to go on unchecked both on and offline.
During the past year, we were comforted by an outpouring of encouragement while also heartbroken to be contacted by more targets of Ellis and of other men using similar patterns to abuse power. Today, as Ellis returns to comics without making amends to anyone involved in SoManyOfUs.com or accepting the ramifications of his actions, the renewal of ardent public support alongside calls for accountability is reassuring.
We reaffirm our call for Warren Ellis to earn the opportunity to become the man so many people believed him to be.
Update December 2020
With Ellis's announcement of an imminent return to the public sphere, we have fielded questions about whether he has approached the people who contributed to this website. To the best of our knowledge, he has not contacted any of us since the site's publication in July 2020.