MOVING FORWARD

King County prosecutors have chosen not to press charges against Francis. After disappearing from social media, Francis reactivated his accounts Friday July 6. When we reached out to Francis for a follow-up interview, he declined to provide further comment. As the women involved with Francis move past this chain of events, they are finding light collectively—from each other.

One woman who has been unapologetically outspoken about her alleged abuse and trauma is Stormie Somers. Somers, who already detailed her story in a lengthy video, has created a group, Women Against Sexual Predators (WASP), to help victims of violence and trauma. They plan to offer information, resources, guidance and help to those who are seeking it.

She said she chose the name WASP in hopes of giving the “W” tattoo many of the women involved with Francis have gotten a new meaning. She hopes to make WASP a nonprofit organization to help others on a greater scale, recently launching a GoFundMe page to raise $1,000 to gain nonprofit status and obtain a business license. They have currently raised $335.

“I feel like because of the severity of my trauma, that it is my duty as a woman,” she says. “If I can save somebody’s daughter, sister, mother, father, aunt, uncle—if I can save somebody from being a victim from any of this, I would like to educate the world on what that means. I grew up in trauma. I didn’t know any differently; I just thought this was a normal thing. And that is not normal. I think it’s very important to educate children on what consent is, what is not appropriate and what is OK.”

“Many of the women coming forward are using phrases such as ‘what happened to me isn’t as bad as the others,’” says Emily After, who also had a relationship with Francis and has been serving as an advocate for other women affected. “We have to remind ourselves that we are still valid, abuse is abuse and just because some of the stories being released may sound ‘worse’ than what happened to us, it doesn’t make what happened to us right.

“Minimizing your own experience is unbelievably common in victims of intimate partner abuse and the public nature of these cases is perpetuating that,” After continues. “It can be hard to come to terms with accepting our own personal suffering and easy to make comparison to others, but we need to remind ourselves that all of our stories are valid, and we implore anyone who may be feeling this way to come forward for support.”

About the need for an organization such as WASP and the rising statistics of violence toward women, Somers says: “It’s bigger than me. And it’s bigger than Wil. Seeing that there were so many other women affected by this was heartbreaking for me. But at the same time, I felt this great sense of relief.

“It’s shitty to say this, but I felt like I wasn’t alone for once. Like, no one could take my truth away from me.”

In an earlier version of this story a handwritten apology was incorrectly attributed to a victim who came out against Francis in October. That victim never recanted her statement and the image has been removed. 

Additional reporting by Jason Pettigrew.  

If you are in an abusive situation, contact RAINN, the National Sexual Assault Line at 1-800-656-4673. Women Against Sexual Predators can be contacted at [email protected]