Fort Refuge - Abuse Survivors Support Group

What we offer

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Fort is an online platform for abuse survivors to talk to each other anonymously about the trauma we've been through, the aftermath it left us with, and our coping and recovery from both. Membership is free, does not expire, and is offered to anyone who is legally over 16yo, believes they were abused, and agrees to follow our community guidelines. Forum posts, chat logs, user profiles, etc are private, do not come up on Google, and are visible to Fort members only. Aside from member-only areas we have plenty of interactive resources open to everyone, that don't require registration. The menu below lists what's available to you at Fort, whether you're a guest or a registered member.

What's available:

Public Forum
Aka message board: a place where you can post a message and others can see it and respond. Open to everyone, survivor or not. No registration required, feel free to use it, but please keep in mind that it's a peer group, not a crisis hotline (e.g. a topic like "Help, my sister-in-law is dating a child molester!" could be closed with a link to child protective services).

Public forum is good for three types of situations. First, when you just want input on a specific topic, not ongoing interaction with a support group. Second, when you aren't allowed to register: i.e. if you're under 16yo or have never been abused but are concerned about a loved one. Third, when you do have an account but don't want your Fort friends to know it's you who is posting this. It might sound silly, but even on an anonymous site people sometimes want even more anonymity, so this is an option for you to post as a guest, without the post being linked to your account.

No privacy, public forum is open to whole wide world, so be careful about posting details that could be personally identifying. There's a slight delay till your post becomes visible, just an anti-spam/troll measure. Since the forum is anonymous and we have no way to contact you, posts that clash with Fort guidelines or are offtopic simply get deleted, and IP addresses that such posts repeatedly come from get blocked from accessing Fort.

Go to Public Forum

Private Forums and Chatrooms
Open to members only. Forums for any abuse-related topic imaginable, seven chatrooms, three weekly hosted chats, journals, social groups, etc.

Abuse and its aftermath can be terribly isolating and overwhelming, so talking anonymously to other survivors who are going through the same thing can be of enormous help. Collecting your thoughts and writing them down helps you make sense of what happened and what you can do about it now. Reading about how others deal with the same issues you have can provide invaluable insight and inspiration, which you can't get from therapy or from family and friends. We're all at different stages of recovery, seeing others move forward with their lives helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Group discussions also offer endless topics to ponder, which promotes personal growth. It's also a great way to practice social skills: all we do here is interact with each other in a safe protected environment, so you can work on social anxiety, shyness, embarrassment, boundaries, conflict resolution, and making friends. It's not as risky and scary as in 3D. Finally, it's a place to hang out with people who get it, where nobody will make rape jokes, attack you out of nowhere, promote drugs, or start pointless arguments with you. Fort is open 24/7, there's plenty of us here, we come from all continents and time zones, so you're likely to find company at any hour.

Since it's a peer group, consisting of other survivors just like you, it's crucial to remember that what you hear on site is just random opinions of other people, worth as much as your own, and they do not substitute for professional help. Relying on advice of anonymous strangers online (of various levels of experience, intelligence, and mental health) often backfires. Also, since everyone on site is a peer abuse survivor, nobody is obligated to provide support to anyone. It's a rare thing that one is unable to find support at Fort, i.e. none of our members care to contribute anything to the topic you raised - but it's possible, and if it does happen, you have to remember that nobody owes you attention, response, or the input you hoped for, just like you don't owe it to others. Participation is voluntary.

See if Fort would be a good match for you

Aside from forums and chat for abuse survivors, we're maintaining and constantly expanding a large collection of various resources that are helpful to us and that we imagine might be helpful and interesting to you too, like helpful links, chatlines, psych quizzes, documentary films and books about abuse and mental health, or various writings on the subject, both by survivors and by mental health professionals. Since none of these violate our privacy, we see no reason to keep them to ourselves, hidden from everyone. You're welcome to use these resources, and add to them.
Crisis resources over a hundred of links and numbers of various organizations that provide professional help for issues that abuse survivors often struggle with: emergency numbers, suicide chatlines, domestic violence shelters, rape hotlines, therapist directories, numbers of Child Protective Services, etc. Organized by country for easy navigation.
Fort Library over a hundred of pages written by Fort members and visitors (including mental health professionals) on a variety of topics relevant to abuse and its aftermath: self-help articles, survivor memoirs, tips and tricks on practicalities of life, etc.
Quizzes No registration required, results are displayed to you instantly, and your answers are not recorded. All of the quizzes on Fort were developed by mental health professionals, but are provided here for educational purposes only. If you're concerned about your mental health, please seek advice of a qualified professional.
Documentary Films This is a new but promising and quickly growing project at Fort - collection of full-length documentaries on abuse and its aftermath. You can watch them right here at Fort, and suggest additions. We don't own these films, this is just shortcuts to Youtube, all in one place, organized by topic, for easier reference. Self-understood that the content may be triggery.
Bookstore We like to read, and there are many great books out there, some of which not many people heard of. Fort bookstore is a list of books our members found interesting and relevant to the topic of abuse and its aftermath - some are classics, others are fairly controversial. Each comes with a picture, a short descriptions, and a link to buy it on Amazon. Feel free to suggest a book, but please don't spam us with marketing offtopic ones.
Our Voices
Breaking the silence and speaking up about what happened and how we feel about it is a major part of abuse recovery. We mostly do it through forums (because these issues are very sensitive), but there are things we like to share with the wider audience too, like our art, poetry, memoirs, etc.
Tell Your Story The place where you can break the silence and speak about how abuse affected you: it can be a memoir, a list of helpful tips you've discovered for PTSD, a letter to your perp, or anything else you want to share with other survivors and the world in general.
Survivors' Art Pictures speak louder than words sometimes, so feel free to browse our art or add yours. All of it was done by abuse survivors, most by members of Fort Refuge. We didn't include extra graphic and triggery content on this page, but we have a social group on forums where you can post it as well.
Survivors' Poetry Most of our poetry is on forums just because it's a sensitive thing, but we have a decent size page in library too. There's a link to add your poem to the collection too, no registration necessary.
Memorial Wall The place where you can post various abuse-related anniversaries, such as obituaries of children who died through abuse, birthdays of people who contributed to the cause, international awareness days, etc. Abuse is not a theoretical concept, it costs lives, and seeing pictures and stories of real people who were affected by it on today's date makes it a lot more personal. Please add to the project whether you're a guest or a member.
Grounding and Distractions
Abuse is a hard topic to focus on; sometimes we need to distract, ground, calm down. Here are some safe games you can play, relaxation mp3's and videos, and a cookbook of easy recipes to fix if you're hungry.
Calm Room Abuse often causes PTSD and anxiety, so it's crucial for survivors to have a handy resource of grounding/relaxing/calming materials like nature videos and sounds, guided imagery, relaxation, meditation, etc. Our page has dozens of files you can playback here on Fort, feel free to bookmark it to use when you're triggered or struggling with insomnia.
Playroom It seems really helpful to abuse survivors to have an easily available and safe distraction from hard/triggery topics. Tetris, for instance, has been shown to lessen PTSD and flashbacks. Aside from Tetris we have a few dozen of jigsaws, physics games, nerdy puzzles, etc that you can play right here on Fort and that have no ads or triggery content, and a few links to other sites with cool distractions.
Draw-A-Doodle Art is a great thing for abuse survivors: helps you express your feelings when you're at a loss for words, offers a calming distraction when you're struggling with self-harming urges, and overall is just a cool hobby. We offer four doodling apps, from a silly kaleidoscope to a semi-professional photo editor, plus a few ideas to spark your creativity.
Cookbook It might sound surprising, but food is an issue for many abuse survivors: when you're depressed it can be hard to care for yourself, when you're anxious/dissociated it can be overwhelming and hard to come up with ideas on what to eat (or even to plain remember to do it), and if the abuse you went through involved food (for example, neglect in childhood or human trafficking) - eating and cooking can be very triggery. Our cookbook only includes recipes that don't take a lot of time or effort, are easy to fix, healthy (aside from a few desserts :P ), and come with simple instructions (no more than three steps) and pictures. Feel free to add to the collection too, cookbook is a work in progress at the moment.

'Tis the sharpness of our mind that gives the edge to our pains and pleasures.
~ Michel de Montaigne
This page was last updated on December 17th, 2015
© 2008-2016 Fort Refuge. Please don't reproduce without permission.