Fort Refuge - Abuse Survivors Chat and Forums FAQ

Here you can find answers to questions about how the board works. Use the links or search box below to find your way around.

Gaining Access to Chatrooms

How do I get into Chat?

To use our chatrooms, you need to register and make a few posts. The reason behind this is not to force you to use forums. Our members are free to use or not use any of the features the site offers, such as chat, forums, library, private messages, playroom, social groups, etc. However, we can't open access to instant interactions (such as chat) without first confirming that the new member is more or less safe. Of course, an intro post on forums isn't enough to guarantee anyone's safety, but it's sufficient to see that the new user is human (not a program), is not an obvious spammer, and hopefully can follow our guidelines. We've had new users start with 'buy luxury watches', 'cheap viagra', or stuff we can't even quote here. So, instead of allowing every new user straight into our chatrooms, we screen their first few posts, and then approve their account. Once you start posting on forums, your account will be approved within 24 hours, and you'll be able to join chat by simply clicking on "Chat" link in the Navigation Bar.

Technical Requirements

What are the System Requirements to use Chat?

You need to use a web browser that is running a current version of Java. Most commonly used browsers such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, and FireFox, do support it. You can get the latest Java update for your browser here.

Mobile Access:

Alternatively, you can access chat via a mobile device, such as smartphone or tablet. To switch rooms on a mobile device you need to use keyboard shortcuts - because mobile devices do not offer the side menu where you can chose the room you want to join. Here are the shortcuts for all the available rooms:

/join "1 - Light Chitchat"
/join "2 - Serious Topics"
/join "3 - DID Issues"
/join "4 - Self Inflictions"
/join "5 - Adult Topics (18+)"
/join "6 - Got Keys Group"
/join "7 - DID Youth Group"

Using the Chatrooms

How do I chat?

Once you register and your account is approved by a moderator, you can get into our chatrooms by clicking on the "Chat" link in the Navigation Bar. That link takes you to the first room, Light Chitchat. The chat box is divided into three sections: chat window that displays the current discussion (consisting of messages that members type in), box where you type in your responses (on the bottom), and a list of members currently in the room (on the right). When someone enters a room, it's considered good manners to exchange 'hello's: just type a 'hello' in the box on the bottom and press enter - this would add your entry to the discussion, displaying it to everyone in the room. They would respond by typing a 'hello to you too' in their boxes and hitting enter - this would add their response to the discussion, displaying it to everyone in the room, including you. This is how the chat works.

If you entered the Chat, but the only name on the right is yours - the room is empty. You can stay in it, waiting for someone to join you, or you can roam (move) to another room that has people in it. The third link on top of the chat box says "Roam". If you click on it, it allows you to see all available rooms. Each room has the number of members in it in the brackets next to its name. To roam to a room, double-click on its name.

Choosing the Right Room

What are all these different rooms for?

We offer seven rooms so that members don't have to interrupt each other while talking, and so that they can anticipate which topic is being discussed and chose to either join or avoid it. For example, adults can discuss their struggles with sexuality in Adults room without having to worry about a minor entering the room and bumping into their explicit conversation. For another example, someone uncomfortable with SI discussions can simply avoid SI room to not be exposed to this topic. Using appropriate room shows respect to our community.

Light Chitchat is a room where we socialize. Spoilers required. Heavy topics need to be taken to another room. This is a stress-free room to unwind and have fun or simply a calm non-triggering conversation.

Serious Topics is for anything related to abuse or just your current struggles with life in general. Please practice self-care if the conversation is disturbing to you.

DID Issues is for discussions related to DID/MPD and for those who are feeling "switchy". If you're stable and simply want to socialize - please use Lobby instead.

Self Inflictions is for discussions related to Self-Injury, Eating Disorders, and Substance Abuse. Mentioning urges is OK, threatening to SI is not. Also, please be respectful of your fellow forters by avoiding graphic descriptions of SI. Everyone in this room struggles with it; do not trigger people who are trying to support you.

Adult Room is for adult topics such as sex (as relevant to abuse), and conversations can be explicit. By entering this room you state that you're over 18 years old.

Got Keys Group is where hosted chats are held. Room is only open to members who have access to Got Keys Group; no password necessary, the room knows if you have access or not. This room is for those over 13yo, no youth allowed. If the room is not being used for a hosted chat - feel free to use it as an extra room or for topics not applicable in all the existent rooms, such as religion.

DID Youth Group is where Youth Chat is held. Room can also be used by DID youth to talk in private. This room is for youth under 13yo, no adults are allowed except for Mods. No password necessary, the room knows if you have access or not.


What is p2p?

P2P stands for Peer To Peer communication, i.e. - private messages only visible to you and the person you're communicating with, not the entire room. The option is only available to members who have keys. To p2p someone, double-click on their name: a small window will open with your private conversation.

There are a few rules regarding the use of p2p:

  • Ask for permission to p2p someone first. Meaning, type into the open room something like "hey username, can I p2p you for a second?", and only p2p them if they responded in affirmative. It is impolite to do otherwise. The only exception is p2p'ing moderators to report a problem.
  • Do not overuse p2p: it's distracting to the member you're talking to, and disrespectful towards the rest of the room. If you want to have a conversation with someone separate from the room you're in - move to an empty room.
  • Do not use p2p during hosted chats.
  • You still have to follow Fort Refuge guidelines, even though the conversation is private. Transcripts are still visible to administrators, and you can get banned just the same, whether you violate guidelines in open room or in p2p.

Ignore Feature

How do I block out annoying/disturbing messages?

Our chatrooms are generally safe, but you might bump into an unpleasant person at some point. There's a "Get a Mod" link on top of the Chat page, which allows you to alert moderators to the issue, so that they can either come into chat and resolve the problem at the spot, or review transcripts and take appropriate action (if necessary) later on.

While you're waiting for mods to take care of this, right-click on the name of the trouble-maker and select "Ignore". Any message sent by that person will not be displayed on your screen. They will not know you ignored them unless you tell them so, and you can always un-ignore them later.

Other Helpful Tips

Getting a Moderator

Our chat is generally safe, we can count emergencies on our fingers. But if you happen to be so unlucky as to encounter one - you can quickly get a moderator. On top of the box where you type there's a round blue button with a question mark. Press it. It will open a new window where you can type up a quick message explaining what the problem is. If there's a moderator online - they'll take care of the problem in no time. If everyone is offline at the moment (for example, at 3AM) - they'll review the logs and take appropriate action when they get back online. Meanwhile you can practice self-care by ignoring the troublemaker, leaving the room, or clearing your screen.

Finding the Guidelines

On top right corner of the chat window there's a Fort logo - an image of a sandcastle with a blue flag. If you click on it - a new window will open, with our guidelines. You can use it for reference, if you're not sure what exactly the rules are.

Status Message

By default you're displayed as active and online. If you're stepping away from chat without logging out - it's a good practice to set a status message, so that other members would know you're away. You can do so by selecting a status that fits best from a dropdown menu on top right corner of the chat window, under the Fort logo.

Colored Font

When room gets busy, it can be hard to differentiate who said what. Many of our members set their text to display in a different color, so it's visually clear that an entry was made by them and not someone else. First button above the box where you type gives you this option.


You can insert smilies into your chat responses by clicking on the yellow smiley face (fourth button above the box where you type) and selecting the smiley you like from the pop up window. If you like to often use the same smiley, you might want to memorize its shortcut. For example, typing "::pg" displays a penguin with a jumprope.

Search FAQ

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