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.


How do I join Fort Refuge community?

Members of our community enjoy many more features than Guests. They are able to chat, post on forums and read posts made by others, create their profile page and communicate with other members via personal messages, join (and create) social groups, participate in weekly hosted chats, etc.

Becoming a member is free and easy: click on the 'Register' link near the top of the page. There will be two screens: first will ask you for your date of birth (since we need to ensure you're over 16yo as per our guidelines); second will ask you to choose a user name and password, enter a valid email address, and agree to abide by our guidelines. It will also ask you to set your timezone and chose whether you'd like to receive emails from administrators - both are optional, though helpful. Note that your date of birth and email address are treated as private information and will not be displayed to other members unless you chose to do so.

Once you submit this information, an automatic email will be sent to your email address with a link you need to click to complete your registration. You will then be able to view forums and start posting.

Your first few posts will be slightly delayed - they are screened by a moderator to ensure you're not a spammer or a troll. Within 24hrs from the time you start posting, your account will be upgraded, your posts will appear on forums instantly, and you'll be able to chat.

Your Profile

What is the Profile Page?

Profile Page is the quickest way to look up a particular member and/or contact them. Every member has a profile page. You can locate it by clicking on a member's name anywhere on Forums. This page includes their statistics, a way to contact them, and any other information they would like to share with you. You can also view your own profile by clicking on your username. If you're tech savvy, you can go straight to a profile if you know the username of the member by typing in the following into your web browser:<username of the member>

What's on it?

On the left you can see their profile picture, a link to send them a PM, a link to see all of their posts and threads, the date they joined Fort, their current activity, avatar, link to their website (if any), list of their friends, list of the Social Groups they participate in, list of the Private Folders and Hosted Chats they are a member of, their Awards, Achievements, and Recent Visitors to their Profile Page. Under "About Me" tab you can find personal information they'd like to share with other members such as their Biography, Interests, or Occupation. Under "Friends" tab you can see a full list of their friends.

So it's like FaceBook?

No, it is not. Communication between members happens mostly in Forum Folders, not in Profile Pages. If you make an interesting post, members might click on your name to check your Profile, to see who you are. Your friends might occasionally drop you a visitor message. Otherwise, nobody looks at your profile. Leaving visitor messages to yourself is pointless, as most members will never see those. If you want to communicate - pick a Forum folder and make a post.

What are Visitor Messages?

Visitor messages are messages posted on member profile pages. To post a message, click on the 'Visitor messages' tab, and use the form at the top of the section. You will only be able to use certain formatting in these messages, as described underneath the edit box. This message will be viewable by all visitors to this profile. To communicate privately with a member, send a Private Message instead. Visitor messages can be edited or deleted by moderators or the member who owns the profile. If you see a visitor message that is not appropriate, you can alert the moderators by clicking on the 'Report' link. The 'View Conversation' link allows you to view all visitor messages between the member and the owner of the profile.

Can I customize my Profile Page?

Yes! You may edit the design and styling of your profile page via the 'Customize Profile' section within the Settings. You can adjust the color scheme, background, fonts, borders and layout of elements on the page. If you don't like what you've created, you can always modify it again or revert to default.

Your Inbox

How do I send a PM (Private Message)?

Private messages work a little like email, but are limited to members of Fort Refuge. You may send a private message to another member by clicking the 'Send A Private Message' link in the private messaging section of your Settings Page, by clicking the 'Send a Private Message' link in the drop down menu that appears in a member's posts when you click on their username, or by clicking on "Send Private Message" link on their Profile Page.

You can include BB code, smilies and images in private messages that you send, CC the message to a few recepients at once (via typing their names separated by comma in the "To:" field (e.g. "To: member1, member2, member3"), and/or save a copy in your 'Sent Items' folder.

Whenever you read a message, you will have the option to reply or forward it to another member of Fort. You may also forward that message to multiple members on your contact list.

How do I organize my Private Messages?

By default, you will have two folders in your private message area: the 'Inbox' and the 'Sent' Items folders. The 'Inbox' folder contains any new messages you receive. It allows you to view all the messages you have received, along with the name of the person who sent it, and the date and time it was sent. The 'Sent Items' folder contains a copy of any messages that you have sent, where you have specified that you wish to keep a copy for future reference.

You can create additional folders for your messages by clicking the 'Edit Folders' link. Each folder (including Inbox) has a set of message controls which allow you to select messages, then either move them to one of your custom folders, or delete them. Once you have selected your messages, you can choose the following options in the 'Selected Messages' box at the bottom of the list:

  • Move to Folder
  • Delete
  • Mark as Read
  • Mark as Unread
  • Download as XML
  • Download as CSV
  • Download as TEXT

You can store up to 200 PMs in your folders. If you exceed this number, you will not be able to send or receive new messages until you delete some old ones to free up space. If you would like to keep a record of your messages before you delete them, you can use any of the 'Download as..' options listed above to take a copy and store them on your own computer. Please be mindful of our guidelines though: what's said in private needs to stay in private.

Can I request Read-Receipts?

Yes. You have this option when creating a new message. It lets you see whether or not a message has been read by its recipient. To do this, go to the 'Message Tracking' page. It's divided into two sections: unread and read messages. The unread messages section shows all messages that you have sent with a read-receipt request, that have not yet been read by their recipient. The read messages section shows all messages you have sent with a receipt request that have been read and acknowledged by their recipient. The time that the message was read is also shown. You may end the tracking on any message by selecting it and clicking the 'End Tracking' button.

When you receive a message with a read-receipt request, you may read the message while denying the read-receipt request. To do this, simply click the 'Deny Receipt' link rather than the title of the message, if it appears.


What are Notifications?

Notifications are alerts letting you know another member has contacted you. Some of them might be displayed in a pop-up window, while others would be under "Notifications" link next to your name in the top right corner of any Forums page. Notifications may include any of the following:

  • Unread Private Messages (?)
  • Unread Visitor Messages (?)
  • Incoming Friend Requests (?)
  • Requests to Join Your Social Groups (?)
  • Invitations to Join Social Groups

By clicking on the 'Notifications' link, you will be able to quickly see how many of each type you have received. Clicking on any of the links in the menu will take you to the relevant page within the User Control Panel or elsewhere in the system, so that you can respond to the members who have contacted you.

Your Friends

What are friends?

Friends are Fort members you like and want to stay in touch with. Befriending someone does not give them any extra access to your private information. Your friends and contacts are displayed on the 'Contacts and Friends' page in your Settings. Your friends are also displayed in your profile page.

A friendship is a mutual, two-way relationship between two users. It is initiated by one user and accepted by the other. A contact is a one-way friendship. This could be where the other person does not accept the friendship, a friendship request is pending, or you do not wish to be friends at this time but want to show them as a contact only.

How can I request a friend or accept one?

The easiest way to befriend someone is to view their profile and click the 'Befriend' link. Another way is to add the person to your contacts first. Then from your 'Contacts and Friends' page ask to be their friend by checking the box next to their name labelled 'Friend'. Next, save the page. If you know the username of the person you want to be friends with you can send a friend request using the box provided and clicking 'Add Friend'.

To accept a friend, go to your 'Contacts and Friends' page. At the bottom of the page you will see a list of pending requests. Check the box for the requests you wish to accept then check the 'Accept' button and save the changes. If you do not wish to be friends then select 'Reject' instead.

How can I break a friendship with someone?

  • From your 'Contacts and Friends' page, uncheck the box for friend for the particular person and save the changes. If you no longer wish them to be a contact either, uncheck both boxes for that person.
  • In your 'Profile Page', click 'Friends' and then click 'Break Friendship' next to the user's name.
  • In the other person's profile, click 'Friends' then find your username and click 'Break Friendship'.

Member will not be alerted to the fact that you broke a friendship with them, though if they browse your (or their) profile, they might notice that you are no longer friends. If you chose to friend them again at a later point though, they will see a notification asking them whether they want you as a friend or not.

Your Settings

Your settings is is where you edit your email address and password, adjust your time zone, subscribe or unsubscribe from automatic email notifications/reminders, specify whether you'd like to display your birthday to other members, who can contact you, who can view your profile, etc. You can access your settings by clicking on your nickname in the top-right corner of any page and selecting "Account Settings" from the menu.

Post Count, Castles, and User Titles

Cubes and castles by your name are a measure of your post count, how many posts you have made on forums. The breakdown is as follows:

  • at 50 posts you get the first cube
  • at 100 - two
  • at 200 - three
  • at 400 - four
  • at 750 - five
  • at 900 - six
  • at 1000 - castle outline
  • at 1050 - castle outline and one cube
  • at 1100 - castle outline and two cubes
  • etc
  • at 2000 - middle portion of the castle gets colored
  • at 3000 - middle and left portions of the castle get colored
  • at 4000 - whole castle gets colored
  • at 5000 - castle gets red flags, lit up windows, and the cubes stop counting

For example, a member who has made 1760 post will have a castle outline and five cubes by their name. Comparing post count with the date the person registered on Fort makes it easy to tell how active they are in the community: someone with a postcount of 100 who joined us a months ago is fairly new but pretty active, while someone with a postcount of 50 who joined us three years ago mostly reads what other people write.

And user titles are:

  • at 0 posts - Newbie
  • at 25 - Getting The Hang Of It
  • at 50 - Part Of The Crowd
  • at 200 - Pretty Active
  • at 400 - Known To All
  • at 750 - Growing Famous
  • at 1000 - Fort Resident, and you can change your title to whatever you like

Reputation (the green bar by your name)

Reputation Reputation Icon is a measure of how much other members like your input. Each time someone "thanks" one of your posts, it adds to your reputation count. You can view the latest thanks that you have received in your Settings. To give thanks to someone else's post, click "thanks" button on the bottom left of it. Thanking posts you like is a good way to let the person (and others) know that you liked what they had to say on the topic discussed. There's no negative reputation option - if you don't like a post, you can ignore it or alert moderators to it.

Keys (access to private folders and hosted chats)

In addition to regular membership, we offer the following four keys that give extra access to those who want it and are actively using Fort:

  • Got Keys Group - access to Journals folder where you can start your own journal and/or read journals of other members, My Strength My Story folder, and Got Keys chatroom where weekly Tough Times and Many Minds chats are held. 13yo+ only. DID youth are welcome to join DID Youth Group instead.
  • DID Youth Group - access to Youth Chatroom where no bigs are allowed and where Youth Weekly Chat is held, access to Journals folder where you can start your own journal or read journals of your friends, and access to My Strength My Story folder where people share their stories. DID youth under 13 only, i.e. you can't have this key if you share the same account with your big(s).
  • Sex & Sexuality - access to Sex & Sexuality folder, to discuss sexuality issues caused by abuse (e.g. erectile dysfunction after rape). 18+ only, both physically and emotionally, no kids.
  • RA - access to RA folder, to discuss religious/ritual abuse you've been through. DID Youth is welcome, but you have to be legally over 18yo.

Keys are given upon request to members who have been actively posting on forums for the past 30 days. This arrangement is for everyone's benefit: it allows new members to familiarize themselves with our community and guidelines, and it gives all of us a chance to get to know each other and build trust. Anyone can technically register at Fort, including spammers, trolls, stalkers, predators, and various other types of trouble-makers. Some new members might be constantly stirring up drama, attacking other members, starting arguments, etc - we might tolerate them on Fort for a while, hoping they would eventually adjust, but do not want them in private folders, where members discuss extra sensitive topics. These cases are very rare, 99% of our members are great people, but we can't be sure if you only registered yesterday or only made two posts.

To request these keys, click on "Get Keys" link under your account menuYour Account menu (top right corner of any page). Select the key you want and click on "Join Group" button. A moderator will review your request (this can take anywhere between a few minutes and a couple of days) and either grant or decline it. If request is granted, you'll be able to open the forum folder you applied for, read its contents, and post in it. If request is denied, you'll usually get a PM explaining why it happened and what you can do to get approved the next time.

Signatures, Avatars, and Profile Pictures

Signature is what shows up on the bottom of every post you make. Usually people use quotes, images, or trackers. To modify your signature, click on 'Edit Signature' link in your Settings. Only the top 200px of your signature will be displayed (that's about five lines of text), as many of us use devices with small screens and can't scroll through threads with signatures that are longer than posts.

Avatar is the picture that shows up on top of every post you make. To modify your Avatar, click on 'Edit Avatar' link in your Settings. Avatars can be up to 150x150px large.

Profile Picture shows up on your profile only. To upload a profile picture, click on 'Edit Profile Picture' in the 'Your Profile' section. Profile pictures can be up to 200x200px large.

Please note that we do not allow SI, SUI, Violence, Sexually Provocative Content, or any form of advertisement in Signatures, Avatars, or Profile Pictures. There are no tech restrictions on animations, but please use common sense - not everyone likes large flashing banners with bright colors in the middle of a thread they are trying to read, so people who use them are likely to end up on ignore by half of the community.

"Remember Me" option

Why do I keep getting logged off from the Fort?

When you register (and also when you login using the form at the top of the screen), you have the option to check 'Remember Me' box. This will allow you to stay logged in permanently, even if you close your browser or restart your computer, until you chose to manually log out. This is done via a cookie (a small bit of information) placed on your computer - this way when your computer communicates with Fort Refuge site, they recognize each other. If you are using a shared computer, such as in a library, school or internet cafe, or if other members of your household (spouse, child, parent, roommate, friend, etc) have access to this computer, we recommend you do not enable this.

How do I clear cookies?

You can clear all your Fort Refuge cookies by clicking the 'logout' link at the top of the page. In some cases, if you return to the main forums page and are still logged in, you may have to remove your cookies manually: in Internet Explorer, in Chrome, in FireFox, in Safari, in Opera. Other browsers may have a different method of clearing cookies, refer to their documentation for instructions.

Lost Passwords

I forgot my password. What can I do?

If you forget your password, you can click on the 'Forgotten Your Password' link; it appears on any page that requires you to fill in your password. This link brings up a page where you should enter your registered email address. An email will be sent to that address shortly, with instructions for resetting your password. You must be able to receive emails to your registered email address for this to work, so if your email address has changed - do update your settings here at Fort, so that our system is aware of your address change. You may need to check your spam filters and folder if you do not see the email in a few minutes. Since passwords are encrypted, there is no way to resend your original password. This option provides you with the ability to reset your password.

Automatic Emails

Fort software gives you options to receive automatic email notifications about things. For example, when a thread you follow gets a response, or when someone posts a visitor message on your profile. These emails are optional, you can turn them on or off, according to your preferences. Default setting is to receive none, but when you subscribe to threads or folders, you have the option to turn email notifications on. If you want to shut them off later, you can do it through "My threads" and "My forums" menus on forums homepage (on top of the shoutbox, to the right) and through your account settings menu.

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