Abuse happens to people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and comes in various forms: child abuse, domestic violence, rape, religious abuse, senior abuse, etc. The common denominator is that it's a trap: someone you depend on is using their position of power to hurt you. For example, when a mother beats up her 8yo son - he cannot defend himself or escape because she is stronger physically and has power over him legally and financially; he's at her mercy.
Abuse causes serious psychological trauma because it's not only painful, but also terribly confusing: it happens in secret and you're told it's your fault, it's done for your own good, it's a "special" expression of love, you're delusional and it's not happening at all, etc. You don't understand what is happening, why, what did you do to cause it, will it happen again, is it OK to be unhappy about it or are you just selfish and ungrateful, etc. This results in self-blame, shame, guilt, fear, and hopelessness. Even once abuse is over, survivors often struggle with long-term consequences like low self-esteem, anxieties, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, lack of motivation, poor boundaries, lack (or overabundance) of trust, phobias, addictions, self-harm, PTSD, DID/MPD, or even suicidal thoughts. These are tough to cope with, can be very isolating, and at times overwhelming.
Since you're reading this page, we assume that you or your loved one were affected by abuse, and we want you to know that you are not alone, there's no shame in having been the victim of a crime, and things do get better. Fort is a safe place for abuse survivors to escape the isolation and talk about what happened to us, what problems it caused us, and how are we dealing with them. We're each at different stages of recovery, and come from all backgrounds, but when nightmares are keeping you awake at 3am - it helps to know that you aren't alone, to talk to people who get it because they are up for the same reason as you, and who genuinely care. As we share our stories - thoughts and feelings, confusions and discoveries, philosophical ponderings and raw rants, poems and artwork, light-hearted jokes and craft projects - our lives are enhanced by what we learn from each other.
It can feel scary to reach out, but Fort isn't going anywhere, you can always come back - tomorrow or next year; most of our members do just that. We are glad you googled us, and hope that you find the support you're looking for. Fort Refuge is all of us, as a whole, including you. Welcome!
~ Eldridge Cleaver
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