Abuse Survivors Library

Articles About Abuse:

Child Abuse (15)
Articles about abuse inflicted on a child (someone under 18yo) by an adult. It can be physical, sexual, emotional/verbal, or neglect.
Child Abuse

Child abuse is a situation where an adult causes harm to a child, through action or through inaction. It's often perceived as a rare and horrific exception that's perpetrated by monsters. In reality, 73% of child abuse casualties are caused by neglect; mothers are involved in 70% of cases.

Neglect means failure to provide adequate care to the child in one's custody. It's by far the most common (and the most lethal) form of child abuse, yet the least spoken about.
Physical Abuse

Physical violence is devastating to children because they are completely dependent on their abusers, and can't form an accurate understanding of their situation, which results in serious psychological trauma, sometimes life-long.
Child Sexual Abuse

Any degree of sexual contact between a child and an adult is inappropriate and illegal, because children just can't cope with it; they're often ashamed, scared, and unsure what happened and whose fault it was. Sexual abuse is especially confusing when disguised as something else, e.g. medical procedures or punishment.

Grooming is the process of gradually entrapping a child, placing them in a position where they won't object to sexual abuse or tell anyone. It usually progresses through four stages described in this page.
Making Sense of Pedophilia

For many abuse survivors, our first (and sometimes the only) source of information on pedophilia was the person who molested us. What they told us was a bizarre concoction of truth, lies, and delusions, that can be hard to sort through even once we reach adulthood.
Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse of children is usually a part of any other type of abuse (e.g. physical, sexual, or neglect), and is mostly treated as an aggravating factor rather than a separate crime. It lacks legal definition, which makes it hard to address when it's the only type of abuse inflicted on a child.
Covert Incest

another form of child abuse by parents, where incestuous relationship is emotional rather than physical.
Korczak's Declaration of Children's Rights

classic text focusing on morality, empathy, respect, and boundaries, rather than basic material needs.
The Blue Bull And The Lion

True story written by survivor of child sexual abuse and neglect, describing her thoughts on the subject back when the abuse was happening. No graphic details.
Three Deaths of Grandma

true story written by a Fort Refuge member about her grandmother. Deals with child emotional abuse.
Lax Lorraine and a Locker

True story of child abuse and neglect - and how adults who were trying to help made things worse by not thinking through consequences of their actions.
My abuser and me: So much in common

Who knows without our tough beginnings (beginnings neither us deserved) how we would have developed...the sort of people we might have been. I suspect pretty similar.
Letters To My Younger Self

I want you to know that, no matter how tough it now seems, and how hopeless and frightened you feel, you will get through it, you will dig deep and find and do what it takes to survive...to maintain your true essence.
Info for Teens

Society cares about you, wants you to reach your full potential and turn out a happy, healthy, smart, responsible, well-adjusted individual. This is why we have laws in place to make sure you get what you need to do that. Read about your rights and how to reach out for help.
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Domestic Abuse (13)
Articles about abuse inflicted on one adult by another, while both share the same household. For example, physical abuse by an intimate partner, or abuse of elderly parent by their adult child.
Basics, Hotlines, & Helplinks

Domestic violence can feel chaotic, unpredictable, and unique - but it really isn't. It tends to be a repeat cycle: violence is followed by excuses, honeymoon, tension build-up, and then violence again. If you're trapped in it - you aren't alone, and there's a way out. Read about how it works, who perpetrates it, why victims get trapped in it, and what are your options.
Cycle of abuse

The cycle consists of four main phases that repeat over and over, alternating abuse with reconciliations. This on-and-off nature of violence allows it to gradually intensify over the time without you noticing it, like a frog in a pot of boiling water.
Emotional Abuse

Top tactics emotional abusers use to hurt and intimidate their victims, with examples and explanations.
Financial Abuse

It's painful to admit, embarrassing to talk about, and very confusing. However, avoiding the problem doesn't solve it; the more you know about financial abuse, the better protected you are.
What if I stay?

Leaving an abusive relationship or staying in it has to be your choice. We're simply listing common caveats so that you can consider your options, weigh pros and cons, and consciously choose what you feel would be in your best interest.
Emergency escape plan

Being involved in a violent relationship is kind of like living on top of a volcano. Whatever your long-term plan is (staying or leaving), it's crucial to ensure your basic safety in the here and now, while you're still sharing the house with your abuser and the volcano can erupt any minute.
Why do I keep going back?

It's no secret that many victims of domestic violence go back to their abusive partners, or pick new ones that act just the same. Understanding why it's happening could help you prevent it from repeating over and over like a broken record.
Leaving for good

Aside from making the decision to leave, you also need to figure out where are you going to go. It's not the time to close your eyes and take a leap, it's the time to think and plan, with meticulous attention to detail. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed.
Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where the victim bonds with the perpetrator, fears those who try to rescue him/her, and believes the perpetrator is in fact protecting him/her. The page analyzes the sources of this syndrome: love towards the abuser, perceived threat to survival, isolation, perceived inability to escape, cognitive dissonance, etc.
The Art of Emotional Abuse

One survivor's perspective on what emotional abuse feels like.
Growing Up In A DV Environment

Domestic Violence through the eyes of a child - survivors perspective on what it felt like to be surrounded by family violence as a child. What conclusions about relationships, disagreements, and violence she drew from this experience. And how she can now compare it to how things work in healthy homes.
9 ways to be accountable when you've been abusive

Nobody wants to be "an abuser." No one wants to admit that they have hurt someone, especially when so many of us have been hurt ourselves. But the truth is that abusers and survivors of abuse do not exist, and have never existed, in a dichotomy: Sometimes, hurt people hurt people. When we are able to admit that the capacity to harm lies within ourselves - within us all - we become capable of radically transforming the conversation around abuse.
If you're accused of domestic violence

Majority of DV cases are repeat offenses: the person continues doing what got them in trouble in the first place, be it beating up on their partner or naively continuing to trust them instead of getting a lawyer. This page lists ten things to consider, to help prevent this from happening to you, whether the accusation is false or not.
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Rape and Sexual Assault (9)
Articles about non-consensual intercourse (vaginal or otherwise), where the perpetrator forces it on the victim against their will and the victim is helpless to escape.
Basics, Hotlines, & Helplinks

Even if we feel worthless and ashamed at times, we have nothing to be ashamed of and are worthy of as much respect as anyone else. We're much more than just rape survivors, this experience doesn't define us.
Myths and Facts

20+ common questions and misconceptions about sexual violence: does arousal mean consent? was I asking for it? can a prostitute be raped? was it rape if I was drunk? does fighting back make it worse? etc.
Did I consent?

If you experienced unwanted sex, you deserve support and sympathy regardless of how this incident might be classified legally. However, legal status of things does matter if you're planning to accuse the other person of rape.
Reporting Rape or Sexual Assault

What happens when you report a rape, what the legal process consists of from the report to the conviction, what it feels like to the survivor, what are your rights, and how to make it less stressful.
False Rape Accusations

When one hears the words "false rape accusation," the common assumption is that we're talking of a deliberate and malicious attempt to harm someone innocent for personal gain. In reality, many false accusations are caused by miscommunication, misunderstandings, or confusion as to how the legal system works.
Rape of Men: Myths and Facts

There are social stigmas, stereotypes, and wildest misconceptions surrounding the topic of male rape, making it exceptionally hard for survivors to speak of their experience and get the support they need for the aftermath of this trauma. This page offers basic information, statistics, and links for further reading.
Multiple Victimization of Rape Victims

Studies show that women who had been raped before were seven times more likely to be raped again, compared to those who have never been raped. If I keep getting raped over and over, simply reminding myself that it's not my fault doesn't really comfort me. I can't help but wonder why me, what makes me different from other people, does it say "rape me" on my forehead? This page deals with possible causes of revictimization and how to avoid it.
Sexual Coercion

There's a lot written on how to not coerce others, but very little on how to know if you're being coerced and what to do about it. This page lists the top seven reasons why one might agree to have sex while they really shouldn't.
12 Things No One Told Me About Sex After Rape

Too often the assumption is that if you have been raped, you are sexually broken and forever unfixable. That sort of discourse is not healthy or empowering or even sympathetic. What I want to say is what I wish I had been told: rape is not a form of sex, it is a form of assault. Sex feels good. Assault is traumatizing. It is possible for sex to exist after rape because they are different experiences.
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Religious and Ritual Abuse (5)
Articles about a pattern of using a system of beliefs to inflict and/or justify abuse: physical, sexual, and/or emotional. Religious abuse might or might not take a form of a ritual, and can be perpetrated by an organized group of people or just a single person.
Religious Abuse

Religious abuse means using a system of beliefs to manipulate the victim and inflict harm, pain, and suffering on them. It does not involve any supernatural powers (though it's not rare for perpetrators to claim such abilities and for victims to believe them). However, it does involve a great deal of indoctrination: not only do you feel powerless to resist, but you often aren't even sure that you're being abused altogether.
RA: Myths and Facts

If you strip the concept off conspiracy theories, what remains is the idea of using a system of beliefs to inflict and justify harm on somebody. This practice existed throughout human history and continues today.
Religious Violence

Religious violence is dangerous because its perpetrators genuinely believe they are doing the right thing, and therefore are not afraid of legal repercussions and won't take pity on their victim. It's also terribly confusing, because it's often perpetrated by your family, the people who are supposed to love and protect you. Like any other form of abuse, religious violence is not limited to any specific religion or culture, so it's important to be aware of the danger no matter who you are or where you live.
7 Characteristics of Spiritually Abusive Groups

A list of some of the traits that seem to be commonly present in groups that practice religious abuse and usually lacking outside of them, to see whether these traits are what allows for abuse to happen.
Reclaiming My Faith After RA

cult survivor story on recovering her spirituality despite the abusive experiences with religion in childhood.
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Articles About Recovery:

Emotional Health (12)
Articles about stages of healing, anger management, identifying your feelings, knowing your needs, improving your self esteem, etc.
Calm Room

A bunch of calming nature videos, Buddhist meditations, piano music, and mp3 recordings of guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation scripts.
Inspirational Quotes

Hundreds of inspirational quotes about abuse, recovery, and mental health, organized by topic. Fort Refuge members can add their favorite quotes here too.
Stages Of Healing From Abuse

This page is by no means a recipe to healing, it's simply sharing our experience. Walking this path can at times feel like it's hopeless, getting worse, or going in circles. Sometimes it truly is. This is why a roadmap might be helpful.

Journaling allows you re-discover who you are and what you want to do with your life, now that abuse is over, and to express your thoughts, feelings, desires, plans, hopes - free of judgment or limitations.
Cognitive Distortions

Depression and anxiety might be caused by our incorrect perception of reality rather than by reality itself. This page lists top 13 thought patterns that contribute to this problem.
Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Colorful graph to identify your feelings, priceless for abuse survivors. Includes 32 emotions and their connections to each other.
Basics by Tony Schirtziger, LCSW

Three articles on the basics of emotional health. What are needs, how are feelings created, need for attention, four kinds of attention, discomfort, triggers for feelings, feelings we create. Sadness, Anger, Fear, Excitement, Joy - and Guilt, Shame, Imagined Fear - how to recognize them and what to do about them
Dealing with Anger as an Abuse Survivor

Article written by a Fort Refuge member describing various techniques she uses to handle and resolve her anger.
A Self-Help Guide to Self Esteem

practical tips on how to improve poor self-esteem and why it is important.
Recovering From A Breakdown

A series of six articles by Beth McHugh: the power of small steps, lists, motivational statements, helping others, and counting your blessings.
Staying Happy in Hopeless Situations

keeping a healthy perspective, handling fear of the unknown, channeling your focus out of the loops of hopelessness and despair, focusing on a way out, finding faulty thinking patterns, accepting the facts, etc
Abstract Art As a Means of Abuse Recovery

Survivors story on how painting helps her cope with aftermath of child abuse by releasing tension, providing an outlet for emotions, offering a distraction for SI urges, and giving a sense of accomplishment.
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Activities of Daily Living (7)
Articles about things you can do to improve your quality of life: cleaning, cooking, sleeping, arts & crafts, etc
10 Tips for Procrastinators

Procrastination is the habit of putting off, delaying, avoiding things that need to be done. It's a form of self-sabotage that carries heavy consequences - but many abuse survivors engage in it because of how the past trauma affects us. Read about ten ways to overcome this problem and reach your goals.
Surviving The Holidays

Holidays are an opportunity to break the routine, create good memories and traditions, and share them with the people we love. Dropping the "should"s and finding what works personally for you can turn the holiday season from something you dread into something you look forward to.
Tips for Better Sleep

reasons why people suffer from insomnia and suggestions that will help you establish better sleeping patterns.
Survivor's Gym

Exercises for people of any age and fitness level, not requiring any special equipment, so they can be done at home.
Easy Cookbook

Simple quick recipes you can fix if you're hungry and can't or don't want to spend time on cooking. Great for littles :)
17 Tips for Hoarders

Hoarding is an anxiety disorder frequent in abuse survivors, this page has various suggestions to overcome this problem and improve your quality of life.
Surviving Dental Appointments

23 things you and your dentist can do to make your dental appointments more comfortable for you
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Relationships (10)
Articles about healthy and unhealthy relationships, how to communicate with people, how to set boundaries, how to avoid drama, how to not abuse others, etc.
Relationships Chess

A lot of relationship disappointments and conflicts come from simply losing track of what the relationship is in the first place. For example, wanting sex from a friend or therapy from a spouse. Simply restating the nature of the relationship (and letting it sink) is often therapeutic on its own.
Effective Listening

During abuse, listening was pointless because we couldn't trust what was said. Outside of abuse, however, the best way to understand someone is to listen to and - more importantly - hear them.
Problem Solving

Three articles by Tony Schirtzinger, LCSW, on how to solve interpersonal problems. Does the problem exist? Is it significant? Is it solvable? Do you honestly want to solve this problem? Do you want to blame someone instead of solving it? Is it that you really can't or only believe so? Arguments about everything, arguments that go nowhere, and the power of the moment - the real problem solving. Priceless for abuse survivors.
The Karpman Drama Triangle

The purpose of the Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor Game, why do we play it, how to break free, how to spot emotional manipulation patterns in others and yourself, difference between drama and being an adult.
Tips for Attention Seekers

Everyone needs attention, and there's nothing wrong with seeking it, as long as you do it constructively. This page lists a few basic tips on how to make it work.
Narcissistic Mothers

Adult daughter's perspective on what her mother is like; long, but many people relate. No solutions offered.
How To Deal With A Narcissistic Mother

Practical ideas on how to make this relationship more functional and healthy, regardless of whether mom cooperates or not.
Non-PD Recycle Bin & Tool Box

two very extensive lists of approaches to personality disordered individuals: things that work and things that don't
Dealing With A Passive-Aggressive Manipulator

Article explaining what is passive-aggression, who engage in it and why, and 8 tips on how to handle it
It Ends With Me

Letter by an abuse survivor to her siblings and parents, sharing her perspective on the past and her feelings and hopes for the future.
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Awareness (12)
Articles about supporting an abuse survivor, our art and poetry, abuse stories, glossary, etc. Feel free to add to these projects, and share them with your friends.
Memorial Wall

Photos and stories of people who died through child abuse, domestic violence, rape, or other forms of abuse. Feel free to browse, share to raise awareness, or add a story.
Survivors' Art Quilt

Online quilt made of artworks by Fort Refuge members, from abstract patterns to self-portraits. Feel free to add your art, there's a link to apps you can use right here on Fort :)
Our Poetry

Poems and creative writings by Fort Refuge members, talking of what abuse and its aftermath feel like.

Words you might bump into on abuse sites that could be confusing; short definitions and links to further reading. If you're a Fort member and have keys - please contribute to the project.
Personal Note to a Supporter

Each survivor faces their own unique issues, but there are some common traits that many survivors share, and many supporters find confusing, frustrating, disturbing, or otherwise difficult to handle. Here's an attempt to explain the top five.
If Physical Diseases Were Treated Like Mental Illness

Classic cartoons by robot-hugs on some of the unhelpful things people say to those struggling with mental health issues.
Reporting Suspected Abuse

things to consider when you're choosing whether to report your concern or not (including legal requirements), numbers to call, description of the process.
How To Talk To An Abused Child

They need to see that the topic is OK with you, that you care enough to listen, won't punish or ridicule them, that you don't seem uncomfortable, angry, or scared, and won't jump to action before understanding what's going on.
How To Support A Survivor Through A Suicide Crisis

It happens all too often that the minute we mention suicide a friend jumps to rescue - down to driving to our home uninvited in the middle of the night and/or calling the police - only to completely ignore it the next day and pretend nothing happened.
How to approach someone with ED

helpful article for supporters, listing basic DO's and DON'T's when approaching a loved one who struggles with an eating disorder.
How To Convince An Addict To Get Help

basics on how to do an intervention on a loved one with a substance abuse problem.
When Someone You Know Struggles with Fears, Anxiety, & Stress


Articles About Mental Health:

Therapy (9)
Articles about therapy: how to choose a good therapist, what to talk about in their office, and when to quit.
First Therapy Session

Reading about what other people discuss with their therapists during their first session might help you clarify what is it that YOU want (or don't want) to talk with your new therapist about.
Psych Hospitals

What happens inside, what is Baker Act, difference between ER stay and admission, between inpatient and outpatient treatment, and what to pack when you're going inpatient.
Therapeutic Modalities

list of the most common therapy approaches explaining what each is all about, it's pros and cons. Plenty of links for further reading.
Creating False Memories

article by Elizabeth Loftus, PhD, explaining how false memories of childhood abuse are formed in therapy, and describing very interesting research studies on the subject.
Hiring & Firing a Therapist

forty questions that will help you evaluate your therapist and decide whether it's worth it continuing with them
Recovery Bill of Rights

your right to personal authority over your life, boundaries, healthy communication, etc
Living With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is, unfortunately, incurable - but it's not a death sentence either. Some things are harder (like sticking to schedules or long term commitments), but others are easier (like being spontaneous or thinking outside the box). Adjusting your life so that it works for you, no matter how "crazy" it might seem to others, can make a tremendous difference to your quality of life, and to the people around you.
Depression - What is it?

signs and symptoms, available treatments, and practical steps you can take to make yourself feel better and stick through this rough time.
Managing Depression

how to challenge your negative thinking, get out of bed, focus on the task at hand, use positive affirmations, and reach out for support
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PTSD and Anxiety (9)
Articles about how to ground when you're triggered, dealing with panic attacks and flashbacks, managing phobias, etc.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event (that meets specific stipulations), and symptoms of four different types: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.
Grounding Techniques

top ten methods to cope when you're triggered, having a flashback, or an anxiety attack - including famous "Frozen Orange" technique by ManySouls.
Worry Dolls

Worry dolls originated in Guatemala as a children's activity, but offer multiple psychological benefits for people of any age, especially abuse survivors.
Coping with Trauma

basic article on how trauma affects people, how to cope with it, and when to ask for help.
Panic - A Self-Help Guide

extensive material on what is panic, where does it come from, how to recognize it, and how to cope with it.
Dealing With Worry - A Self-Help Guide

The unimportant, the unlikely, the uncertain, and the uncontrollable: how to distract, limit, or share your worries with others.
Managing Your Fears & Anxieties

collection of articles by Stan Popovich on coping with and overcoming fears, anxieties, and worries.
Beating The Monster: Agoraphobia

One survivor's story of recovery: It's a painful and scary process because most of what has to be done is exposure. I wasn't sure if it was worth it, but looking at it from this end I can say it definitely was.
Living With Agoraphobia

Excerpts from a journal of an abuse survivor who struggles with agoraphobia, but is making progress.
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Articles about Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder), where it comes from and how we live with it.
Info & Links

basic article on what is DID/MPD and how do we live with it, and some helpful links.
DID: Myths and Facts

Is DID a form of insanity? myth? result of child abuse? supernatural concept? form of attention-seeking? creative self-expression? healthy norm? can you spot it in others? does everyone with DID have to integrate?
Dissociative Spectrum: an overview of diagnosis and treatment

Faced with overwhelming abuse, it is not surprising that children would psychologically flee (dissociate) from full awareness of their experience. Dissociation may become a defensive pattern that persists into adulthood and can result in a full-fledged dissociative disorder.
Persecutory Alters

This paper presents a theoretical model of the etiology and development of persecutor alters. It elucidates the underlying and continuously protective nature of the alter which becomes masked by the apparently “persecutory” behavior.
Shades of a Girl

We all live inside the head of a girl. The girl herself is Without Color, Pale, Wan. We, however, are different shades of who she is. We are all the colors of the rainbow and then some. We complement each other like a watercolor painting of a reflecting stream.
You Know You've Got DID When...

Excerpts from our famous thread with light-hearted jokes on what does it feel like, to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
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Self Inflictions (11)
Articles about suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, addictions, or any other non-accidental behaviors that are harmful to your body.
Ending Your Life Is Not The Answer

short article by Stan Popovich on things to consider if you're feeling suicidal.
The Black Coat

fiction story about suicide. Trigger warning - it's a horror story, though not graphic. Might be a good read if you're feeling suicidal.
Self Injury: Definition, Hotline & Helplinks

basic idea of what is self injury and a list of hotlines that might be helpful.
Self Injury Myths and Facts

what is SI, why does it make people feel better, who are the people who SI, aren't they psychotic, is SI a failed suicide attempt, what can be done for a person who SI's, etc.
Bill Of Rights for Those Who Self Injure

ten basic rights such as humane treatment, unbiased careproviders, validation of feelings behind SI, etc
SI Distractions

over 60 things you can do to battle an urge to self-injure.

3 questions to figure out if your habit is a problem for you or not, info on how abuse and addictions are interrelated, and links to helpful organizations.
Internet Gaming Addictions

article explaining why certain online games are so addictive
Eating Disorders Hotlines & Helplinks

basic article on recognizing an eating disorder, and a list of hotlines and websites that might help.
Eating Disorders: Myths and Facts

ED passes as soon as you reach the goal weight, You can never exercise too much, Purging is a good way to lose weight, Dieting is a normal part of life, ED is a lifestyle choice, You can tell if someone has an ED by their looks, People with ED do it for attention, If you don't purge - you don't have an ED, Anorexia is the only serious ED, Men don't get EDs, Only rich people get EDs, Only teenagers get EDs, EDs are parents' fault.
How I became a prostitute

by an anonymous survivor who wanted to share her story
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A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.
~ Albert Einstein