Fort History

Fort Refuge would not be possible without our amazing community.
We warmly thank you for being here with us and making this project possible!

May 2018
Inspirational Quotes
New exciting addition to our resources: a collection of 400+ inspirational quotes about abuse, recovery, and mental health, that members can add to, or create their personal list of favorites to use for grounding. It also has a widget you can embed on your site or blog.
October 2018
Forums and Chat upgrade
settingsInstalled new, better software for both forums and chat. The look and feel is similar, but the software innards are much better, in terms of stability, security, accessibility, and compatibility. We're looking forward to the great things we'll be able to do on this platform.
June 2018
Memorial Wall
Upgraded the software: now you can filter the stories by type of abuse, age, and gender of the victim, e.g. only see girls between 3 and 5 who were killed by rape, or only men between 50 and 60 who were killed by domestic violence. Big thanks for Jane for contributing a bunch of stories!
March 2018
Calm Room
headsetNeat addition of two dozen audios: fairy tales and other children's classics (Brothers Grimm, Andersen, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Charles Dickens, etc). Calm Room contains things you can watch or listen to when upset, triggered, anxious, suffering insomnia, or just want a comforting break from thinking about abuse.
January 2018
codeWhile most of our activity happens on forums and in chat, over the years our members have contributed a lot of content that's open to the public as well: lists of helpful hotlines/organizations/resources, library articles on various topics related to abuse or mental health,survivors' art and poetry, memorials of people who died through abuse, inspirational quotes, etc. Now we've created a few widgets that allow you to embed some of this content on your website or blog.
October 2017
Child abuse
Added a few pages defining and giving examples of various types of child abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect. Many survivors struggle figuring out if their childhood experience 'counts' as abuse, so we hope these pages will serve as validation for survivors and by the same token increase awareness among general public.
August 2017
help_outlineWe've been meticulously recording questions our users ask, evaluating which phrasing of the answers seems to work better, how to categorize all these questions in the most intuitive way, etc. This version of FAQ was written from scratch, includes information for both our members and visitors, covers both the tech questions and questions on site policies, and skips on clutter usually included in FAQs that nobody ever asked us.
May 2017
Domestic abuse
We can't offer advice to people stuck in abusive relationships because we're an anonymous peer community, not a hotline. However, we added a few articles to the DV section in our library, including some common topics (like 'why do I keep going back to my abusive partner?') as well as niche ones (like financial abuse, or what to do if you are accused of DV).
January 2017
The topic of rape has become so politicized that we had to evaluate our library pages on the subject and make sure the information we provide is unbiased, factually correct, and actually helpful to survivors (rather than serving some political agenda or another). We've expanded the section as well, adding pages on reporting rape to law enforcement, multiple victimization, false accusations, and unwanted sex that's traumatic even when it doesn't constitute rape.
December 2016
We finally switched to a different provider; now chat works on all devices. We're resuming three weekly hosted chats: Mental Health chat with WeepingWillow, for topics involving any mental health issues (DID, PTSD, depression, eating disorders, suicide, etc), Repair The Damage chat with Manya, for topics not involving mental health (like emotional health, activities of daily living, and social skills), and DID Youth chat with Tasha, for child alters.
November 2016
Site upgrade
We've added accessibility for phones, tablets, and the blind. Improved navigation by adding a sidebar, which contains other resources we have on the topic of the page you're reading. Reorganized and expanded our footer. Reworked our homepage so that it displays what's relevant personally to you rather than the generic "welcome" message we used to have for everyone.
October 2016
Limits on activism
info_outlineOur community consists of men, women, democrats, republicans, feminists, mens rights activists, Christians, Pagans, etc. We came here for support with our trauma recovery, not for political debates. That's why we do not allow activism on forums or in chat. If you wish to spread awareness, please do so through our library, which is open to the public.
July 2016
Limits on current relationships
info_outlineA few relationship sites linked to us back in 2014, and we've been getting more and more registrations from people looking to bash their partners rather than work on their trauma (if any), and many of them were rude towards our members. We offer a bunch of resources for those stuck in a dysfunctional relationship (whether they wish to leave or to stay), but can no longer welcome them in our community.
October 2015
We've reorganized and expanded our list of emergency resources. In addition to hotline numbers, it now includes organizations that offer practical help. For example, domestic abuse section has links to shelters, social security benefits, and lawyers. Special thanks to Jane for adding Australian and New Zealand resources.
August 2015
We upgraded our themes, reworked user control panel, and made two exciting additions: 'My forums' and 'My threads' pages. 'My threads' allows you to quickly find all the threads you bookmarked or ever posted in (many of our newbies struggled locating them). 'My forums' allows you to choose which folders to see and which to skip, so if you find our forums overwhelming - just opt out of topics that aren't applicable to you.
July 2015
Chat blackout
Our chat provider switched from chatrooms to an instant messaging system, which is open whenever you're logged in on forums and only allows you to talk to one person at a time. That goes against the whole idea of a support group, so we had to switch providers. Unfortunately, the new service is spotty and some features don't work as they should. We hope for your patience and understanding, while we're sorting out this issue.
June 2015
Xiao's promotion
Xiao was a spam bot who tried to sell us some viagra back in 2013. He was banned at the spot of course, but his owner forgot about him, and poor Xiao kept coming back every day for nearly two years, not understanding he's banned. We grew attached to this lost bot, Tasha wrote a poem about him, and we had a whole forum thread about his adventures. Now Xiao was adopted by Fort: he's in charge of 'alert mods' button, so all reports/compaints are anonymous.
May 2015
Tell Your Story
editShare your thoughts, feelings, helpful tips you've discovered: what does it feel like to press charges against your abuser, how does knitting help you cope with flashbacks, what did it feel like when your father passed away? how do you handle raising children while having DID? Imagine how many abuse survivors worldwide are facing the same issues and would love to learn from your experience.
April 2015
Documentary films
theatersNew type of resources in our library: a bunch of full-length documentary films about abuse and mental health. We don't own these films, it's just a glorified YouTube playlist, but it's hooked up to the rest of our library, so that when you're browsing articles on some abuse-related topic, you can also see documentaries about it, books, hotlines, etc.
March 2015
Memorial Wall
Our memorials host went out of business, so we created our own solution. It turned out much better: now you can add photos of people who died through abuse and links for further reading about them, and the database can be sorted by date (or, potentially, by other criteria). Once we generate a few hundred entries, we'll be broadcasting today's memorial across Fort, and possibly offering it to other websites too. Special thanks for Eagle22 for the first entries.
February 2015
info_outlineOur community guidelines remained the same for the past 8 years. We didn't make any drastic changes, but edited the wording and organization, for clarity and coherence. We're particularly stressing no drama, no patronizing, and no telling others what to do, think, or feel rules - they were somewhat downplayed, so we brought them to the top. Huge thanks to WeepingWillow, Jane, and Tasha for polishing the drafts.
November 2014
No gossip
info_outlineAll of us are abuse survivors, came here for support with very painful and sensitive issues, and don't need gossip in our community. Usually when guidelines are broken we try to work out a solution that would allow everyone to stay. However, we're done trying to convince jerks to be nice to our members, and now ban for gossip instantly, without a warning, and without a chance to come back.
August 2014
RSS Feed
rss_feedWe've created an RSS feed for our library, now you can see what articles have been published recently. We seem to average about two articles per month, though some months are busier than others. You can subscribe to our RSS (to see what's up even without visiting Fort) or even publish it on your site to support our cause :)
May 2014
Registration rework
We've been getting more and more registrations from people looking for something other than a peer support group (e.g. crises chatline, housing assistance, dating advice, etc). It's taking a toll on our community, so we're now re-working our registration protocol, to highlight our Help page where people can find the help they are looking for quickly and easily, without registering an account just to ask where their local DV shelter is.
January 2014
Limits on P2P
info_outlineOur old members have no problem setting boundaries when approached with inappropriate things. Newbies, on the other hand, often aren't sure if it's OK to say 'No', suffer in silence, or just leave the site. Recently we had a newbie P2Ping other newbies to talk of rectal searches (for hours at a time), and none of them felt comfortable enough to speak up about it or at least opt out. Now the P2P function requires keys, for everyone's safety.
December 2013
Kids Corner
child_careFort has always been a DID-friendly community, welcoming everyone including child alters. Lately they were feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered on forums, so we created Kids' Corner, a forum section just for them: their joys, struggles, and a private folder for our young keyholders. Special thanks to Tasha for organizing the section.
August 2013
Religious/ritual abuse is a highly sensitive topic. It involves a lot of confusion and fears. We've reworked our RA library section, removing pages that we felt were causing more harm than good, and adding a few to replace them. The section doesn't adequately cover the topic yet, but it's a clean start that will allow us to add more content in the future.
June 2013
We've reorganized access to private folders and chatrooms: now there are 'keys' that give access to grownup chats and journals, 'youth keys' (available to child alters) that give access to kids chat and journals, RA keys (available to RA survivors over 18), and Sexuality keys (available to sexual abuse survivors over 18). All keys require 30 days of active posting with no major problems, and expire after 3 months of inactivity (for privacy reasons).
May 2013
Repair the damage
Aside from emotional pain, abuse often causes practical hardships. Many of us struggle making and keeping friends, learning to clean and cook, managing time and money, etc. We're expanding our forums and library to include resources on practical life skills, things we do to reclaim our lives, celebrating our daily victories. This down-to-earth approach improves the atmosphere in the community, making Fort more positive and goal-oriented.
February 2013
Hosted Chats
You can now see the chats schedule in your local time, along with the topics of the upcoming chats, and a history log of all the old topics. The new arrangement is much easier to navigate, and allows our newbies and visitors to see what our hosted chats are like. Thanks to our new mods, we're currently hosting all three weekly chats: Many Minds with Manya, Tough Times with Terry, and Youth Chat with Theredmarker.
January 2013
Visitor comments
Added the option for our visitors to leave comments on Fort library pages. It's a neat feature, making our library more interactive. Will be especially cool with quizzes, so you can post your score and compare it with other people's. Comments are anonymous, their length is limited, and no links are allowed.
October 2012
Fort got a whole new section, mental health quizzes. No registration necessary, quizzes are completely anonymous, results are displayed instantly and not recorded. So far we only have mental health ones, but are hoping to eventually expand to abuse awareness quizzes as well.
May 2012
No ongoing crimes
info_outlineSharing our stories is therapeutic an liberating, it's the purpose of Fort. However, when someone posts 'I'm a serial killer and have 20 corpses currently in my basement' - that put us in a legal (and moral) bind, and we have no choice but contact their local authorities. Our RA section has lately been having some disturbing content, so we're clarifying this guideline: when you post about ongoing crimes - we will contact authorities.
March 2012
Social Networks
Our forums/chat are only open to survivors, so supporters and mental health professionals had no way to be notified of our library news. Now we've created a few social networking accounts, so that our visitors can follow us and get alerted when something new comes up, even if they aren't registered on Fort.
February 2012
Chat integration
Big news: we finally integrated chat with forums. This means that you only need to register once, and your username works for both forums and chat. It's easier because you only need to log in once, and much safer because troublemakers can't bypass bans by coming right back into chat under a different name. That makes it drastically easier for mods too, so we can now focus on more productive things than repeatedly banning the same person over and over.
August 2011
Limits on DID topics
info_outlineThere aren't many DID-friendly sites out there, so our community always included a lot of multiples. As a result, most of our chat conversations and forum threads touch upon DID topics - and survivors who don't have DID (or simply wish to discuss something else once in a while) feel like outcasts and leave the site. We're a trauma recovery site first and foremost, so we're limiting DID topics to DID folders and chatrooms only, so that other topics can have some room too.
June 2011
Forums upgrade
We've upgraded our forums software, restyled forums to match the site, and restructured forum folders. Now we have folders for different types of abuse and different types of mental health issues, so that when you're looking for info on, for example, rape - you can easily find it all in one place, the Rape folder. It's a big change, but we're sure it will make Fort easier to use in the long run. Special thanks to Jess22 for supporting our members through this transition.
May 2011
Site upgrade
We've rebranded Fort, changing our logo and switching from dark to light background, so that our pages are easier on eyes. We've also edited our headers, to make them uniform across the site, and restructured our library, to make all articles accessible from one main library page, for ease of navigation. Special thanks to Lala for enabling PHP, which is what made site upgrades possible, and to Kami for creating our very first site map.
February 2011
Calm room
headsetGreat news: we now have a bunch of guided imagery and meditation mp3's that you can listen to whenever you're triggered, panicky, or struggle with insomnia. All mp3s are published with permission from their authors, completely free, and available to both our members and visitors.
August 2010
No head-patting
info_outlineWe all want to support each other, but it's important to not cross the lines into patronizing and condescending. All of our members, including lils, are smart, strong, capable individuals, deserving as much respect as the next person. We don't like being told what to do, think, or feel, addressed with terms of endearment, or head-patted. It's usually meant as supportive, but comes out disrespectful, so we added 'no head-patting' rule to our community guidelines.
June 2010
Ignore feature
info_outlineAll of us are abuse survivors who came here for support, and are entitled to use the site comfortably. We do not tolerate bullying, cliques, or drama. If you can't get along with someone - put them on ignore; you won't see anything they post or say in chat from that point on. You don't have to announce or explain these decisions, and can modify your ignore list as often as you wish, putting people on ignore or taking them off it.
February 2010
Hosted Chats
We're excited to resume our Youth Chat for littles (child alters) with Manya. Tough Times chat is still on with BrokenAngel, focusing on coping with various hardships abuse survivors face (like depression, anxiety, and trusting people), and Many Minds chat - with EmJ, focusing on coping with dissociative symptoms. Looking forward to seeing you guys there!
December 2009
No Role-Play
info_outlineRole-play has repeatedly created chaos and hurt on this site, and never resulted in anything positive. We are asking everyone to keep their RP off the forums and chat rooms, i.e. not assume any caretaker role (e.g. "mommy/ lil") or any romantic role (e.g. "boyfriend/girlfriend") that is not and never has been face to face.
November 2009
Public forum
We're opening a forum folder for our visitors, unregistered guests. We don't offer Fort membership to supporters, mental health professionals, and kids under 16, so they can't access our private, survivors-only forums, when they want to share their perspective on abuse or ask us a question. We hope the Public Forum will provide a platform for us all to communicate, increase awareness, and promote understanding and acceptance.
September 2009
Troll Patrol
We've grown big enough for trolls to be interested in us lol. Kevin and Lala are working on blocking them from registering, and meanwhile EmJ offers stomping boots to everyone who wants to join the Troll Patrol, to stomp out trolls from our community.
July 2009
Limits on SI and religion
info_outlineWe've had to limit Self-Injury to SI forum/chatroom only, and topics involving religion to Spirituality forum folder only. Both topics are an important part of trauma recovery for many of us, but we need to be able to opt out of them when needed. Limiting them to their respective folders allows us to manage our triggers without asking others to drop a conversation that's helping them.
March 2009
Abuse is a heavy topic, we all need to distract sometimes. We're introducing Fort Playroom - a bunch of games and arts and crafts projects, for kids or grownups to enjoy. It's open to visitors too, so you don't even have to be an abuse survivor to use it.
September 2008
No intersite drama
info_outlineWe welcome all abuse survivors, regardless of what other sites you've been registered at and what happened there. But we ask you to leave offsite issues at the door. Use Fort as a fresh start: don't bring offsite conflicts into our community, and don't gossip about what happens at Fort outside of it. What happens here has to stay here.
August 2008
Our Art and Poetry
We now have a creativity page where you can publish your poetry or artwork, whether it's related to abuse recovery or not. Many of our members are talented artists, and we proudly offer the space to showcase their work. Please feel free to add your poetry and art to the Fort collection. Special thanks to Pinkie, Daniel, and Elenory for the first masterpieces.
May 2008
We're actively publishing various resources that we feel would be helpful to abuse survivors: hotlines, helplinks, articles about abuse and mental health, book recommendations, etc. We appreciate our community's contribution to this project, and welcome all submissions! Special thanks to Mickey for SI-related articles.
March 2008
Hosted chats
We're excited to start three weekly hosted chats: for lils (with Sarabi), for bigs (with Bravehearts), and for those who SI (with Mickey). Most of us are always in chat anyway, but weekly hosted chats allow us to focus on a specific topic without disruptions, and to know what the topic will be from beforehand. We're looking forward to seeing you there!
February 2008
Fort birthday
Fort was founded by Lala, Kevin, and Joey. Joey imagined a pillow fort when he needed to feel safe, and invited his friends into this imaginary fort. Lala liked the idea and decided to turn this imagery into a reality, to create an online fort for all abuse survivors to feel safe and comfortable at, so Kevin registered the domain name and Fort Refuge was founded.