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What do you do to cope with life after abuse?  Do you withdraw?  Do you talk about it?  Do you participate in creative therapy?  There are many ways to cope with an abusive past.  No matter how long it’s been, there are days that you relive the trauma as if it just happened.  At least, I have those days and when I do, I tend to pull away from those close to me.  I withdraw.  They can’t quite understand.

This week I have been doing a bit of research on resources available for survivors.  I created a Facebook page for survivors a few weeks ago and I wanted to find some ways to make my site more valuable to those who have joined.  In doing that I found that there are organizations out there that provide forums for discussions related to abuse.  I can’t believe I hadn’t run across them before.  I felt pretty stupid actually.  I should have known they were out there.  There are forums for everything and everyone.

There were two organizations that I found to be quite interesting so I signed up for them.  I was pretty excited to have discovered a new way to help with the memories of my past.  Check them out for yourself:  Fort Refuge or Pandora’s Project.  Each site has a multitude of forums that address all aspects of abuse and then some.  There are forums to ask questions or get information about the legal process of reporting abuse, mental health, healing, co-parenting with an abusive partner, self-harm, self-expression…you name it, they’ve got it.  I found both of them to be super easy to post, read, and communicate with other survivors.

Both sites are open to survivor supporters as well as survivors which I thought was awesome.  As I said earlier, those closest to us don’t always get it so having a place for them to try to get a better understanding of what we go through as well as get advice from other survivors or supporters is pretty great.   There are some forums or chat rooms that are only available to survivors or can only be accessed with a special password per request.  These are the ones where survivors can share their personal stories and things with a more sensitive or personal nature that you don’t want everyone to see.  There are also public forums that pretty much anyone can see.  It is suggested that you use these strictly for introductions and general topics.  There are strong warnings about not putting personal information out there on the public forums.  They even have moderators to help and monitor the content of the posts to keep people from being hurt or exposed.

I’ve only been on the sites for a few days now, but so far I’m finding them to be very encouraging and empowering.  Especially for those that are just beginning their healing process or not quite sure what to do.  In reading through a few of the stories, it both breaks my heart and gives me hope.  There are many stories that make me feel like my experiences with abuse are really small potatoes compared to what some have been through.  It is horrible what people can do to others.  Incomprehensible.  Some of the stories brought me to tears and made me want to run to the writer and wrap my arms around them so tight telling him/her it will all be alright.  I’ve come close to replying and saying that, but I don’t…because for some it will never be alright again.

In spite of the sadness that comes with reading the stories, many of them provide hope and healing.  The forums give hope to those who have been abused, hope that there is a better tomorrow when they hear from a “seasoned” survivor who has been able to get out of an abusive relationship or who has first hand experience that life can get better.  It also gives me hope that more will speak out and ask for help.  I think most of all, I’m so thankful that there is a place for those who have secrets in their closet that before these forums, had nowhere to turn for help without fear of exposure to those around them.  Many survivors of abuse don’t want anyone they know to know what they’ve been through.  They may not be ready to “come out” about what happened to them with their friends or family so these forums give them an outlet to talk about their feelings, what they’ve been through, and their fears and frustrations without worry or judgment.

I intend to continue using the forums to help out where I can and learn a thing or two myself.  I am excited to see so many resources available and will share any awesome or helpful finds.

If you want to find more information and resources, check out my Facebook page  Surviving This Life.