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Guidelines - Please Read

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#1 Shannon

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Posted 22 January 2005 - 11:13 AM

Pandora's Aquarium is not a substitute for professional assistance.
We offer peer-to-peer support only. We encourage every guest and member to work with a trained counselor or psychiatrist, and if you are in crisis you will be referred to resources that can provide you the help you need and deserve.

Pandora's Aquarium Community Guidelines
Last edited: April 2nd 2012

General Community Rules | Posting Rules | Chat Rules | Staff Responses

General Community Rules

1. You must be 16 years of age or older to utilize this online support community*. Public forums can be viewed by anyone, but private forums and posting privileges are limited to survivors of rape, sexual violence, and other forms of sexual abuse. Secondary survivors are limited to the public forums and Healing Together.

2. All decisions regarding editing/locking/deleting threads, member accounts, and the suspension/banning of members will be made by the moderators. Such decisions are unified, final, and not open to discussion.

3. Each person is allowed only one active user account. If you wish to have a name change, please PM the moderators who can easily do this for you. Opening more than one account, especially for the purpose of deceiving other members, may result in being banned.

4. Only one person may use each account. Do not allow others to read the board, post, PM, or chat using your account.

5. Members with DID can have only one account, and only the host can post/chat. More information about our DID policy can be found here.

6. Do not abuse the PM or board email function. Using the system for mass solicitation or to spam, harass, or threaten another member is prohibited.

7. Treat board and chat moderators with respect. Staff members are survivors as well. Direct or indirect mistreatment of moderators is not permitted.

8. Be responsible for your own safety. Personal information such as address, phone number, and full name should not be shared via this message board. Click here or see this thread for more information on keeping yourself safe.

9. Use of this board is limited to participation in peer support. More information can be found here and in the Terms of Service.

10. Leaving the community? Click here for more information.

11. Protected areas: You need five posts access the My Story forum, and view profiles. To access that chat room, you need to read through the chat guidelines and follow the procedure to request access that is outlined there.

12. Research requests MUST be approved. We recognize that research can play an important role in understanding how best to serve rape and sexual abuse survivors. We permit research requests only after they have been approved by staff, and requests can only be posted in the Research forum. Survivors may not be approached by PM or email. View our research guidelines before making a request.


Posting Rules

1. Be respectful of different ways of healing and care about each other. We are all survivors of something. Some things might anger you and you might want to disagree. Please remember that everyone who posts here is a person and deserves to be treated as such. If a post has you angry or triggered, please take a moment to relax before replying, instead of lashing out. Not everyone heals in the same way. For a discussion of responses to relationship violence, click here.

2. Post new threads in the correct forum. Moderators may move posts to the proper forum.

3. Mark triggering posts with a *T*. Topics that may be triggering to other members and may need a warning include posts that contain your story, descriptions of violence or weapons; discussions about self-injury, eating disorders, religion or suicidal feelings; and so on. However, we all need to keep in mind that much of what you see on this board will be triggering. Please keep safe and take responsibility for your own reactions when warranted.

4. Do not post:

  • Harassing posts, flames, or threats.
  • Discriminatory posts. Posts that are of direct or general insult to any particular person, gender, gender identity, sexuality, religion, race, or nationality will be edited, locked or deleted. Please click here for clarification on posts of a religious nature. For more information on our anti-discrimination policy, click here
  • Threads saying "you weren't there for me/the board isn't doing enough for me." If a post implies that the members of this board have not done enough, that post will be closed or deleted. Pandora's Aquarium stresses personal responsibility.
  • Suicide notes or good-bye letters (because of suicide). Click here for help and more information.
  • Negative posts about this or other message boards/survivor communities. If you have concerns with the operation of Pandora's Aquarium, please PM a board moderator. You can discuss issues from other forums without using names, URLs, or other identifying information.
  • Problems with other members. For more information on resolving and reporting problems with other members, please see this notice.
  • Threads for another person or hugs/dedication threads. Click here for additional clarification.
  • Inappropriate photographs, images, or videos. Click here for our policy.
  • Any identifying information, including photos or the full name of your perpetrator or abuser, unless he or she has been convicted of the crime you are accusing. If your perpetrator has been convicted, you must provide the staff with proof of the conviction before posting his or her full name or any identifying information. Contact the board moderators for more information.
  • Discussion about illegal activities. You may not use the board, including the email or PM services, to discuss illegal activities you or anyone else are contemplating or have committed, whether past, present, or future. See this thread for more information.
  • Intentions to undertake risky activities. Click here for more information.
  • Seeking medical advice. The board and its members are not in a position to respond to medical queries - please always seek advice from a qualified professional about any medical issues you may have. This applies to those seeking traditional or alternative treatment paths. Please click here for more information on our policy regarding medical advice.
  • If your ability to post coherently is affected by drugs / alcohol, and refrain from stating in posts that you are under the influence of drugs / alcohol.

5. Avoid the following:

  • Swearing in post titles and status updates. Swearing within posts is permitted. A warning to others is appreciated.
  • Colored text in forum posts, writing in all caps or in alternating upper and lower case. These can be hard on the eyes and make it difficult for those with vision impairment to read.
  • Animated avatars. Please limit your avatar choices to static, or non-moving, avatars only.
  • Signature graphics. Signatures should not be larger than two inches, and one image is permitted only if it is standard "emoticon"-sized or smaller. No tickers, countdowns, etc. Contact a moderator if you are unsure if your signature complies with this rule.
  • Animated graphics. Please avoid the use of large and/or animated graphics/emoticons within posts.

6. Copyrighted material: Include a link to the source when posting copyrighted text. This includes text from other websites, newspapers, or online articles. Either use the quote code or make it obvious that you are quoting material not your own.

7. Erased posts will be deleted. You can edit the texts of your post; click here for more information.

8. Soliciting direct donations MUST go through moderators. Clarification can be found here.

9. Weight, body size, and calories: Click here for details on how and where to post about these issues.

10. Specific descriptions of self injury or eating disorder behaviors will be edited. Please refer to the self injury/eating disorder forum guidelines for more details on how to post about these issues.

11. Moderators may use discretion in dealing with other posts that are questionable.


Staff Responses

To insure the safety of this board and its members, there may be consequences to not following board rules. We will typically respond in the following manner:

1) For rules affecting board organization, the moderators will simply correct the problem. For instance, we may move a thread or add a trigger warning. You may or may not be notified of the change.

2) For guidelines that do not affect board safety, you will be PMed and reminded of the guideline. For instance, if you have a large signature picture, you'll be asked to remove it. If you post something that might be construed as an intention to attempt suicide, a moderator will remove that portion of your post and PM you to check in.

3) For guidelines that affect board safety, we will proceed in the following manner: First, you will be warned. Second, your account may be temporarily suspended or your posting privileges reduced. For a third offense, you will unfortunately be banned. In rare circumstances where board safety is compromised and a warning is not appropriate or possible, a ban may be put under place immediately. This is highly unusual and typically affects only "trolls" who come here to cause trouble or do damage.

If you have come here only to hurt others, you will be banned and reported. IP addresses are logged and viewable by moderators, so you may be reported to your ISP if we feel it is necessary.

These rules are subject to change; when possible, notice of changes will be made in the announcements forum.

***This board is not to be used in place of professional counseling or therapy. We are not professionals; we are survivors who can support one another through the healing process.***

Additional Clarification

DID policy:
Members diagnosed with DID are very welcome in this community. However, we do not permit alters to post openly on the board as separate individuals or to even identify themselves as alters. Members with DID are welcome to post under one username and all alters using that name will not distinguish themselves from the 'host' personality. Furthermore, all alters posting under the username must be alters over the age of 16. Moderators reserve the right to edit and delete posts in order to preserve the overall safety of our membership. Please contact a board moderator if you do not understand the guidelines laid out or think you will have difficulty adhering to them.

Safety/sharing info:
We strongly discourage you from sharing any personal information via this online community, and Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. assumes no liability if you choose to divulge this information. It is not acceptable to pressure another member into giving out personal information, including mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and instant messenger screennames. Under no circumstances may a member share the personal information of another member. For more information on safety, see this thread.

Pandora's Aquarium is to be used for peer support only:
You may not access, read, copy, or otherwise reproduce, transmit, or communicate any portion of Pandora's Aquarium for other purposes. Members here retain complete control over their stories. Thus, this includes reporting sexual, physical, or emotional abuse that other members have experienced or are experiencing. This is a safe place for adult members to confidentially discuss ongoing abuse. However, it should be noted that in situations where a minor (a person under age 18) is disclosing ongoing abuse, the board moderators may report the information provided to and collected by pandys.org to protective services. The law requires such reports of abuse in some situations in order to protect children. Moderators will use their discretion in reporting other situations involving minors. If you think abuse must be reported to authorities, contact a moderator. Please see the Terms of Service for more information.

Leaving the board:
If you decide to leave the board, you may certainly inform other members by posting. However, posts blaming other members or moderators for your decision to leave will be deleted and your account may be banned. Pandora's Aquarium stresses that each survivor is ultimately responsible for him or herself.

If a member posts that he or she is leaving the board indefinitely, his or her account will be placed on inactive guest status and will lose access to the private forums (your posts and messages will not be deleted). If you decide at some point that you would like to return, you can contact the moderators at admin@pandys.org and request reinstatement of your account.

If you inform us that you are leaving the board, we will set your account to inactive status unless you specifically request that it is deleted. We reserve the right to deny requests for account deletion.

See this thread for more information.

Relationship violence:
You will notice that we have a forum for people experiencing relationship violence, or those who have experienced it in the past. This board exists as a safe haven for them to speak about their experiences, fears and doubts in a non-judgmental environment. We hope it goes without saying that you will refrain from blaming or judging survivors of domestic violence. If a survivor of domestic violence has children, it is unhelpful and unsupportive to to demand they take action for "the sake of the children", or indeed that their current inability to do so is in any way negligent of their children' needs. Please resist the urge to impose your ideas about what somebody should or must do. There are gentle ways of offering suggestions for change, but please be attuned to what the survivor is asking for - perhaps it isn't advice, but all he/she needs right now is somebody to break the silence to.

We encourage religious diversity on the board, as well as people who embrace no faith. You may discuss how your religious belief has assisted you in healing - we have a Spirituality forum for this. However, you may not bash other religions, "proselytize", that is, try and convert people to your religion, or condemn as "sinful" other member's lifestyles or choices such as homosexuality, abortion or sex outside of marriage. When you state your beliefs, own them as yours rather than making blanket statements - for example we have had problems in the past with people registering to tell members that if they "turn to Jesus" all their problems will be resolved. We respect that this has worked for you, but you must respect that this is not true for everybody. Importantly, please do not offer to pray for somebody unless prayer is requested.

Members must also be free to discuss harm done to them by religion, and they must not be answered with hostile defences of the religion to which you adhere. That said, if you wish to discuss harm by a religion, you need to do so without making negative blanket statements about the religion as a whole. If you are an atheist, please refrain from derogatory comments about religion.

Suicidal ideation/notes:
If you are thinking of suicide, please call the police, a local hotline, or RAINN (1-800-656-HOPE). We understand that everyone isn't always in a happy mood, and you can definitely post about how you're feeling, but that does not include suicide notes (or posts that could be interpreted as suicide notes). Most of the people here are not trained professionals. While we want to help you through your difficult times, the feeling of helplessness that comes with reading someone's suicide note online is incredible. Please seek help from someone who can help to keep you safe. In situations where a member expresses clear and imminent suicidal ideation, the moderators of this board may report the information provided to and collected by pandys.org to local authorities. For more information on our suicide policy, and for resources, please read more here.

Posting for Others - Hugs/dedication threads:
Pandys has always been a community of fantastic support and the hugs/dedications threads are a demonstration of just how supportive members here are. However we have to ask that posts asking for support on behalf of other members are no longer started on the board.

While we appreciate that these threads are well-meaning, there have been concerns that some members may feel left out or hurt if they don't get a thread posted for them and that new members may get the impression that the board is cliquey. There are also worries that some members may not be comfortable having posts dedicated to them without their consent.

In the event of extenuating circumstances that prevent a member posting for themselves (i.e. unexpected loss of internet access), please seek permission from the moderating team to post on that member's behalf to let people on the board know they are okay. These threads are intended to be FYI only in style and are not a place to seek ongoing support for the member in their absence. Threads started for another member without moderator permission will be removed by the moderating team.

The focus of the board has always been to encourage members to learn to use their own voice to ask for the support that they feel they want and need. Please feel free to continue to reach out to people via pm or in response to posts that members start for themselves. For additional information, please see this thread.

Images, photos, and videos:
You may post photographs of other people only with their permission. All posted images must be appropriate for a large audience of survivors of many ages. You may not post photographs of your abuser unless he or she has been convicted of the crime he or she perpetrated against you. In this case, please contact a moderator before posting any photographs. To protect Pandora's Aquarium from liability, you will need to provide evidence that your perpetrator has been convicted and that the photograph you are submitting is of the person who was convicted.

In the entertainment forum:
You may post entertainment-related videos or clips within the entertainment forum. These must be appropriate for all ages and should not be triggering. Please provide a description of the clip you've linked to. Please seek moderator approval for any clip that may be potentially triggering by sending a member of the moderating team the link. Members should be aware that moderators have not reviewed each video and watch them at their own risk, although we will make every reasonable effort to remove inappropriate videos swiftly.

On the rest of the board:
Seek moderator approval for any video or clip that you wish to post elsewhere on the board by sending any member of the moderating team the link. Please consider the size of the board and the time it can take pages to load when videos are posted when submitting your request as many members access the board using slower connection speeds. Additionally, we have members accessing the board through assistive technology for visual impairment - following the theme of discussion in a thread when using this software can be very difficult when members are sharing Youtube clips rather than actually speaking to one another.

Sometimes survivors choose to create their own healing-related videos as a form of expression and may wish to share them with other members here - we certainly welcome those kinds of requests. We will make every effort to deal with requests to post videos swiftly.

Videos or clips that are posted outside of these guidelines will be removed by the moderating team.

Risk-taking activities:
We understand that risk-taking is something many survivors have felt the urge towards, or have done in the past (for example, risky sexual or drug-taking behaviors). It is okay to post that we have considered it or that it holds a certain amount of appeal. We can also post about past situations, but it is not okay to post about imminent situations; that leaves the rest of the board feeling very powerless. For clarification, see this thread.

Erasing your own posts:
If you erase your post, please edit the subject line to read *deleted* as well so that members do not spend time trying to read a thread that's been erased. If you erase the first thread in a topic, the whole topic will be removed. However, we retain copies of the replies so those can be PMed to you at your request.

Appeal for funds:
All appeals for funds must be approved by the moderating team before a post is made. In the case of raising money to support an individual member of the board, the need must be verifiable by a moderator. Furthermore, any money donated must be directed towards a legal, identifiable and time-limited goal, like providing funds to support basic human needs, for a limited period of time. All fundraising efforts that have not been approved by the moderating team will be immediately deleted.

Numbers and weight:
Except within the password protected Body and Fitness subforum. Within that forum, healthy and achievable weight-related goals and milestones may be posted with numbers. However, since the Body and Fitness subforum is health and wellness oriented, moderators may use their discretion when editing weight-related posts that seem to diverge from that goal.

Asking for medical advice
Our definition of medical advice includes traditional and alternative therapies, including all medication, treatments and supplements. Please ensure you abide the following guidelines regarding asking for medical advice:

Asking for a medical opinion: It is not permissible to ask members for a medical opinion on the board or in the chat room--even if that member claims to be a medical professional. This means that it is not appropriate to ask members to comment on the seriousness or cause of any symptoms you may have, ask them to suggest a diagnosis, or comment on a potential or actual treatment. Similarly, it is not appropriate for any member to argue for or against a certain medical treatment or to suggest an alternative treatment to that which the member in question is taking.

Asking for information: If you want to know more about a medical condition we encourage you to talk to a qualified medical professional. It is not okay to ask members to explain a medical diagnosis or treatment, or to offer such explanations yourself. However, you are allowed to post on the board to find other members who have similar diagnoses to you and to discuss coping strategies, or how the diagnosis affects you and your healing. Keep in mind that members on this board can only provide you with peer support, and not medical advice.

Providing information which allows members to infer conclusions regarding their own medical conditions/treatments: While it is permissible for you to talk about your diagnoses and treatments, it is not permissible to provide information in such a way that allows other members to infer medical information. For example, while you may say that you take a certain medication(s), you cannot state the dosage or frequency of this medication. We do this for two reasons: one, members offering you support do not need to know this information; and two, other members on similar medication(s) to you could potentially believe it would be safe to alter their own medication dosages to the levels you are taking, without seeking professional medical advice. Each patient's situation is unique, and the only person qualified to make medical decisions for a member is a professional who knows the patient's case history and diagnosis.

Members have much more latitude about what is permissible to post in blogs, since your blog is your own private space to express yourself. When blogging, we ask that you refrain from using your blog to discuss

a.suicidal intentions
b. criminal activities
c. details that will identify your perp
d. negative feelings about Pandy's board and staff members

Please note that we want you to be able to use your blog as your own healing journal, so we allow more expressive freedom in the blog section, but we do reserve the right to ask people to edit or set entries to invisible. In particular, we ask you to be understanding if we need to ask you to edit/set to invisible entries with graphic descriptions of self injury and graphic descriptions of eating disordered behavior.

Note: The minimum age requirement was raised from 13 to 16 on March 5, 2009. Minors under the age of 16 who registered prior to this change may retain their accounts. Those who register on or after this date must be 16 years of age or older.

Pandora's Project is committed to providing free or low-cost services to all survivors of sexual violence, regardless of race, gender, color, cultural heritage, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, or source of income.

Your use of the Pandora's Aquarium online support community constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Service.

To reach the administrators of this board, email admin at pandys.org

© Pandora's Aquarium 2009 (all rights reserved). Do NOT copy any part of this post for use on your own forum without express permission from us. To use our text without permission is a violation of the law.

#2 Kate

  • Swirling round with this familiar parable...

  • Moderator
  • posts: 26,542

Posted 07 December 2011 - 04:41 AM


Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. is not intended to be a substitute for professional assistance. All members and visitors are encouraged to establish a relationship with a trained counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. offers rape and sexual abuse survivor-to-survivor support only. Despite any qualifications staff or members possess, they are not engaged in a professional relationship with any other member. Survivors in crisis are urged to seek local help by contacting 911 or their local rape crisis center. Use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Service located here.