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Pandora's Aquarium Frequently Asked Questions

Have any questions about our online support group, message board, and chat room for rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse survivors? Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the forum and our non-profit organization.  If this FAQ doesn't answer your questions, you may contact us at any time.

If you are in need of immediate assistance, please contact your local emergency number, rape crisis center, or 1-800-656-HOPE. We also have additional information for you if you are in crisis. If you were just raped, please read this.

Who can join the message board and chat rom?
If you have been the victim of rape, sexual assault, or sexual abuse, you belong at Pandy's.  Additionally, friends, family, and partners of survivors are welcome to join. Please read Who Belongs Here

What happened to me wasn't that bad.  Do I still belong?
We do not judge or rank your pain here.  Not all rape is violent; not all abuse is repeated. We honor what happened to you, and there is no need to compare your experience to someone else's.  You deserve to heal, and no one on Pandy's will tell you to "get over it" because it wasn't bad.   All sexual violence is bad. 

I am not sure that what happened to me was rape.  Can I still join?
Absolutely.  Rape and sexual abuse take many different forms, and laws vary on what constitutes the crime of sexual abuse.  If you are looking for support, reassurance, or help naming what happened, consider joining the board.   

My wife/husband was just raped - My girlfriend/boyfriend told me she was sexually abused. What can I do?
First of all, please know that it will get better and you are not alone.  Check out our section for secondary survivors for more information. Remember that it is okay for you to hurt, too.

Why should I join Pandora's Aquarium?
Join because you have never written the words, "I was raped" or "I was sexually abused."  Join because you want to tell your survivor story.  Join because being sexually violated is one of the most isolating things that can happen.  Join to have a place to post when you were triggered by a movie or a smell or a sound.  Join because you want to tell something you've never told anyone before.  Join because you're ready to heal.  Join because you feel crazy, like no understands.  Join because you live in a rural area with no support groups or rape crisis center.  Join because you're not ready for face-to-face support. Join because it's a whole week between therapist sessions and you need something in between.  Join because you can't find/afford/handle a therapist right now.  Join because it's not as scary signing up as it seems.  Join because by doing so, you join arms with thousands of others who understand.  Join for whatever reason it takes for you to get help. 

How much personal information do I have to give to sign up?

None.  When you sign up, we need you to pick a username and give us a real email address, but neither needs to or should involve your real name.  Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

How do I join up?
You can find step-by-step registration instructions here.

How old do I need to be to join?
You have to be 16 to join the community. If you're under 16, we have some resources available to help you find assistance. Users under 18 need permission from their parents to use websites like this.

Who moderates this place, and why do you do it?
You can get to know some of our leadership here. We are joined by chat moderators, who host monthly topic chats; section moderators, who have expertise in particular areas; and Team Welcome, a group dedicated to our newest members. We try our hardest to make this board a safe and healthy place for all sexual violence survivors.  We are dedicated to making sure rape and sexual abuse survivors have the support and resources they need to heal, recover, and reclaim their lives. 

I am male/female/transgender, gay/straight/bi, Christian/Muslim/Jewish/atheist, American/Chinese/Indian, a victim of sexual violence by a man/woman/gang, or survivor of date/stranger rape or partner/spousal rape or incest or child sexual abuse or attempted rape. Do I really belong here?
Yes. We accept you here, as you are. For more on that, please read Who Belongs Here.  We are here for ALL sexual violence survivors, and survivors don't always fit a mold. As different as we all might be, we are united because we are survivors. We are a part of a secret club we never asked to join.  There are too many of us, but at least we are not alone.

What if I am not ready to tell my story?
That's okay. You can do it now or never. You own your story and can tell it when and how you want. You don't even have to post. Some members read silently for years before posting an introduction.

What makes Pandy's so great?
First and most importantly, our members are wonderful, wise, supportive, insightful, caring and kind. This community would be nothing without them. Second, we've been in existence since 1999. We won't go away next week, and we are always improving. Third, we're very active. Pandy's gets 1,000 new posts a day and has nearly a million archived posts. Fourth, we strive to make Pandy's as safe as an internet site can be because we know how sensitive these topics are. Fifth, chat and survivor blogs are fun and useful additions to our community. Sixth, amazing chat moderators hold helpful, member-contributed topic chats. Seventh, we're all survivors here.  We've all been through it and understand best as anyone can.  I could go on, but join up and see for yourself what makes Pandora's Aquarium a community worth being a part of.

How is Pandora's Aquarium funded?
Through voluntary member donations. Our Donate page has more information.

How can I chat?
First, register for the message board. Then, we want to get to know you a little bit due to the real-time nature of chat, and the close connections survivors make in the chat room. Once you have been a member for at least one week and you have posted on the message board at least ten times, you will be eligible to enter the chat room. You have been a member for at least one week and you have posted on the message board at least ten times

What is sexual abuse?
You can find a definition page here. And while we're at it, we can also help answer What is Sexual Assault? and What is Rape?

What kind of organization is Pandora's Project?
We are a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Minnesota.  Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. was recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in July 2008.  Monetary and in-kind donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by US law. 

Where does the the name Pandora's Aquarium come from?
The title is from a song by Tori Amos, also called Pandora's Aquarium.  Click here to read more about the history of the board and its connection to Tori Amos.

Can I link to Pandora's Aquarium?
Of course, we would be honored!  We even have some banners that you can use.

How can I stay safe online?
Check out these internet safety tips from WomensLaw.org.

Why do some other survivor forums resemble Pandy's so much?
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Pandora's Aquarium was the first to form a message board like this, and with nearly ten years of experience running an online forum for rape and sexual abuse survivors, we believe we have a good thing going. Several other survivor communities agree, and use a structure and rules very similar to ours.


Ready to join the online support group? Visit Pandora's Aquarium to read more and register.