Why we’re here:
Years ago an abuse survivor was searching on the web for help. There were lots of sites for survivors of abuse but only one that had the kind of in-depth, powerful, insightful discussion he was looking for. After a few weeks on their discussion boards he made an amazing connection – he found someone who had more in common with him than anyone he had ever met. They exchanged several long, meaningful posts. Healing was happening.
Then the site went down. Their correspondence was lost. The web master left a note up saying he had been hastily forced to delete everything. The site never came back up.
The abuse survivor was also a professional web designer. He decided to create a well-rounded, professionally-designed site to help other abuse survivors heal. The idea for isurvive.org was born.
A bit of history:
After hatching the idea for isurvive.org, it was decided to have it incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The original owner asked 2 people he knew very well to serve on the Board of Directors with him.
Having a non-profit status allowed isurvive.org more security and offered better protection to participants. Thanks to this non-profit status, those who may not support our potentially controversial discussion topics will have a much tougher time silencing our exchange.
Lori Schmitt joined the community as a Moderator, checking forums for editing and offering words of support where she could. Her role was small, but she took pride in being able to give a little something to a population of individuals trying to heal from childhood trauma.
Both the builder of isurvive.org and the Executive Director decided to leave. The position was offered to the Moderators first. Lori submitted her resume, was interviewed twice and finally given ownership of isurvive.org.
Lori’s focus on isurvive was second to none and she gave it an even more personal touch by adding a Toll-free number so that members could talk to her directly if they were struggling or needed resources. She put in many hours each day to ensure the safety of isurvive and put all who came to join first and foremost.
No documented information.
The message boards were upgraded to add even more security for the members. A secure chat room was installed to enable people to meet with those they had built friendships with on the forums. Lori gave a personal touch that was rarely seen on message boards like these, believing that everybody who came through the doors of isurvive deserved to be cared about; and she did just that.
Gizmo, who had been quietly working behind the scenes, joined as Lori’s assistant. She had been an active member of isurvive under another handle for some time and her background, as a qualified therapist in the UK, enabled her to give valuable insight and support. Gizmo was also asked to sit on the Board of Directors as Treasurer.
No documented information.
By this point Lori was pretty much running solo, and the workload for one person was overwhelming. This was when Jonesy joined the team as a much-needed Moderator and assistant to Lori. Her role was to offer member support and work behind the scenes in the war against spam.
Lori passed away very suddenly in February. This left a huge hole in the organisation as many members had developed close relationships with her, but it was a unanimous decision that isurvive would continue to be there for survivors. The Board of Directors appointed Jonesy and Gizmo as Co-Directors.
A lot of work had to be done in a very short time, as it quickly became apparent that the very existence of isurvive was in jeopardy. Our non-profit status had lapsed, due to an oversight the previous year when a form had not been filed. This resulted in a requirement to resubmit paperwork dating back to 2004. Our paperwork and accounts desperately required attention to make this happen. At this point Jonesy’s husband, who had a background in finance and experience serving on Boards, stepped up and joined the team as Treasurer.
A decision was made to transfer isurvive.org from a USA based server to one in the UK and, at the same time, the site took on a fresh new look. Vince joined us to offer direct technical support as required.
Gizmo departed in August to help create a new support site for abuse survivors and so the Board of Directors appointed Jonesy as Operational Director.
We added a new WordPress home page https://isurvive.org/ which allowed guests easier access to our resources and provided further information on our organisation. The forums were also upgraded to take on a cohesive look with the full site.
In December, following some changes to the Board of Directors, a lawyer was appointed to revise both our website policies and our Terms and Conditions of use. We desperately wanted to ensure that isurvive.org was an inclusive organisation, with no place for discrimination.
In January, a new parent forum was created called The Dissociative Youth Forum (DYF). This was a password protected area which all members could request access to but, more importantly, gave an added layer of security to those members with younger parts.
Our new Terms & Conditions of Use https://isurvive.org/terms-and-conditions-of-use/ went into place, giving us a sound structure and adding further protection and safety to the site and membership.
To ensure transparency of the organisation, 2 new positions (Moderator Representative/ Member Representative) were created on the Board of Directors. This provided valuable insight as to what goes on behind the scenes and opportunity to help shape decisions.
The site was upgraded to a dedicated server in August, which increased the speed of performance, ensured security and reduced traffic issues.
We wrote to the original board members named on the 2001 non-profit application to try and fill the gaps in our timeline above. Sadly 2 of the 7 letters were returned to sender and no replies were ever received.
A new area of the site was established on WordPress entitled ‘Articles & Blog’ https://isurvive.org/articles-blog/. It covered topics such as healing, aftereffects, stories of recovery, research and reviews.
Many members were experiencing difficulties when accessing the site via a mobile device and so we reintroduced Tapatalk, following a fix of previous issues. We also added Google Translate to open the site to non-English speakers.
In March, we were nominated for, and won, best site of the month by our server providers Heart Internet.
One of our members came up with the wonderful idea of creating isurvive.org business cards as a means of reaching out to survivors. They were mailed to our moderators, board members and some forum members throughout the UK, USA, Germany, Belgium, Australia & Canada. The response by those willing to distribute them was overwhelming and in total 1000 cards were ordered up.
We partnered with GoodTherapy.org through their Good Cause programme https://www.goodtherapy.org/good-cause.html which gave us increased exposure to a wider audience as another means of trying to raise much needed funds.
A new subforum was created called ‘Events Calendar’ https://isurvive.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=63 so that members could be made aware of upcoming events, courses and performances which may be of interest.
The Forum Guidelines were updated to make it clear that site leadership would attempt to do what they could, in terms of reporting, should they suspect a minor to be in danger.
This was a difficult year for the chat room as we were bombarded with many technical issues, particularly affecting those logging in through a mobile device.
Disaster struck in February, when an issue with our service provider caused the server to go down. This resulted in the destruction of our WordPress area and rendered it completely inaccessible for over a week. It was rebuilt but troubles continued and, as a precaution, a decision was made to shut the site down for several days to ensure security was adequately restored.
Serenity, who was also an active member under a different username, joined the team as a Moderator.
This was another highly frustrating year, blighted with IT issues and software upgrades, which culminated in the site getting a fresh new look with subtle colour changes.
Ongoing IT issues continued to plague us, and we sought new technical support. Russ came on board and assisted in restoring outstanding issues from the crash in 2016. He also ensured a smooth transition to our new host.
We moved chat providers twice this year trying to find one best suited to our needs and finally settled on Rumbletalk.
Serenity was appointed as Co-Director to assist Jonesy in the daily running of the site, as the workload for one person was just too much. Her ever-expanding role included the organisation of our resources and registration of new members.
In March we made the sad decision to no longer seek ways of restoring the content from our old 2001-2006 message board (Orange Site). Russ had spent hours; restoring databases, configuring ancient PERL scripts / installing dependencies on the host to make it run. He successfully restored the database to the point that he could search if he was looking for something specific but was unable to get the actual board software to run. We still have the data safely stored but are unable to make it accessible to the members.
Russ also spent a considerable amount of time restoring the database from our old 2006-2011 forum (Blue Site) but was unable to make it viewable.
Harmony, who had been a moderator for some time, was appointed to the role of Administrator – to assist with new member registrations.
A new Parent Forum was created on the Board Index called ‘Light-hearted & Off Topic’ https://isurvive.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=71. This quickly proved very popular.
Much time was spent verifying and directly linking the books listed in our resources to Amazon. This meant that, as a means of fund raising, we would receive a donation if someone clicked through and made a purchase https://isurvive.org/helpful-resources/books-you-may-find-helpful/
We support responsible research into trauma related issues, so set up a thread where the Board of Directors could post vetted studies to members https://isurvive.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=9376
The chat room was sadly still going through a phase of inactivity. We knew how valuable this resource was and set about a revival. As a way of giving something back to the site, several members stepped up to offer regular availability at a specific time. And so was born our Chat Room Timetable, https://isurvive.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=9473, giving guidance to the membership as to when someone planned to be available and encouragement to come join them.
Our Forum Guidelines were updated to include clarification on Religious References https://isurvive.org/join-our-forum/forum-guidelines/#Posting and the Chat Guidelines were updated to include some guidance on Chat Etiquette https://isurvive.org/join-our-forum/chat-guidelines/. Security upgrades were performed alongside regular updates to the full site.
The wording on our registration page https://isurvive.org/forum/ucp.php?mode=register and automated email responses were updated. We also purchased the Backup Manager service through InMotion (our host) which automatically backs up the entire site and ensures all data is secure.
For several years, without success, we had been desperately trying to find someone able and willing to reinstate the broken links to our archived sites (Blue and Orange). We still have the data stored, but technology has moved on at such an alarming rate that the software running those versions of the site had become obsolete. Therefore, the sad decision was made to remove them from the board index.
We decided to transfer all funds from our UK bank account to the USA account, since all expenditure comes from there. However, the UK account remains open to receive Easyfundraising donations https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/.
Our Treasurer stepped down after 8 valuable years and one of the other Board members was appointed to take over.
This turned out to be yet another frustrating year, blighted with many technology issues. We continued to seek out someone who could work with us to resolve these ongoing problems.
The Forum Guidelines https://isurvive.org/join-our-forum/forum-guidelines/#Posting were amended to include two new sections called ‘Responding to Others’ and ‘Expressing Strong Emotions’.
We created a new forum called ‘Self-Care Center’ https://isurvive.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=81 where members could share and discuss grounding techniques and self-care strategies.
We employed Charles from Freelancer.com to help out with the technical issues. He ran updates, installed a new style with customisations and performed repairs. The site is now running smoothly.
The membership grows continually and includes survivors from around the world.
Jonesy and Serenity (along with the Board of Directors and a team of Moderators) continue to give of their time freely. Our collective goal is to ensure the safety, support and on-going work, of the haven that is isurvive.