Guidelines for All Members and Guests

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Guidelines for All Members and Guests
« on: May 07, 2015, 09:56:34 AM »
(Updated Nov 1st, 2016)

Welcome to Out of the Storm (OOTS)

OOTS is a not-for-profit web site and discussion forum created and maintained by volunteers dealing with Complex PTSD. 

The web site is intended to provide credible information about the disorder (to the extent possible given we are not mental health professionals), raise awareness, contribute to prevention efforts, and join with other organizations in calling for more and higher quality trauma informed treatment and services.

The forum is intended to provide a venue for those whose lives have been affected by Complex Post Traumatic Disorder (CPTSD) to: connect and move out of isolation; give and receive support; contribute knowledge about the experience of living with and recovering from Complex PTSD; and to learn from one another.


The authors and members of this site are not medical or mental health professionals, and the site and discussion board are not intended to be a substitute or replacement for professional therapy or mental health services.

Administration of the Board

The Site Manager has overall control of everything that happens on the board; how the board is styled, what forums to create and how to organize them, and who to appoint as Moderators.  The Site Manager has final say in the event of situations on the board which cannot or should not be handled by the Moderation Team (e.g., a complaint has been lodged against a Moderator; a member has become hostile or aggressive toward a member of the Moderation Team or OOTS community.)

In order to keep the membership roster meaningful, the Site Manager may periodically remove accounts which have never submitted a post and have been inactive for an extended period of time.  Members who have submitted at least one (not spam) post to the boards will not have their accounts pruned because of inactivity.  Members who have had their account pruned because of inactivity have the option to create a new account with the same user name if they wish.

Moderation of the Board

Give the board has grown quite large, it has proven difficult for moderators to keep up with scanning all posts on a daily basis.  As such, OOTS has moved to asking members to be active in reporting problematic posts to keep OOTS a safe and respectful environment as possible. When a post does not follow the guidelines, click on the "Report to Moderator" button at the bottom of the post in question. When a report is received Moderators will discuss the post and take appropriate action.  Your member name will be kept confidential if/when you report a post.   We ask that all members allow the Team to moderate the reported posts rather than step into a situation themselves. 

The Moderation Team is responsible for editing or deleting posts which are determined to be in conflict with these Member Guidelines; and, issuing warnings and suspending accounts if a poster is not respecting others or contributing constructively in the spirit of the community. Moderation Team members make every effort to treat members with respect and OOTS members are encouraged to reciprocate. 

Getting Started

Begin by making a post in whatever forum seems most appropriate to you.  Many new members post an introductory post in the "Welcome to OOTS" forum, but this is not a requirement.  Please know that posts will be edited or removed which include:
  • comments about a current wish to kill oneself, self harm and/or harm others;
  • overly graphic content or words and/or swearing;
  • any discussion of moderating decisions (these are to be taken up by PM with the Moderating Team or Site manager); and,
  • advertisements, solicitations, offensive, sexually explicit, adult-oriented, violent or gratuitous, unrelated attention-seeking material
Modifying and Removing Posts

Currently OOTS members may “Modify” and “Remove” their own posts.  This is different than most others discussion forums.  Our reason for allowing this is that members very often feel vulnerable by speaking up about their feelings and the trauma and abuse they went through.  Being able to modify and/or remove posts provides a measure of safety and control.

This does have a downside as modifying and removing used often and/or in large amounts (e.g., removing all posts when a member leaves the site), can leave gaps in the threads and/or disrupt the flow and meaning of threads. We ask that you take this into consideration before you do remove/edit posts, but at the same time we encourage you to use "Modify" and/or "Remove' in a manner that helps you to feel safe and less vulnerable.   

Posting Style Guide

Most of us come here seeking validation from others who have been in similar situations. It can be a tremendous feeling to read an encouragement from another member who has read your post. If you want to have your post read and responded to by others here are a few helpful tips:
  • Pay attention to grammar and format.Write in full sentences, use punctuation, spell check and use emoticons and special fonts sparingly.
  • Keep your posts short. Although there are times when a post may need to be longer, members are encouraged to keep posts to 2 - 3 paragraphs as a rule of thumb.  If your posts tend to fill more than an entire computer screen, some readers may be tempted to "speed read" or skip to the end. Further, long posts tends to flood the board if made regularly so that the member begins to dominate the board and quieter members may not feel they have a chance to weigh in.
  • Don't post a huge block of text 20-50 lines long with no line breaks. Many people find that very difficult to read and will ignore your post. Use paragraphs to break up text and break up text with a double return to create extra space between paragraphs. Moderators may edit posts that do not have include paragraphs to make them more readable. Overall please try and keep most of your posts to a reasonable length (2-3 paragraphs maximum).
  • DON'T POST IN ALL CAPS. MANY PEOPLE FIND IT HARD TO READ BLOCKS OF TEXT WHICH HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS AND SOME PEOPLE INTERPRET THIS AS SHOUTING. As appropriate, moderators may edit the text formatting of posts (e.g. "block of text" or ALL CAPS) to make them more readable for members.
  • Do not use offensive, demeaning and/or inappropriate language. This refers to any language that is demeaning of others (e.g., sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, calling someone a derogatory or demeaning name such as “jackass”) and/or which is considered by many to be vulgar  (e.g., swearing, using the word “tits” instead of “breasts”). Most if not all members of OOTS have been demeaned through language in one way or another and as such, we encourage writing posts in a manner that is respectful of the trigger potential of language. If you wish to express anger via swearing, we ask that you do so sparingly and use a symbol mash (e.g., %^&$) rather than a word in full or using a mix of letters and symbols (“f**k” - the mind tends to fill in the word in the case vof a mix of letters and symbols). Please note that a filter is in place which screens out most swear words with an “*”.
  • Overly Graphic/Detailed Posts  - OOTS members are survivors of ongoing trauma and emotional/ physical/ sexual abuse. As such, detailed/graphic  accounts of the trauma/abuse can trigger painful emotional flashbacks for other members.  Please be very mindful of this and refrain from graphic descriptions of your trauma/abuse, just include enough information to give members the idea.  If you are unsure of whether or not a post is overly graphic, include the words "Trigger Warning" in the subject line of your post. Posts which go beyond what is necessary to describe your situation will be edited or removed.

Protecting the privacy of members at OOTS is paramount to members’ sense of safety and community and is taken very seriously. Absolute privacy/ confidentiality  cannot be guaranteed, but we will do as much as possible to protect members.  This includes encouraging you to protect your own privacy and that of other members.

Protecting the privacy of others - Members are expected to respect the privacy of others and not to solicit personal information via posts on the board or PMs.  If the Moderation Team receives a complaint and/or sees a pattern of doing so the member will be warned and possibly banned.

Protecting your privacy - It is strongly recommended that you  do not use your real name and carefully consider posting any information, a user name, email address, avatar or photo which would allow others to recognize you and/or your family/friends.  Anyone may join this site including those who have perpetrated or been involved in your abuse. 

Off-Board Information/Relationships

Protecting the confidentiality and privacy of members at OOTS is paramount to our members’ sense of safety and community.  One risk to this lies in using the Private Message (PM) feature or emailing in off-board relationships, and revealing personal information to someone who is not trustworthy. While building friendships here at OOTS is encouraged, the fact of the matter is this is the Internet and people are not always who they say they are. 

You are not obliged to answer any PM you receive or to provide any personal information to any individual, no matter how friendly or trustworthy they may appear. If you receive a first time PM which seems inappropriate, report it and the Moderators will discuss it with the sender. Members are strongly encouraged to go slowly and cautiously in any off-board PM relationship. If you start having red flags or the relationship has devolved into something negative, please be aware that Moderators cannot become involved in what inevitably turns into a “he said, she said” situation.  What we recommend if you do experience this, is to: a) end the relationship immediately; and, b) block the person's emails/PMs.

In terms of privacy and confidentiality, please be clear that members having personal information about another member they have learned off-board shall not disclose it to anyone other than in discussions with the Site Manager/ Moderators regarding problematic behaviour.  This is considered a serious breach of privacy and extends to the contents of any personal communications including email, personal messages, texts and telephone/face-to-face conversations.  Any information of this nature which is posted in the forum will be modified or removed by the moderator and the member warned. If it comes to light that this information was revealed to members other than the Site Manager/Moderators, the member will be warned and if there is a pattern of disclosing other members’ private information, the member will be banned.     

Please respect the privacy of others as you wish your own privacy to be respected so that we keep OOTS a safe haven in which everyone can focus on their recovery.   

Hijacking Threads

Posts should be targeted to the subject matter introduced by the originator of the thread.  You are welcome to introduce new ideas or topics by starting a separate thread. Conversations within a thread will often evolve and develop, and this is a healthy process that can help members come to a deeper understanding of the topic at hand.   However, when someone responds to a serious thread with an unrelated post which is mainly about themselves, an unrelated topic, or with a response that essentially derails the conversation, it is considered hijacking.  Do not hijack others' threads.  If you feel another poster has hijacked your thread, use the "Report to Moderator" function located at the bottom of the post you wish to report.

Flooding the Board

"Flooding" refers to making an ongoing overabundance of posts on the board.  Many of us post quite a bit when we first arrive at OOTS, but after we settle in we move into a more reasonable level of posting.  While we encourage members to post and find their voice in recovery (given that so many of us were silenced by our abusers), at the same time we each need to be cognizant of the fact that dominating the board may discourage other members from finding/using their voice. Thus, we encourage members to keep posts to reasonable length (1-3 paragraphs), to keep the daily number of posts to a reasonable level; and, to practice self-care and step away from the computer and try out recovery strategies and successes in real life. If the Moderation Team sees a pattern of flooding the member will be warned and possibly banned if the behaviour persists. 

Responding to Others

Choose your words wisely!  Speak to others as you would wish to be spoken to, and offer your comments in a respectful, constructive manner.  All members must respect  the opinions of others and recognize diversity as part of the learning and healing process. Please be considerate and non-judgmental about how others live their lives.  If you respond harshly or judgmentally, you will make it harder for others to post for fear of being judged.  Post that are considered judgmental, offensive or intolerant will be edited or removed by the Moderation Team, and the poster will be warned and possibly banned if the behaviour persists.

Dealing with Anger

Anger and frustration at your situation is to be expected at times, especially in the early stages of recovery.  However, anger and frustration expressed towards other members can be counter-productive.  Disagreements will happen from time to time, but you must remain respectful and refrain from personal attacks.  Posts which inappropriately express anger will be edited or removed and the poster will be warned and possibly banned if the behaviour persists.

Giving/Receiving Advice

OOTS is a confidential peer support group of men and women who are dealing with CPTSD.  We are not mental health professionals, and don't offer this board as a substitute for professional assistance.  Any advice given or received here should be taken in that context.

While we encourage members to support and encourage others in theirs recovery, it is important to remember that we are each here to work on our own recovery first and foremost.  Many of us with CPTSD have been trained to be caretakers and recovery for us involves resisting the temptation to do so here at OOTS.   

Feel free to share how you cope or have coped with various situations and to make suggestions (as long as they are phrased as such) - that's the purpose of this forum, but please don't make blanket statements like "You *should* do this and that" based on what you think and/or have read in the resources about CPTSD.  Another person's situation may be very different from yours.  Often, people need to come to their own conclusions in their own time frame. We are all coming from different stages, situations, and backgrounds.

If the Moderation Team sees a pattern of giving too much advice to others and not focusing on one's own recovery, the member will be warned and if the behaviour persists, possibly banned.


Flaming members or inflaming an already volatile thread is not allowed and such posts will be edited or removed, and the poster warned and possibly banned if the behaviour persists.

If You are in Crisis

We are not mental health professionals here at OOTS and, therefore, are not equipped to counsel anyone in the throes of a suicidal or threatening depression. If you are in crisis or a domestic violence situation, please do not wait. Reach out for help - it's out there for you! Please see the link at the top of the page for help lines.

Threats to Harm Self or Others

Posts about wanting to cause harm to yourself or someone else in the present or future are not allowed and will be removed from the boards immediately. The poster will be encouraged to seek immediate professional assistance for themselves or the person in their lives who is making the threat. (One exception to this rule is describing suicidal or self harm thoughts which have happened in the past.)  Note the "If you are in crisis" button at the top of this page which provides links to suicide, harm to self, and domestic violence organizations and hot lines internationally.

Any member who receives a personal message containing an ideation, threat of violence or harm should stop the conversation and report the PM using the "Report To Moderator" link provided at the bottom of each message.

We are a diverse community, comprising many races, religions, value systems, and beliefs.  Sometimes people of certain religions or of a particular political persuasion assume that everyone shares their values & beliefs or want to impose these beliefs on everyone.  Feel free to speak about what's important to you and how your values and beliefs affect your situation but please don't assume that everyone else is the same.  Degrading or offensive comments about a member's beliefs or groups of people are subject to removal.

Multiple Members from the Same Relationship

We are here to support our members, who are dealing with and learning to cope with others in their lives who suffer from CPTSD.  We are not here to mediate ongoing family conflicts or to serve as a platform for "he said /she said" type discussions. Identifying yourself as a family member, spouse, partner or acquaintance of an existing member and offering a contradictory account is not permitted. This is counter-productive to the purpose of this anonymous community and distracts other members from the work they have come to do here on themselves, by undermining the promise of a safe, anonymous forum in which to share their struggles.

Therefore, if it is determined by the Moderation Team that two (or more) members are in a relationship and posting contradictory information or accounts, only one of those members will be allowed to maintain membership at OOTS.   Preference will be given to the member who joined the community first.

Solicitation and Promotion of Products and/or Services

Solicitation of business, personal contact and direct marketing of products, services, websites, blogs & books or events for organizations, charities, individuals and groups is not permitted, subject to immediate removal and will result in a loss of the member's posting privileges.

Note: These guidelines have been adapted from those of our sister site, Out of the Fog.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 11:41:48 AM by Kizzie »
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion - Dalai Lama