Safe List Rules

Principles of Abuse Recovery

I. We are all responsible for the choices we make and the consequences of those choices. None of us are responsible for the choices made by others. Being responsible for a bad choice includes admitting what was done openly, admitting that it was a choice, making amends as possible, and taking steps to see to it that this bad choice will not happen again. This is called accountability.

II. Abuse tactics come in many styles and intensities. Abuse is always a choice, and it is always wrong. Anybody can abuse, and far too many do.

III. Recovery is something each of us has to do for ourselves. Each of us comes from a different place, each of us faces a different challenge, and each of us has a different set of strengths and weaknesses. And we all have different understandings of things. None of us is capable of healing for another, or doing for others what they won't do for themselves. Experts and therapists and programs and groups and friends and family members can be helpful in recovery, but our successes and our failures will be determined solely by our choices.

We are each responsible for our own healing, thoughts, feelings, behaviors and triggers. Nobody can make us feel, think or do anything. Our triggers and our reactions to them can give us some very important insights into ourselves and where we have opportunities to learn, heal and grow. It isn't fair that we have the responsibility for our own healing from abuse we may have experienced at the hands of others, but we are the only ones who can heal ourselves, and life's not always fair.

IV. Anonymity is crucial for some people participating in an abuse recovery environment. For others, it is less important. Confidentiality in the routine participation in an abuse recovery environment is essential. Maintaining confidentiality and anonymity is a function of respect, safety and trust, rather than secrecy, shame or fear.

V. Denial isn't de long river in Egypt. It's a coping skill that enables people to survive in intolerable circumstances. Denial tactics include minimizing abuse, rationalizing to make the abuse something other than abuse, and justifying the abuse (usually by blaming the victim). Everybody is in denial about something or the other, to some degree. Honesty and reality are the antidotes to denial. Denial which is not addressed will result in more abuse of increasing intensity.

VI. Abuse has very little to do with anger, and everything to do with power and control. People who are abusive do not have problems controlling their anger -- they have a need to have power and control over others. Learning to live abuse-free includes learning how to give up that need to control others and learning how to control one's own behavior.

VII. Abuse is supported by beliefs, values, and attitudes. The social messages we receive from friends, family, church, media, and other places can support those beliefs even when the sources of those messages do not intend to support abusive behavior. Learning to live abuse-free includes exploring those beliefs, values and attitudes and, sometimes, adjusting the meaning of those beliefs and how we see the world around us.

VIII. Abuse which is hidden is abuse which will happen again. Silence in response to abuse perpetuates the abuse. As the old recovery saying goes, we are only as sick as the secrets we keep. Another defines insanity as doing the same thing and expecting to get a different result. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Principles of Netiquette

IX. Be kind to your bandwidth. Bandwidth is a precious commodity on the net. No matter how we try, two packets of data can not share the space required by one. Minimizing the amount of unnecessary data being sent across the net will help improve performance for everybody.

X. Be kind to your fellow list members. We all have limited time, and some may have limited ability to receive and store e-mail. We all also have feelings, and good days and bad days, and strong points and weak points, and things we care about deeply and things we like and don't like. Treating all people with respect is an important part of living abuse-free.

XI. Be kind to your friendly list-owner. He's new at this list owner stuff, and has some rather large projects that need his attention besides this list.

With those principles in mind, here are the rules of the list (with the principles they pertain to).

  1. Abusive behavior will not be tolerated on this list. Those exhibiting abusive behavior will be given a chance to be accountable for what they've done, and hopefully can be kept on the list. There is a difference between disagreement (and even arguing) and abusive behavior. If you need a time-out to collect your thoughts and calm down before posting, please do so. ( I, II, VI)
  2. As much as possible, please keep discussions here in the first person -- talking about our own individual experiences and beliefs, rather than focusing on the statements and beliefs of others. This includes making "I" statements ("I hate you because you are a bitch" is not an "I" statement). Sharing experience, strength and hope is probably the greatest thing each of us have to offer -- we've paid a high price to learn those things. (I, III)
  3. Confronting denial can play an important role in abuse recovery. However, that confronting needs to be handled with care, so as to keep it effective and from becoming abusive. Many times, this confronting is done quite effectively with clarifying question. (I, V, VII, VIII)
  4. Please do not blame others on the list for saying things which trigger memories or feelings in you. By the same token, please be considerate of the feelings of others and do not intentionally say things in order to be hurtful, as that is abusive behavior. (II, III)
  5. Feel free to share concepts and resources with the list which you've found helpful, and please attribute sources. However, understand that experts and honest people can and do disagree on fundamental issues regarding abuse, so please do not use these matters as if they were authoritative for the purposes of argument. Specifically, arguments based on statistics and studies should be avoided most of the time. (III)
  6. Please do not compare yourself to others in terms of stage of recovery or intensity of abuse tactics. No matter who we are, we can always find someone who has done worse, and we can all find someone who has done better, and none of that makes a wrong choice right. Rather, try to relate to what others say and to find pieces which resonate in you and learn from them. (III)
  7. Messages on the list are the property of the person posting them. Forwarding posts from the list or otherwise divulging their contents without the explicit permission of the author will not be allowed. The only exception to this will be when evidence of ongoing criminal behavior is divulged in a message, in which case that information will be given to proper legal authorities, preferably by the poster rather than the list-owner.
    The list-owner may request that certain particularly good posts be published on the list's web-site, but will not do so without the permission of each author. (IV)
  8. Do not seek identity or contact information for any list member beyond what they give. Do not breach any list member's anonymity, should the choose to participate on the list anonymously. Do not disclose that any person is a member of this list without their permission. (IV)
  9. Participation on the list is primarily for domestic abuse survivors, regardless of their gender or the gender of their abuser(s) -- that is, individuals who have experienced controlling, intimidating, or violent behaviors in intimate relationships. Advocates may be allowed to subscribe on a case-by-case basis. (IV)
  10. HTML formatted messages should be avoided (the kind that let you include pretty pictures and nice fonts). These use up more bandwidth than standard ascii formatted messages, aren't always readable on different screens or in mail readers that don't support HTML, and pose potential security risks to other list members. If you need help setting your mail reader to turn this feature off, feel free to contact the list owner ( (IX,X)
  11. File attachments will not be allowed. If you have a file which you think would be of interest to list members, post a message describing it and see how much interest there is. It is possible to add the file to the Safe website, and then post the url to the list, or to send the file attachments to specifically those who have interest in it (if it's only a handful or so). (IX, X)
  12. When replying to a post, please keep the material you quote from that post to the minimum necessary to be clear what you are responding to. Multiple generations of quoting are rarely necessary. Quoting an entire post to make a one-line response is rarely necessary. Quoted material should, in most cases, comprise less than half of your message body. Also, please be as clear as possible in denoting quoted material as to who you are quoting. If you take the conversation in a distinctly different direction (or if the thread has wandered from the original topic), please change the subject line accordingly (ie, put the new subject, the "was " and then the old subject). (IX, X)
  13. Consider whether your response is better done to the poster alone, or to the list as a whole before sending it. (IX, X)
  14. Please avoid the use of ALL-CAPS -- it is generally considered shouting, and, as such, should be used sparingly. There are other forms of emphasis available, including *starring*, _underlining_ and ad-hoc pseudo html like <shouting> this </shouting>. And please use paragraphs to break up your writing -- it improves readability dramatically and makes responding to your comments much easier.
  15. Please keep your posts to the list on topic. The topic of this list is learning how to find a safe space and heal, and posts here should be supportive of that. Specifically, commercial e-mail is off-topic, as are general political or religious topics (although some specific political and religious discussions will be on-topic if they pertain to abuse and recovery). (IX, X, XI)
  16. News items should not generally be posted to the list, although uris of web copies of them can be posted when appropriate. (IX, X, XI)
  17. Please designate messages which are part of meta-conversations (those regarding how a discussion is being handled rather than part of the discussion itself) by prefixing the subject with [meta] or [m]. Also, please designate messages which have to do with administrative questions (list rules, majordomo features, the list website, etc.) with [admin] or [a] before the subject. This will allow those who aren't interested in meta-conversations or administrative issues to easily skip them, and those who are particularly interested in them to be sure not to miss them. (X)
  18. Abuse can have legal consequences. This list is not an appropriate place to share legal advice, particularly for folks (like the list-owner) who aren't attorneys. The list-owner isn't going to suggest that anybody disobey applicable law in their locality except in extraordinary circumstances. (XI)
  19. Requests to change your subscription status or to unsubscribe should be handled through the Yahoo-groups interface, not sent to the list address. (XI)

Many of these rules are guidelines. If there is any question about any of them, feel free to bring it up with the list-owner. Most all of them can be changed if need be.

Anonymous Participation

Relative levels of anonymity can be achieved through the use of such services as,,,, etc. Other methods of anonymous participation can be explored if anyone finds these methods inadequate. The list-owner can be reached anonymously at to discuss those concerns and to help explore other options.


This document is a work in progress. It will be revised from time to time, and will be posted to the list with a subject beginning with [admin] after each revision is completed.

For more information about the list, please contact the list-owner at

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