Updated: Feb 29, 2020
The majority of those who grew up in dysfunctional environments don't know that it's proven that most of their challenges, chronic pain and illnesses are a result of their adverse childhood experiences.
Children develop coping mechanisms like a high pain tolerance and/or ability to "go away" or detach from their environments. The coping mechanisms act as bodyguards to help them survive and manage overwhelming experiences. But when the body guards are on duty because the dysfunction is chronic, the developing brain becomes wired for fear, the body is bathed is stress hormones creating inflammation and constriction and the bad memories are stored in the subconscious mind and somatic (muscle/tissues) of the body.
The central issue is that the body guards stay "on guard" long after they are no longer needed. They continue to inform our behaviors and pull our strings in ways that we cannot see! The body guards that were a blessing during childhood become overly protective, meddling and irritating over time. Almost as if they've gone rogue, they stay on guard 24/7 and 365 and work against survivors.
Coping mechanisms needed to survive chronic fear are like body guards that stay "on guard" long after they are no longer needed. They continue to inform our behaviors and pull our strings in ways that we cannot see!
This phenomenon was irrefutably demonstrated in The Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) Study, a landmark study of more than 17,000 people, overwhelmingly made a direct connection between negative physical, emotional and behavioral effects seen in those with chronic trauma and or neglect during the first 18 years of life.
As the above graphic shows, the three types of adverse childhood experiences were categorized and the landmark ACE Study made a direct connection between a person's ACE Score (a tally of different types of abuse or neglect) and their risk for health problems. So...if you want to take charge of your physical, mental and emotional health or if you've ever wondered how bad it really was, it helps to know your ACE Score.
Knowing your ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Score can be as, or more important than, knowing your blood glucose, cholesterol or other heath metrics numbers. It's a simple 10 question assessment you can take below.
Learning Your ACE Score
To learn your score, just answer yes (1) or no (0) to the following questions.
While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life: 1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt? If yes enter a 1 in the blank ________
2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? If yes enter a 1 in the blank ________
3. Did an adult person at least 5 years older than you ever…Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you? If yes enter 1 ________
4. Did you often or very often feel that… No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? Or your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other? If yes enter 1 ________
5. Did you often or very often feel that… You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it? If yes enter 1 ________
6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced? If yes enter 1 __
7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? Or sometimes, often, or very often, kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? Or Ever repeatedly hit at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife? If yes enter 1 ________
8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs? If yes enter 1 ________
9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? If yes enter 1 ________
10. Did a household member go to prison? If yes enter 1 _______ Add your “yes” answers or 1s to tally your ACE Score.
Higher ACE Scores = Higher Risk
It's important to note that you are not your ACE score! Your score only validates your experience and indicates how much your nervous and immune systems may be dysregulated (amped up or shut down) and in need of healing and balance. The dysregulation causes inflammation which is at the root of most disease.
For group support, go to "Trauma Chainbreakers" a private Facebook page: http://bit.ly/ChainBk