Several years ago, I came upon a talk online about childhood traumas and how they can affect our adult physical and mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study in 1998 that included 17,000 participants, investigating the degree to which they were exposed to physical, emotional and sexual abuse or neglect before the age of eighteen and the impact it had on later-life health and wellbeing. The questionnaire consisted of ten questions categorized into abuse, neglect and household challenges. The results of the study show that nearly two thirds of the population were exposed to at least one adverse childhood event, or ACE. Those who were exposed to four or more ACE’s, had three times the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, and a twenty-year reduction in life expectancy (CDC, 2019). That’s an incredible impact that I just couldn’t ignore!
The results tell us that cumulative adversity also has an impact on our well-being. The more ACE’s one is exposed to, the greater the health risk. It is interesting to note that the study factored out smoking, over eating and high-risk behaviour, which only accounted for approximately half of the risk.
After researching the impact of ACE’s, I discovered that roughly 2/3 of our population is exposed to an ACE or some form of trauma and we know that early interventions and screening are key to preventing some of these later-life health declines. By providing someone with a high ACE score proper tools and coping strategies, we can start to see reversal of some of these effects, and help them stop the cycle and prevent them from affecting their next generations.
I am very passionate about working with people from all backgrounds and varying degrees of exposure to trauma, as I know how deeply childhood adversity can affect them. By offering coping strategies and de-escalation tools, we can start working on breaking the cycle of trauma and its harmful effect.