Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refer to traumatic events that occur during childhood. They may include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, household dysfunction, neglect, domestic violence, mental illness, and parental divorce or separation. Let’s take a further look into the different types of ACEs, what causes them, and how to handle them if you or somebody you know has been affected by them.
Impact on Health and Well-being
Having ACEs can lead to physical and psychological harm. As a result, it may increase a person’s risk of developing long-term, chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. Along with this, it can also increase the risk of mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety. The more ACEs somebody experiences, the greater their risk of a negative health outcome.
Around 61% of adults in the US have experienced at least one ACE as a child, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in six adults have experienced four or more types of ACEs.
Getting Help with ACEs
If you suspect that you or somebody know may have experienced or been affected by ACEs, there is support and help available. Therapy, support groups, and other resources can be useful. Depending on the type of ACE and how it has affected you, you may also be able to get legal support and compensation for your experience. You can find out more at https://www.rblaw.net/practices-clergy-abuse about clergy abuse, how it affects children and adults, and how to get legal help if you or somebody you know has experienced this type of ACE.
Further Consequences of ACEs
Adverse experiences in childhood can have negative effects on life opportunities such as education and work potential, along with impacting somebody’s health. They can cause an increased risk of maternal and child health problems, sexually transmitted infections, and involvement in sex trafficking. Along with this, children who grew up in an environment that caused toxic stress may have difficulty forming healthy, stable relationships. They may also be more likely to have an unstable work history and struggle with finances. The toxic stress caused by ACEs can impact many areas of the child’s development, including stress-response and immune systems, which can affect learning, decision-making, and attention well into adulthood.
How to Prevent ACEs
It’s crucial to understand and address the factors that put children at risk of ACEs and take steps to protect children from abuse and violence. According to the CDC, it’s essential to create and sustain a safe, nurturing and stable environment for all children to prevent ACEs. This can be done through several methods, including promoting social norms that protect against violence, strengthening the economic support to families, teaching healthy relationship and parenting skills, and early intervention to reduce both immediate and long-term harm.
Over half of the population has experienced at least one adverse experience in childhood. If you are one of them, you are not alone. While ACEs can have a significant impact on your life, it is possible to heal and recover with the right support.