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Adverse Childhood Experiences affect Adulthood

“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime…”
Herbert Ward

Recent research is indicating that Stressful Childhood Experiences are highly correlated with negative health outcomes and possible risky behaviors.


A certain amount of Stress is a part of the human life. It is normal and necessary for survival. Stress teaches the brain and body how to deal with danger and stressful situations by producing the flight or fight response. The response to stressful stimuli triggers the brain to release neurological chemicals that activate a physiological and psychological response. Once the threatening situation has decreased, the body will release another set of chemicals to bring the body back to a state of homeostasis, or calm. The body can learn to control these survival mechanisms properly if, during crucial developmental ages, care and nurturance from a primary source is available.


Relative Research::

Becoming a Good Listener - A good part of Listening is WITNESSING

By Dr. Gottman

1. Prep. Yourself - Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

The ACEs Study was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego. The study consisted of 17,000 adults, examining the link between childhood stress and adult health.

The participants were asked to answer questions about their “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (ACEs), which consisted of the following areas:

  • Abuse (Physical, Emotional, Sexual)
  • Neglect (Physical, Emotional)
  • Household Dysfunction (Mental illness, mother treated violently, divorce, incarcerated relative, substance abuse)

Focus on the person, be genuinely interested, be in their world and perspective, and hear the details without judgment.

2. Attune

Ask open-ended questions, avoid giving advice, do not be critical or defensive or engage in put downs, communicate respect, understanding, and empathy.

3. Reflect back what you hear

Repeat back what you heard in your own words. In this way, you are witnessing and validating what they said, making that person not feel so alone.

General Findings:

Two-thirds of participants experienced at least one ACEs and more than one-in-five reported three or more stressors.

The greater the number of ACEs the greater the risk for negative behaviors and poor health outcomes. This included areas such as: alcohol or drug abuse, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, fetal death, liver and heart disease, risk for intimate partner violence, smoking, suicide attempts, and sexually transmitted disease.

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