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Thrill of Hope Day 4 - Understanding ACEs

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

There are many things that happen to us all before we turn 18 that we have no control over. So much of what we go through in our tender years can impact the rest of our life. These are not my thoughts; there have been many studies done on Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs and how they impact us for life. It was started by Kaiser Permanente in the mid 1990’s and used by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). It is a simple test of 10 questions that once answered can explain some of the difficulties in certain areas as an adult. They are yes/no questions and the test can be completed in less than 3 minutes. This won’t explain your life, but it will help explain why we think or feel certain ways. If what was in your childhood is normal to you, it can shape some of our actions.

Many women who end up in the life have a higher ACEs score than those who don’t. All of the questions in this test of things that happened in your life that were outside of your control: things that are not your fault. Take a moment and take the test. See what your score is. I would encourage you to talk about your results with a safe friend and maybe even have them take it with you.

Here is the test:

[1]Prior to your 18th birthday:

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? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

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? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

3. Did an adult or 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? No___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? No___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? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced? No___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 over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

10. Did a household member go to prison? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score[2]

You can see how this test might be important. I hope that if you had a high score that you understand that these things that happened to you were not your fault, all of these were outside of your control. This point cannot be understated even if you were blamed or feel as though they are your fault, they are not. Many who understand their ACEs score for the first time can start the path of healing; understanding that you are not to blame is may start you on the path that you need to be on to heal. That is why I hope that you can talk to your safe friends about this.

I believe understanding this test and seeing that people have a wide range of scores from this test is important to understanding what others went through or have overcome. I scored a 4. In those 4 points there are multiple stories that could be told. They are things that I’ve been dealing with emotionally since the first time these events took place. It was a relief to me to see these things as outside of my control. Any blame that I might have felt can start to dissolve. I am thankful for this test and the outcomes. I am grateful for the safe people who have helped me understand these events and put them into perspective. These people have been a big piece of my healing process.

The higher ones score the more negative stories that person has in their childhood. If you are a lower score it would help if you could allow for the possibilities of all this happening to someone without it being their own fault. Understanding that someone else’s past might be filled with hardship from a young age might be the ticket to feeling empathy for them. I have heard stories from friends that make my 4 an extremely low number. Things they have had to face that are unimaginable to me. Stories where if I put myself in their shoes at their ages, I would have no idea how to act.

The stories I’ve heard I would never repeat because they are not my stories. My stories of just one of my scores, that of being sworn at, have been a major hinderance to certain elements of my development. To this day if someone says “I need to talk to you” my first reaction is the fear that I will get in trouble or that they will be disappointed in me. I don’t like this, and it has made me more insecure than I’d like to be. I have to fight this; and I will continue to fight this and I will do my best not to treat others this way. I want my children to believe all the good that I believe about them, instead of believing lies about themselves. I hope and pray and work towards their ACEs score being less than a 4.

If you scored low on this test, I would strongly recommend reading some memoirs and biographies of people who scored high on this test. I will give you a picture of what lives other than your own could look like. There are a few that have been my favorite over the years. If you read them I believe they will be helpful.

All the accounts from these men and women are eye-opening and have blessed my life in more ways than I can count. Their courage and bravery to share their stories have allowed me to see others differently and allowed healing in my own life. If you finish this list I have dozens more that have been a blessing as well and I would be happy to share those with you.

Understanding ACEs will take us a long way into understanding the world of sex slavery and prostitution. It will help make the people individuals instead of what has happened to them. May this help open your eyes as we continue to gain a deeper understanding, and as we understand, we can be a help.

#TeamMitchellBoys is raising awareness this month and also fund for Peoria Home. Peoria Home is just one place where we can put our deepening understanding to practice.

[1]Taken from Dec. 1, 2018 at 1:40pm

[2]End of test

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