Got Your ACE Score?

What’s Your ACE Score? (and, at the end, What’s Your Resilience Score?)

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

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. Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason ?
    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


Now that you’ve got your ACE score, what does it mean?

First….a tiny bit of background to help you figure this out…..(if you want the back story about the fascinating origins of the ACE Study, read The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the largest, most important public health study you never heard of — began in an obesity clinic.)

The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Studyuncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.

The first research results were published in 1998, followed by 57 other publications through 2011. They showed that:

  • childhood trauma was very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance;
  • there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;
  • more types of trauma increased the risk of health, social and emotional problems.
  • people usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.

A whopping two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one — 87 percent of those had more than one. Eighteen states have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC’s ACE Study.


The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems. (Of course, other types of trauma exist that could contribute to an ACE score, so it is conceivable that people could have ACE scores higher than 10; however, the ACE Study measured only 10 types.)

As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.

(By the way, lest you think that the ACE Study was yet another involving inner-city poor people of color, take note: The study’s participants were 17,000 mostly white, middle and upper-middle class college-educated San Diegans with good jobs and great health care – they all belonged to the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization.)

Here are some specific graphic examples of how increasing ACE scores increase the risk of some diseases, social and emotional problems. All of these graphs come from “The relationship of adverse childhood experiences to adult health, well being, social function and health care”, a book chapter by Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda, co-founders of the ACE Study, in “The Hidden Epidemic: The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease.”


What causes this?

At the same time that the ACE Study was being done, parallel research on kids’ brains found that toxic stress physically damages a child’s developing brain. This was determined by a group of neuroscientists and pediatricians, including neuroscientist Martin Teicher and pediatrician Jack Shonkoff, both at Harvard University, neuroscientist Bruce McEwen at Rockefeller University, and pediatrician Bruce Perry at the Child Trauma Academy.

When children are overloaded with stress hormones, they’re in flight, fright or freeze mode. They can’t learn in school. They often have difficulty trusting adults or developing healthy relationships with peers (i.e., they become loners). To relieve their anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, and/or inability to focus, they turn to easily available biochemical solutions — nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine — or activities in which they can escape their problems — high-risk sports, proliferation of sex partners, and work/over-achievement. (e.g. Nicotine reduces anger, increases focus and relieves depression. Alcohol relieves stress.)

Using drugs or overeating or engaging in risky behavior leads to consequences as a direct result of this behavior. For example, smoking can lead to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or lung cancer. Overeating can lead to obesity and diabetes. In addition, there is increasing research that shows that severe and chronic stress leads to bodily systems producing an inflammatory response that leads to disease.
For more information about that aspect, check out the interactive graphic COLEVA — Consequences of lifetime exposure to violence and abuse. Here’s a screen-grab of the home page of that site to give you an idea of how extensive the research is.
Fortunately, brains and lives are somewhat plastic. The appropriate integration of resilience factors born out of ACE concepts — such as asking for help, developing trusting relationships, forming a positive attitude, listening to feelings — can help people improve their lives.
For more information about the ACE Study, check out the CDC’s ACE Study site.

Here’s a link to the long questionnaire (200+ questions).


What’s Your Resilience Score?

This questionnaire was developed by the early childhood service providers, pediatricians, psychologists, and health advocates of Southern Kennebec Healthy Start, Augusta, Maine, in 2006, and updated in February 2013. Two psychologists in the group, Mark Rains and Kate McClinn, came up with the 14 statements with editing suggestions by the other members of the group. The scoring system was modeled after the ACE Study questions. The content of the questions was based on a number of research studies from the literature over the past 40 years including that of Emmy Werner and others. Its purpose is limited to parenting education. It was not developed for research.

RESILIENCE Questionnaire

Please circle the most accurate answer under each statement:

1.  I believe that my mother loved me when I was little.

Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

2.  I believe that my father loved me when I was little.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
3.  When I was little, other people helped my mother and father take care of me and they seemed to love me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
4.   I’ve heard that when I was an infant someone in my family enjoyed playing with me, and I enjoyed it, too.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
5.  When I was a child, there were relatives in my family who made me feel better if I was sad or worried.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
6.   When I was a child, neighbors or my friends’ parents seemed to like me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
7.  When I was a child, teachers, coaches, youth leaders or ministers were there to help me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
8.  Someone in my family cared about how I was doing in school.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
9.  My family, neighbors and friends talked often about making our lives better.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
10.  We had rules in our house and were expected to keep them.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
11. When I felt really bad, I could almost always find someone I trusted to talk to.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
12.  As a youth, people noticed that I was capable and could get things done.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
13.  I was independent and a go-getter.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
14.  I believed that life is what you make it.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True


How many of these 14 protective factors did I have as a child and youth? (How many of the 14 were circled “Definitely True” or “Probably True”?)   _______
Of these circled, how many are still true for me? _______

656 responses

  1. ACE score of 7
    Resiliency score of 4
    Age: 56
    Mother physically abusive and mentally ill alcoholic
    2 suicide attempts (teen years and mid-40s)
    Oldest of 3 daughters
    On the outs with youngest sister
    Sexually assaulted and nearly murdered by stranger when I was a college senior
    former smoker
    Get exercise, finally sleep enough with medical help
    Low thyroid
    So far no cancer or heart disease
    Longevity on both sides of my family (people live to their mid 80s despite drinking, smoking, bad diet)
    University professor
    Married twice (2 abusive husbands)
    In long-term relationship (not married) for last 8 years
    No children (two miscarriages)
    BiPolar (meds compiant)
    Drink too much (2 -3 drinks every night)
    Increasingly reclusive and lonely
    Feel I’m not good enough for anything or anyone.
    Financially in less than desirable straits
    Moved 25 times in my life

    • It means you had resilience factors in your childhood. As far as I know, there hasn’t been research done yet that compares exactly how resilience factors in childhood mitigate ACEs. We’ll be publishing a story in the next few days about how trauma-informed and resilience practices in a high school helped students with high ACE scores improve their grades, test scores and attendance.

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  3. I’m going to go way out on a limb. I’m going to recommend something. My ACE was 4, my Resilience 3. My scores might be higher, but I have little memory of much. The tool I discovered that helped me the most was TRE®. Googling it will get you what you want.

    My heart goes out to many of you. There is a cure.

  4. Ace: 10 (and I could probably add some categories)

    Resilience: 7

    Physical health: cancer + auto-immune disorder, non smoker, non drug user
    Mental health: good thanks to early treatment
    Social health: struggle to make connections but cherish a few safe, loving relationships
    Education: master’s in social work
    Married, mid-30s, no kids

  5. I got an ace score of 6 and a resilience score of 1.

    It’s been a terrible life of starving for intimacy.

    I’m getting older now.

    I’ve done about 1,000 hrs of therapy and read tons of books and done research, and tried a lot to improve my well being.

    I needed and was ready for an intimate life partner long ago, but God had no such thing in store for me.

    On the contrary, suffocating under the Christian convictions that it is sin to have intimacy, or even think of it or watch video of it, has been a living hell.

    If you don’t find the nourishing intimacy you need when it’s needed, this kind of research and self awareness only makes things worse. These days, I often wish I had never discovered that the problem was that I had been starving for intimacy all my life.

    I don’t know what will happen to me now, but the future looks bleak. Trying to make it at work like this is a sick joke. I’ve failed and collapsed. You can’t take a beat starved horse and expect it to push a wagon. Reality doesn’t work that way. I’m supposed to be established and successful before I’m allowed to have love, but being deprived of it has caused me to suffer profoundly and fail to thrive in every aspect of life. That’s the ultimate catch 22.

  6. I was born a nervous baby, cried a lot mom stressed the memory I have was at age 4 I just cried and cried so she grabbed my arm and took me in the bathroom where she turned on a cold shower and clothing and all put me under the cold running water and held me there. I am 50 and still remember. As a teenager she would hit me with any object she could reach, she would punch me, scratch my face and pull my hair. At 18 I left home and slept in my car. I became a nurturer, I wanted everyone to like me and I let people walk all over me. I was sexually assaulted by a co-worker I suffer from PTSD. I want to feel better I want to get a handle on it, meds make me a zombie, it hurts to think I will go through life with PTSD a wild rollercoaster ride with ups and unexpended downs. I feel lucky to have stumbled on to this site.

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  8. ACES:9 Resilience:9
    An interesting thing, this. Resilience is equal to ACES.
    My parents were divorced when I was 5, because my father was a “closet gay” and pedophile. This set up a need for my mother to find “babysitters” to take care of my younger brother and myself, while she worked. I was sexually abused by an older girl (the babysitter) and her two sisters, for three years (started when I was 11, they were 17, 15 and 14). This set me up for being “groomed” by a much older woman (19 YEARS older than me, but not any relation to the first three abusers). She was a sexual deviant. Eventually (after she and her husband had adopted four children) she divorced her husband and pursued me (now living in a different State), convincing me (five years later, when I was 25 and she was almost 45) to eventually marry her “for the kids sake”. The sexual abuse continued, and her deviance went to multiple partners and wanting to “swing” with other couples. She convinced me that it would be “fine, and maybe even fun” since I was in my mid 20s and half way decent looking, but I was never happy with it. After 16 years of marriage, she “rediscovered” her high-school boyfriend and divorced me. Cutting me off from herself (I had grown very dependent) and the kids (now young adults). My depression from all of this caused me to find yet another abuser (this one more verbal and emotional than physical/sexual), and I again married her (she is 10 YEARS older than me). The relationship lasted almost 10 years, and after seeing a counselor… I realized just how abusive my two marriages had been, and also that my military active duty had given me PTSD. My wife simply could not understand how this had happened… Also, in among all of this, I lost (death) 18 direct family members and close friends, within a short 4 year period… I gained about 40 pounds, and became an insulin dependent, type 2 diabetic. I asked my 2nd wife for a divorce. During the divorce proceedings, she yelled “I only wanted to stay married to you for 10 years so I can get your social security retirement!” As it happened, we were granted the divorce one week AFTER our 10th anniversary. While seeking a military counselor for PTSD and depression, I eventually came to the Lord Jesus and turned my life over to Him. My life had finally changed for the better. I went on a good diet plan and lost 30 pounds, I retired from the military, I started to take better care of myself (seeing counselors, doctors, dentists, etc). Today I am no longer depressed, my PTSD is only evident in very specific situations, I do not have to see any counselors, and I am now happily married to a christian woman that understands my issues, knows my triggers, and loves me exactly as God has created me. My resilience factor today is still a 9… but in answering question 11 – “almost always find someone I trusted to talk to”, I turn to the Lord in prayer.

  9. 10. We had rules in our house and were expected to keep them.

    this one has a sinister side to it…. sure, consistent and reasonable rules probably contribute to resilience. But arbitrary and capricious rules do not.

    How about rules like; No crying allowed. No noise allowed. Do all your chores before I get home.

    … or else be beaten.

    How about rules like that? I doubt very much that rules like those have any positive benefit.

    • I answered definitely true because our house was based on rules we had to keep, but never communicated. We were left to figure out the rules on our own, but they were definitely there and enforced.

  10. ACE: 5 + Bullied and badly beaten (boys get raped too, just not as often as girls); Resilience: 3;

    I have high functioning autism, but it wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 50s, so the answer, as a child, was to beat me into compliance, in response to my ~bad behaviors~.

    I have a very high IQ and lots of skills, but have spent much of my adult life being homeless.

    Recently I finally started getting therapy for PTSD and meds for depression. But getting help has been very difficult and there are lots of charlatans claiming to be therapists.

    I look back at what might have been and it makes me very sad. If only I could have gotten some help when I first started looking for it. Instead I’m left with a life wasted… at nearly 60, I am just now finally starting to build something out of the wreckage of what is left of my life.

    We live in a world of lies and abuse. It is time to make a change. People who have been traumatized tend not to function very well, this makes them easier to exploit and control.

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  12. I received a very high score on the Aces test and I know I am traumatized by what I have been through but I am trying so desperately to move on and live a normal life. However, it still shows up in everything that I do especially emotionally over eating and feeling depressed I have other issues too but I don’t want to face them I guess. I don’t want to live in the past anymore I desperately want to move on. I have one son now and his life began pretty poorly however, I have completely changed now and he lives a rather great life now. I just want to succeed and give my son all of the attention I never had while he grows up. I will make a difference in my life no matter how hard I have to try to make it a good life. I am blessed and I have the Lord at my side and that is the biggest help I can possibly have loving the lord is what makes my life great and everything good in my life comes from doing his work.

    • My story is or was very similar to yours. Today I gave motivational talk about where I came from and did not think I could get to bliss. But that is where I’m at now. life is awesome and that gratitude you are expressing is one of thr greatest keys to joy. Sending love, Sharon

  13. My abuse started when I was 8. It was evil. I had an evil step sister that came home from school one day, tied a brown thread around my wrist and said I had to wear it for 7 days, all the time knowing that when we got to the dinner table my daddy would cut it off and he did and that was the beginning of my hell. I was made to drink my own urine, swallow yard lengths of thread a little at a time. Kill a cat and drink its blood. She had plans for me to kill my parents, knowing I couldnt do it, so then she would punish me. She only let me say so many words a day to my Mama and no I couldnt tell anyone because something bad would happen to my parents. She wrapped me up in a pillow case with the pillow and tied a belt around it then sat on me. I almost died that day. It was something different every day. By the time I was 10 I wanted to die. She had total control for 5 years. Then she left. I was 13 then. I had no clue who I was. I went wild, did any and every kind of drug. I never told my parents. Even though my Mama tried to get me to talk. I was still afraid that if I told them something bad would happen. Finally one day my Mama called me and told me to come over there. Our next door neighbors daughter had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and told my Mom everything she knew about which was a lot, even she was afraid of my step sister. So at 20 my parents now new the truth. But we didnt talk about it to much. When I was around 27 the step sister started coming around like she never left. I avoided her as much as possible. But one day at my parents house step sister got upset over something and my Mom saw what I had seen everyday for those 5 years of abuse. My stepsister’s voice changed, her eye color changed, her manorisms changed for 10 long minutes. Finally some else saw what I saw. You didnt just see the evil, you felt it. It was like I was 8 years old all over again. When I was 30 I had a breakdown. The psychiatrist told my parent I was one of the worst abuse cases he had ever seen. It ruined my life as far as relationships. I do have 2 great sons. My parents have passed away. So I’m pretty much alone except for work. I have Fibromyagia, depression, other issues associated with fibro. I have never put this down in words before and I have left out a whole lot. I don’t give her much thought anymore. I often wonder what kind of person I would have been. I do know that there are so many people out there that have been through so much worse than myself. Regardless of the past. I feel truly blessed. It took me a long time to feel that way. I’m now 55. I really hope that know one else has to suffer abuse of any kind. And if they do that there will be real help available.

  14. ACE:9 Resiliency:11

    Kinda abnormal from what I’m reading on the comments. I grew up in two kind of families. The first, a large extended family with many aunts in Viet Nam. The second, with my mom and dad and siblings in the U.S. going to church. The large extended family and church saved me from my parents.

    • Education level: doctorate
      Children: none
      Status: single
      Physical illness: none
      Mental illness: depression, ptsd, body image issues

    • I got the exact same scores (9 and 11). Thankfully I had friends and their families to model normalcy for me as I grew up, and I have been in therapy almost 30 years, since I was 16. I am in my 40s now and still struggle with anxiety and PTSD, but never got involved in drugs, violence, abusive relationships, etc. I’ve accepted it will be a lifelong recovery, like fixing up a house and making improvements as it ages.

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  16. I got an ace score of 8 then saw that 4 was big. My childhood was like a really fucked up , stupid tv mini series drama. Still a shotgun hole in the wall of the hallway when my mom finally had enough and fired through the door…didn’t hit him. I have a spinal injury from untreated whiplash from the old man throwing me around…my mom couldn’t even tell me when.. it happened so much. Doctors…MRI say it’s about a 45+ year old injury. I’m 55 now…i am all kinds of messed up. If HE were alive i would sue him and let my adult sons(all 3 of them) beat the shit out of him. Yes…i have issues.

  17. I found the study to be very interesting. My ACE score was three but I answered yes to all the resilience questions every single one. Unfortunately I fear that I did expose my children to their own trauma because their father was an addict. My trauma was that I witnessed my mother abuse my brother and also that I lost my father to a car accident when I was barely a year old. All of these experiences led me to become a therapist myself and now I work with traumatized vets. Yet I still worry about my own children, I know that I was a good mother in terms of unconditional love and talking things out with them but I also know that they were exposed. Thank you for the work that you’re doing. this is something I can get on board with and something I genuinely believe is true because I have lived it.

  18. My biggest fear is recreating my childhood if/when I have my own children. I’m jealous when hear people talk about how their mothers were their best friends and their fathers were mentors.
    I grew up severely emotionally neglected, sometimes physically neglected, spiritually abused, sexually abused at 16. My father was a sex addict who was too busy watching porn at work to be home with me and my brother. My mother has an anxiety disorder, was diagnosed with PMDD, and depression.
    I was CONSTANTLY put down as a child. I can’t remember a day past six years old where I wasn’t criticized or told I “was just a child” and “couldn’t understand how” the world works or that since I was a child I had “no say in what happens in the family”. When I was a teenager it just turned into “you’re selfish” or she’s “unlovable”. “You’re a disgrace to the family name”. One night my father walked out, and my mother screamed at me and told me it was my fault he left. My brother came in the room and told me I was “unreasonable” and it was my fault.
    I told my mom one day (16 yrs old) that I wanted to die and I was depressed. I told her I “need help. I don’t want to live like this anymore.” She told me the only way I’d receive counseling is if I’d see a pastor or Christian counselor. I told her no. I never received help. I had to learn to cope myself. I taught myself to go outside and walk. To focus on school to help me get through. Focus and practice sports so that I wouldn’t kill myself.
    I was ruthlessly harassed in high school. I ended up leaving early because I petrified of entering school. I went to college through a dual enrollment process and finished my diploma with college courses.
    I can’t make friendships. I’m also a sexual anorexic. I literally can’t feel intimacy even if I wanted to. The more I want to, the worse it becomes. I CRAVE for human interaction. I have always loved people. I love helping people. I just can’t seem to form any relationships outside of professional ones. My only friend I’ve had in the past 10 years died this past November.
    I’m currently in therapy. Just feel so tired and lost.

    • I’m glad you’re seeking help. And I’m sorry to hear about your childhood :-( i too feel similarly as I was molested as a child, amongst other things, except in the process of dealing with my mental illness that started at the age of 12 I started self medicating with sex and 15 years later I have 2 beautiful daughters that I am terrified of hurting (although I feel the damage has already been done mentally), I’m divorced, I live with bipolar II, social anxiety, intimacy issues, I work too much because it’s the only thing that makes me feel valued, and I’m a recovering sex addict. But i do believe it can get better and it slowly has these last 4 years. Keep up the hard work :-)

    • Dear Homeless

      I scored 5 on this ACE test, but scored high on the resilience test. My parents’ results if they took this would look similar although I know the trauma that they suffered was far more than mine or my siblings. I get my resilience from my family. I know I’m lucky in that way and I’m sorry you didn’t have similar support. I just wanted to tell you that I see your words and don’t want you to feel alone. The World is full of so many good people. I volunteer for local charities now and that helps me with my self esteem, you might enjoy something similar too – you could find yourself while also helping someone else. Good luck and I wish you every happiness.

    • Our stories have a lot of similarities. Thank you for saying spiritually abused. I literally have not heard that term before but it nails that part of the abuse. I don’t know how old you are. My life has been getting better for the past 10 years. I can tell you things that worked for me if you would like. For the first time my physical, spiritual and personal well-being are coming together. I will be talking about these things .for the first time publicly this coming week. I did not think I was capable of having a life as happy as I do or a personal intimate relationship. I am now in a relationship, engaged to be married even, with someone I can have intimate relations with with no nightmares attached. It can get better.

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  22. This is so sad. I feel like I’m doomed. Like maybe something could have been done 30 years ago, but now I am just going to die prematurely because of stuff that happened ages ago. I got therapy and I’m so much better, but I’m still really fat, almost a hoarder, and have no energy.

    • You’re only doomed if you’re not doing the things you’re doing, such as therapy. That’s a very good thing. There are other ways to build resilience in your life, including exercise, good nutrition, enough sleep, healthy relationships, living in a safe place, and meditation. The brain is plastic; the body will heal, if given the opportunity.

    • Please, trust me, you do not have to die prematurely. You can fight, every single day to do things differently. We are not children anymore, we can fight for ourselves. I’ just now learning that. Look to see how you can choose to change your diet, You can chagge how you do thing, I’m evan learning that, I’m almost 65 years old, and changing things. Find a PTSD group to join, for support and encouragement. Look on facebook, The fact that you recognize your hoarder tndancies put you 100% ahead of it.! I’m pullin for you, come join me. Rest gently please.


  24. ACE score = 8. Resilience Score = 1. For years I thought I was a crazy loser. So thankful I’ve finally learned about this.

  25. Ooohhhh! I have just found this site!!! My ACE score is probably at least 5 or 6 – and my resilience score – if I have interpreted correctly is about 3 or 4. I am nearly 59 – my mother was chronically depressed and ‘went through the motions’ when I was a baby – she had a major breakdown when I was 6 months – and recently I have had ‘visions’ of being thrown.

    We also found out she had a child adopted out before marriage and ended up at a psychiatric hospital. She met my father later on at a support group for depression. This was in the 50’s! I was the ‘middle child’ and my mother tended to use me as the scapegoat. We were a very respectable middle class family – and we did have fun times – but I’m learning now the trauma that happened to me has affected my very being.

    I also had a crazy teacher who would pull me out in class and beat me to a pulp – for no reason!!! I often begged to stay home and Mum said I just lay in bed and stared at the ceiling! She never asked why??

    My father died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 11 – Mum went to pieces completely and it was like we had lost both parents. Teenage years were full of depression, being totally ignored, financial problems, being bullied at school (for a ‘nervous tic’) and witnessing my mum and sister in the most almighty rows – throwing things at each other.

    When my dad died, we werent’ allowed to go to the funeral – and no one ever asked us how we felt. All his possessions disappeared and his name was never mentioned again. During our late teens Mum started drinking heavily. I was working by then – and my younger sister and I gave up our freedom and chose to live with her to ‘watch out’ for her…. This was the late 70’s and we had no idea of how to get help. We had no extended family. Mum had cut them off before she married – I think in case they revealed her secret of the adopted baby. I ended up writing her a long letter – because I knew to try and talk to her would involve lots of screaming. Somehow we got through it and she said she could stop anytime. But of course there were other occasions.

    My older sister had left home first – after a big row – and eventually my younger sister and I married and moved away — but we always felt sick with guilt at leaving Mum on her own. As she got older she improved and had stopped drinking. She was a good grandmother to my children – but she relied heavily on me until her death.

    Fifteen years ago I fell into deep depression and had counselling for two years. I thought I had dealth with all my issues from birth – but after that anxiety took over and I have been on medication for years. Recently I fell into depression again – I’ve had my medication changed – and I’m once again seeing a counsellor. It has come to my awareness that I have major issues surrounding my time as a newborn – and being hurt – more mentally than physically.

    So this is when I started searching for more information – and this is one of the wonderful sites I have found. I am amazed at how much research has been done in the last 15 years and so interested to read about the major effects of childhood trauma on adult mental and physical health.


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  28. ACE Score: 10

    Although I am only 19 I have lived a rough life. Everyday I look back and wonder how I made it this far. My childhood has left me with PTSD, depression, and other health issues; and although it isn’t easy, I just never give up. It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up. To those out there living with even one ACE, never let anybody make you feel like you are below them. You matter!

    • I agree “You Matter” glad you are dealing with these things at your age, I didn’t. I created another me, I lied to people I met thinking I was not good enough and no one would like the real me. Lies never work and my life was miserable. Be true to yourself, hold your head up. At 50 I am now strong enough to know I Matter and life is to precious to waste. I have good friends who love me for me. Again I applaud you for taking a stand on your life at 19

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  30. My ACE score is 6, but is probably actually a 7 or 8 if you count other factors, such as being bullied. I am so tired. I’m in my early 50’s now, and I can’t do this anymore. I can’t get a decent therapist with Kaiser, and I will not pay thousands of dollars a year for an outside one, just to get another like the last one whom I could have sued for malpractice.

    My parents are both dead, but my dad had bipolar and alcoholism, and my mother was at least severely depressed. My sister and brother abandoned me when I went into rehab two years ago. People know my situation, but they don’t care. Nobody calls me to see how I’m doing, or to invite me to do anything. And if they do happen to, they get pissed at me if I don’t respond the way they think I should.

    I’very been bootstrapping myself since I was a kid. I can’t do it anymore. People tell you to ask for help, but it’s a stinking crock. I’ve been trying to get myself help almost my entire friggin’ life. You either get labeled, or you get ignored. Nobody’s going to pay any attention unless I do something drastic to myself. Some problems don’t have workable solutions.

    • MEM, I dont know you, but I can tell you for certain that there is someone who cares for you. if you can connect to something bigger than yourself, even if it is Nature, this could be enough for your turnaround. YOu are correct, people are narcissistic and selfish. we all are.So start looking at the things you love about you, and repeat them every day. you are alive. dont check out without your makers consent.

    • Dear MEM,

      I am a few years older than you and my ACES is also a 6, and while my flavor of childhood trauma and abuse was quite different than yours, I share much of your experience as part of my fight to reclaim my own body, my own sanity and my deserved calmness. I am especially familiar with the ALONE part. I recreate the aloneness I hid inside of to stay safe during my childhood, and have done so for a long, long time. Near-constant therapy and other sources of deep support have allowed me to overcome so much of my self-hate and disarm the auto-FREEZE terror response I suffered from for most of my life. I’m almost there, and most importantly, I do believe I’ll overcome all of my frozenness I developed as an infant/toddler.

      I am responding to you with encouragement to keep fighting. No, it’s not fair. It absolutely sucks that bad things got perpetrated on us as indefensible children who deserved so much better. And now… here we are. I am lucky in that I created great support structures during my lifelong fight. I would encourage you to do the same if you haven’t already. It IS doable. I am living proof; the most confidence-lacking, self-hating person transformed over the years to one who now borders on obnoxious arrogance. The Truth is what’s underneath the lies after we scrub them away, and sometimes the scrubbing is absolutely horrific and seemingly unbearable.

      Do this with or without your siblings. Find people who love you and who will take in your love. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s DOABLE, which is the point. I GET how much of it is a fight. It exhausts *me* to have to jump into my “adult” mode to respond to the world’s adult challenges when really I am so needed down in “child” mode to deal with my auto-trauma responses and mitigate them into calmness. Yet I keep fighting ’cause as I do so I heal and achieve greater calmness. The alternatives to not finding workable solutions are either constant pain and aloneness or suicide, right?

      The thing that triggered my response to you here is what you wrote about abandonment. A HUGE yet painful lesson I learned during my rehab stint thirteen years ago is that “only children can be abandoned.” Yes, the child in you (and me) feels abandoned by those we thought loved us (for me it was my spouse), yet it is the adult in each of us who is now responsible. It sucked for me to absorb and acknowledge that, yet I had to ’cause it was true for me. Consider if it is true for you as well. There is opportunity for great self-empowerment when one completely owns his/her fight. It’s raw as shit, but it’s real as real gets.

      I wish you strength, resilience and deep, loving blessings in this fight that was so unfairly dumped on you.


      • Hey, Smash! You are awesome…Made me smile. Especially the fact that you border on “obnoxious arrogance”. I can so relate to all that…I have a hard time explaining (not that I need to) to people the “flight or fight” fear that my body constantly lives in. I have a great life, a man who loves me, and wonderful friends. YET, I still have that frozen reaction to most of life’s occurrences. Sometimes it can be as simple as the phone ringing that will send me into fear mode…People who haven’t lived with this trauma can’t relate to it. Good for them.

        Thank you for making me feel like someone “knows”…You know…The secret. The one that we are supposed to be quiet about when we wanted to yell and scream because “Someone might hear you”. The terror that children should not feel.

        I was just diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. I believe that part of this is because my body reacts the way it does “inside, hiding…keeping everything in”. I try to be positive, and hate that my inside reacts like this. And believe me, I have come a LONG way!

        Kuddo’s to you for putting it out there…We are only as sick as our secrets, you know.


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  34. Ace Score: 7
    Age: 27 soon to be 28

    I always make bad choices and decisions. I have a Master’s Degree in Management, I took this course thinking it would cure my anxiety and improve social interaction. But it didn’t change me. I am the same person I was a decade ago- weird, lonely, confused, unable to make connections,helpless and afraid of authority. I have been told that I am an attractive guy with a great sense of humor. It is ironic how a most depressed man can be so damn funny and make everyone laugh. Women have approached me a lot of time but yet I push them away because I don’t want them to get in the mess that is me.

    Right now I am totally stuck. I’ve been working online for several years taking really low pay. I basically work to live life by the day, and to enjoy on the weekends- going to bars and drinking cheap beers. Those weekend drunk nights with music are the only times I am really happy- but the rest of the week I am back to my “normal” self. As a child I had many friends in the neighborhood. We used to play outdoors, visit each other’s houses and hangout all the time. But I don;t know later they started distancing themselves or maybe I started becoming weirder. I started getting into fights with the remaining friends. Soon they also left me. But I made a lot of new friends during my bachelor and Master’s study. Some are still good friends. They want to me to open up and become close but I cannot because of my anxiety and social phobia. I do go to the gym though. It really helps keep my health good and it also relieves a lot of stress- gives you a boost of energy- motivates you for the day. Then you get back home and everything is the same.

    Background: My parents always fought when I was little and they still do. My dad would beat up my mom, and me and my sisters would cry and try to stop him. Then he would scream at us all and tell us to leave the house. Once me and my mom tried to leave, and he asked us leave everything- our clothes and go bare feet because he had bought everything for us and they belonged to him. But after sometime he would come and say sorry to her and then say he loved us and stuff, and take us in. Then the next day my mom and dad could be seen as if they got along now. This beating, apologizing and making up stages still go on in our house. Watching this thing go on as a child made me feel really confused and I still am-as I child I had this feeling that my father could be a bad man but at the same time I felt like he loved us despite those harsh words and beatings when I scored poorly on exams or when I lied about things or when I messed his work (he used to make me type his stuff and send emails etc and sometimes I messed it :( ).

    When I was a child I was very afraid of him and I still get afraid sometime but now I am bigger so I know he is too old to be able to physical harm me, so I rebel nowadays like a teenager though I am an adult. I think I am still a teenager stuck in an adult body. I cannot relate to anyone of my age anyway. I think during my late teen he once fought with my mom- he was pulling her hair and kicking her. That time I pushed him back and he almost fell. I was about to punch him but my mother stopped me and then told me to apologize to my dad. I suddenly felt like I had made a big mistake and then with my head down I went in front of my raging dad to apologize. He asked me to raise my head and then he slapped me hard. I also remember being beaten once when I lied about my score- he found out I had hidden the results from my teacher- who was his friend. He actually punched me that time on the eye. I don’t have recollection of other beatings, just that he used to yell at me for messing up his stuff. I remember when I was probably 8-9 when he dragged and beat up my 11-12 year old sister because she went for 15 minutes to a nearby shop with a relative to buy me a birthday gift with her piggy bank saving.

    He would constantly remind me that I was living under his roof so I had to do what was told- wear this cloth, eat this food, come home before its dark, don’t play too much video game (good advice this one though) etc. He was just too controlling and still is -calls me three or four times a day if I’m late- but I just ignore them. When I was a teenager, if I got home 30 mins late, he would’ve called the whole neighborhood and I would try to get in the home silently to make it seem like I was already in. But usually he would be just waiting for me and then scream at me- call me a hooligan who hangs out at dark. He has also called me a bastard and a son of a bitch on several occasions.

    My dad always made us feel poor though he would spend a lot of money on his office parties and drinks. I was an attractive young man but he never bought me good clothes or shoes. He bought new clothes once a year for me and my sisters and these clothes had to be something he liked not what we liked. He would give us some money and we would have to buy cheap clothes and then come home and show him. If he didn’t like it, he would scream at us and throw it at us.Sometimes he would take me to the shop and then choose some cheap unattractive clothe for me. I would wear this to my school and look like a really poor dull kid. Also, he was(is) very stringy about money and as I child I used to think the allowance he gave me was good enough – but I was always curious about how the other kids were getting better clothes and stuffs than me.

    I have nothing much to say about my mother- the stay at home mom. She seemed to take his beatings and craps and then get along fine the next day. Then the next day she would be all angry right from the morning and scream at me and tell me what a brat I am. She would blame me for everything and make me feel like a bad person- as if she is the saint of the family. She would tell us that she didn’t deserve such a bad life with my father and me and my sisters. She always threatened to leave us but never did.

    So as you can see I never had a role model or someone to teach me the ways of life. My father and mother haven’t taught us a single life lesson but have kept me fully dependent on them.All of my siblings are anxious, depressed and emotionally drained. I am surrounded by people who laugh at me, think I am a loser and that I cannot do anything by myself. I am hoping to change all that through focus, energy and motivation- but I don’t know where to find them.

    I cried a lot till my early 20s- well, crying was pretty common those days for everyone in the family.Nowadays I don’t shed a tear. I remind myself that I am a man and that I should take my own responsibility instead of blaming a shitty childhood. I guess many people have succeeded despite a poor childhood right? But sometimes I think I may be just too weak. Not everyone is meant to succeed or live anyway.

    • Who says everyone isn’t meant to succeed or live. You are a human being and you deserve to be happy. I hope you are able to find peace and happiness somehow.

    • It’s never too late to change and learn what you didn’t get to as a child. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Just so you know, YOU aren’t weird. Your childhood was weird. That abuse taught you not to trust, that people can change completely in a second and be harmful even if they weren’t before. Its okay that it damaged you, you survived. If you’re open to it, I suggest trying cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist that has a background in trauma/PTSD. It will take time (years), a lot of hard work, patience, courage, and self love. You’re worth it!! It’s a lot easier to heal when you have compassion for yourself- always remember that while society may judge you (or you may judge yourself against society), that really doesn’t matter. Society is so flawed that I’m not even going to get started… as long as you’re not harming yourself or others, happiness is pretty individual. I have an ACE score of 8 and resilience of 7. My parents basically never gave a damn, but they appeared to to the outside world. I was sexually abused fron age 6-12… it only stopped because I got older and into martial arts. It led to my accepting a lot of abuse, repeating the cycle so the speak. I hit rock bottom last year and was finally diagnosed with PTSD (as a child, my parents were told I had autism. In reality I had PTSD and shut down emotionally) I’m 21 now, and I’ve been in therapy for a year… I haven’t healed the toxic thought patterns and beliefs yet, but the seeds are planted. Its hell to face it, but it was do or die for me. It’s still hard, still exhausting, but my life has already improved drastically. You can do it too. :)

    • My ace score: 4
      Hi Confused_Dude,
      Im a male in my late 20s. I totally feel your pain, dude. My dad was incredibly abusive (both physically and emotionally). His abuse left a lasting mark on me and my siblings…especially my sisters.
      Thank you for sharing your story. I think at the very least your kind of story provides validation to others that have gone through similar situations.
      I also feel socially isolated from a lot of people. They think im weird. I’ve been called socially inept and a person of low “social” aptitude. I have a general fear of people that i can’t really articulate and that i don’t truly understand myself.
      thanks for sharing once again! if its alright, i would like to keep in touch with you? please reply to this and i will share my e-mail address.

    • If you wish to heal those traumas that were dialed into you during childhood, there are ways to heal. Some people respond to reiki, acupuncture, talk therapy or the Emotion Code of Bradley Nelson, D.O. Please explore alternative healing therapies and see which one will allow you to undial. You will be left with an emotional scar, but it will have no “charge” to it. That means the FACT of trauma stays, but it only is a marker–it is not a gaping, open wound or a scab that keeps getting picked. Please know that I wish you well and want you to heal and tell others what’s possible on the journey toward a life filled with more joy and love.

    • When I saw this comment, I didn’t need to see the rest (though I did read it all): “I have a Master’s Degree in Management, I took this course thinking it would cure my anxiety and improve social interaction. But it didn’t change me.”

      If you are looking for something/someone to change you, you aren’t very likely to succeed. You are the only one who knows you as well as you can be known. You are the only one who lives inside your head and feels what you feel. So, you are the only one who can change you. Find someone who understands this and can guide you through the process of changing yourself, and I think you’ll find a very different experience. Best wishes to you!

  35. I’m a former family doctor who retrained as a psychotherapist to better understand and work with chronic illness. I’ve had a chronic illness of my own for nearly 20 years and have been discovering how under-recognized trauma is in affecting long term health.

    I’ve come to see that the ACE studies offer us critical initial, well-documented evidence for links between childhood trauma and diseases / other difficulties that begin decades later. That it’s about childhood trauma in general and not just the ACE’s first 10 categories, which just served to get us started in recognizing these links. As many commenters have noted, other traumatic events also have profound effects. What I’ve learned from the field of trauma is that long term effects come from experiences of trauma in general rather than specific kinds of trauma.

    My ACE score is 0 (resiliency 6?) but I would give myself a modified ACE of “4” for 1) hospitalization in childhood, 2) life-threatening childhood illness (asthma), 3) a near drowning, and 4) a “no” to the 11th question I’d add to the ACE score, which comes from Gabor Mate’s book “When the Body Says No:” 4) “When, as a child, you felt sad, upset or angry, was there anyone you could talk to – even when he or she was the one who had triggered your negative emotions?” Even these more subtle forms of trauma can have significant impact.

    From the 15 years of research I’ve been doing looking at trauma in chronic illness, I’ve also been finding studies showing links between trauma in the prenatal period and at birth, in our ancestors (parental trauma and trauma in our grandparents), as well as in our own lives in the few years before the onset of a disease. The level of complexity is remarkable yet it feels like it helps explain why therapy can be so helpful yet difficult and take so many years, if not a life-long process. I’m still working on the subtle traumas after 15 years and the going is slow, but the reaping is huge. I am now 50, in a deeply connecting, resourcing relatively new first marriage and my health is slowly, albeit not in a straight-forward way, starting to improve.

    Thanks Jane for this great article and for your series in the Huffington Post (2012) that provide such a great overview.

    • Thanks for your comment, Veronique. I’m 66 and still in healing mode, doing MUCH better than I was at 50. Because some connections never developed because of my ACE score of 7+, I must continually tend to and strengthen the connections that I learned to grow later in life, just as I exercise my muscles to keep them healthy. And, just like exercising, some days I just don’t want to be mindful of tending to my brain health. I celebrate the days that I persevere, and pay for the days that I don’t.

      • Our lack of cultural awareness re the value of working with trauma to improve our health has felt isolating, especially in using this approach for working with a chronic illness. It’s heart warming to hear of your personal work Jane Ellen and to read so many stories of just how many of us are working through the past and growing in our resources so we can land more fully in the present. So much perseverance in this bunch! I think I’m going to start looking at this process of lifelong work on myself as a “labor of (self) love :-)”

      • Wow! I just came across this thanks to a lady at an airport. It was the lady’s birthday. That started our conversation which led to her writing down this website/blog. Plus a few books she thought I might be interested in.
        I’m feel so blessed to have found you through her. I believe my ACE score is 7. I’m not sure exactly about my resilience score, maybe 8. (I didn’t understand the scoring as well.)
        I’m interested in learning more about the illnesses and talking with people like us. I was diagnosed with mild young onset Parkinson Disease Nov 2009 (at the age of 46) and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2012.
        In oct 2013 I began having repressed memories emerge of being sexually molested by my father from age 2 1/2 till my parent divorced around 6 years. Also memories of my older brother’s friend molesting me age 7 .

        I’ve always been a glass half full kind if gal.
        I’m blessed with a good marriage of 31 years plus 2 grear kids. It’s like I could just pick the middle of my life say age18-45 years I was totally average. good you know.
        then there is the stuff in my childhood I had absolutely NOT a clue happened to me. (I never remember much of my childhood guess now I know why) my childhood a-n-d the past 7 years with the illnesses.
        So how can I learn more?

      • Thanks for your feedback! I’m glad this is of use. You can learn more about this, first by reviewing the FAQs on ACEs 101, subscribing to this site to stay abreast of articles about ACEs, and joining, a community of practice social network for people who are implementing practices based on ACEs research.

    • Odd…. I always believed my abuse began at age three & never considered prenatal / birth trauma, though the significant depressions in my skull support these findings.

      My mother carried me 10 mos., 1 week and had developed toxemia. Still, I did not want to enter this world, this life, like I knew before birth all which awaited me (seems to strongly support reincarnation theories, that I chose those parents, those lessons, but did I really need to be bludgeoned with them?). Chances for both mother & child survival were slim for such pregnancies in 1951, but we both survived after I was forcibly yanked out w/ forceps. She was advised further pregnancies could be fatal, yet in rapid succession four boys, a girl, another boy & yet another girl followed, this last one strangled by the umbilical cord during birth. My mother never stopped grieving the last baby, though she wasn’t caring for the living ones! I always thought the 8th child was the lucky one.

      I’m curious whether anyone here addressed the 200-question expanded ACE. I’m not going to list my life of sexual, physical, emotional & other abuses here; my score is 10++. What perplexes me is why I’m still alive. Four younger brothers are all gone: 23, 37, 43 and 50. I’m 63 now and never expected to live beyond 21. This is what I overheard two Army doctors tell my mother after extensive testing at 12 when my father’s years of sexual abuse came to light. I still remember these tests, but the one which still haunts me is the EEG during which one doctor remarked to the other “slow”.

      Slow?!? How could it be? Fireworks were going off inside my head, so fast! How could they not see? And I made straight A’s in school (was “punished” when I didn’t, even though I was the default mama for all the other kids!).

      Years of therapy, a couple of suicides, half a dozen hospitalizations, three marriages, a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder in ’93, and volumes of self-education and I am still learning…. I thought symptoms would subside as I aged, but this is not the case! I struggle every day with severe agoraphobia, temperature plunges, with food (15 lbs. underweight & can’t get enough intake to support outgo), and especially, with insomnia.

      Insomnia. Twenty-four years of this hell. With all which is presently known—and new discoveries all the time—the dangerous fallout is medically accepted; i.e. 40% increase for heart failure, cancer, cognitive impairment, suppressed immune system, etc., etc. Why would any physician, esp. a caring, knowledgeable psychiatrist, treat this condition lightly? I fired mine three years ago after he cavalierly advised drinking chamomile tea at night for sleep! Well-slept folk don’t understand, but those in the medical professions certainly should!

      Why am I still alive, when four younger brothers are dead? I don’t know, but every day since 12 when I heard those doctors tell my mother I wouldn’t see my 21st birthday, I have lived nearly every day expecting to die. Makes for some really bad choices & decision making!

      • Dear Sophie Marie I, too, although with an altogether much, much easier childhood and birth history than yours, am realizing that the work to reduce or help ourselves with patterns from old traumas seems to be a lifelong process.

        It’s possible to work with prenatal and birth trauma even as an adult and the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) has regular conferences as well as a list of practitioners around the country. Some have a tremendous amount of experience and I’ve found that doing this type of work personally has helped me enormously, especially in the realm of relationships:

        One never knows whether working a particular traumatic event or period might help a particularly difficult symptom. I hope that you find resource and help with your insomnia – I’m so sorry it’s been so difficult.

        Hang in there Sophie Marie and keep learning!

    • Hi Voice,

      How wonderful when serendipity brings us to places like this site, eh?
      I couldn’t figure out how to reply directly to your comment below as it seemed like you had questions about chronic illness as well as ACEs.

      You can learn more about the role of trauma in chronic illness by reading about trauma in Peter Levine’s “Waking the Tiger” and “In an Unspoken Voice” – you may recognize trauma patterns you experience as part of your PD and RA. Neurologist Robert Scaer’s “The Trauma Spectrum” talks about trauma and chronic disease, and Gabor Mate’s book “When the Body Says No” discusses life events in his interviews with people with chronic illnesses – each chapter focuses on a different chronic disease, including RA. I saw myself (I have chronic fatigue) in many of these stories.

      Seeing the role of trauma and triggers in our chronic illnesses can help understand exacerbations and treating trauma may help with symptoms. There are many kinds of trauma therapies that focus on working with sensations, images, impulses and other ways of accessing traumatic events that are often deep in our unconscious, as was your history of sexual abuse. You could search on google for approaches such as Peter Levine’s “Somatic Experiencing.” There’s also Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, EMDR, and Brainspotting, among others.

      A recent book by psychiatrist Norman Doidge is called “The Brain’s Way of Healing.” He describes some of the latest research and therapies and describes people whose chronic illnesses have improved with a variety of different techniques that work with brain plasticity. He interviews John Pepper, a man with longstanding PD, who has a very significant trauma history, and who has been able to greatly reduce many of his symptoms (you can google the book he has written about it.)

      Hope this is helpful and not too lengthy of a response. I wish you the best on your journey!

  36. Score:7
    I’m not sure the comments section was originally intended for this but it’s nice to share. I grew up in a home with abusive parents. Mom was uninterested in being a parent and would punch you if you tried to get her attention. Dad would beat and rape mom in front of us. There was sexual abuse from my older brother who was the main target of my father. My father held a pillow over my brothers face when he was a baby and started punching it to get him to stop crying. I have children of my own today. They are beautiful and precious to me. I can not choose to not love so it just baffles me when I reflect on the decisions my parents made. My dad left when I was 5 or 6 so life improved a little. I dont know if this research has anything to offer us as victims being that we’ve already been through so much and as if we were entitled to one final lashing now we will all die substantially earlier as a result of our circumstances. I can say that it makes me more eager to make sure that my wife and children do not live in a toxic environment. I hope you’ve all been able to overcome this. Just remember that regardless of what you were told as a child, you are loved and you are lovable.

    • Both my parents suffered physical and sexual abuse, and neglect as kids. My mother has just recovered from cancer after eight chemos and my father has always had heart trouble and can not quit smoking. They are both super sensitive, nurturing, very protective and always helpful to everyone around them. They both get along superbly with children. But they are always stressed out and worried- I feel very helpless when I see them suffer. I cant change the past but is there any way that I can help them now.

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  38. ACE score: 6, Resilience score: 6.

    I am a 30 year old female,married. I grew up in a broken home with an alcoholic mother. My father was very absent only to reappear to make promises and then break them or be somewhat emotionally abusive under the guise of humor. I had learning disabilities growing up (including dyslexia, ADD, and a few more). Thankfully my mom had enough sense to approve special education help. My teachers were great and thanks to the love and support of my Grandmother (my mom’s mother) and my Uncle (my mom’s brother) I had two adults that cared about me and were interested and involved with my life. I was sexually assaulted by a friend’s father when I was 10.

    I graduated from special education at 15. I went to college and got my BSA in Visual Communications and Graphic Design. I worked for a major newspaper for over four years before moving to another country and marrying my husband with an ACE score of 5 but I much higher Resilience score (I don’t know for sure as he is not here to take the test).

    I have also been obese most of my life. I have PCOS and almost had uterine cancer when I was 24. I have since been on hormone replacement therapy and currently in the process of having a gastric bypass approved to lower many of the risks associated with my score. I also suffer from insulin resistance.

    I do not drink, smoke, or do drugs. I have always suffered from a lot of anxiety and I am sure there is some depression in there…but I think the anxiety level is much higher. I used to binge eat but once I moved to my new country and sought therapy that practice stopped rather quickly. I finally am in a place where expressing how I feel and reaching out for help emotionally is encouraged and supported.

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  41. Ace 8

    I used to always think I was alone and ours was the weirdest family in the world. Getting older taught me it was the other way around. Our family was practically the norm. I had friends whose parents loved them and they never went through the garbage I did. I couldn’t tell anyone what was going on or I would have been beaten to death. Both of my parents were abusive in different ways but the both did practice mental abuse. No one ever said they knew what was going on but I know the pays ed teachers never believed the allergy story for my welts that went from face to ankle. Both of my parents were narcissists. I think that should have been a question but when you have people who abuse you it is obvious they are. The one thing they never brought up is eating disorders, still today I fight to control them.

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  43. Can we get a scale on this so called Resilience score? Is 7 good, bad or indifferent? How about an idea of what it measures of correlates to? If not, why are we taking it seriously, especially in comparison to the ACE score which seems to be backed up and to mean something?

    • People are working on developing a validated resilience survey. Devereaux has one that’s similar to this, with more questions, that has some validation behind it, and I’ll add soon some information about it and a link to it. The one here is also based on resilience research. The higher the score, the better. A pediatric clinic in Portland, OR, has combined it with the ACE questionnaire in surveying parents of four-month-old babies, as a way of identifying parents who may need more parenting support. They’ve found that parents with high ACE scores and low resilience scores want/need more support than parents with high ACE scores and high resilience scores. Resilience research is in its early days. Although there’s lots of good information about how exercise, adequate sleep, good nutrition, meditation, living in a safe place, and having healthy relationships increase individual resilience, there’s less information about developing resilient organizations, systems, families and communities. There’s also work being done to find out if particular types of therapy can heal brains harmed by ACEs.

  44. ACES 7, 50 years old
    Five months ago I woke up hurting all over like when you have the flu and I can sleep for days.Today the doctors told me I need to see a mental health doctor. After 41 tubes of blood, countless medications, full body x-ray, and gained 19lbs. in three weeks. Clean bill of health they said. I how can this be when my world is at its best! Really this can happen because I scored a “7”! Perplexed…

    • Dear Torgeson,
      Sorry you had such an ordeal and were told it was in your head. May or may not be true. the only way to find out is to get a mental health doctor, and see where it goes. It could be both. It could be a health quirk, gone away. It could be something they could not find. It could be complications from mental duress. It could be aging. I’ve had similar perplexities and all of the above were true. Though I am not a professional, I feel the score of 7 is a definite contributor and seeking help would be a great step. Try EMDR therapy. Good luck.

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  48. I heard of the ACE evaluation on NPR a few days ago and am so glad that influence of childhood trauma is finally being acknowledged. I’ve just tried the test and my score is 8. I thank my lucky stars that I became a healer and have worked on myself long and hard over decades. I’ve healed hypothyroidism, allergies and cancer along the way. I’m on no medications (age 68 – 1/2) and have no illnesses or other medical conditions. Recovery from childhood trauma is definitely possible. I want to share a tool that I have found to be invaluable. It is a book by K Truman named “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die” It gives so much wonderful information and also provides a way for us to heal and release old trauma. There are many other techniques I’ve benefited from but I would say that, of all of them, this is most user-friendly. Do not allow yourself to continue to be a victim of that trauma. Be proactive. Take steps to resolve what might be festering within. The score you get on the test is not a sentence but call to action. Blessings.

  49. Thank you for this info, it helps in my fight to make sure children get what the need to be productive members of our society!💗

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  51. Does anyone know what the relationship between one’s ACES score and one’s Resiliency score is? My ACES was 6; Resiliency is 3. Thank you!!!

    • There’s no research on the relationship between an ACE score and a resilience score that I know of, but pediatricians at the Children’s Clinic in Portland, OR, believe that people who have high ACE score but low resilience scores have a more difficult life that people with high ACE scores and high resilience scores. If anyone else has heard about research that looks at this relationship, please feel free to post that information. Thanks!

      • Thank you, Jane Ellen Stevens, for your reply. This is helpful. And, does anyone know of anyone doing ACEs informed preventive work in the greater Los Angeles area?

      • Yes, there’s quite a bit going on. If you join, you can join a group that focuses on LA. It just formed, and there have been a couple of meetings to garner interest. About 50 people attended the first; I don’t know how many attended the second, which was on Friday.
        Cheers, Jane

      • Hi Jane,
        I’ve long had a question about the Resiliency score. My ACE score is 4 and my Resiliency score would be zero (since zero parenting was done in our home, so then I alienated teachers, kids, everyone else I met) — except for numbers 10, 13, and 14. For example: #10. “we had rules,” nothing but — like having rules in prison or the zoo. Rules were enforced abusively to push us away from attachment, feelings or relationship. #13 I was “an independent go-getter” because with zero parenting, often comes premature ego development and zero trust of others. So like “The Boy Named Sue,” we “grow up fast and we grow up mean/our fists get hard and our wits get keen.” Not mental health. And #14 “life is what you make it,” is often also produced that way.
        So I still think my childhood Resiliency score is zero.
        Now as an adult, “How many are still true for me?” Well, I don’t know if my current situation is really any Resiliency score — it seems more like an “earned secure attachment” score which could only be earned by years of incredibly painful therapy, emotional and body work. I can now claim #11, “When I feel bad, I can find someone I trust to talk to,” but that’s my therapist and my Recovery partners in this journey of incredibly painful hard work. And such folk are few and far between; most folk haven’t the guts. You can’t just call up any old person and spill the real stuff that must be shared “in dyadic consciousness” to be healed.
        And sure, as an adult, #12 “people always noticed I was capable and could get things done,” but again that’s the pre-mature ego development which kept me grinding out high-tech documents for the Pentagon and working 2 jobs to support my ex’s addiction for the last 15 years of my abusive marriage. Not mental health.
        Maybe we could add a third survey, an “Earned Secure Attachment Score (ESAS)”? I’d bet a lot of high achievers on ACEsConnection and in the responses below are in my boat. If we all could start to discover the difference between being The Boy Named Sue, and actually doing the deep emotional work it takes for people like us to fully attach to other humans, we all would benefit enormously.
        – Kathy

  52. ACE=7, resilience=5. With the help of a relative I moved from the east coast to the west coast in my early 20s. Overtime I raised 2 sons , completed post graduate school, became an aerospace production engineering. I was mentally and emotionally haunted until I sought therapy. Until I addressed these issues and accepted no responsibility for them I was An internal emotional prisoner of myself. I am esthetic to be able to be of sound mind to share this.

    • My initial post cites my current state of emotional being. Life’s journey was filled was filled with emotional turmoil and crisis. I did not reside in the reality I was led to believe was normal.

      I believe males in our society do not openly share their emotions as it perceived as a weakness.

      The scars of life will always be with me; I understand these events were not of my doing.

      • Thank you for sharing your experience Ron. I can relate a lot to what you have said about being emotionally haunted and how the scars will always be with you. Your better life now is encouraging and hopeful.

      • Love that and keeping it. “They are not of my doing.” Yep. Thanks. You just made a huge difference for me.

  53. Ace 5, Resilience 6… ??

    I mean, this seems really not very good as a study because there are so many factors just ignored. How can the results be trusted when when people taking the survey may or may not have a greater history of stress than the “scale” can even measure?
    Then, there are the issues themselves that were ignored…
    The stress that my life and body underwent when the people who were my comfort died really amounts to all of the other stress combined. Death is a pretty big thing to just leave out. Before my eighteenth birthday, I’d seen plenty of that and I can’t think of anything that traumatized my child self more. So, why is that not part of the scale?
    And, yes, mothers being abused is definitely going to be more common but men do get abused by spouses and kids do see that so why is only the abuse of a mother important?
    Then, there’s illness itself of the young persons or of loved ones that has serious emotional implications that will play into the physical implications down the road.
    I know I’m not the only one with stuff not on the list so this attempt at a scale for childhood trauma is basically a joke, and by joke I mean scientifically not sound. You can’t ignore this many relevant factors and still pretend you have an informative tool. The data is definitely off.

    • As detailed in the explanation, there are, of course, more than just 10 ACEs. These were just the ones that were measured. What’s more important about the research is the discovery that ACEs don’t happen alone, and that the exact types is the dose response…the more ACEs you have, the higher your risk of chronic disease, mental illness, violence and/or being a victim of violence, plus a host of other factors. From the accompanying research of neurobiology and biology of toxic stress, it’s clear that childhood adversity embeds itself in the brain and the body, and causes problems that appear decades later. The ACE Study is a starting point; its data is not off. Subsequent ACE surveys have included other types of childhood adversity, and there is discussion in the research community about identifying more.

  54. Thank you for the comments. The feeling that I’m not the only person on the planet experiencing some of these feelings is hugely relieving. Dana, like you, I marinated in shame in my 20’s and this was pre-therapy so I was a mess on the inside and didn’t know why. Now in my 30’s I’m so grateful for how far I’ve come because living in the remnants of my childhood was a crappy and painful existence. Aside from therapy I’ve found great comfort, peace and healing from meditation. If there are any parents here looking to break the cycle and not pass along to your kids, I highly recommend reading the book or joining the online seminar by dr Shefali tsabury called “the conscious parent.” I was shocked at how impactful this was for me as I was skeptical when joining the seminar.. a game changer for me.. Lots of love to all

  55. ACE: 9, Resiliency: 5. Age 43, Female. Completed BA in 2011, MS in progress. I have major depressive disorder and PTSD resulting from mother’s suicide 5 years ago, but was somewhat depressed even before that event. Many of my mother’s issues were directly related to things outlined in the ACE questions. As she grew older she resented so many of her choices. Sibling problems have included drug abuse,incarceration, and surrender of children.

    • I should include that I’m a 33 year old female and mother of 3, with a fourth on the way. I’m the widow of a Soldier and have no health problems, aside from injuries caused by sports and accidents. I was overweight most of my life and obese from about 19-25; I now have what’s considered an athletic build.

    • Traci, I’m so impressed by you, by your success! My ACE is 8; Resiliency 2. I’m raising my two kids who are now 16 and 18. My 18 year old was born with Congenital Rubella Syndrome, leaving him with multiple disabilities including total deafness and with mental health issues similar to schizophrenia that caused him to be violent (smashing windows, punching me in the face for no reason, etc etc.) from age 3 until we found the right medication for him at age 14. In spite of my son’s violence, my high ACE, and low Resiliency scores, I was never physically or verbally abusive with my kids and never exposed my kids to alcohol or drug abuse, I kept my daughter safe from my son’s mental health issues, was able to keep my kids in the same home, in a good school district, my son in a good Deaf program. I’ve been very lucky but feel like i’m also resilient. I was surprised by my low score. Having said that, I do suffer from depression but I’m proactive about it, I have chronic headaches, and I feel like I have learning disabilities and now having a hard time maintaining a job. Trying to find solutions, looking for suggestions. Traci, I’m sorry that you have the added burden of PTSD in your adulthood on top of your 9 ACE score. I am curious about your relationship with your mom, particularly now that she’s passed away. I have an impossibly difficult relationship with my mom. Two of my siblings have passed away from drug abuse, my 3rd sibling estranged himself from the family. My mom has a lot of anger pent up.

  56. 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?

    Why only mother/ stepmother? Surely, it is equally traumatic to see this happen to anyone you’re close with.

    • It is indeed equally traumatic to see this happened to anyone you’re close with. In the explanation of the ACE survey, it’s pointed out that there are many other types of trauma; but these were the ten that were measured. It is conceivable that someone could have a high ACE score from other types of trauma, including living in a war zone, experiencing racism, sexism and gender abuse, witnessing violence outside the home, and being bullied.

    • Your right on this question, how about Father/Stepfather. So one sided, it can happen to ether just as easy! Unfortunately.

  57. Ace score 9

    Resilience score 14

    I know from age birth to about 6 or 7 my mom breastfeed was a stay at home home mom played on the floor with us my father thought me to read by the time I was three

    But some point my fathers mental illness came out and took over……that’s when life changed. He murdered my mother when I was 14. I was sexually abused by the neighbors before I even know what sex was!!! There was a lot of shaming and utter silence …….

    Now I am a mother of three yes I’ve been to prison I tried drugs but honestly I really couldn’t get addicted to drugs…..about age 28 I totally changed I went to get a BA am going to get a MSW one day a PhD…..

    I’m a certified AOD counselor and love to teach Non Violent Parenting !

  58. ACE = 5, Resilience = 8. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved despite my poor start in life. My brother has not fared so well and is depressed with a gambling problem.

    I started to come to terms with the abuse in my early 30’s and I’ve been in therapy since then (currently having EMDR which is very useful). I was lucky to find an amazing therapist. I was an under achiever at school, but went on to be awarded a first class degree after going to University at 33 years old. I have now a postgrad and am currently on a diploma course in therapy. I work as a Senior Social Worker in a mental health team and I love my job; I get to meet so many inspirational people (just like a lot on here) and help them find their strengths and resources. I don’t have any health problems and I’m normal weight. If you saw me in the street, I look groomed and confident. You’d never guess my background.

    Things aren’t perfect; I’ve struggled at times to control drinking (fortunately not to the extent where it’s affected my functioning) and I sometimes fall for men who aren’t worthy of me because I don’t value myself enough. I’m single now (I’m 43) and continuing to work and work and work on my issues (its the only way really). I have an 18 year old son who means the world to me. I’m so glad I’ve been able to give him what I didn’t get. He’s a fine young man with a good heart and is going to go to an excellent University.

    ‘Healing the Child Within’ by Charles Whitfield, ‘Homecoming’ by John Bradshow and ‘The Language of Letting Go’ by Melody Beattie have been very useful. My favourite audiobook (which I cannot recommend highly enough) is ‘Warming the Stone Child’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

    My advice is believe you can do it, and keep working. Its a lifetime of work, but what is more worthy than that. Love to all.

    • Millie, this comment was super helpful for me. I relate to a lot of what you wrote especially the part of looking “normal, put together” on the outside and you wouldn’t guess my history if seeing me on the street. I’ve also done an enormous amount of therapy and work to overcome my demons. Question for you: you mention you’ve been in therapy for years and it takes a life time of work.. I’m curious to hear more about this.. Do you really think this is a lifetime journey of continual healing… A journey versus a destination with an end point? Curious of your opinion on this. Thanks for sharing your story.. It gave me inspiration.. Love and hope to you!!!❤️

      • Hello Erica, thanks for the comment – I’m so pleased you found my posting helpful. I’ve probably done about 3 years solid therapy if you add up my attendance. I think I’ve accepted that it’s going to take as long as it takes for me…. I’m a highly sensitive person so the wounds went rather deep. I think it’s all a journey – I can honestly say I’ve had good runs within that time, but I can collapse a bit too easily into childhood states. We all have our own tasks to do and mine is working to allow the vulnerable child to integrate more into me. I developed certain strengths to survive the experience but they’re now holding me back. I just want to get to the best place I can, and I know that I’ve achieved a lot that people with a ‘normal’ background don’t which is satisfying. I think we can heal, but our scars can sometimes be tender. Love to you too x

    • “If you saw me in the street, I look groomed and confident. You’d never guess my background.”

      Can I ever relate to this. I have said these exact words and heard these words directed at me so many times. And I am proud of the work I have done. Sadly the downside for me sometimes is when I am in need of real support, when life throws a curve ball, people often think I am fine or am making a mountain out of a mole hill. But I know, when things fall apart (jobs, relationship) what’s usually coming for me in way of a struggle. That is still my biggest challenge, having no family to rely on leaves me vulnerable to to many things.

      However, I have done enough work and polished myself off enough and have a pretty solid self worth now that, even though I get tired and it feels like a marathon, I never give up.

      And even though I would love to close the book on therapy and leave the “work” behind, I too find, from time to time, that I need to visit another aspect of healing.
      The theme these months seems to be rage, haha. I have a lot of anger that I have been left to clean up a mess that I never made but was forced on me.

      Thank you for sharing, forgive my overly verbose response. Reading your story and Erica’s comment, ignited some thoughts in me :)

      • Dear Dana – what an inspiration it was to read your comment. It sounds like you have worked really hard to get to where you are, and I hope I don’t sound patronising when I compliment you by saying well done :) When I think about my outwardly presentation, I can honestly say that I probably need to do more work on handling shame…. I hate telling people what happened to me (especially men that I’ve dated). More therapy I guess!

        I emphasise with your lack of family. Friends are wonderful but it’s just not the same, and I find it rather hard to open up to people when I’m vulnerable. I really admire your tenacity; working through these dark emotions is no mean feat. Rage can be a terrifying thing (I have literally wanted to kill my mother at times), but it’s such a powerful and healthy expression with the right therapist or person to support you.

        I wish you all the very best on your journey x

    • Hey! You don’t have to tell the men you are dating. You’re dating, not life bonding. Share when you feel it true. When you have someone extremely kind in your life. I don’t know why I am compelled to tell you this. You deserve a fabulous love in your life. I guess that’s why. Your son is lucky. :)

  59. ACE – 3, Resilience – 11. One of the lucky ones . . . My parents were separated while I was a toddler too young to remember, so most of the pain associated with that event was in years — and I do mean years — of longing for a father figure to love and validate me. But I never for a second doubted my mother’s love and despite some major clashes during the teenage years, we had a loving relationship. Another great solace was school; I was quite bright and attended excellent schools (the luck of growing up in Northern VA, even though my family was poor) where teachers definitely liked me and some took a real interest in my life. I also loved to read books, which were another education in themselves — different worlds and times at your fingertips, as well as great lessons in humanity, our motivations, secrets, heartbreaks, joys.

    Our family is not without scars. I have never quite figured out how to sustain a mate-type relationship with a man. None of us kids has ever gotten married or had children — too much distrust, I guess (or too much selfishness?) And my brother, who was much older than my sister and me when my parents split, never really figured out how to be a successful adult.

    Still, reading the other accounts here, I realize how very, very lucky we were to have had stable and decent adults all around us growing up. And my heart goes out to so many here! I feel helpless in the face of your wounds, but I do wish you all healing. And peace.

  60. wow, ACE 1, resilience 12. Seems I had an unbelievably lucky childhood. Makes me feel bad about not being all that lucky about everything back then, and not being happy about all of it even now :/

  61. I did something a little different with these questionnaires. My ACE score was 8, my resiliency 7. Nothing I can do about the ACE score. What was, was. The resiliency questionnaire, however, I also answered from the viewpoint of supports I currently have in my life. Score? 11. What this tells me is that even though I had a horrible childhood, the existence of a good support system as an adult has made a major difference in my healing. I am doing things that doctors and therapists said I never would. I do have challenges, and some days are harder than others, but am no longer designated SMI, and I have a fulfilling, mostly joyful life. What happened in the past does not have to ruin the rest of my life.

    • Thanks for sharing this. Your approach is great, and that’s exactly what the resilience score is also meant to do: to inform people who didn’t have much resilience in their childhoods how to incorporated resilience into their adults lives. Kudos!

      • I so want to learn to have such resilience. ACES 5, RESILIENCE 4. These have been helpful tools to decrease my diminishing of my history and its affect. And to see that resiliency it’s a good word for what I’m missing. It amounts to self esteem which has been elusive. I’m fifty years old and would like to enjoy life more. That self esteem and resilience is crucial I believe.

    • Great post.. Inspires me to want to be even more resilient. My trouble comes with lack of support system.. Can’t count my family (of origin) because they are part of the problem. I have my husband and that’s about it. I find I don’t trust people or have a hard time getting close to people. Curious who makes up your support system?

      • Still my biggest challenge. No support. No family connections save my elderly Grandmother. And trust…. I have no idea what that even looks like.

  62. ACE 8
    I just stumbled across a link for the ACE test someone posted on Facebook. I find this very validating. Growing up mom suffered from depression, and a nervous break down when my younger brother passed away from a brain tumor when I was 9. Mom blamed me for his death because while she left me to babysit him, he squirmed away from me and I dropped him. I carried the belief until I was a mother and my daughter tripped and hit her head. We immediately went to the doc. When he asked why we were there today I told him. He looked at me sideways, then grabbed my hand and said, “you did not kill your brother and your daughter just bumped her head”. Dad was an alcoholic who was an immigrant to this country and grew up in concentration camps, which were later turned into refuge camps. Needless to say, he was distant, abusive and downright mean. Especially to me because I could never keep my mouth shut towards anything I viewed as unjust. Parents divorced when I was 11. Then when i thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. We, my sister and I, lived with mom, as was common for divorce then. Mom lost it. She completely changed her personality and was short tempered whenever she was present, which wasn’t often. We didn’t see my dad much, and I was glad. My grandmother, aunts and 1 uncle were supportive. Things got really bad, and I left when I was 14. Bounced around friend’s houses, relatives, etc until I was 16 when I moved back in with my father. I was determined to get out. I worked a full time job, and took 2 yrs of high school in 1 to graduate when I was 17. I joined the airforce, but only served 4 yrs when i realized it wasn’t for me. I cut my family out of my life for years. Everyone. I had 4 children who are now grown. I have no health issues, but can’t form long lasting relationships with anyone. I am divorced, and I left my children with father. He was the better parent as my anger issues were scaring me. I felt i would do the same to my kids. They don’t know about any of this, and in my trying to protect them from who I was at the time, I’ve created a different kind of anger in them and i hate myself for it. I should have been good enough for them, but i was broken. I did go to therapy for awhile, but didn’t feel any benefit from it. I had post partem depression which after my girls which affected decision making and behavior. I smoke, rarely drink, but have heavily for years at a time. It’s been 6 yrs since the last stretch. I have also done various drugs in my lifetime (legal and illegal), and was promiscuous when younger. In short, I was a wreck. I never had an ah-ha moment, or gone through 12 step or recovery programs. I just got sick of living like an animal. Through all of this, I’ve always been employed (apart from when I was a stay at home mom for 6 yrs), paid my own bills, etc, so I feel like my resilency should be higher. I have a great sense of humor, but do suffer from bouts of depression, guilt, and worthlessness, so sometimes I’m the only one finding a particular situation funny. Thanks for this test. While it hasn’t found its way into my doc’s practice yet, it should be.

    • Sorry to see all that estrangement but not even remotely surprised. Only good thing about my mother’s dying is that I can turn my back on other family members & actually seek a just decision in probate matters concerning one of my abusers. Meanwhile, I have had the great luxury of a very special psychotherapist with a specialty in trauma treatment. This is key, at least for me. My ACE score is 9 & though my score on the Resiliency test is low, I believe I have maximized so many coping modalities ~ such as humor, success in business & a kind of optimism ~ that I have created a buffer which serves to keep me afloat & effectively elevate that score. Over the years, I have healed a lot. A lot. I am less socially anxious, live alone & my private life is quiet. Now. I understand that in my case, therapy will have to be permanent for the healing to continue. And that’s okay. I would just encourage people to keep things in perspective: the older I get, the more convinced I am that there are a hell of a lot more of us than I previously believed. Also, importantly, we should not judge ourselves harshly; it can some times seem we are so flawed that we ought to distance ourselves from others. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the reality.

  63. Ace score 19
    Resiliency score 2

    Given what I lived through I guess I am the overachiever that my therapist says I am. I have B/A and Master’s in History and own my own business. Married 24 years and 2 children: 20 & 16. Doing very will in my life. I have PTSD, Depression and Anxiety Disorder.

    • I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen anyone else’s ACE score as high as mine. Sexually abused entire childhood by multiple people. Lived in a home of domestic violence and drugs. started drugs at age 11. Abandoned by parents over and over again. Lived on the streets of Boston for a time. Raped and sold into sex slavery industry. Ran away. Never looked back and parented my little sister. Put myself through college and graduate school. Never dwelled on my abuse. Just worked hard to show them all that they didn’t break me or take my soul. I have no tolerance for those who make excuses for why they don’t thrive today despite what they lived through as children. You are who you make yourself to be. Never blame others for where you are in your life today. You need to be your own parent, best friend and advocate. You alone are your own captain of your ship.

  64. Ace Score 4
    Resiliency Score 2
    Female, Age 56, UK

    This is such valuable work and I am deeply moved by many of the stories shared.

    Another respondent with a comparatively low Ace score and low Resiliency score observed of themselves “Invisible child.” I was the opposite: the family spotlight was on me constantly.

    My father was an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive control freak with a lifelong history of anxiety and depression (and, I suspect BPD). My mother could be kind but was narcissistic and emotionally distant. Their marriage was a disaster and they ‘dealt’ with it by offloading all their pain onto me. I simply could not do right for doing wrong. My younger sister lived in the same poisonous atmosphere but was rarely attacked, probably because she was more compliant than me.

    We had no family living nearby and there was no-one to turn to. Huge effort was put into creating the illusion of a ‘perfect’ family and one of the most difficult things was my mother’s unarguable parenting credentials. She had been a professional nanny and still had a wonderful relationship with all her former charges. They were all boys and she often spoke of her dismay at my being a girl. I am sure no-one even imagined that behind closed doors my mother enabled (and sometimes encouraged) my father’s abuse.

    I did find ways of coping. Firstly, I had a wonderful paternal grandfather and even though I saw him only rarely and he died when I was seven, his loving kindness made me realise at a very young age that my parents’ behaviour was not normal or fair. As I grew older books were a source of immense comfort and reassurance that one day I could have a different kind of life. I also did well at school and liked the fact that teachers’ behaviour was usually predictable, in stark contrast to my father’s illogical and unprovoked rages. Like so many others I walked on eggshells and to this day I am hypervigilant and scared of relaxing.

    One thing that strikes me is the importance of context. Although I was periodically hit, so were most kids I knew, both at home and at school. It was horrible and frightening but there was no feeling of being singled out, no feeling of shame associated with it. It wasn’t difficult to admit to friends, whereas I felt far too ashamed to tell anyone about the emotional abuse and neglect.

    My father’s confused messages extended to education. I was expected to obtain exemplary grades (which I did) but a few weeks before I was due to go to university he announced he had changed his mind about funding me because I was ‘bad’. It took me decades (and a good therapist) to realise that this was really about my parents’ fear of letting me escape the family home. Who else were they going to scapegoat?

    I was a very determined person and did pretty well as a young adult. I paid my own way through university, forged a good career, and found happiness in the first years of my marriage. I had few health problems. However, when my son was eight he developed a malignant brain tumour (he survived against the odds but has been left with numerous physical and mental health challenges). My husband hit the bottle, smashed up our home and beat me. I will never forget being with my son in intensive care while my parents argued not only that I must have deserved the beating but also that I must have done something to cause my son’s illness. My son and I were an island of loneliness in a ward full of loving extended families trying to help one another.

    Something about that incident brought back all the old feelings of being inadequate and unwanted. Since then I have struggled with recurring clinical depression and have developed a number of physical health problems. Both my parents have died and after my mother’s funeral my sister (my only sibling and mother of my lovely niece and nephew) said she found my attempts to be a close family ‘pathetic’, and something that she and my parents had all found ‘weird and weak’ about me. I decided to cut her out of my life. In one sense it brings peace, in another it just brings more loneliness.

    I am gradually finding my way out of the pain and the shame and working hard to regain my physical wellbeing. My greatest wish had been to heal through creating a happy family life of my own and the loss of that opportunity is the one I find hardest to bear.

  65. ACE score of 9. I always thought I had a wonderful childhood until I actually think about it. My mother always told me my childhood was great and that I shouldn’t complain. She’s had depression and alcoholism my entire life, emotionally abused me throughout, and my father used to hit her in my presence, until she divorced him for sexually targeting his employees. My father never told me he loved me, or gave me any attention. I always felt like I was a burden as a child. I became obsessive for adult male attention as an early teenager and got myself involved sexually with various dangerous men, one of which still sends me creepy messages via anonymous phone calls. I was near hospitalized for anorexia around this time, and at age 17 I left my mother’s home as her drinking worsened, to live with a 43 year old man who filled the gap of my virtually fatherless childhood. He would lock me in his house and force himself on me if he found out I was talking to anyone male, even customers at the job I worked at. I didn’t have anyone to talk to my entire life, as my mother always told me that I was a “cry baby”, had no reason to be upset. I figured, I got myself into my own situation. I am now unable to maintain relationships of any kind, and my emotions and are dramatically impulsive and destroying my life. I do things without realizing I’m doing them, or having memory of making the decision. It’s very scary, and after realizing what I’ve actually been through isn’t what healthy families go through, I’m finally seeking psychological help. I don’t know why I wrote this here, anonymity I guess, and I don’t know how to talk about myself like this to other people.

    • This struck a chord with me– I think of my childhood as just peachy until I think about it, or sometimes I will be telling my husband a story from my childhood and then realize how messed up it really is. There were some really good things, but also some really bad ones– so my ACE is 6 and resilience is 8, and think I’m quite well-adjusted (except for a few little things…). I think most of the time I kind of put up filters on my perceptions; I think about the good things and mentally gloss over the bad.

    • Keep talking Candice, keep talking. I’m so sorry for the parenting that you had. Keep at the therapy. Keep at it and know that you are a beautiful person and these things of your past were not of your doing. You can begin to make choices that will contribute to your happiness. Over time, you will begin to reap the rewards of your choices. I am sorry you are struggling so right now. I’m here to tell you, it can get better. I’m 56, and life just keeps getting better and I, like you, had horse shit parents. I don’t know why I write to you either…. kindered spirits maybe.

  66. Oh dear. An ACE score of 7 and a resilience score also of 7. Though one part of me is shattered that I saw this ‘test’ on facebook and actually did it – but the grownup part thinks this is a good tool.

    WARNING – graphic content!

    Historical: recovered alcoholic (of 28 years), previous drug user (you name it – including solvent abuse). Education: little primary school education, no high school, in and out of ‘children’s’ homes and a criminal record. Oldest of four kids. Multiple suicide attempts between the ages of 13 and 17. Self-harming too (cuts, burns, sewing skin).

    Mum and Dad were both alcoholics and Mum was very ill due to multiple illnesses. Mum died at 70 (heart attack, dementia, cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy, pernicious anemia, ulcerative colitis). Dad passed away at 75 (prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, dementia, alcoholism). Both parents had an alcoholic father, one of whom died in a house-fire. Mum was depressed and tried to take her life multiple times as we were growing up and still in her care. She and Dad fought – verbally and physically. Once I had taken off when i was in my early teens and came home to find Mum bruised and unable to walk. I called an ambulance. Dad had tried to shoot Mum but the catch jammed – so he hit her with the butt and broke her hip … 3 days earlier. Dad was diagnosed at around 38 with ‘nervous neurosis’ and was put on a pension.

    Current: 56 years old. Survivor of two cancers (cervical when 26 and kidney at 54), diabetic (type 2), high blood-pressure and morbidly obese. Mother of 5, 4 of which I gave birth to. Children range from 31 to 38 in age. Three fathers. Been with the one man for (one died and one ran away) 35 years, completed my year 10 ‘equivalency’ at 43 and sat the STAT (adult entrance for higher education) also at 43. I completed a 4 year Bachelor plus a post-grad cert within 5 years then a second post-grad-cert. I work in two professional roles and while I don’t earn squizzlions (working in the NFP sector) I earn enough. One child has a Masters degree and all are in full-time employment, married and parents themselves. Health wise I am fitter than I have been for years as I make changes to recoverer from the recent kidney cancer. I take endep for FB and a tablet for high -blood pressure which is managed well. I have an ongoing thing with anxiety but I suspect I am creating this myself by the choices I make regarding work and my frantic lifestyle.

    My siblings: Brother (54) alcoholic and has dementia. Sister (52) is fine! Sister (48) has had cancer and is alcoholic.

    Without knowing those ‘protective factors’ and without a role model I was able to make a path through for my family. Could I have done better? Not with the tools, experiences and information I had. The turnaround came through two major events. 1) my alcoholism was killing me and my Dr had threatened to hospitalise me. With his help I became ‘dry’ over the following month (October 1987) and have remained dry since then. 2) I became a Christian in 1988 and remained one since then. Christianity offered me the lot – a caring family, a very strong and clear framework and strict guidelines. I even ‘re-learned’ my parenting skills. How other people get through it all I have no idea! Life would have been easier had I 1) not lost so much in the way of cognitive function (memory) and 2) known that alcohol was a poison and it was the foundation for my parent’s horrible, horrible lives. We can be who we want to be – NOTHING in my past holds me back. I am quite upfront about aspects of it though some of it cannot ever be bought to life by talking about it. Our kids know some, but not all of it. My parents made choices that I, in turn, also made. But I eventually saw through it and came through it. One thing that is interesting is that although I earned qualifications as a social worker, I chose not to work with clients after an initial stint. Two reasons: one was I can lack empathy and the other is that I see greater value in addressing the bigger systems in society to bring about a more safer, healthier and just society – so I work in ‘prevention’.

    From my perspective I didn’t ever see myself as broken or damaged and therefore I didn’t so much ‘heal’ as I literally ‘grew’ into someone else. I have my behaviours, habits, hobbies and laugh all the time but the ‘other’ aspects of my younger life (addiction, crime, violence etc) went. I am aware that we all face some sort of trauma and that mine sounds like some awful movie script but apart from not being able to cope with confrontation I think I am great! So please don’t panic if you use this tool to score and a child comes up with 7, they CAN get through it :)

  67. Ace 4 and resilient 5.
    Is it odd that the person giving emotional abuse is also the one doing the nurturing ? My husband always tells me that he doesn’t know how I turned out somewhat functional despite what I went through. He sees it when we are around my family. Unfortunately I am still in the same situation. I can’t get away. I now take care of my mother that is bipolar with schizophrenia signs that now has dementia. My grandparents that raised me while taking care of my mom too are nuts. My grandfather has the same mental illness as my mother. They sre 86 now and worse than ever. So I care for them too and have no sanity in my life. I suffer from chronic depression and barely can cope with myself. I just hope I live long enough to one day enjoy my life.

    • I know Dear God is with you in your struggle to care for your loved ones. You are not alone, and others may help you if you are able to reach out to them. I went through a much milder version of what you are going through and wondered every day if and when it would end. It finally did, and I had intense remorse for not doing more and having negative thoughts as I helped others that had damaged me in some ways. But your soul will be fortified for every act of kindness you give to family and others who may not deserve it. It is in the GIVING that our healing is intensified. My ACE score was 5 and I have many of the problems discussed here. Therapy definitely helps if you can afford it and creating a support system independent of family or their network will help immensely. I am praying for a positive change in your life. A friend and also stranger. ryk

  68. I have a high ace score of 7 and a high resilience score of 8… My dad was a raging abusive alcoholic, and my mom allowed it to happen. He was emotionally and verbally abusive to the whole family and also physically abusive to my mother. My brother and I were always scared he was going to kill her. We called the police on him a few times in his fits of rage. He committed suicide when my mom asked for a divorce when I was 12. I came from a middle-upper middle class family and this was all a secret. As much therapy as I’ve been through I still carry so much shame and humiliation for how imperfect and messed up my life was. on the outside I played the part if all star athlete and got good grades. I’m now 33, married w kids, happy most days, but others I feel like I’ve lost my mind.. Have a really tough time trusting people and making close friends. It’s depressing but I try to remain’s helpful sharing my story And reading others so I feel less alone and less messed up. Thanks for listening. love to all ❤️

    • Our details are different but the feelings are the same.

      I can remember earlier in life in my 20s just marinating in shame, or at least thats how it felt. I have since calmed quite a lot of it. But still do feel surges of it overwhelm me, from time to tim and in difficult times.

      I relate to the challenge of making good friends and trusting people. Thank you for sharing your story. I have become more vocal in recent years mostly through writing in the hopes that others will feel less alone as you said. It saddens me that so many of us have had to inherit the left overs of abuse and have been left to clean up the mess. If it helps the shame at all, try to see how amazing you are to not only have survived the imperfect life, but you are thriving through your new family. That is special and valuable.

    • Thank you for sharing everything but especially meaningful to me is that you have a hard time trusting and making friends. I experience this as well and frequently hear myself decide that there is something wrong with me, that I am broken. I want to be fixed. Thanks for offering your experience. I feel less broken if its not just me.

  69. ACE score 7, resilience score 3

    I stumbled across this website after watching Nadine Burke Harris’ TED video and I have to say I think both are phenomenal – and every person engaging with it too.

    I am 24 years old, female from Britain, and in the last two years have been unofficially adopted by a friends’ parents, because things between my mother and I got so bad.

    To an outsider (and to many of my ‘friends’ or family) i had the perfect life, and they can’t understand what is “wrong” with me. But i am slowly beginning to understand that the emotional and physical abuse I endured for 22 years of my life was not normal, and it explains so much about me. Sounds corny – but i suddenly understand why i am the way I am, and why I have the kinds of responses I do to things.

    These have been the most painful 2 years of my life, but also the only time I have ever felt happiness and hope. Einstein said you cannot change a system with the thinking that created it – and that is what i am trying to do, change my system. Yes even if it means breaking away from my mother, my twin brother, my family, my hometown and ‘friends’ – my life, and all our lives are worth everything. And these ideas were reinforced by Chris (my adoptive Dad), who has undoubtedly saved my life.

    I grew up feeling desperately unhappy, trapped and with no where to turn – this needs to become more public.

    Things are looking up – and understanding ACEs and child trauma is so important.
    Keep going everyone.

    • One of the most painful parts of healing, for many people, is the realization that to stay safe they must cut ties with their family of origin. It’s tough, because in every culture, connection to family is fundamental. You are among many people who have courageously told their stories here who have said they finally felt some peace by separating themselves from a family that is not safe physically or emotionally. I also had to do so; and when I did I could finally begin real, substantive healing.

      • I also had to cut ties w my family to heal. Took a long time to realize they were a problem and difficult not to have family to turn to. Good luck and much love to you!

      • Thank you so much for these words. I have struggled daily for many years after alienating myself against a family that brought me so much pain for 40 years. I do have peace, but there remains much guilt. I have so much healing still to do. These words help give me the strength to go on healing.

  70. I scored a high ACE and a High (11) Resiliency score. I had a grandmother and an Aunt in my life at an early age who both loved and nurtured me. They made all the difference in the world to me. Despite whatever other stress I was experiencing these two women believed in me and loved me.

  71. I have an ACE score of 9 and a Resilience score of 5. I grew up in a household with four brothers younger than I was. I had to take care of them and watch over them a lot. I believe that this allowed for me to be distracted from so much of my trauma. I’m 38 now and although I have been to college I never completed it. I am self taught in many areas. Again, I attribute this to having had so much responsibility placed on me earlier on. I often feel that, if I want to do something then I can.

    I also am able to detach and let go of people easier. I’m sure that this is a part of my coping/survival skills that I used when I was younger to help protect myself. The family that did come around occasionally knew what was happening, but not one of them stood up for any of us. Thus, I never felt supported.

    My score breakdown of the Resilience questions, #s 4, 12, 13 = Probably True. #s 6, 10 Definitely True.

    Its all interesting to me. :) Thanks for sharing.

  72. Ace score of 7, Resiliency score of 9.
    Was abandoned by my biological mother, adopted by people who shouldn’t have been allowed to own anything. Survived 18 years of physical, emotional, verbal abuse from my adopted mother, the kind that land you in the hospital and puts lightening in your bones. And alcoholism in my adopted father, in a “middle class” family. Am 44 now.

    Worked my behind off to get into university, work with therapists to overcome my issues. Thought I did a great job of it too. Felt really proud and had created a nice life.

    Then turned 40 and everything went sideways. I can’t seem to get it right again or reconnect to what I had before. I am sometimes angered at how many therapists claim to understand complex trauma, happily take my money and don’t know a thing. And I attract harmful people sometimes, manipulative, pushy, unhelpful, its annoying.

    I don’t smoke. Rarely drink more than a glass of wine. Am a long distance runner. Eat healthy (when I am not destitute and poor). But my life is a mess regardless now. Job losses, economic issues, trust issues, you name it. From the outside its what you would expect to see of someone’s life who is an alcoholic or maybe a chronic gambler, but I am neither.

    I show up everyday, but just can’t seem to get it right. I feel my low moods and occasional nihilistic thinking are more from frustration and annoyance than from being sad. I have never felt sorry for myself, only determined to overcome it and live a happy life. Thats all that I ever really wanted.

    Maybe this research can lead to treatment approaches that actually work for adults too.

  73. this explained a lot about myself. Mother never wanted me. I was not a boy. She pushed me onto other family members. She loved her niece whom she adopted Always put me down. I wasn’t ever good enough. Last time she beet on me I was 13. My dad worked away a lot. She also treated him like dirt. I no longer talk to her hurts to much. She said I wasn’t her daughter. Her daughter was dead

    • Oh Janice, my heart weeps to hear your story. YOU are enough! Your mother is a damaged soul. Find another mother figure, there are many women out there who will love you.

    • Your mother was a self-absorbed idiot who did not realize how special you are as a person.

      Thank you for finding this website after the NPR Article about ACE scores related to Adult Health.

    • My mother the same, only wanted boys….plus the muscles in my eyes were under developed, eyes spun. She told me many times that she could not pick me up because I make her sick to her stomach, I have one wide rib cage, not picking me up….treated my father badly also, much love to you Janice

  74. I have a high ACE score (4 or 5) and also a very low Resiliency score of 1. It seems that the higher the ACE score the lower the Resiliency score. However, I see people commenting that they had a very high ACE score of 6 or 8 and a high Resiliency score, which is odd. I wonder how one can have so much trauma in life and yet so resilient (high on resiliency, meaning they felt loved, felt someone cared, felt they had someone to talk to, etc.)
    I am a little lost. If someone could clarify. What could the potential explanation be?

    • Hi, Ella. You can have a high ACE score and a high resiliency score if someone in your extended family or other caring adult provided love, guidance, support, etc., while your parent(s) were abusive, dependent on drugs, divorced, etc. In my case, it was a grandmother who provided me with a safe home and a lot of love during a time when my parents were away and occupied with their own problems. It might also be one parent who provides love and support, while the other parent does not. I hope this helps!

      • I had a high ACE score and a high resiliency score. Like you, I had very supportive family member, especially my grandmother. My mother was a positive parent while my stepfather was not. My father was very loving, but absent most of my life. I think a high resiliency score shows that you have something positive counteracting the negatives in life.

    • HI Ella, Most of my childhood trauma and abuse did start until I was 8. My family has always coped by looking the other way and forgetting the nasty details. I think that is why I have a high resiliency score.

  75. So an ACE score of 8 and a Resilince score of 10 Pos and 4 NS. However I took all this and became a doctor so life is horrible or amazing it just is we can do with it what we need and want too.

    • You probably also have:

      -a lot of patience

      – mental strength and stability =)

      I have met other people with privileged lives with loving parents who have grudges because their “parents would not pay for their tuition”.

      But couldn’t relate to “negativity towards family”: it was more important for me to realize

      “My parents gave me everything they could even if it was just a plate of food”

  76. My ace score is 6. I am 40, employed, and working on my master’s degree. I have migraines , panic attacks, and aversions to social situations, but no other health issues. I was lucky to have access to books for escapism when I was younger, and supportive teachers in high school. I wasn’t into drugs, sex, or smoking as a teen. My focus was always to get out of the house my going to college (good high school). When my daughter was born 16 years ago, I had to consciously decide not to perpetuate the behaviors I learned growing up, even if it meant letting her cry in her crib for a while as I composed my thoughts, and considered my impulses, and my choices. I totally cut my family out of my life for over 5 years, and even now see them only occasionally. I think I have an impulsivity and lack of concern for familial norms that lead to my independence.

    • Sadly, family members get sucked into their own lives while you are trying to build one for yourself.

      On that note you shouldn’t feel prone to being concerned for “Familial Norms” if that is the case =)

      I have always felt that the social norm to the Female Role In Families was unfair and contributes to

      – lower education among women
      – women tending to being reliant on Male Dominance

      I think you will be a good role model to your daughter =)

  77. Ace score of 6, Resiliency score of 12. I’m 49 and have 9 autoimmune diseases. I was vibrant, in control and called the Energizer Bunny through my 20’s with only 3 AI’s (also had 2 others that were undiagnosed)…in my 30’s add another 1, and just last year add the remaining 5. Needless to say at this point in my life I’m down to working very few hours a week (but I’m still working!), resting every day, and finding myself learning acceptance, how to live life at a much slower pace and enjoying every the small and large gifts God gives us. My faith has been strong throughout my entire life. Learning I didn’t have to be perfect was probably the biggest turning point in my life…what a relief! (I discovered this in my early 30’s). Now I write a blog, mostly for fun, grateful moments, prayerful moments, some serious stuff, and a few recipes kicked in. And the name? A Thankfully Imperfect Woman (.com). Sigh…life is good.

  78. Name: -Anonymous-
    Aces Score: 5
    Resiliency: 11
    Age: 27
    Gender: Female
    Education: Bachelor’s
    Smoker: No
    Drink: Rarely
    Depressed: Sometimes
    Suicidal tendencies: No
    Mental illness: No
    Physical Illness: No

    Although I look perfectly ‘together’ and ‘fit’ on the outside, I have a problem with anxiety and bouts of fatigue/feeling ‘frozen’ like I can’t move and need to sleep/escape suddenly. Confidence issues. Issues with self worth. I need validation less and less now – but used to really need it to feel okay about myself/my decisions. I worry a lot – hopefully less with time as I’m more aware and in therapy (for about 3 years now). I have zero contact w/ my family except for an occasional card (I live in another country..moved away as soon as I could.) I have managed to have good, long-term relationships that are healthy. My mom has BPD and has tried killing herself in the past; my dad a classic enabler “head turned the other way” – escapes w/ drugs. My mom drinks a lot. Both parents are in denial. Haven’t seen family in 4+ years – best decision I’ve made. I’m hyper aware of my health- maybe too much. As I worry a lot, I don’t want any more negativity in my life so I eat very well (healthy), barely drink (and if I do, I drink responsibly), exercise, get out and socialize, laugh/joke around/dance… But I still feel I have high cortisol levels as my anxiety gets intense. Sometimes I think I sabotage myself without being conscious of it. I get negative thoughts as I was constantly put down growing up. I am looking into ways of dealing w/ my anxiety better. Music, art and traveling helps. I am struggling financially so that has a lot do to w/ the high stress (and the fact that I’m an artist — it’s not exactly an easy nor stable lifestyle.) I do love being around good people and doing fun things. I am pretty good at hiding my anxiety and I spend most of my time alone; so I control the times I’m social and when I’m feeling overwhelmed I stay inside. I have a loving boyfriend of over 5 years. Kind, loving friends. I am very serious when it comes to keeping the new life I’ve created for myself filled w/ mentally healthy, good people. If I come in contact w/ a “bad” person it can really throw me off; making me over-react and start getting back into a negative state of mind; almost obsessing over the person after the negative moment experienced. I may seem fine but sometimes I fear that I will come across w/ a trigger that will undo all of the healing I’ve achieved (paranoia). I have feared once in a while that a family member will come to my new country and find me and ruin me; or sabotage my relationship w/ my boyfriend. I would love to have zero fear.

    • Oh no =(

      It must have been a nightmare growing up with a Mother with Bi Polar Depression

      I can only say that the negative people that I meet become

      “the water that runs down my back”

      Sincerely hope you accomplish all of your goals into achieving stability.

      • I relate to so much of what you wrote. My dad had something – maybe bipolar- raging alcoholic, major anger issues and committed suicide when I was 12. Sadly life got better than to be out of the path of his abuse. My mom was and is in complete denial and my therapist called her delusional- living in the justified story she tells herself. I’ve found that meditation is life changing and according to studies changes the neurology of the brain making you more calm and even keeled- there’s a ted talk on meditation that shows this. Good luck and hugs

    • My adopted mother also had border line personality disorder. Left undiagnosed for far too long. I relate a great deal to your story. You can be free of fear. It takes some work, commitment & perseverance but you can be free. Put it into your art if you can.

    • Anxiety is another word for fear, which we can overcome. Meditation has been a huge help to me in gaining a sense of calm and control over my thinking and fears. My childhood gave me ACE = 5; but my Resilience = 12. I have separated myself from my dysfunctional family. I have a graduate education, good relationships, and great health at 61. You are wise to get away from your toxic family; just because you share bloodlines does not mean you must share lives.

  79. Pingback: Just Read: Inequality and Adverse Childhood Experiences (the study you haven’t heard of yet) | Ted Eytan, MD

  80. ACE: 8
    Resilience: 4

    The child of an alcoholic, abusive father and a narcoleptic mother, I was a feral child raised by library books. William Blake said “joy and pain are woven fine,” and so my life has been. “Discovered” by my elementary school principal and sent to a gifted program, I attended a private liberal arts college on scholarship. But I recapitulated my childhood in my relationships. Nevertheless I raised four wonderful children and had a fine career in the sciences. Now in my sixties, I am finding serenity through Internal Family Systems therapy, writing, and art. The natural world and a circle of friends are additional consolations. I am one of the lucky ones.

  81. It seems to me that one of the problems with the ACE is that there are forms of significant childhood trauma that the list doesn’t take into account. For example, routine violence from people who are outside the household but cannot be avoided and from which there is no protection. While such violence would not be covered the existing ACE questions, a childhood spent in mortal terror is certain to have an adverse affect.

    • You are correct, Dov. And in the explainer about the survey, we list several types of ACEs that aren’t included in the ACE Study. Some ACE surveys, such as the Philadelphia Urban ACE Study, have added other types of ACEs.

    • having a 5ace, and 10 res, I will say that those who bring trauma to children should NOT be allowed by their victims to have control into adulthood. After some terrible and wonderful times as a young adult, I decided to not allow these events to control me any longer. The zen saying “this too shall pass” is something I hang on to. I admit that I use a compartmentalizing strategey…I am not obligated to continually feel these things, I am allowed to “put them away” and enjoy the wonder of life. Not always easy. Jeff foxworthy once said” If you are feeling like a martyr, get down off the cross, use the wood to make a bridge and get over it”.. Again, not always easy. You are fine, and will continue to be.

  82. I wish I could reach out to even one person support to them. I just heard on the radio that people who divulge the answers to these questions to their doctor experience reduced problems subsequently. Talk about getting something off your chest. My ace score of 4 when under eighteen and losing a brother to suicide, daughter with cancer (leukemia- she lived but has problems from the meds), traumatic injury (90% perm. dis. rating) before age thirty made me feel like life was just about loss. Hey do I get two points for having lost both parents by age eleven? If so scoring high on any test means alot. I really want that five! Resiliency of seven and five. I think my history is directly related to heart problems (bypass and pacemaker), type 2 liabetes (HS reference), and sundry other health issues including depression. I want to wish anyone who reads this the best and to know that people care. We rush people to the emergency room when they are bleeding but the damage to so many other people that cannot be seen should neither be ignored, a source of embarrassment, go untreated, or considered less of an injury. We are finally treating soldiers, however poorly, and hopefully will treat people damaged by something other than war related psychological problems. Cheers.

    • Hi John, I appreciated your message of caring. I had an ace score of 7 and a resilience score of 8. I worked consciencely to keep from perpetuating the damage, but was unable to sustain a long term relationship with a spouse. So, my children suffered financially and I suffered from excessive stress while trying to give them a good life and education. They are both college graduates, married, employed in the jobs of their choice, and have friends and recreational outlets, I feel they are stable. I have suffered from PTSD my entire life without knowing it but have still been able to obtain several college degrees, work and support my children, be an artist, contribute to my community, and remain functional. I have lifelong depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, fearfulness, social awkwardness (my son is Asperger’s Syndrome), thyroid imbalance, severe allergies, asthma, GERD, struggles with weight fluctuation, elevated cholesterol, and had gestational diabetes. I think the worst thing for me is feeling like no one cares. I appreciated your remarks on caring. I look forward to the day when PTSD will be recognized and treated effectively in those who are traumatized by their childhood experiences. I have been waiting 58 years to feel like I am normal, beautiful, valuable, loved, while I feel stigmatized and not good enough. Thanks again! Carol

  83. 10 Ace and 2 resilience. My life is a nightmare. I am a mess. But I managed to be a good mother and a fabulous grandmother. Everyday is a struggle

    • Mine also is 10. My life has been a nightmare also. Mother of 15yr old boy. I think I’m managing good. It is so hard. Hugs

    • I got the same scores as you. But I think it’s important to recognize that it’s a form of privilege. Like being white or not from poverty. These scores are nothing to be proud of, or ashamed of. None of us choose our parents, I guess you could call it luck.
      The important part is to realize that even though we have challenges and issues, our lives are comparatively easy because of our childhood and the love and support we experienced.

      • I beg to differ, SEJB. This study was done with primarily white, educated, middle class adults. This seems to indicate that childhood trauma cuts across socioeconomic divisions. I have an ACE score of 9 and a resilience score of 11. I was raised in an an upper-middle class home and in this context it was not a form of privilege. Just my opinion and experience.

      • Hi Laura,
        I didn’t mean that the ACE factors don’t happen in white families with money. Not at all. I was just saying that those are types of privilege. My point was that growing up in a loving secure family where you have sober parents who don’t abuse or neglect you, sets you up for an easier time in your adult life.
        Of course we are all individuals and some have more tenacity and other strengths to overcome obstacles than others.

        See what I mean?

  84. okay, So I had a high ACE Score 6 or 7

    and also a very high Resiliency Score 11 Defiantly trues… 4 NS

    I am wondering I just scanned your post here after listening to NPR. I am curious if you measured a persons positive coping skills for helping them be more resilient such as a deep prayer life, altruism, friendship, leadership opportunities, etc.


    • I’m sure all of those activities are part of building resilience, as are good nutrition, exercise, plenty of sleep, mindfulness (meditation), a balanced work-play life, and healthy social relationships.

  85. Got 5 on the ace score but 14 on the resilence test. My mum divorced my dad because he was an alcoholic and he def didnt try to hide it from my sister and i so when they seperated i was really happy and bith my parents have always been supportive and loving towards my sisters and i. Only really bad thing was being sexually abused at 3 by an uncle but we had him arrested and i told my mum as soon as i could. Although at 14 i was also diagnosed with kidney failure so theres that too lol. I do however think that im doing pretty well considering.

  86. I had and ace of 6 and i answered true in all of the resilience. I had no therapy until my aunt died when I was 17. At that point te hospice team we had recommended thy my cousins and I go to therapy to work through it. That’s where we found out that I had quite a few issues. I was prescribed anti depressants, sleeping pills and Adhd meds. It tools few years but I was able to get off of the meds when I was 22. I was very lucky not to fall in to bad situations as an adult. I graduated high school wih honors. I was kicked out of my house at 19 and started college away from home. This is when things really started to look up. I also graduated valedictorian from my college. I have now been married for 6 years but am still working on intimacy issues in all aspects of life. All I can say is I fell lucky.

    • Sounds very similar to my childhood. Lucky? Yes, in some aspects. Got your head together? Yes, that’s how I feel about myself. I was on my own at 19, worked my way through college (took 14 years) and at graduation, I had no debt and a really well-paying job. Married now for 22 yrs with 2 teen-age children. My only hope is that I did not do to them what was done to me.

  87. Ace score 7
    Resilience 1
    I didn’t really have anyone in the family who cared enough to help, no friends and the neighbors while I visited them didn’t really help or offer encouragement.
    Parents were divorced, lived with grandparents while they may have cared they also made it known it was not their choice to raise their grand children.
    Mother lived a short distance a way with her new family, father rarely visited which was a good thing, I believe now that I am older.
    from k-6th grade my grades were d and f’s but was just passed along. Mother had mental issues, grandmothers always on some medication that made her sleep all the time, grandfather worked 12 hour days 6 days a week. I left home at 16, my older brother left at 15 and my younger brother ran away at 14.
    I have am a nurse, married an abusive alcoholic. Have multiple problems, back\neck, chronic pain, weight issues, difficulty managing money, depression, metabolic syndrome

  88. My ACE score is only a 5, lower than most everyone posting here. But it took me until I was 60 years old to start feeling like I could love and accept myself. Now, going on 63, I struggle both financially and physically- but for the most part I’m happy. I’ve very involved in life, active in my community. I’d just wish I could have made sense of it all a couple decades ago before my health got to bad! I have all the stress related stuff- fibromyalgia, arthritis, IBS/leaky gut, high blood pressure, incredibly high cortisol, etc. And it’s interesting to note it may also be the reason I’ve been overweight all my life, downright obese most of it. I eat very healthy, healthier than most people I know- but nothing helps. My blood sugar is not going down anymore, and I’ve been gaining again, since a car accident last Spring. I try to exercise, but the fatigue won’t let me get far…. and I’m on foot/pubic transit and friends because I have no transportation. I can barely lift the backpack I must carry. If I understand the resiliency scale- you just count the # of items that you circled a 1 or a 2??? I circled 1, 1 and two 2’s so that’s a 3? And that hasn’t really changed. I finally have my N Mother in a nursing home so I can start recovering from her landing back in my life and I have an order of protection to keep my sister away from me- but do need to go to court again, over that. But no ex’s stalking me, anymore. And I have a lot of friends, now. The thing that finally helped me put it all together- CoDA. I started my own CoDA group within walking distance. And I founded, hoping to do police training soon on how to work with people who’ve experienced trauma…. I was beaten by police when I was homeless once, but I live in a town where they are awesome and supportive, so I’m no longer terrified of them. I don’t know about some of the people with really high scores manage to be doing so well!

  89. aces 9 resilient 8. age 44. male .. everything except the sexual. long term depression, anxiety, sleep, alcoholism. relationship problems, fired from almost every job. but super intelligent. owned my own business cause you cant fire yourself. had my grandparents take care of me and my brother from 8-18 during the summers. abusive dad died when 7 same with my uncle and my niece. all 3 months apart. cant remember anything except a few horrible memories before 8. step father divorced at 16. best friend died at 17.. grandparents was the best part of my life and i guess the resilient part of my life.. didnt have any physical problems til last year at 43 had a spinal stroke and was paralyzed from the chest down. i told the drs it was cause of ptsd and panic attacks and they pretty much laughed at me. but couldnt find a single reason for the “actual” cause. from the day it happend up til about 4 months after i was calm for the first time in my life. had no anxiety, no fear, no paranoia, or insomnia, nothing it all went away. sure i was upset about being paralyzed but so relieved from the mental war… but i also started drinknig coffe like it was going out of style and loved sugar. which i hated and couldnt handle up to that day of the stroke. and my blood pressure went from 140/90 to 120/80 over night and stayed that way. a few years earlier i had blood work that put me at the 90% of epiniphrine and norepinephrine. so i was continally in flight or flight i knew it and felt it. but i think the stroke at the t-6/7 cut off my adrenal glands. i tried to get drs and neurologists and psychiatrists to notice. but no one cared.. ive been making slow and steady progress. and can sit up and can stand on my left leg for a few seconds and have just regained some control of the right leg. im working towards a full recovery. but as i recover so too is my ptsd. after 3-4 months. it started coming back… and my craving for coffee and sugar was gone by 6 months. if i drink coffee its like smoking crack and andim high as shit for about an hour and a half and then i crash and have to sleep for 3-4 hours. if i dont i am worthless, cranky irritable, seeing geometric colors like im coming down off a 3 day long bad trip. same with sleeping if i dont get 6 hours of sleep i start going even more insane. for the last few weeks i havent slept more than 2-4 hours at a time do ok for 3-4 hours then have to sleep again. so iget 3-4 days in a day which really screw you up. the daizepam and trazadone dont work anymore and i think are causing more harm than good now and want to get off them… and now 10 months later the PTSD symptoms are full force. even more than before especially since not only am i trapped in my mind. my body didnt heal as fast and im trapped in my body too. living at my moms. cant go out. and isolated. trying to stay positive but fighting mental and physicial battles at the same time can prove tooo. much. i hope my body heals before i give. up. good luck to any and all survivors..

    • @jhonnythomas, My story is a lot like yours. Aces 10. Resiliency 11. My PTSD is permanent like so many others. Getting a dog has helped me a ton. 16 tons actually. I’m currently battling cancer, I’m an only child of a severely paranoid schizophrenic, unmedicated to this day, and an alcoholic/addict. I’m 44 this June. I was actually born in what was then a state insane assylum where they had my Mom. Asthma, allergies, eating disorders, congenital arthritis, lupus, depression, PTSD, skin problems, heart disease, now cancer, glaucoma, tmj, teeth knocked out, vasculitis, gastro intestinal, and on and on. You can do anything you set your mind to. I know it. I know it because after surviving the traumas and abuse we did, that was the hard part, we have phenomenal skills most, never need to develop, but we did! Use them, change them, and mold them to your advantage, instead of letting them drag on you. Take charge of them, take inventory of them, and hone them to get you wherever you desire to be in your life. I believe that you will make a full recovery, and not only that, but that you will surpass your recovery goals by moulding the survival skills we already have to be of better use to you in your future.
      Thanks for sharing.
      Love to all the survivors.

      • My story is a lot like both of yours. Ace 8 Resililency 6. Mary is absolutely right. Own who you are, use what you have and make life what you want it to be. The only person who can stand in your way now is you, and that’s just a silly thing to do, having survived so far.

    • I recommend Bessel van Der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score” to you. You will find it at Amazon. After that, you may want to read other books about fairly recent developments in trauma treatment, especially complex developmental trauma or complex ptsd. Peter Levine is another good writer on the subject. Take good care of yourself.

  90. Hello Dr. Harris, I am a chiropractor in Naperville, IL and I really appreciate your video on TED. I always educate my patients about how disruptions to nervous system can lead to disease by triggering sympathetic response to the body repeatedly, but never had a tool to measure that adequately. I am excited to find Aces test to help people understand more thoroughly to take action. Thank you for your inspirational talk.

  91. ACEs 4-6, depending on whose story you believe… resilience 10, so i consider myself lucky to have escaped real trouble. but i have often that real trouble is right on my heels.

    my grandfather was a prolific child molester, and my cousins claim i was a victim, but they did not personally witness it, and i have no memories of it. one of my cousin did personally witness my grandfather molesting my youngest sister – in the crib – so i know it was that close to me. so i scored myself a maybe on #3.

    my dad never drank during the week until he retired, but he did indulge, sometimes quite heavily, on weekends and vacations. alcohol is also a possible factor in his death in a car accident at the age of 72. my mom went to al-anon for a while, but then did an about face under pressure from him years later, and never mentioned it again.

    so those are maybes… but i had 4 other definite yesses. Most of it stems from child sexual abuse and the affects of it being repressed, denied, and blamed on the victims. my dad’s family underwent major upset over years, and they behaved hatefully and vindictively as a result. a split ensued, that has lasted generations: when my father sided in 2005, he had not spoken to his brother in 30 years. The sad thing is, neither of them had done anything to anyone – it was all due to my grandfather’s sexual abuse of children, over decades. But as is very common in these cases, the family turned on itself when the facts all finally came to light.

    my mom, i suspect, suffered sex abuse trauma as a child. there have been quickly withdrawn allusions and hushed insinuations to this effect over the years, but never a frank discussion about it. while i still love my mother to this day, i remember her as an angry, paranoid borderline personality, who raged at and beat her children, imagined all sorts of crimes we did not do, and berated us and turned us against one another. she sometimes did not emerge from her prescription-drug-induced fog for days, and at one point she landed in a psychiatric hospital for a period of weeks.

    i am today a successful cinematographer, but i have not been as successful as i could have been i don’t think. i have always had confidence and anger issues, and i have not been as adept at interpersonal relationships as some of my colleagues, who have passed me by on the career track. i am usually at least a little stressed about money, i have at times self-medicated with sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography… i have always struggled with my weight, managing money, and social situations. and i have never been able to get along with certain members of my family for very long.

    but i know i am lucky, to be sure. despite the difficulties, i have been able to support my wife and son quite comfortably. i had the good fortune to find an amazingly empathetic therapist in my early 30s, and i have seen her for more than 20 years now. i have seen siblings and friends endure terrible family and financial hardships that i have avoided, some of them dying quite young. my siblings have all married abusive spouses, and stayed with them too long, a fate i have thankfully not fallen prey to. my three siblings are all divorced, two of them multiple times.

    so really, i have dodged the bullet. while on the continuum of all people, i am among the unlucky 12% who have 4 or more ACES. but i prefer to look at it another way: among those of us with 4 or more ACES, i am quite functional. and i thank the gods, the stars and who- or whatever else has been looking out for me all these years!

    • “…. but i have not been as successful as i could have been i don’t think.” I’m 63, 10+ on the Ace, Bipolar on many drugs, veteran of thousands of hours both in-patient and therapy, and all these years and to this day, I speculate about who I might have been….

      • I understand the recurring sentiment of wondering what “could have” been. I’m 58 and have never had a career or kids. My ACE score was 4. I’m very sorry for those who scored higher. Please continue to be strong!

    • Stranger than fiction. My mother was told she could not bear a child as she had an “infantile uterus”. After a few years of DES treatment, I was born. Unfortunately, my 4 female cousins, who had been on the receiving end of my mom’s generosity, were cut off. When she pulled the plug on the checks and gifts to these girls, the resulting abuse was so confusing to me. As it is now, I have “no” cousins or siblings. My mother called for a babysitter for me when I was 16. The sitter was 15 and went to the same school. AWKWARD! Not surprisingly I have no children and at 58…ain’t gonna happen.

    • ACE 5, resilience 9. I got out of that house and went to another state to attend college the fall after I graduated from high school. Relied on myself and financial aid to get education. Have busted my butt working on recovery. I am now a mental health therapist with 30 years of experience and the scary thing is how prevalent abuse is. Family values? Hmmm….seems like the things nuclear families do best is screw people up. I function well but I suffer from bouts of depression and have fibromyalgia (not severe enough to keep me away from life.) And consider how much more often women are abused. Something needs to change and what we don’t need is a return to traditional values. “Traditional values” caused the problem. At least this issue is openly discussed now. I see elderly people who were abused but had no recourse. There was no where to turn when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, sexual abuse didn’t even become part of the national psyche until the 80’s. Wake up, speak up.

      • ACE 3, resilience 3. I moved 700 miles away from my family to escape the drama, yet blame myself for missing out on the lives of my nieces and nephews. Being part of a dysfunctional family is a huge part of why I became a psych nurse, so I could figure out that you can’t figure some things out. My family still bewilders me even though in my head, I understand what the research says. My heart still wants to hope that things will change and they never do.

      • I’ve mentioned I cannot take the test as due accessibility. Is there a work-around? How can I get my score if you cannot make it accessible for a blind person, I’d like to. Lynne Koral

      • Yes! I have a score of 8 ACE’s and 7 resiliece. My story is similar to your own. I worked hard to overcome and educate myself. I am professional woman but have had problems with bullies at work. I also suffer from depression and several chronic, non-lifethreatening but limiting physical ailments (severe pms, irritable bladder, trritable bowel).

  92. How can you have an high Ace score and resilience score? If your around people that care for you you wouldn’t be getting abused. My resilience was four but two of those were actually part of my abuse.

    • I understand your point, but it may be oversimplifying the matter to assume that the existence of some people who care for a child would negate the existence of abusers in that child’s life.

      For example, it’s very possible that a child is abused by one parent who is addicted to substances and experiencing mental illnesses, but simultaneously has one parent who is very loving, extended family who cares for the child, teachers and community members who help the child and encourage his or her school work, and so forth.

      If this were the case, you would see a relatively high ACE score of 7 or 8, but also a high resilience score of 9 or 10.

      • yes misha, i agree… in my case my parents were abusive and neglectful, but my sister and i had aunts, uncles, friends’ parents, even babysitters who gave us enough occasional positive reinforcement that we were able to weather the trials we faced daily. but by the time my two younger siblings came along, those people had had enough of us and were mostly gone. meanwhile, i was in a high school that provided a very stimulating and edifying environment, and so was more able to escape the daily drama. so while the older of my two sisters and i have been able to function reasonably well, given the circumstances, the lives of my two younger siblings have not gone as well, and they have had major relationship, financial and health issues.

    • Not true the sexual abuse that i went thrue was from an unclue by marriage. I sawmy dad beat the shite out of my mum multiple times. My sister has been trying to off herself since she was little and trying to kill our family on multiple occasions. Oh and my mum divorced my dad after a few years (which i was estatic about) but throuout all of this both my parents have always been supported. Ive always been encouraged To do well in school and i have always been loved. Neither of my parents have ever been cruel unless of course i did bad on a test and my mum took away my books for a coupke of days so i could focus on studying (i love reading) so yeah thats how u cam score high on both

    • Sometimes the people that care for you can’t help you or are afraid to help you. Or you don’t have access to those people, but you know they are out there.

    • Hi, Nikki. I’m very curious about your “really weird medical problems”. I have many which others list here, but at least two which are bewildering. One is intake. I see that many here struggle w/ weight. So do I, but I am underweight. The other is hypothermic body temp plunges. This past week I had two readings in the low-to-mid 94 degree range. The rest have averaged 95.5. Have you experienced anything like this, or know of anyone who has?

    • Ace 7, couldn’t figure out the resiliency I started meditating and doing yoga at 16 after I moved into a foster home. I am very resilient–my daughter apparently wasn’t because she took her own life- and I’m still alive somehow making it through life on a planet where many days it seems the bad is winning. So yep my weight too, we were so often without food as a child.

  93. ACE 4/ Resilience 4. i have trouble keeping the emotional lid on at work since forever, get by-passed all the time in spite of high IQ & capability. Now I know why, and why I have inadvertently passed down bad habits stemming from the ACE 4 to my child, as hard as I have tried to change that, blindly, instinctively and partially successfully with her. Im 62 – tough to find this out so late in life BUT I have another 30 years ahead of me that I intend to remake my world. and improve my daughter’s as well. From my lips to God’s ears….!

  94. I m a trained therapist..LMFT..and was unaware of this study…it makes complete sense and confirms my own ace score and life well as my own thoughts on how mental illness and certain diseases are “borne..” there is some “between the lines” information too…liver disease is obviously the result of drinking/drugging which is a response to early life stress …but the ACE score and its importance is not widely known and should be. ACE 4-5-6? Resilience..5?
    I have struggled my entire life with confidence issues…self worth under achievement and severe chronic depression. I hold a law MFT and still struggle mightily. And my family was not dramatically dysfunctional (from the outside). Alcoholism was the primary problem (mother)..Bi Polar in previous generation(s) as well.

    • I went to work in the mental health field, looking for answers for myself. I billed as a therapist for 5 years- but my degree was MEd and my supervisors were all MSW’s so the state did not accept my supervision, or I’d be one today. I hadn’t a clue about myself at that time- I was emotionally numb and had very limited memories from childhood. But you know- I intuitively knew what my clients needed. I traded away schizophrenics to other case managers and accepted the borderline personalities that no one else wanted. I set boundaries with them and worked with the screening dept. to stop the revolving door into in-patient.

      My life has gone full circle. Now at almost 63 yrs. old- my physical health is really bad and my financial life is even worse. I’m trying to figure out how to go back to work- but refuse to accept the label “peer counselor” and work for minimum wage. And don’t think I can handle full time. I need a part-time job that pays enough to make up for lost benefits! I have no transportation and collection agencies harrassing me for medical bills that are crazy out of control. I have sponsees in Co-Dependence Anonymous who will say, I’ve really helped them………….

      But, the frustrations continue….


    • So do i.. ;)

      Always had the feeling that back then some (mostly one) people really saved my life with their love.. (thank you <3)
      Glad to know it's considered science now!

  95. ACES: 10
    Resilience: 0

    Yeahhh. I don’t really wanna divulge anything else. But, for the sake of psychological research, there are my numbers.

    • To be fair, though. It might be a 1 because I am a capable person and there are a few people who acknowledge that. But I didn’t have them in my life until very recently.

  96. Ace 4
    Resiliency 9! :)
    I grew up with a child molester for a father who was finally imprisoned, but with an amazing mother, a great therapist for 12 years and a solid private university education, 18 months in Europe, I’ve turned out great and am working at the same company for over 8 years finally in the profession I studied. Thanks for all your team is doing.

  97. Ace score: 8
    Resilience score: 1
    I’m an older woman. My entire life has been miserable and I’m very ill.
    I have terrible thoughts every day. Every day is a struggle. I don’t think there’s any answer for people like me.

    • I know how you feel (also scored an 8) and many times I have felt hopeless. Maybe there are some aspects of the damage we have endured that can’t be fixed, but I also know that when I talk to people who have suffered as I have, that it really helps and I don’t feel so discouraged. My suffering is not unique. Strangers have come into my life who have loved me better than any one in my biological family. They are out there for you too. You just have to keep looking and ask for the help you deserve as a human being. Bless you, bless your heart.

    • My scores are like yours, nearly identical. And I am still in the same types of relationships as in childhood. Every day is a challenge. My doctor caught the abnormal cells before it became cancer. I can smile thinking about that last part.

    • Never give up, Amananta! Find a small Church, or other social group. Try to help OTHERS. It will make YOU feel better TOO!

  98. ACE score: 7
    Resiliency score: 10

    My mother developed bipolar depressive schizophrenia when my sister and I were very young. My dad told us once that there was a time that she was happy and care free but we never knew that person. For us we were always waiting for the other shoe to drop. She was abusive both physically and emotionally. Throwing things, yelling, smashing things always ending up inconsolably crying puddled up in the floor. Neglectful, especially during an episode. She would say things like we ruined her life and that we were killing her… at 7 years old. Worst part was when she would go into a hysterical episode and kick our dad out of the house. He would be fed up and just be gone for a week or two sometimes longer. She would literally tape the doors shut so he couldn’t get in after a fight and tell us not to open the door no matter what. When he finally convinced her to see a therapist they put her on medication which she would be on and off of regularly yelling things like we were trying to drug her. Over the course of my childhood I know of three times she tried to kill herself twice by drinking herself to death and once by overdosing on medication. On top of that she was stereotypically Asian if the house wasn’t clean and our grades weren’t good (something I struggled with all through school) we failed her and might as well kill her for wasting her life. She actually kicked me out of the house for D’s when I was in the third grade, I hid in the carport in my nightgown in the rain it felt like half the night had gone by before my dad came out to get me. And again when I was in middle school I stayed in the garage until it dawned on me I could just leave and she would never know. Not to mention I had zero friends in school, the teachers didn’t like me because I had bad grades and was antisocial and was the class punching bag all through grade school. I would come home from school go into my closet and sit there and cry or read to myself. I was fond of Shakespeare’s poems the rhymes and rhythms soothed me. My mother thought I was too antisocial so she would take away my books and force me to go outside to spend time with other kids.

    How did I come out? I don’t drink, don’t do drugs, wasn’t a particularly rebellious child though I did have a brief phase like many teenage girls. I struggle with my weight, over eating and lack of exercise but I’m not obese. People just have different responses and coping mechanisms. Ever since I can remember whenever I got emotional I would shut my eyes, take deep breaths and say or think “in with the good, out with the bad”as I breathed in and out until I calmed myself down or got control of my emotions. I used to avoid confrontation like the plague because I would cry at the drop of a hat if I started arguing (I was physically incapable of yelling angrily without starting to cry) but have gotten much better at being more open and communicative or confident since coming into adulthood and since meeting my husband. I could go on and on and on but I will stop here.

    • ACE test: 9
      Resiliency: 10

      Amanda, my mother was the same. Yelling, swearing, breaking things all the time. She and my dad divorced when I was 2. He got addicted to all the drugs in Viet Nam Conflict (never declared a war). I have memories of him beating her death a couple of times. Also, trying to sell the little food we had for him to buy his drugs. My mother is mentally ill, but functioned. Worked everyday, while my Grandmother pretty much raised us, since she was there for us most of the time. Thank God I had grandma care for me, she is the only one that I ever felt unconditional love from. I have a brother who is one year older. I was always treated bad by my mother, since I look to much like my dad. I was the reminder of her terrible ex-husband. She called me the abortion that lived. my brother on the other hand was treated like a king even though he was brought home by the police like every other week while we were growing up. I was not rebellious at all compared to how my brother was. While growing up, if I got sick and accidently puke on the floor, my mother would threaten me that next time I’ll make you eat it and practically shove my face in it. Worse than an animal. I suffer from PSTD , depression and anxiety.I never saw my mother treat my brother bad like me. He was catered to, totally opposite of me. In high school I was Anorexic. Got pregnant at the age of 21. Tried committing suicide at the age of 23. Felt No power or control over my life. My mother used scare tactics to keep me from going away to college and living in the dorm. She said I’ll get meningitious or some other disease if I do that, and that I would die from whatever disease. She could not let go, she would not have a victim to abuse then.
      My grandmother died my Jr. year in high school. I always had decent or good grades until that happened. Senior year, they almost failed me just for not being present enough.I got a letter sent home saying that I could not miss as much as like 3 more days or I would be failed. So that threat made me not skip school anymore. Did not want to repeat my last year again. I also did not turn in homework most of the time, but aced my final exams. Therefore, I passed, got my high school diploma. Never failing a grade. I was pretty smart and still am, just was told I was stupid all the time when I was younger. At that age, you believe what you hear after awhile. Since, I got on anti-depressants at the age of 23, I started gaining weight. I went from being anorexic to now being obese. I have strong will power and plan on losing the weight. I don’t feel i need it to protect myself anymore. I was also a victim of rape under the age of 18, by someone close to my family. I told my mother at the time, I wanted to go to the police and dr, to get it documented and the man put away, but my mother pretty much called me a liar and said he would not dare do that to me. Now, My thoughts are she did not want the proof, because she did not want to come out of her denial about him. I was scared of my mother, so I always went along with what she said to do. I wish that i was brave enough to go to dr or police by myself. But I just did not. I have a daughter who is 20 yrs old now. I started psycho therapy right after her birth for many yrs. Not wanting to continue on the abuse cycle and not wanting to ever be the horrible mother to my daughter, like my mom was to me. Periodically, I’ll still go see a therapist, to help me figure some things out. My husband for 15 yrs is an alcoholic who is verbally and sometimes physically abusive. I working toward getting out of this relationship.
      My husband was a nice drinker our first few yrs together. Now he’s nothing but a miserable, mean drunk. Who enjoys inflicting mental and physical pain on me. He is depressed and needs help, but won’t get it. He hates dr’s and thinks they are all whacked. I cannot help someone who does not want help. So I’m giving up on him, he’s holding me back from having a truly happy life. I have depression the way it is and being around him and his crabby misery makes my depression even worse. I would like to meet someone who is much more positive than he. Life is too short to live in such an unhappy way. I have good friends and happy to go out with them, then I come home and he see’s that I’m happy and does things to try and sabbotage it, like he’s jealous or something. Anyhow

  99. ACE = 5
    Resilience = 7

    I experienced emotional, physical and psychological abuse, mostly from my father, who was authoritarian with high expectations. I never felt good enough for him. My mother’s love was more unconditional, but she wasn’t always all that responsible, or stable. They fought all the time, and divorced when I was 14, which was a good decision (should have done it earlier!!). I get the ‘freeze’ response, followed by withdrawal & escape.
    Throughout my childhood I would ‘zone out’ a lot (would get called a ‘day-dreamer’ in my reports), retreating into my inner world. Food was comfort to me, but I didn’t smoke or do drugs. I did drink in my late teens and early 20s. I always had some kind of trouble knowing what kind of relationship to have with men, (friendship vs lovers) but I craved comfort, and to be with a man.
    I have multiple allergies, intolerances, and mild but chronic depression. I was a loner through school, and did not share my problems with anyone. In relationships I would find it hard to be open or vulnerable in any way. It has taken me years to be more confident, and to be truly open with people (still working on this).
    My brother was more rebellious and he struggled with our dad a lot. He turned to drugs, smoking and alcohol, and has struggled with mental illness since age 16, in and out of the mental health unit (it’s not mental ‘health’ at all), and on anti-psychotics. They have messed up his life completely, and Mum wants to get him out, but for the archaic mental health act.

    This information is so important and needs to be acknowledged by health professionals and policy makers worldwide. The change can’t happen too soon in my opinion. ACE ASAP!!!!

    • Well I just stumbled / Referred to this information and I’m a little nervous, but things are put into a little more perspective. I’m a 44 year old male.
      ACE = 10
      Resilience = 2 (unfortunately only # 13 + 14).

      I’m still processing this information and hope that the local resources are able to provide some support and guidance with a more focused approach.

      I will not go into details of the chaos of child hood, but can safely say that my ability to form relationships is hindered, and my ability to filter seemingly rational consequences has been also affected.

      I wish everyone who has / does share, all the best in your endeavors.

  100. Pingback: Prevent and Treat Childhood Trauma #1000Speak for Compassion | Shirley's Heaven

  101. My ACE score is 6 which was higher than I expected! My resilience score is 5-6 but higher now as I definitely have a good support network in place.

    I’m in my early thirties and have an auto-immune illness, hormonal imbalance (thyroid), scoliosis and have had issues in the past with alcohol and self harm. I haven’t harmed in several years but do think about it most days still. I did experience depression more in the past and now only fleeting suicidal thoughts which is a side-effect of the medication I take for various illnesses.

    I grew up in an abusive household. My father beat my mother occasionally before I came along and as the eldest sibling I then took on a role of protector to shield my mother and younger sister. The physical abuse was infrequent but the verbal and emotional abuse was constant. I lived in a high level of fear and anxiety and the atmosphere of potential physical abuse in the household was unbearable. We lived under such a degree of coercive control by my father, reinforced by my mother, that we were not permitted at times to eat, urinate, change out of school uniforms etc. My sister would often have to sit in soiled clothes and I often had my glasses taken away from me causing headaches. My father definitely has a dependency on alcohol, was a heavy smoker and used drugs before we came along.

    We were belittled, undermined, threatened and intimidated. At times my father would stand physically close and make the option to move impossible – i felt like a caged animal. My body did not feel like my own. I stayed up half the night to listen for when my father went to bed so I could be sure that myself and my sister were safe every night and for years have had trouble sleeping due to hyper-vigilance at night.

    When I began my first serious romantic relationship I had terrible panic attacks every time we were physically intimate, these have now faded. I have been assaulted, groped and felt physically under threat from several other men in my teens and twenties,

    I think it was tough for me to see a depressed, drinking father who did not take good care of himself. My mother was remote and my sister was afraid. There were few avenues for support or guidance during my childhood although I did find healthy outlets in art and drama and writing – which serves me well to this day.

    I have been seriously unwell since leaving home at 19. I have a degree (I put myself through College without the financial or emotional support of my family and despite their undermining my choices by saying I would fail) and have had a very successful career. I also have a very good relationship which has enabled me to work through many elements of the trauma I have experienced through counselling for the past few years and I feel that I am making progress.

    I have not had contact with my father now for over three years and that has definitely helped me. My relationship with my sister is very strong and much more even these days and a source of strength for me. My relationship with my mother is difficult because she still lives with my father and I have a lot of anger towards her, although I do sympathise with her situation. My family refuses to acknowledge that there is or has been a problem. I am pretty sure my father is mentally ill – he also experienced childhood abuse and the death of a parent in his early teens.

    My aspiration now is to be a good mother to my own children and to create a safe and loving environment for them which enables them to have good self-esteem. I am also considering studying to be a counsellor myself in the near future.

    • Juniper: your narrative was very moving and brought tears to my eyes. I am writing just to give you words of encouragement and admiration for what you have been able to do. Stay well. Olivia Dreibelbis

  102. Aces Score 5
    Resiliency: 14 in chilndhood, significantly lower now
    Age: 32
    Gender: female
    Education: Engineering
    Smoker: NO
    Drink: rarely
    Depressed: in episodes
    Suicidal tendencies: attempted at 13, at the edge of trying several other times in my life, even recently
    Mental illness: none diagnosed
    Physical Illness: hormonal imbalance and allergies

  103. Ace score 10
    Resilience 1

    I just found out about this study from watching a TED video. I’ll bring this to the attention of my psychiatrist and psychologist and team of therapists. I’m in Europe.

    According to all those therapist people I’m intelligent, extremely intelligent, ahead of my age group during my childhood. I’m now apparently regressed. I never smoked, drank, never took drugs. In fact I stayed away from anything that isn’t food. Did take painkillers when pain was too high.

    When under stress, the skin on my face starts burning, like hives, it gets red. Prolonged stress makes my face develop scabs and burning pain. This started happening a few years back. It got so bad that I literally developed a mask on my face made out of my own face.

    My shoulder joints are damaged, reason being, most likely, one of many large attacks/murder attempts where I got hit too hard. Doctors say I likely got in a heavy car crash or similar. I got beaten up by large groups of people for not being white.

    Due to permanent pain and increased pain during activity, I don’t move much any more, I got fat again, I’m losing the weight by taking walks but I don’t like being near people so I only take walks when it rains.

    I react heavily to loud unexpected noises. It is only noises. Unexpected movement doesn’t do anything to me although others have told me I get fixated on movement. If something or someone moves somewhere and I’m not entirely sure what it is, I apparently fix my eyes on it and it frightens people or makes them uncomfortable. When I react I may accidentally drive a pen through a notebook, a table may get thrown, the chair I sit on my break (it is currently taped up because of it). The other day there was an explosion/loud outside and I accidentally stabbed myself with a red coloured pen. I tried washing it off, even used hand soap, dish soap and washed my hair but the mark seems permanent. I don’t get angry or anything, I just have an immediate reaction. Like flinching but don’t be near me when I flinch, you may lose an eye. A program on my laptop had an alert with high volume and I nearly punched through the screen.

    I haven’t had a single week of normal sleeping patterns for the past 10 years or so. (late 20s) I may get a day, sometimes 2-3 days of normal waking up, being awake during the day, going to sleep at night. Mostly it’s being awake long periods of time then half-sleeping, waking up for every sound or light. Guided sleep meditations have an adverse effect.

    I have trouble keeping my balance which is likely caused by pinched nerves caused by injuries caused by psychopaths.

    My kidneys may be damaged. My heart is fine though. I get a heart rate of about 48 at rest which I’ve been told is quite low, maybe too low.

    My spine is starting to warp but I’ve been given exercises to prevent further damage. These are for my shoulders and back. My hips are starting to hurt a lot though. I hope it’s from walking in new shoes.

    Meditation helps a bit. Sleep deprivation makes emotional control much worse. If awake for more than 28 hours, I cancel all appointments and don’t do anything. If I were to go anywhere or do anything, I’d likely make errors, I’d be much, much more likely to have extreme reflex reactions. I worry I may send a monitor screen flying or break a door.

    About doors, I was locked up in completely dark rooms as a child. Complete blackness I’ve developed a tendency to bash in doors. If I’m sleep deprived, in relative darkness and I get locked in, I may simply walk through closed doors. At the age of 8 I bashed in my first door because I got locked in a completely dark stairway. This may be another cause of my damaged shoulders though. Being overweight, big and built like a tank, flushed with adrenaline and nothing to lose, unless made out of brick, walls and doors are paper to me. Never hurt anyone else though unless it was in self defence.

    I’m not afraid of the dark though. I can easily sit in complete darkness. I just can’t handle not having the key to the door.

    I have a 1000 yard stare sometimes and people are often frightened by the look on my face. I can terrorize an entire room of people just by looking in their general direction. It appears to have lessened in the past few years. Possibly due to mindfulness meditation. I’ve grown a beard, long hair and wear scarves to cover some of my face. Summer is a pain because of the lack of options for cover. I’ve been told plenty of times: “When I first saw you I thought to myself ‘Holy crap stay away from that guy’ but now that I know you better, you seem ok.”
    I no longer look people in the eye. In fact I don’t look at them at all. When someone speaks to me I stare at a wall.

    I’ve contemplated suicide but didn’t act. I don’t contemplate it any more.

    I’ve been told my voice is so silent I can hardly be heard.

    In short, I’m fucked up. I’m running out of options to try and fix myself. In school, the staff basically said they weren’t trained to deal with the kind of abuse I’ve been through. I got kicked out of higher education because of fights and terrified people. Government is trying to help but their programs are being removed due to austerity measures. This has resulted in at least 1 suicide in my town. May have been 2.

    I also tend to write walls of text……..

    While I’m writing walls of text… about over-achieving. I always was best at everything, undefeated champion in everything at school, except PE. Principal would come in and say I’m an example to all which all didn’t like. I know about 6-7 languages depending on if you count Latin and dumb people were allowed to skip grades while I had to sit with all the idiots. All because my parents weren’t important/interested. I could have graduated highschool at 12 and been a professor by 18. School, to me, was a trivia show. Like jeopardy. Except I’d win every time. Teacher asks a question, I knew the answer. Exams were a game. All it needed was the red button to press to give the answer. I read about 5 books a week, fiction and non-fiction. 5 books was the limit the library would let you take home and I could only go once a week. I already knew everything. At the start of the year I’d read the schoolbooks for leisure so I already knew the subjects. The kid next to me would have a big party if he came home with 82%. I’d cry my eyes out if I *only* had 97%. High school grades went down heavily because I artificially kept them down so there would be less reason to beat me up and teachers were grading me down for not being white. I frequently made other people’s homework and during the exam period, we’d be paired on a bench with someone a grade higher or lower. I sometimes swapped exams with them. They’d pass 100% and I’d get max 75%. So even if I bothered to get my grades up, they wouldn’t be going up because of bullshit grading. When they couldn’t grade me down the normal way, I’d be penalised -33% for attitude just for sitting there. There were several mentally retarded kids there, IQ of like 50, but because their parents were somebodies, their grades were artificially inflated. A mentally retarded kid with chocolate all over his face who tahlk like theees and keeps dancing on the spot is rated higher than a brown supergenius who could probably fucking -CURE- the goddamn fucking Down’s syndrome if they let the brown kid skip all grades and just do the exams and go to fucking university to fucking cure EVERYTHING. FUUUUUCK (or at least make some progress on it)

    In higher education I was so good I couldn’t be ignored, so they focused on me and I was attacked both directly and indirectly. I was physically assaulted, had to hand over my notes and summaries, which I refused. Example of an indirect assault: I nearly got swatted (they call in a swat team or similar by claiming you have a gun and are about to shoot up a public building but it is a hoax) and was forced to write an apology letter to the people who attacked me. I refused to write because I did nothing wrong.

    To this day people still beat up the car, read my mail, try to anonymously report me to the police, etc. The police doesn’t give a shit any more.

    My first psychiatrist said I’ve likely been surrounded by psychopaths because my year in school were widely known as “the criminals” and many of them have been arrested for burglaries, murder attempts, etc. A therapist told me I’ve likely been surrounded by borderline retarded people all my life. One psychiatrist told me I’m being a victim, a therapist said this too and some people said this also. Something tells me those people have never been on the receiving end of near-dismemberment, torture, near-murder by drowning (got held down by 3-4 kids who didn’t want a brown kid in their country, one of them frequently peed himself, I’d rather they kick out the white incontinent kid and keep the brown smart kid), near-murder by giant brick in the head, near-murder by nearly being pushed off the school roof, near-death by beating with big rings (father had a thing for rings), near-murder by nearly being pushed off a 100m high cliff (school outing), near-murder by nearly being shot, twice, (mother got shot instead) near-murder by stabbing with a 30cm file blade, near-death by being stabbed in the face with a heavy duty industrial shear (hit me in the mouth, broke off a tooth, had it been higher you wouldn’t be reading this). Hell this naked fucker held me between his legs but I drove my fingernails deep into his leg flesh so he let me go. I was too little to realise I could have made him transgender by force. (I was 6) And all this and more before the age of 18. Then I’m not mentioning all the knife or hammer attacks or the time when I was 9 and I was nearly asleep and someone tried to kill me in my sleep with a long aerosol can (it was the naked guy from before, mother’s boyfriend). It only got swollen and that was it.

    All the psych people tell me I’m not insane, have no psychoses, am perfectly normal except for a constant hyper-alert state, “anxieties”, and a few other issues. Oh and neighbours say I scream when I do manage to sleep.

    Sorry for the rant.

    • I am sorry you have experienced all of this Dirk. I am just one person reading this, but I am also sorry that no one has replied to you. You must feel sad. I hope you feel better.

    • Dear Dirk: I support your efforts to live a beautiful life I came from a different type of growing up being neglected was both parent’s because they didn’t want me. So I reached my score of 6 and resilience 4. I was isolated in childhood in the family and in growing up. I had no one to ask for help or to talk to if I wanted to talk at all. My teenage years were filled with inner calm, had one episode of being ‘touched’ by a cousin, no one did anything or said anything after I told his mom. My family was filled with an alcoholic dad, parents who were worried, angry with each other and disapproving. I turned out optimistic, happy, and I trust my choices. I raised myself. I made errors in judgement too. However, as the best choice was to leave the town and go to college I expanded immediately my social world, listened to other’s childhood stories and became satisfied with myself for the first time in my life. However, I still had not learned to protect myself from bullies, or being ordered about…. it reflected in my work life, home life, and later when I divorced and left to a temple. I chose the same types of people, so I dedicated myself to unlearn that. It’s hard but I did it with occasionally flits of putting myself in and getting myself much faster to avoiding such kinds. I stare about too, I don’t care if it makes other’s uncomfortable, I look for open doors for safety reasons and I had shut doors (not safe). I found great nuns around the world, I have supportive friends and my daughter is my family, she grew up better than I did, social and people love her. I am poor but satisfied with my life, I translate, I am about to join Mensa because I found out in a LD screen I was blessed with a high IQ. I have more satisfaction in life now than I did before but I have arthritis, pain, and walking problems too. If you were my son, I would be so proud of you. I am a supporter of you after reading your story. You did well in your life with your beautiful mind I know you are a good man too because you took the time to share your story. Please, consider becoming a writer. self publish if you have no money use because it’s free, no money payout. you have valuable insight and can help other people recover from the hell you had to endure as well. Thank you for sharing your story.

  104. Dr. Burke (or anyone), Please share some treatments we can do with children who have a high ACE score. I’m working with a 10 year old foster child who has 8 of 10 ACE score. We have a team of professionals and volunteers doing much work with this child. But emotional and academic development is progressing extremely slowly. Any treatments, books, exercises, therapies, etc.that you can offer would be highly appreciated. Thanks. Mike.

    • Some suggestions: You could check out Dr. Bruce Perry, Bessel Van Der Kolk, and for parents/caregivers…Triple P Parenting and Incredible Years. The use of biofeedback and neurofeedback has had some success with kids. Yoga, breathing games and exercises, physical exercise, good nutrition can also help.

  105. Aces: 9
    Resilence: 10

    I’m a Public Health Nurse who works with Low income high risk first time mothers to stop the abuse and neglect cycles in order for their children can grow up in supportive and loving homes, thus reach higher education and become successful later in life. In a sense they end up breaking out of poverty. I also have God in my life, and always had a wonderful loving, Christian mother. But my health has always been an issue.

  106. I am 57 and it has only been in the past 5 years that I have unraveled my life. I am damaged. I am a loner. Thankfully, I’ve been a health nut since about 16 while trying to figure out my chronic depression. I have either been married to or involved with abusers my entire life, starting with my narcissistic and borderline mother. Single now for 2+ years, happiest of my life, but a challenge when creating closeness with others and forget a relationship with a man. They terrify me. I have trouble being around happy families, a total disconnect.

    All I can say, the absolute biggest problem in our society is a lack of self acceptance. Acceptance of every single aspect of your personality, as a necessary facet of who you are, even if you don’t think it is a good asset or character trait, accept it all as part of being human, love yourself and know that you have a right to be here and a purpose. We are all diamonds, with flaws, but the light can still shine through us. I do art to this effect, there is even humor involved. Self acceptance is the single biggest issue we face as a society. Watch the news and ask if that person would behead someone else, commit suicide, murder, abuse a child, etc. if they loved themselves. It would be unimaginable. I want to do an art in public places program with my art which is all about self acceptance and higher love, but I can’t do it alone, get it out there, searching for a way. I am better, but there are tools I don’t have to live a “normal” life with normal relationships. 1 in 25 is a psychopath or narcissist. 1 in 5 has a personality disorder. Why would God make so many messed up people? My theory, nobody will make you hate yourself more, feel more inadequate, useless and like you have no purpose in life better than a psychopath. Their brains are different from birth. No empathy. No capacity for love. Forgive them, they can’t help it, it’s how they are wired. It has nothing to do with you and it is beyond their control. At least we have the capacity for love, and to love ourselves. Loving a person like that is like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with a squirt gun. Good luck to all of those who are suffering.

    • Ace:10

      I had an extreme childhood, I am still dealing with the consequences and fighting everyday towards a better life. Never Give up or surrender was burned into me on the streets and at home since I was 3.

  107. Pingback: Adverse Childhood Exprience (ACE) questionnaire | |

  108. ACE=8

    I am trying to figure out the best way to deal with certain issues in my adult life. I have always moved from job to job because I think I have issues with authority and feeling trapped. I assume that this comes from my childhood. I was born to a drug-addicted mother and I don’t even know who my father is. I experienced a couple of very traumatic events on top of an otherwise crappy childhood. I experienced something sexually inappropriate that I cannot recall clearly, but remember the aftermath vividly. I was present when my mother was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted. I had to take care of my infant half-sister when my mother would lose us, in public places, scoring drugs or was strung out on drugs. Then, my sister and I were separated and I remember going through a nasty custody battle and was given to my grandmother.

    My grandmother gave me shelter, clothing and food, but the care stopped there. I was constantly berated and belittled for not living up to my grandmother’s expectations. There was no warm love in that household and it was a very cold environment where I felt very confused and alone. In my late teens, I couldn’t take it anymore and attempted suicide. I got really sick and went to the hospital but no one found out why I was sick. A year later, I got into a heated argument with a family member and blurted out that I had attempted suicide and was, basically, called a “nut”. My family has their own emotional and mental problems and I am very understanding of this now as an adult. I don’t hold any resentment towards them, because they couldn’t cope with any of their issues, either. My question is can anyone recommend something that can help me?

    I have been through therapy before to address the anger and resentment I felt and it helped, but I never really addressed the childhood trauma. I am so fearful of life and doing things and making connections with people and, most importantly, finding a job that I can keep. I am not in a position to afford therapy right now, but am looking for websites or books that might help. Can anyone recommend anything? Thank you!

    • Here are some resources. Also, it might be useful when you’re ready to talk with a therapist, to find one that specializes in complex childhood trauma.

      Adults Molested as Children — Links to resources and online e-groups, including co-ed groups, and groups for men, women and women who were molested by a female.

      Co-Dependents Anonymous — Links to meetings and literature, an online store, readings, articles and information about the annual conference.

      Adult Children of Alcoholics — Links to resources and groups for women and men who grew up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional homes.

      Adults Survivors of Child Abuse — An international self-help support group program designed specifically for adult survivors of neglect, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. The program offers community-based, provider-based, and web-based self-help support groups.

    • Definitely check out Courage To Heal – it’s a great book. So is Trauma and Recovery. there are some great exercises in Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga. Those are good books to start.

      Most states now cover mental health services. There may be a waiting list of a few weeks or more, but you can probably find free or sliding-scale therapy available. Sometimes group therapy is very helpful too. It’s definitely good to have the help of a professional at your side. I tried for a long time to recover on my own, and now that I’m working with a therapist I’m amazed at the positive changes happening.

      Good luck!!! It will be challenging but healing has a ton of rewards. You’ll find out that you are stronger than you think.

    • Hello,
      My ACE score was also an 8. I grew up being exposed to many forms of abuse and accepted it as a norm until I got away from it. After that I started experiencing debilitating anxiety attacks that would come on out of nowhere, and my body would shut down. These attacks started when I was 17, and I suffered with them until I was 23. Mindful based stress reduction helped free me from my anxiety attacks. I still experience anxiety, and I also have a problem with disconnecting, but mindfulness is a great tool that I use to bring myself back to present reality. I’m 26 now, and still have my down days but I can say with confidence that I am on the mend and am no longer afraid to just be. So I highly recommend researching mindfulness, there are some great articles and YouTube videos out there. Hope this helps.

      • Thanks, Vic :) I have tried mindfulness and find it really difficult to quiet all the noise in my head. It almost makes me more anxious. So, obviously I am doing something wrong or there is something wrong with me. I recently discovered self-hypnosis apps for my anxiety and it has helped a little bit.

        I am going to go back and try and find some YouTube videos. Have you ever tried therapy? If so, did anything help you? I feel like I may never be “normal” because my childhood has shaped so much of who I am. Do you ever feel this way?

  109. Thank you for this information, it was particularly enlightening. I grew up in a very strict religious home, but it felt like there was very little love. My childhood was fraught with manipulation and emotional abuse, and the occasional hitting (very occasional, under the guise of discipline). I ended up in a bad relationship as a teen that was emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive, but then felt I couldn’t get any help because I was judged for my shortcomings because I wasn’t spiritual enough or I didn’t trust in god enough.

    I’m very lucky to have left that lifestyle and met the people I have. They support me so much better than the church community that was supposed to.

  110. ACE 7
    RES 4

    My first memory of my father was him beating me until I bleed from every orifice in my body. I was 4 years old. I lived in 18 different lodgings before I was 10. My father was an itinerant construction worker and worked on large construction projects including Dams, Tunnels and Buildings.He drank everyday and would come home on pay day drunk and with very little money left for food etc. I was beaten almost every day until I left home when I was 15 yo. My father would still assault and verbally abuse and humiliate me whenever I went to visit. The last time he assaulted me, I had a broken arm (in a cast), I was 34yo. I am 54 now. He died 10 years ago.

    I was marred at 20. Divorced at 30. My ex-wife was a narcissist who regularly humiliated and abused me in front of our friends and family. I have attempted suicide (5 years ago), I have abused alcholol, drugs, have been in debt, lost jobs and friendships. I have never felt that I “belonged” and I have no cognitive understanding of what a family is.

    I am consumed by guilt for the poor parenting I displayed toward my two sons from my first marriage and my two step children from my current relationship (14.5 years and still going). I was verbally abusive and threatening toward them and did hit them (very rarely though). I have been able to reconcile with the three boys, but my step daughter (youngest) is still angry and hurt by my past actions and has not been able to accept my personal and sincere apologies.

    I think of death every day and hope that I am killed or die almost daily. I do not, however, have suicidal thoughts. The pain of my self hatred is real and I feel it all day – every day. There are some nights where my shame is so strong and my PTSD is so high that I do not sleep. Instead I replay events, both recent and very old over and over in my head.

    I have been in therapy for 4 years and in that time I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and depression. My biggest issue is not being able to understand that I was damaged and that my childhood was filled with family dysfunction, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence (physical, verbal and emotional) and sexual abuse.

    I am a General Manager of a company and although I am materially successful, I am emotionally and psychologically bankrupt. I fight my negative thoughts all day. There are times when I am so emtionally drained from fighting my negative thoughts that I come home and go to bed. I am however, much better than I was a year ago and the year before that. I however, not yet prepared to do all of the things that I know would give me better mental health as I do not believe I am worthwhile. The wounds run deep and the scars have been reopened many times. I still get out of bed every day believing that the day will be better than the one I had the day before.

    • Hi there Tee Gee Ah. I am sorry to hear about all the pain and stress in your life. It is incredible that you are where you are today.
      I want to ask if you have dealt with your feelings of anger and pain towards your father, by revisiting these feelings. In other words, imagining your father, do you still have deep feelings of anger or resentment towards him? (This would be natural of course.) If yes, you must let these feelings out by allowing them to wash over you. You can help them to ‘rise’ out from within you by thinking and writing about exact events with your father. Remember that feelings cannot hurt you, but suppressing them (keeping them down) can, and is often what causes lack of sleep.
      All the best and may you keep getting stronger.

      • Hi Nicky, I am in therapy. There are a lot of issues to deal with & ( even after 6 years) I am still trying to stabilise my thoughts. I will get there, but, it is a long road for me.

    • Intrusive thoughts are a bear! I don’t know how you will feel about this solution but it blew me away with how fantastic the relief was and how fast it happened. I have PTSD too, depression, anxiety, all those delightful things, don’t know if pot is legal where you are but I highly recommend it. 1 puff, negative thoughts, intrusive thoughts, depression, GONE for about and hour and a half. What relief. It stays away longer and longer, but it is medicine and needs to be respected as such. Good luck.

      • I have tried pot unfortunately it masked my problems & exacerbated my feelings of anxiety that then would evidence itself as anger. It is not legal where I am. I do use it occasionally at home with my wife present so that I am able to feel safe. Unfortunately, I have an addictive personality & so alcohol, drugs, gambling, & porn have all had an intrusive & non-productive outcomes in my life.

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  113. ACE 4
    Resilience 2-3

    Often cry for no apparent reason and have trouble to piece my life together for the past 2 years.. I’m in my undergraduate studies for 6 years instead of 4. Will graduate this May but I am worried that the graduate school may not like my grades and gre score.. Hope everything will turnout ok. I’m in a good relationship and with every year learn to trust my husband and myself a bit more. I just wish it would be easier to deal with myself, my husband really deserves a good and successful person besides him. I thought I was that person, but it is difficult for the last couple of years when I switched my major. Everything turned upside down, but I’m still trying life is not over yet.

    • Ace 7
      Rec 3

      Maybe I will leave a comment another time.Biggest problems anxiety, self loathing,and poor sleep. I also dont think that I have the ability to experience a truly peaceful easy feeling.

      My parents were both horrible, selfish, uncaring people and that is something they must own not me. I raised my children without violence or a negative self image.They are both well adjusted adults:)

    • Tee Ah,
      As a therapist, I wonder if your clinician has used EFT Emotional Freedom Technique with you. It would still be considerable work, but less painful and lengthy in my experience. (googl it) Another great technique if your therapist knows it is Samyama, in which you notice the “story” going on in your thoughts and allow yourself to drop down into your heart, where there is no story, just pure emotion. If there is no emotion, let your awareness follow whatever sensations you have in your body, and it will come. Allow your body to experience whatever the emotion is, and it releases. Each time the story starts up again, remind yourself that it’s not the truth of who you are, drop down deep below the level of thought into meditation/heart space and let the emotion/body release what it needs to. Your mind will try to constantly draw you back into the story, which is what the mind always does, so don’t fight it, just see it as a toddler that doesn’t know any better. (A saint once said there are more thoughts in the mind than blades of grass on the earth.) You as the adult can choose where to focus your attention by dropping down and focusing on your heart. Keeping a hand on your heart may help you to do this. As the mind continues to babble up above you keep dropping your focus, your attention, your consciousness down into your heart. This should be done with your therapist until you feel comfortable to do it on your own. The emotional release can be intense and the therapist creates the safe holding environment for you. I have found over 30 years in therapy field that these body based methods are more effective than talk alone.

  114. ACE 3
    RES 5

    I’m mostly fine. no depression or suicidal thoughts or anything. I mean I sleep insufficiently, am fat, short-tempered and smoke some, so i’m not perfect, but thankfully nothing really bad.

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  117. Ace 6
    resilency 5

    I’m not sure the resilency is accurate as many of the questions were entangled in my abuse, yes some one cared about my grades I was very often called stupI’d for doing poorly in school, yes I had rules growing up if I didn’t follow them I was called useless or lazy. I was only ever hit when I had done something wrong talkin back was my biggest offense I have a strong will and won’t be told I’m wrong when I’m not. That said I have never done drugs, got As and B in most of my classes, got into a private college where I’m doing even better than I did in high school thanks to being away from home. I think the worst thing is I never realized I was abused until I was talking to my boyfriend a few nights ago and my mom called she didn’t know he was visiting me in school (he goes to another college) so he was quiet and she started ranting on about how my father (her ex husband) wanted us for Christmas and he was so selfish blah blah eventually she hung up and I had tears in my eyes from the way she talked about my dad, I know I’m 18 and shouldn’t care but it sucks to be reminded constantly that they hate each other, anyway D and I got to talking abut how I hadn’t told her about him being there and how it wasn’t against a rule or anything but I was afraid of her finding out and how I never did much wrong and he mentioned how she would always find something to ground me for right before an event to keep me home, usually it was not doing the dishes before she got home or my younger brothers made a mess while I was out and I didn’t have time to get it clean before she got home what hit him hardest was when I told him about the time in 7th grade my mom started screaming at me for doing poorly in school I told her I was missing work because I couldn’t find it (I’ve always been pretty disorganized) she dumped my entire bag on the table and tried to make me eat the crumbs that had fallen to the bottom, the event traumatized me so much that I clean my purse and school bag so often prole think I’m OCD, he was crying a little by then cuz I’m not someone you’d expect that from, I’ve always been a good kid I do the right thing I get good grades people like me it really surprised him he knew she was a bitch but that was more than he’d bargained for. I had never told anyone about it before that I guess I thought it was normal that I deserved it. There have been many more events like that she once made me sleep on a hard wood floor with no blanket because I was jumping on my bed ive been pushed slapped across the face witha spatula and a lot more while i was young. I’ve had to comfort her through the divorce even though it’s just as much her fault as my father’s I’ve had to be the adult in the relationship with both of my parents practically raised my youngest brother who’s 11 years younger than I. The other thing I got a lot of was being bullied by her and then her refusing to admit to saying it later which would cause another fight which only upset me more. It stopped for awhile in late elementary school when she started to break me down but we moved in middle school and by 7th grade I got my spirit back and it started again she hasent hit me since 6th grade but she’s made me send embarrassing pictures of my messy room to my (now ex) boyfriends, she’s called me stupid and a slut every time I come home she points out that I’ve gained weight. I am a college freshmen I have never lied about where i was or done anything she wouldnt want me to do [besides maybe sex but whatevs] the other day we all wrnt shopping to save time i went to one store while she took my brothers to the other i started walking back to that store after i checked out and found her walking towards me looking angry I’m not afraid of her anymore so i walked up to her and she began yelling at me for not answering my phone, i calmly said i never got a message and pulled out my phone to show her she accused me of deleting them, when i asked her why i would do that she said “so you can go (mockingky dramatic) i never got your texts” i asked her why id pick a fight and it stunned her so i took her phone and messaged myself when it didn’t show up she accused me of blocking her i asked again calmly why i would do that and she said, infronf of my 8 year old autistic brother “I bet your father did it so that I can’t talk to you” I explained it couldn’t be blocked because she called me and tried sending it as a text message, the woman had been imessaging an android.. shes paranoid and legitimately insane. She’s done the same to my middle brother and now he’s into drugs and failing his freshmen year of highschool, I guess he doesn’t have my strong will to beat her. I rebel by excelling bully me and I’ll show you how kind I am belittle me and I’ll grow to do twice as much as you’ll ever dream. My little brother gives in to his anger lashing out at his youngest brother ( who was recently diagnosed as autistic) doing drugs skipping school lying just to lie breaking things hurting our dogs. I was a virgin until I was about to turn 18 I’d been with the guy for 6 months and thought it through apparently k has al ready started having casual sex at barely 15. It’s really interesting to me how we were raised in the same way with only one major difference and we’re so different that difference is that I had to take care of him step in and calm my mom down or take a few hits myself to protect him, he had someone to protect him and then suddenly didnt. And now I blame myself for his problems and worry for my youngest brother. Im terrified I’ll end up like my mother. She always tells me how crazy her mother is but she’s just as bad clearly knowing it’s wrong doesn’t make the crazy go away. I just want to be a better parent and help kids who’s abuse is more subtle. I never had bruises or broken bones to show for it I had an empty tummy cuz she didn’t buy food for weeks cuz she was ‘tired’ I had panic attacks when things got loud because if my brothers and I laughed or ran around we’d get punished I have anxiety attacks whenever I don’t understand an assignment or if I get reprimanded or say something people don’t agree with because I would be reprimanded called stupid or annoying for it as a child. I grew into an outwardly strong independent woman who cries when she’s alone hides panic attacks and still has night terrors and nightmares I don’t wasn’t to do that to my kids or let it happenow to anyone else. That’s why I’m majoring in either education or social work .

  118. ACE score 4
    resilience- 7

    So this is really depressing.
    Can I have some hope please??
    What can we do now that we have this info?
    I’ve done talk therapy for years and continue to struggle w. depression and suicidal thoughts.
    I haven’t ever been married (age 44) though I’ve wanted to for years. Give us some hope! The charts are pretty depressing!!

    • The hope comes in that the brain is plastic, and the body wants to heal. Resilience research provides many aspects to healing, including talk therapy. Also, exercise, social connections with people you trust, asking for help, good nutrition, living and working in a safe environment, spending time in nature, and adequate sleep.

      • Jane you’re 100% right. I’m also a victim of abuse and molestation and the only thing I’ve found that can help me heal is actually putting in the WORK to help myself first and foremost. Eating well, positive social connections, listening and reading to positive affirmations and believing in myself. Unfortunately we will always have the memories but we don’t have to accept them as painful. We can chose to perceive them as learning experiences that we can use to help those that will inevitably cross our paths who have experienced similar situations. That’s the way of the universe and it’s incredibly healing. I finally refused to live as a victim and learned that it’s all about how I look at things and have experienced a shift in my emotional reaction to it but it takes work. I’ve also developed a spiritual connection that has taught me gratitude for things I may be taking for granted. All combined, I am a better person and not broken like I thought I was.

    • ACE Score 10
      Resilience 11

      I grew up in a profoundly abusive household. No need to write a book about it here. I made a vow early on that my life was going to be different and that I would end the cycle of abuse. I equate my childhood and sibling life to growing up in “a pack of hyena’s.” My mother was a “Black Widow”… lure you in with love and kill you with hatred. Very BPD…My childhood was a classic study in “Survival of the Fittest” and I was the youngest. I personally saw my step father try to kill my mother three times and I lost touch with “normalcy.” I struggled with depression until I was 34 and actually heard voices for many years; not realizing that hearing voices was unusual. I recall clearly making a vow at 5 years of age that I was going to have a different life. It took more than three decades but I eventually changed the way and what I believed about myself and others through the “constant gardening” of my wife’s love and the nurturing kindness of God. That He/God loves me despite what I believed about myself. He loved me until I was able to love myself and then, love others. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and I am an Out Patient Therapist for traumatized children. It has been a dream of mine to turn my difficulties into the hills that I climb on and assure others that they can do the same. I have a motto: “Just because you didn’t get something, doesn’t mean you can’t give it (love, validation, encouragement, praise, etc). I have seen the life changing power of truthful, loving words. I equate much of my ability to overcome my trauma to a wife who relentlessly loved me and “care fronted” my cognitive distortions (Sanctuary Model). Once when I was screaming about all the money she was spending on a birthday party for our 2 year old twin girls, she calmly and lovingly said, “Have you ever thought that maybe the way you grew up wasn’t quite as healthy as the way I grew up?” Because I was good willed and melancholy, I would hear these snippets of life and think about them for a week or two. It was her kindness that drew me to live and question my sanity… a terrifying exercise. I learned to use my survival skills to take risks and learn how to love; Something that I saw was possible because my wife loved me despite my profound hatred for myself…. Love drew me to live and I’m never going back. Abundance is much, much better than surviving.

      • Thank you for your profoundly humble, moving and compassionate words of wisdom and love showing how transformation is always possible

    • ACE Score 8
      Resilience 6,7?

      Ignore the charts, they’re not you. If talk therapy isn’t working try something else, you can have the life you want. If you can forgive yourself for your faults and love who you are, you can be and do anything you want. Whatever happened to you was not your fault. Not your fault, not your responsibility, and not in your control. Forgive yourself for thinking it was (we all do.) Most of us think we had some power in those situations – we did not. Forgive yourself. You didn’t do it.

      And if all you can do is get mad, do that. It beats being scared and it’s a step in the right direction.

      As for hope: I beat it, whatever you want to call it. I had to get a job right out of school to pay my parent’s rent so no college for me, but I worked hard, learned a profitable skill. I bought a house at 24 and at 34 opened my own business. That was 3 years ago and now my house is on the market so I can buy a nicer one and I have a staff of four at my business. I’m married and happy.

      You can beat whatever you think is holding you back, and you can do whatever you put your mind to, you just have to do the work. We’re all broken, some of us just get so busy creating the life we want that we forget we’re broken for awhile.

      The people who gave me that ACE score of 8? They’re all living the same rotten lives they were when I was a kid in their control and that’s their problem.

      Read books by Louse Hay. Or if you’d rather, listen to Hay House Radio – it’s free and you can’t listen and still feel bad at the same time.

  119. Age: 18
    ACE Score: 5
    When I was a young child my mom used to get really angry and me and my little sister and she would physically abuse us. Nothing too bad she would pull my hair throw me on the floor and one time I remember she strangled me because I wouldn’t stop crying. She did the same sort of things to my little sister while I sat there watching helplessly crying. She did it less and less as we got older. In fact the last time she did something like that to us was years ago. Instead of physically hurting us when she got extremely mad she would just scream at us and cry. Recently she has just been irritable and depressed but nothing like when I was younger. Also when I was 8 or 9 I got molested by my girl cousin who was 4 years older at me. She took me in my closet and had me take off my pants while simulating me giving birth with a doll that was all I could remember except I know that afterwards I cried about it. Also when I was about that age my parents almost got a divorce because my dad cheated on my mom. He was gone from the house for 6 months or 6 weeks I am not sure and I remember begging my dad to never leave again when he came back. I am not sure if these things were the reasons why in grade school I had such bad self esteem. My self esteem issues in grade school were so bad I had an extremely hard time making friends and no one really talked to me. I hated myself and constantly compared myself to the other kids in my class. I went to a smaller private school but my self esteem issues were so bad in those years my teachers had a discussion with my parents about it.
    Fast forward a couple years and when I was a freshman in high school my dad started to say comments like I was extremely sexy or that my butt looked nice. It sort of escalated a little and he would tell me that I was a lot prettier than my mom and my mom is actually a very attractive woman. And that he liked me more than my mother. He told me once that he would kiss me anywhere on my body if I wanted him to. And he always wanted to put my lotion on my legs. He did this sort of stuff when no one was around. he would hug me from behind and kiss my neck. But that was the extent of it. I had a really hard time when my dad went through this period because I felt extremely uncomfortable but I also struggled with wondering if I was making a big deal out of nothing because it was always subtle stuff he did. And I didn’t know how I should react or if it was just normal stuff. He eventually stopped but I noticed he never did anything like that with my little sister. I have always grown up in an extremely religious family through all this and grew up with strict rules my entire life.
    Now I have gained a lot of self esteem back and made a considerable amount of friends and have had an easier time talking to new people.
    However now I have gotten into drinking something my entire life I have been conditioned was bad and I have gradually done worse things such as getting into weed, trying heroine. Having casual sex when just a year back I would have never done that. I have grown up with the idea that sex before marriage was a horrible thing and now I do these things without thought. I have changed from a timid person who wouldn’t do anything from a girl who doesn’t even care about consequences and rules. I am not sure if its because of any the above factors or not but recently I have been thinking about my childhood.

      • There is a good book called “Divorcing your Parent ” By Engle. You have to cut them out, and then the healing begins. My mother beat me the same way, I actually took the beatings for the younger brothers. It is not my imagination, because they remember things as I do.

        After I was separated from my parents as an adult, the only reason my mother wanted me in her life is because I made alot of money in sales. And they sucked me dry, until I had nothing left. Another good book to buy-
        _”Released From Shame” from Dr. Sandra D. Wilson. You were manipulated into staying in this dusgusting explanation of a family because they “shamed” you with religion. It is a sense of control. I stopped going to Mormon church. The bishopric and members knew how bad my mother was, they excommunicated her, but for committing adultry. Not for physically abusing children.
        The first step is separation, you are strong with your own measurement of self worth when you have the time and energy to be alone . While you are alone and are healing, to not be a target for more manipulation, you must be educated enough to break patterns. I decided to be in sales, I wanted to be more, not for the money, but I like to provide. For years, every relationship hinged on what I PROVIDED to a relationship. Not what THEY could do for me.

        You are BORN into this family, you don’t have to DIE in it. God created your soul, your mother was a vessel, that is it. We EARN out relationships every day.

    • Just as this article explains, our behaviors as adults are incredibly influenced by our childhood experiences. Child abuse conditions our little impressionable mind to accept stress and negativity as the norm and as adults we automatically create the situations all over again to get the same chemical brain reactions we have been taught to be comfortable with. Otherwise we don’t feel normal. If the only attention we received as children was from being beaten or molested, then as an adult we will subconsciously create chaotic situations to get attention or “love”.

      Also, it is extremely common for us to turn to chemical dependency to feel those same brain chemicals or to numb the sad feelings. Many times we do it just to be able to be part of the group and be liked and we end up addicted because the brain trauma we experienced as a child makes us more susceptible to it. But, there is good news; the key is in your post about how you said you do things without thought. You MUST condition yourself to do things with thought.

      The truth is we do think first we just don’t acknowledge it because again, it’s more comfortable for us to do what’s “normal” for us rather than try to change. You sound like you have great potential. You said yourself that you’ve changed. You are more outgoing, you have a lot of friends, and can easily make new ones. All of these characteristics point to a person who can do anything but with thought and effort. It takes work but don’t beat yourself up about it, take baby steps and journal about your daily experiences but don’t just write down the problems try to come up with a solution you can put into action the next time it happens and soon you will see improvement.

      You’ve got your whole life ahead of you but time flies. Love yourself before anyone else and everything else will fall into place. Take it one day at a time.

  120. I forgot to say that I have, depending on which therapist, they say I have PTSD, or C-PTSD, I also have sever depression which they think I have had my whole life. I have never smoked, or gotten in trouble, I am a good person. I would give people my last dollar if they needed it. I have high blood pressure, but it doesn’t run in my family, nor am I over weight. I have recently herniated my disc (L5-S1) and am currently in phys therapy for it. I also have had surgery to remove polyps in my cervix.

  121. My ACE is 9, and my resiliency doesn’t even register. I was born to a mother who had an STD. SHe was being treated for this, and unbeknownst to her (the tests didn’t indicate that she was pregnant)she was treated for this std, and I was damaged in utero. (I’ve been genetically tested multiple times and I have no actual syndromes or such) I was born with severe congenital facial deformities. My mother has told me that she couldn’t look much less touch me for 3 days, in the end, her parents came to get me from the hospital. My mother later married and American GI. He became my stepfather. He was and I’m sure still is an abusive alcoholic. Several of my therapists have met him and both my mother, and have described him as a malignant sociopath/Narcissist, and my mother, they believe has borderline personality disorder with NPD as well. I grew up in a home where there was constant fights, beatings, I remember being 3 years old and my mother running into my bedroom to find safety. And I would stand in-between my mother and father. I can recall countless times he did incredibly cruel beatings to me and my middle sister. There was a time when I was 11 where he made me bleed and knocked me out. My mother did nothing. I had numerous surgeries to fix my birth defects, and after a while, when I was 13, my stepfather said I was never going to be beautiful so I might as well be smart. There were no more surgeries. While we were stationed in Britain, (I was born there) I had 20+ surgeries. By the time we came stateside, they stopped.
    My mother always commented on how my half siblings were pretty. She never said anything to me. My mother neglected me and my siblings. She would leave us alone and I was made to take care of my siblings. Many times, I found myself in dangerous situations. I was molested by a 12 year old boy when I was only 4. ( I apparently went missing, and my parents couldn’t find me, what a four yera old is doing outside for several hours unattended, I have no Idea) Nothing was ever done to him, no one ever took care of me. I was afraid of men and I knew about oral sex at age 4. I was so afraid , I wanted to disappear. I became anorexic and I have tried to commit suicide several times. Both my parents said I was trying to make them feel sorry for me.
    My siblings know me as their mom. I was made to parent both my sisters and mother. I’ve never been a child. My stepfather then divorced my mother, and then kicked me out. I was homeless for a while.
    I have since married, (24 yrs) I have 2 wonderful kids, I have a degree in Child Psych and Fine Arts. But, I have felt so bad about myself my whole life, I am an underachiever. Underpaid, etc., I have this ever persistent sense of being worthless. Even though I have undergone many years of therapy. No one seems to understand my pain. I am like a book, always judged by my cover. I have been discriminated. I have even qualified for Vocational rehabilitation because of this. I am not stupid, I graduated in the top 10% of my school. But, I still feel worthless. My kids, my husband are my life. Except sometimes I feel as if I am nothing but a huge burden who doesn’t earn her way. I have since started having health issues. I have always been healthy, and athletic. I am so worried that I am going to get cancer (My own mother who was molested, and beaten in her childhood home and then marriage, developed ovarian cancer, dementia, and diabetes.) She died in 2011. I have a middle sister who has mental health issues, alcoholism, and had cervical cancer, and subsequently had to have a hysterectomy. My youngest sister had anxiety disorder, OCD and had her thyroid removed due to cancer. They, are still in touch with their dad. I have been pretty much ignored and banished. Until I stop whining about my past, no one will have anything to do with me. I am blamed for the lack of relationship with my stepfather, when in reality, he has had nothing to do with me. I am excluded from my family of origin. I feel as if I am doomed to succumb to some disease.

    • Hey, I feel for you. My ACE is 7, not as bad as yours, but I’ve been numb my whole life. You obviously needed to spill your guts out, which is good. Keep at it. Also, please look into neurofeedback. It’s where a brain map is made – with something called qEEG, and then you go through “training” that enables you to re-wire the distribution of frequencies in your brain until you reach a healthy balance. It works. It really, really, works. I’m now able to tell my brain to stop ruminating, re-focus, and live. I can override the memories that have wiped me out my whole life. It will never be perfect, those memories will never go away, but I win the mental battles for control now. After a lifetime of every kind of therapy I could afford, this is heaven. The company my doctor uses is Brain Core – I’m not a rep for them at all – there are lots of companies that do this. You are worth it.

      • Thank you for replying. I will definitely look into this. I’ve never heard of it. I’ve seen quite a few therapists. I’ve only met one who understood, but my stepfather stopped me seeing her once he started to *hear* that I was getting stronger. My last 5 therapists have been dismal failures. All ranging from, my pain is made up, it’s not quantifiable, (I DO NOT recommend Cognitive based therapists for trauma, maybe for smoking cessation or phobias, but not trauma) I’ve had one that said I should read/watch the SECRET and just try and be positive, and the last one said that i should leave this stuff in the past. I live on a military base, and PTSD is rampant here. THere are MANY therapists that treat combat PTSD, but no ptsd from trauma at home. Go figure….

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  125. Ace Score: 8
    Resilience : 3
    age 20
    unemployed , no school, no real love, drug problem
    I’ve spent most of my life being an unconscious psychic vampire with no real connections to anyone, to myself, or any passions. I was left to screens in my free time, and was blamed for wanting to be lazy and uninspired. The only reason i got out of my zombism of my childhood was discovering healthy food through the internet at 17 years old, and now i feel phyiscally good, except for my drug addiction and high anxiety. I came close from breaking my cycle from doing well in school and getting real consistent passions and saving a decent amount of money in my life but that 6 – 10 month effort broke down when i started realizing i enjoy smoking drugs and wasting time on the computer rather than doing things that are productive, so i pathetically just went to welfare life. I don’t like winning, participating in anything, it brings so much irrational anxiety yet i completely understand how much mistakes are okay now. If there was one good thing about my childhood, it’s that my parents let me go out in nature free play with friends, so i got good empathy because of this kinda. I mean im not completely fucked.. but i still did hit my cat a lot growing up and have done questionably sexually devious things.. but not anything truly severe.

    My friend circle was older then me and they came from abusive homes themselves, so i was often physically/verbally humiliated by them for their own sadistic enjoyments. I honestly think this abuse from my friends has stunted my healthy developments the most.. but my father and mother are to blame cus they are the ones who are suppose to prepare and attend me for thigns like that to NOT happening, and to realize i needed healthy passions and healthy foods (well they made healthy dinners for sure, but not healthy breakfast or lunch which is HUGE for kids going to schools) I kept going back cus we honestly had great times together but we were video game addicts not physical and girl chasing, and they insulted or beat me any chance they had… except for one of my friends who im best friends with still but he;s even more traumatized than me. I literally had a very conscious will to have no confidence in my life.. and i still am denying myself to fixing these things i see now. Good thing im pretty smart and my father and friends talked to me smart growing up otherwise i’d never would have been ok, i would’ve turned into the abusers … this is some really groundbreaking research. keep up the good work and spread this message, lets bring peace to humans through childhood care and attentiveness, it’s literally the only way

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  127. Name: Anon
    Aces Score: 3-5
    Resiliency: 8
    Age: 18
    Gender: Male
    Education: High School Student
    Smoker: Never
    Drink: Never
    Depressed: Severe
    Suicidal tendencies: Yes
    Mental illness: None diagnosed (lack of available healthcare) suspect Social anxiety, Aspergers, OCD,
    Physical Illness: None discovered, however I have poor health (no health issues attached yet luckily) .Due to lack of vitamins and other nutrition, a bad upbringing and others.

  128. Name: Heather
    Aces Score 4
    Resiliency: 13
    Age: 30
    Gender: Female
    Education: Masters in Counseling
    Smoker: No
    Drink: Hardly ever
    Depressed: No
    Suicidal tendencies: In college, thoughts and plan. Sought help to stop myself
    Mental illness: ADHD & adjustment disorder diagnosed
    Physical Illness: Asthma, Hypertension, Epilepsy, Obesity.

    Grew up with a verbally abusive borderline personality mother, some physical abuse, but not extensive to me, at worst she picked me up and threw me against a wall. I’m a tall woman, so I grew quickly and she was unable to physically abuse me for long, I feel she was afraid I was stronger than her. She was however extremely physically abusive to my younger sister, more so when my sister was in high school, there is a dent the size of my sisters forehead in the drywall at our childhood home where my mother slammed my sisters face into the wall after an argument. I was in college in another city at the time and wasn’t told until months later. I felt horrible that I wasn’t home to help my sister; I’m still angry about this to this day, esp since it wasn’t the only time it happened to my sister. I feel a rage inside of me that I can’t totally explain, but I know that if she ever tries to hurt my sister or my future children in the same way, I will not hesitate to take some sort of action. I chose to find a way out of my situation by going to school and getting away from my mother, at times I feel like I abandoned my sister during that time, but we didn’t get along at the time and I was in no place to take care of a teenager when I was only 5 years older than her. I’ve always used food to cope with my feelings, causing some of the health problems I’m experiencing as an adult. My other main coping skill was getting away using school, I participated in everything I could so I didn’t have to go home, I would stay with friends a lot or at my grandmothers house. It wasn’t until I was an adult that this all made sense, I’m honestly still trying to figure things out. I know that I’ve blocked out large chunks of my childhood and I’m afraid to dig too deep because I don’t want to know what I’ve forgotten, I feel like I forgot those things for a reason.

    • You are very astute about your past, Heather. Also know that witnessing a sibling being abused is another very significant ACE. People are adding more types of childhood trauma to ACEs, if for no other reason to address the fact that many people have more than 10, and many people may score a zero or 1 when they have three or four types that aren’t included in the original ACE score. Take care of yourself.

  129. ACE score 8
    Resiliency 12

    My family is crazy. They’d tell me they loved me and then hurt me scream at me treat me abusively. I don’t want to go into details. But physical and emotional stuff, being kept from having any social life. I had talents growing up and my family actually made moves to ruin my success several times which they actually wound up doing. They refused medical care to me as a minor and tried to keep a severe injury I had a secret. People think they’re all sweet people and never believed me when I said what was happening at home. I don’t know why my childhood was so full of pain. But I’m glad it’s over. I wound up with a severely abusive man and my family has taken me in. I’m applying for jobs like mad and have an interview next week I have already landed a part time job. They’re starting to be really abusive again. I say this sleeping in the parking lot of my sisters apartment complex. She said she’d let me stay at her place for thanksgiving – my birthday is also on thanksgiving. But she changed her mind. I won’t stay with my other family member here because they called me at 6 am and were screaming at me using abusive language. I’m done with them. They know it too. But they always act like they’re above me. I can’t wait to get out of here. They’re so crazy. They’ll help me so much then hurt me so badly. They think they can hurt me because they help me. They have always liked to keep me helpless because I’m stronger than all of them and deep down they know it. I just don’t want to get beaten up again and I want to get out. I would stay at a shelter but I have some expensive equipment I have to protect and they aren’t thieves. I just have to get out. Its a great job too that I may get. I’m just praying. I want to be free and have a good life finally this time… It’s my time now. They had their chances.

    • I’m with you in so many ways. Ace score is a 7, my birthday is also on thanksgiving, and even my husband is so charmed by my family as to not believe the level of abuse I went through as a child and why I make such an effort to distance myself from my family. I have been in your situation so many times but I can also say from my own experience that there is a silver lining if you have the courage and fight to make your life what YOU want it to be not what anyone else thinks your life is or should be. It isn’t easy but it is worth everything. My past still haunts me but I look at this way, my family taught me a lot, they taught me all the things I DON’T want to be and I can make it though anything cause I’ve gotten this far on my own. You have too. You can do this, you can make it on your own. Work hard, bow your head to no one, raise your hand to no one, rely on no one, but love everyone and be everything that your family isn’t. My heart is with you and I believe in you.

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  131. Name: Karissa
    Aces Score 6
    Resiliency: 6
    Age: 29
    Gender: Female
    Education: Bachelor’s
    Smoker: No
    Drink: Rarely, although I did drink a bit excessively in college
    Depressed: No
    Suicidal tendencies: No
    Mental illness: PTSD, OCD, Social Anxiety Disorder
    Physical Illness: Brain cancer(grade 2 mixed glioma of the left temporal lobe. Had complete resection including the removal of my hippocampus and amygdala in 2010, no regrowth to date but have been told that it will happen at some point), Epilepsy due to tumor, Reactive inflammatory arthritis (Currently awaiting test results for HLA-B27 and Ankylosing Spondylitis), Raynaud’s disease

    I was sexually abused by my mother’s boyfriend from the ages of 2 to 16. I was living in constant fear of when he would come at me next. My fight or flight response was always in high gear. My mother caught him a few times but did nothing and this caused resentment/worry that I was not worthy of her protection. I was horribly insecure and a social recluse. I have a very small family and they do not get along. There was/is always some fight going on. I had no trust in them. I had 2 friends in middle school and no friends in high school. Being in social situations made me freeze up. I could not think of things to say and I was paranoid that everyone was starring at me thinking I was weird. I began having seizures when I was 15. My seizures felt similar to how I would feel when I was being sexually abused. I would be unable to communicate and I felt like I was in a nightmare. Intense fear pulsed through my body for a minute or so. I was unable to talk for about 5 minutes afterward. A brain tumor was found in my left temporal lobe that spread throughout my hippocampus and amygdala. This is the fear-response center of the brain. I have wondered if my body being in a constant fight or flight mode while growing up caused damage to my developing brain resulting in the tumor. I had a difficult surgery to remove the tumor in 2010. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks and lost 20 pounds. It was a frightening and painful experience. My menstrual cycle stopped for 7 months after the surgery which I take as further evidence of the hard hit my body took. Shortly after surgery, my right fingers began to swell and itch off and on. Each year, the swelling would spread to another finger and eventually to my right toes. I was sent to a rheumatologist who diagnosed it as reactive inflammatory arthritis. At my last appointment, I was tested for HLA-B27 and had an x-ray to see if it’s Ankylosing Spondylitis. My body also reacts poorly to cold temperatures due to Raynaud’s. I take good care of myself, I eat healthy and exercise. I’ve never smoked or done drugs. I did drink a lot in college but I’d say that’s not uncommon. Now I only drink once a month or so. It is very frustrating to feel ill all of the time. I feel like I have the body of a 90 year old rather than a 29 year old. I never have the energy to do much. I force myself to be active. And now I am rambling so that is all.

  132. ACE Score of 8 here. I am a woman, age 53 who has done lots (thankfully) to heal and manage stress, and I am still learning, healing. A few things come to mind here following reading this great study: 1. Thanks, first of all for some more ‘real evidence’ that I am not so alone. 2. One must not leave out family religious factors here. While of course, abuse is passed down from generation to generation until the psych/social patterning is interrupted. In my case, my parents were under the misguided impression that beating their kids was not only justified, but their job under whacky Church mandates. Add to that that alcoholism, unmanaged rage and a dose or two of undealt-with mental illness, and well….you can get the picture.

    • Also, wanted to add how much mindfulness meditation, and body-oriented psychotherapy have been live savers for decades.

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  138. Aces Score: 3; 5 if you take out “a parent or other adult in the household.” Daily abuse elsewhere still counts, in my book.
    Resiliency: 8
    Age: 27
    Gender: F
    Education: In and out of college
    Smoker: No
    Drink: 1-3 times a week
    Drug use: Sporadically
    Depressed: My entire life until the last year
    Suicidal tendencies: Multiple attempts (shouldn’t be alive)
    Mental illness: DID, C-PTSD, depression, dysthymia, and a dozen misdiagnoses
    Physical Illness: Essential tremor, migraines, hormone problems, plus something we haven’t figured out yet
    Medication: 8, half of which are psychiatric

    Having a loving family doesn’t protect you from everything else in the world, especially when they turn a blind eye to it. I spent almost 5 months in a psychiatric hospital last year. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know that I’d make it. Finally getting appropriate help made a world of difference! I’m finally happy. :)

    • I am very very glad to hear that! You would be the age of a daughter if I had one (have a son) I had a horrible childhood and now teach psy. and child dev. When someone gets better we all are so happy because sometimes, like you, it is so hard to find and fix the issue

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  140. Aces Score 5-6
    Resiliency: 3 (it may be 1 since I said yes to 1 & 2 based on current knowledge, but they would have be no if based on my childhood perception)
    Age: 50
    Gender: female
    Education: BA
    Smoker: Never
    Drink: Never
    Drugs: Never
    Depressed: yes (can only function when taking mood elevators and can only sleep with a sleep aid)
    Suicidal tendencies: I have been thinking about killing myself since I was 5 years old. I have learned how to cope with it and do not allow myself to indulge suicidal thoughts because they can quickly lead me to deep depressions etc.

    Sexual abuse by strangers 3 times that I remember (I have large holes in my memories of childhood) and experienced extreme street harassment starting at age 14. Parents severely neglected us and did not show that they loved us, although I know now that they did, but just did not know how to show it. Extensively bullied and teased in school. I am in therapy, have been on and off for 20 years, I just wonder sometimes is some wounds run too deep to ever heal.

  141. I don’t think “broken” is completely a bad thing. There is no doubt that it is hard and can make dealing with relationships more challenging, but also think that the experiences you survive can help develop a more sympathetic view of others and a kinder spirit in general.

  142. My name is Travis
    Aces Score 7
    Resiliency: 5
    Age: 40
    Gender: male
    Education: Associates
    Smoker: Yes
    Drink: Not anymore, after a DUI
    Depressed: yes
    Suicidal tendencies: attempted at 16, at the edge of trying several other times in my life, even recently
    Mental illness: PTSD
    Physical Illness: HLA-B27 Positive, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Polyarthritis, Scoliosis, Sciatica, 4 Herniated disc’s, 8 pinched nerves, Fibromyalgia, COPD, carpal tunnel syndrome both hands,

    My father was extremly physically abusive. He once drug my mother down a flight of concrete stairs, resulting in her leg being broke in 42 places. He held my head under the water at
    bath time once until I nearly passed out, then pulled me out and hung me with a rope over the door. Every day now is pain, physical pain, mental pain. I am exhausted. The only
    thing the dr have too offer me is these pills, and the pills only make me feel worse. I appreciate all the stories, it is sad to me though, knowing so many endured what I did, or worse.

  143. I forgot to note….I also survived shaken baby syndrome and subsequently have an issue with my spine at my brain stem where my c1 and c2 sit twisted and askew. This has a tendency to cause migraines. I was looking at the information on ADD vs PTSD and the Vargus nerve-hmmmm…..

    Also PMDD- total bummer!

    • I had a violent mother and father. I was the oldest of 6 children. She was heavily medicated, from cancer that spread in the next 15 yrs before I moved out. I also had two bad car accidents, and have spinal pain in the neck and back-bulging discs with annular tears. I tried the pain pills, but it was hard to work So I take a natural anti inflammatory supplement. It also lowers cortisol, and drops blood pressure. But PREGENOLONE (30 or 50mg) I take 2 times a day keep me faily calm, and I do not have the spinal pain.
      As for your family, they are poson, and you have to walk away. There is also a book called Released From Shame by Dr Wilson. She is a woman who breaks the shaming process down to family friends…..Great book. I do not talk to my mother. She lies to drain money out of the children. Most of them lived with me.

      • I have severe burning pain from the neck down 3 1/2 years. I am getting off pain pills and need something. Drs also want me on antidepressants. Does this pren pill work for pain?

  144. Aces Score 8
    Resiliency: 5
    Age: 39
    Gender: female
    Education: AAS working on BA
    Drink: Socially
    Depressed: no
    Suicidal tendencies: none
    Mental illness: PTSD, ADD, OCD
    Physical illness: Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, Gilbarts Syndrome, asthma,
    ACES not calculated- viral meningitis, bullied at school, caregiver turncoats (we would go to grandmother for protection and she would convince my mom to go back to my dad) born to teen parents.
    Subsequent life: pregnant at 15 mom at 16, married at 18 divorced at 22, grandmother at 32.
    Married for 15 years with 3 happy and healthy children. Run and own a successful business, advocate for children, train PD for early childhood professionals, no longer talk to my father or most of his family.
    Activity Level: Ski instructor, sport climb, single track mountain biking,

    The discussion and somewhat debate above on ADD/ADHD and it’s origins or misdiagnosis intrigues me. I feel that what science is finding currently in relation to this is that once again we are back to the chicken before the egg conundrum in that some may naturally have a propensity from the womb for ADD, while others may “end up with it” so to speak due to their environment. think about a child born blind while another has an accident that causes it. It makes sense! A human could be born with a re-uptake issue or damage done to the developing early childhood brain can cause damage. However the child born with a re-uptake issue that doesn’t experience any ACE’s and develops early interventions due to a loving, caring and apprpriately developmental environment may never have need for diagnosis. While the other may go further down the winding stari case of unfocusable twilight.

    Sarah in Feb 2013 talked about dual exceptional giftedness and ADD . These so go hand in hand- I have seen it a dozen times or more. I am excited to look up the suggested study on it!

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  146. Ace: 10
    Resiliency: 2 (This is hard for someone who lived in 42 foster homes and aged out at 18 to calculate).
    Age: 30
    Gender: female
    Education: BA
    Smoker: No
    Drink: Socially
    Depressed: yes
    Suicidal tendencies: attempted once in childhood, once at 26.
    Mental illness: PTSD, MDD, GAD

    I think the ACES score is a bit simplistic in some ways and doesn’t really capture some very damaging childhood experiences. I experienced a great deal of abuse before and in foster care, but I think what has screwed me up the most is the foster care experience of bouncing around, never belonging, being rejected repeatedly.

    • Thanks for adding your experience, Cricket. You are one very strong woman to have survived so much. I agree – the ACE score is simple. That’s its beauty in engaging people to understand its significance. And I believe it’s an entry to understanding lives like yours, resulting in a deep appreciation for what you’ve survived and a gritty determination to change our systems so that it doesn’t happen on such a huge scale, as you endured, or even on a small scale. We have enough to deal with in the hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods that Mother Nature throws at us to test our mettle.

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  148. Name: Frances Allen
    Age: 22
    Smoker: Yes
    Resiliency Score: 7
    Ace score: 6
    Mental health: depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, add and ocd.
    I’m not sure what the resiliency score proves so if someone could answer that it would be much appreciated.
    Currently married with no kids yet.

    • Hi, Frances. Thanks for adding your story.
      The resilience score gets at a couple of things — understanding that you had some support as a child, which helps ameliorate the effects of ACEs. And understanding how to build some or more resilience into your life now.
      Cheers, Jane

  149. Name: Rachel
    Ace: 8
    Resiliency: 5
    Age: 24
    Gender: female
    Education: BS
    Smoker: never
    Drink: rarely
    Depressed: no
    Suicidal tendencies: no
    Mental illness: no
    Sexual: waiting for marriage
    Job performance: glowing resume
    Medicine taking: none
    Close friends: 3
    Close to family: father’s side, yes
    Not listed ACE: brother committed suicide

    JESUS HEALS! I should not be where I am!

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  151. Ace score : 4

    Chinese female aged 31.
    Survived a single episode of chilhood molest by stranger around age 4 to 7. Disclosure took 6 or 7 years.
    Parents poor with low education level for 2 years and 5 years. Parents on bad term. Abusive emotionally, verbally, physical. Not much supports. Financial difficulties consistent through growing up.
    seeking counselling and psy help for anxiety, ocd issues. Chronic feeling of low health constant going to docs. Hypochondriac tendency.

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    • If you feel you could use some help, you could use some help. I’d recommend looking for free or low-cost clinics in your community; they will either have a counselor or can recommend one to you. Or, if you’re a member of a faith-based organization, see if a member of your clergy has had trauma-informed training. There are also online resources, ranging from adult children of alcoholics to people who are struggling with the effects of verbal abuse.

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  157. I could not figure out the survey, it was not accessible to me as a blind person. Have you ever mentioned disabled persons, as I was trained about disabled persons and abuse, stalking and sexual abuse? There were not edit boxes for the survey. How do you feel these out? Lynne

    • Hi, Lynne: Thank you for your comment. I’ll figure out how to make the survey accessible to you and others who are blind. The ACE Study measured only 10 types of childhood adversity: physical, sexual and verbal abuse; physical and emotional neglect; and five types of family dysfunction — a family member in prison, a family member who is depressed or mentally ill, a family member who abuses alcohol or other drugs, losing a parent through divorce or separation, and witnessing a mother being abused.
      Of course there are other types of childhood adversity, but the ACE Study did not measure them, not because they aren’t traumatic, but because those 10 were the most common mentioned by people in a pilot group and the types of trauma had been researched individually as to their consequences. The point of the ACE Study is that trauma is common and, if there is no intervention, it can have lifelong consequences.

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  162. After being extremely numb, dissociative, isolating/avoiding relationships with resulting depression and OCD for several decades, I have come across some material and information that has helped me tremendously that I would like to share with all of you.

    Upon readiing Byron Katie, Brene Brown, NVC by Dr. Rosenberg, Tara Brach, Eckhart Tolle I have been gently shaken awake by the hands of GOD. Also, reading and going to ACA meetings, Michael Singer, Michael Brown and upcoming authors like Pia Mellody, Pema Chodron, etc. and being vulnerable, open, honest in safe environments in workshops, meetings, home watching movies, etc. crying when the feelings have arose over the last 11 years has unfroze me and woken me up.

    • CK1224: I agree and find the work of the folks you cite and many others to be VERY valuable along with what is coming out of the developing social neuroscience perspectives. I do my best to integrate this in my work with adults who receive behavioral health services in community settings. It is amazing how many mental health professionals still have much to learn about ACES and ways of “being with” adults that help service recipients find ways of healing that work for them. I’m interested in connecting with others around this to reformulate our approaches and to identify ways to document the positive effects.
      Much of the work in Arizona is focused on children and families which is so needed. Yet in addition to the health problems, the challenging experiences we have with adults – both in and out of behavioral health programs – can be traced to the effects of ACE (consider for example how this appears in poor customer service, incomplete communication among professionals, work teams, etc).
      A few other people to check in with are: John H. Lee, Jacqueline Small, Sherry Mead, …..
      Thank you for your post!

      • Thanks Bliss, I’m in Houston at the moment, but my family is in Tucson and Mesa and I might be back there this winter, so we could have a chat if you are in those areas.

        Namaste, Chuck

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  164. Grateful to discover this information. First I have heard of ACE, and overwhelmed with information – not a bad thing. I can’t wrap my head around the number of women and men who suffer and I can include myself in those numbers. ACE score of 9 – resilience – 3. I am an extremely sensitive woman of 60. Healing completely – I believe – is not possible. A wound of the soul, doesn’t repair easily and leads to isolation for self-preservation. May we all find some joy and peace and find the support we so desperately require. I will bring this information to my therapist.

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  166. I wound up with an ACE of 8, and a Resilience score of 13.

    In the last 4 years, I’ve had a knee injury, a couple of wrist injuries, a couple of ankle sprains, injured 4 fingers, Pneumonia with lasting damage in the way of asthma and chronic bronchitis, Severe intermittent adult onset asthma that has me on the highest control meds possible, depression, anxiety, PTSD (unofficial), pulmonary embolism, lung nodules, concussion and there’s probably others that I am not thining of. Oh yeah, the blood transfusion due to hemorrhaging on blood thinners, and trying to come back from the resulting anemia. My hemoglobin went from 12 to 7 in 4 days. I lost 75% of my hair, two years ago. I’ve had some regrowth, but not to the level of restoration. I had to cut off 30 inches because of the problem.

    Asthma took 2 years to get controlled, in that time the coughing trashed other systems that may or may not recover. A asthma attack takes me down for 2 weeks, and then triggers the anxiety and then the depression. Severe major recurrent depression was treated for 3 years before going critical and another 18 months to clear up to just partial remission, I am still not officially in recovery. There was a near hospitalization due to the depression.

    As if having a broken mind was not enough, I wound up breaking my brain. The concussion is the latest thing. It’s been 3 weeks and I am just getting to the point of not having headache, still light/noise sensitive, still have secondary whiplash that my chiropractor is working on. I’ve not been able to take enough time off of work because I am out of time. I am weak and tired, can’t exercise, have spent a bunch of time sleeping and resting, so I am totally decompensated. It will take months to get back to

    I’ve gone through my FMLA, sicktime and savings 2.5 times. I am currently out of sick time entirely, so with things wrapping on a work project, I am taking time off as vacation. I would have to use vacation anyway, and doing so this way, saves me from doctor certification and leave paperwork and going back and forth etc. I am using my health care benefit and sicktime faster than I can accrue it due to asthma, accidents etc. I worry that something serious will happen, because if I need to take a bunch of time off, it has to be life-threatening for my time off to be covered after I run out of paid time off.

    At this point, I want to redo my house to be safer for me, less slippery floors, fewer sharp corners to give me concussions, less clutter to trip over. I am having 80 year old problems at 44 and I need to make my house and yard safer. There are three kids in my house from 21 to 9, who don’t understand the clutter problem or that one show left in a walkway can put me in the hospital and out of work, and I am the wage earner.

    The problem is that I can’t do it, because I have become weak, unbalanced and have little energy left over after work, healing from trauma all the time.

  167. Through out my life i can’t figure why i have difficulty learning and many other issues, crying incendent, dying, suicidal thought, loneliness, abandonment, and fears. At a workshop this week the topic of The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) was presented to us it made me becoming more distress and but understand myself, i now know I am children of the Secret War (Vietnam War) by far many other traumas occurred in my life. I’m married with 8 children, age 30 down to 6 years old, working at a Pre-school of non profit organization. I’m seeking help…

  168. Why does question #7 only interested in if my mother or stepmother abused? What if my father/stepfather was abused? The author of this page needs to re-write this to at least try to hide their sexism.

    • As mentioned in the description about the ACE Study, there are, of course, many other types of trauma, such as witnessing a sibling being abuse, being bullied, witnessing violence outside the home, living in a war zone, being homeless, and, indeed, witnessing a father/stepfather being abused. And the researchers know that. The 10 types that were measured were chosen because people in pilot study identified those 10, and there was a significant amount of research already existing about the consequences of the effects of each individual type of trauma. So, if you witnessed a father or stepfather being abused, you can safely count that as an ACE. And I am sorry if you grew up in a household where that type of trauma was occurring; it has an indelible effect.

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    • Female 44, Ace = 8, Resilience =2. Retook the resilience test and substituted God for parent, friend and family and my score is 14. Life is challenging and I still struggle but I have the tools to work through it. AWESOME

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  171. Ace score 7 resiliency score 3. Not surprised at the ace score results but I am alittle surprised at the low resiliency score.

  172. I scored a 10 on ACEs and 8 on resiliency. I’m a little surprised by the low resiliency score. As an adult, having experienced over 20 years of therapy with the last 10 with an OUTSTANDING practitioner, I can honestly say that my trauma has less impact on me than for most with similar experiences. I don’t believe that any of us are ever done healing, but I feel (BIG statement) and I know that I am whole in mind and Spirit. My resiliency, I believe, is largely to the credit of my mother who, though she was killed when I was three, made it clear I was loved, lovable, and created a picture of another reality than the one I was living. I continue my journey and healing through my passion in creating a world where the impact of trauma is reduced and, ultimately, eradicated.

  173. I am not surprised, 7 and 12. No wonder at almost 44 it feels like my body is falling apart. Luckily I have a wonderful therapist and good social life. But I am voluntarily single and have no real bond with anyone in my family. So chosen family is really important, and knowing how to manage depression and anxiety amongst other things.

  174. I scored 8 on the ACE quiz and 4 on the Resilience quiz, none of which are still relevant in my life. There ought to be an ‘N/A’ category on the Resilience quiz, though, as a number of the questions didn’t apply.

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  180. 2 ACEs, would have been 3 if “physical harm” hadn’t specified bruises. I was frequently slapped in the face, or spanked for things that most spankers don’t consider “spank-worthy.”

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  182. The ACE’s and resiliency scores aren’t an absolute scale obviously, just a relative scale: I scored a 6 or 7 on ACE and a 13 out of 14 on resiliency, but endured intense suffering because of a deformity and being very sensitive, so someone with a 4 or 5 or 6 could have more issues than someone with a 9 or 10, just depending on other circumstances and conditions and the person’s personality, but it is a great starting point for therapy and discussion along with the resiliency scale.

    What’s more important is what can be done about it after the fact? And what can be done about it with future generations growing up and coming into the world?

    I believe Pia Mellody has done some trauma work as well as Dr. Gabor Mate, I just read, “Talking Back to Dr. Phil” based on process-oriented psychology (love-based psychology), somatic releasing with peter levine), cathartic workshops, Dr. Brene Brown (vulnerability and shame) have helped me out as well. Radical Acceptance, Forgiveness and Happiness books as well as Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie and on an on has helped. Mostly, crying intensely for a decade has helped me probably more than anything else to unnumb and process old painful feelings and emotions I suppressed as a child.

    • I am a registered nurse from Vancouver Island. I have read some of Dr. Mate’s work (which is brilliant in my opinion), and am also somewhat familiar with Peter Levine’s somatic experiencing, both of which you refer to. Luckily for me (and so many others), I also have experienced and studied Integrative Body Psychotherapy, (based out of California and numerous institutes worldwide). In addition to the cognitive (understanding) links, and the cathartic experiences of releasing childhood trauma, IBP goes the extra mile. IBP assists and teaches you to find resources, “goodness” in your own body and provides you with body-based skills to increase your resiliance. IBP therapists must “walk the talk”, meaning they have to have done at least 100 hours of their own work, and they understand trauma “from the inside-out”. IBP is entirely wholistic, meaning it encompasses body, mind and spirit in profound ways. Dianne Clarence, RN(c), BScN

    • Chuck, thank you for this. So important to know that new experiences (e.g., good therapy) can coiunterbalance ACEs and that a decade of tears is healing. There really is neuronal plasticity to make these changes at the level of the biology that underpins the experience of emotion. :-)

  183. I Believe everyone can be helped by the teaching of Dr.Gabor Maté from Canada that has done a lot of research on this topic…anyways i hope you look him up he has a lot of youtube videos.

    • Dr.Gabor Mate is amazing…I accidentally discovered him on youtube…he makes so much sense…what a breath of fresh air

  184. I agree with this statement. Almost 10 months ago, I lost my 22 year old daughter to suicide. My grieving has been catastrophic. I have 3 younger kids. My son is away at college, my younger son is 16, my daughter is 11. I go to group and grief therapy, but my kids refuse. I know that, since their sister’s death, I have been pretty emotionally unavailable to them. I don’t mean to be, but this grief has pretty much zapped me to the core of my being. I worry about the damage I am doing to my younger kids, just because of dealing with my own grief processes.

    • Dear Kristen,

      Wow! You have experienced a major blow – just reading what you wrote knocked the air out of me. First and foremost, I say bravo! to you that, even while grieving such a tremendous loss, you are in touch with the fact that your behavior can affect your children. When I finished reading, my primary thought was: who else is in your life and your children’s life who can maybe step in more? I know I survived a difficult childhood because of an Aunt who made me feel special. For right now, is there someone outside your immediate family that makes each of your children feel special? Would it be possible to ask these individuals if they would spend time with your children and really tune in to them and explain why? If you note you are asking this particular person (or persons) because they have the ability to make your child feel special, they may well feel extremely honored, both because they make a difference for your child and they also are making a difference in helping you. I know so many of us don’t want to ask for help . . . And people go on with their lives and aren’t always tuned in (or have never experienced) the cycle of grief to know how hard the first year is, that grief subsides very slowly, or how to be there for someone who is grieving. So many people want to help in a situation like yours, but don’t know what to do. Well, this is your chance to let them step in and feel good that they can help.

      Again, your awareness that you may not be as emotionally able as you would like is a big plus. So is the fact that you are getting help in dealing with your own grief. Maybe you can take that awareness and just acknowledge to your children how you feel and your concern that you aren’t as emotionally available as usual. That conversation may be the starting point to becoming more emotionally available to them.

      My prayers are going out to you and your family, wherever you are!

    • @Kristijrn: I am so very sorry for your recent loss. I wish I could tell you some sort of way through it, for there is absolutely no going around what you must process, but I cannot because loss of a beloved child is such a personal and unique experience to each of us. My heart and soul goes out to you with loving kindness, healing and relief that you so deserve and need in this time. I can tell you this and hope that it helps. Time and space, as you move forward from the point of loss, do help in dulling the pain and grief that I know all too well you feel. The first few months after my daughter Alissha chose to leave this world, I found 2 things that helped me to sleep, which in turn helped me to survive and grow stronger.

      1.) I was watching PBS and a program by Dr. Wayne Dyer came on called “Wishes Fulfilled.” I recorded it on my DVR and played it through the night as I slept on the couch. There was a woman on that program (whom I have now met) named Anita Moorjani who told about her Near Death Experience (NDE) and what she experienced on the other side before she decided to return to her cancer ridden body. She had been wheeled into the hospital at 82 lbs with stage 4 cancer and was there to spend her last 24 hours on earth. There was no earthly cure for her to be had. Within 2 weeks of her decision to return to her body, all cancer had left her. Scientists cannot explain her cure as there is no earthly explanation for it and the eradication of cancer cells in that short a time should have killed her as they were part of almost all the cells in her body. Her book is called “Dying to Be Me.”

      2.) The second thing I did was to imagine a large hand in a cupped position gently coming down over me and covering me when I laid down. I imagined that this was the hand of God sheltering me and healing me. I honestly don’t know where this vision came from as I am not a particularly religious person. However, it was the only thing that caused me to be able to sleep for the first 2-10 months for more than a few minutes at a time. Because I could now sleep, my mind and body could strengthen even though my spirit was shattered. Eventually, the mind and body helped my spirit to grow stronger and mend as well. This gave me growing abilities to help and care for my other children to a better capacity. My advice is to find “something” that is of comfort to you and to picture that every time the grief and morose thoughts come calling. Start small and grasp onto that with everything you have and you will find that soon you will be able to sustain it longer and other pictures or phrases will come to you as well to replace the ones that are causing you harm now.

      I also printed and hung up phrases and quotes which inspired me and my children all over the house. On my mirror, the door, my desk, the walls, even the television.

      I lost my 21 year old daughter to suicide December 17th, 2011. She had been sexually abused by her biological father. The ensuing 2 years of court drama to get him put away and kept away from her and my other 2 children (all his biological children, my only children, and my only marriage of 12 years) was a nightmare for all of us. Once again, those in authority manipulated our situation to their benefit and my ex-husband received only 10 years of jail time rather than the multiple- life sentences the Judge in the case said he would have given had it been properly prosecuted. He admitted to 72 counts of molestation before the age of 3 years old. And that was only because she could not be a witness for anything done to her prior to the age of 3. His actual rape of her occurred on her 10th birthday when we were separated. The hundreds of other counts of molestation that there must have been along with the rape, were never prosecuted. He is free today and was allowed an early release even though I was told that would be an impossibility in his case.

      Because of my own childhood trauma, I was ill-equipped to handle the needs she truly had after what she had gone through. It was not for lack of trying for she was my every thought and determination in every moment of the day. I love her dearly as I have never loved another and feel her absence in my life to this day.

      I have an ACES of 6 and Resiliency of 4. However, like others here, I do not feel the questions are at all comprehensive enough to properly quantify other attributes of childhood trauma, neglect and shame.

      I was raised by a seriously mentally ill mother and my father was overseas in the Air Force quite a lot in our early years. My mother was in and out of the hospital more times than I can count for suicide attempts, yet the 4 of us were continually left in her sole care. She threatened to kill us on almost a daily basis, and told us such things as she had poisoned our food, but we didn’t know which meal or which type of food was poisoned. We were all malnourished as a result. Another of her ongoing tortures was to put us all in the car, securely in our seatbelts, then drive to the edge of a local pier and tell us that if she even heard us breathe… she would drive the car into the water and we would all drown together. There is a lot more I could say there, but I don’t feel it would be of any good purpose. I am certain many here will be able to fill in the blanks of a childhood utterly dependent upon a person such as this.

      My point is that for those of us who survive severe childhood trauma there springs an ongoing source of grief and loss as other events unfold throughout our lives. The problem is that we are always trying to play ‘catch up’ with what we view the rest of society already somehow knows and we lack. Even those who might be viewed as determined over-achievers and self-driven people such as myself, deeply feel the wounds and the loss of what we do not possess.

      Sometimes I feel amazed that I can learn any subject I put my mind to, can easily speak with and sell to people from the poorest of circumstances to the wealthiest, know that I can produce any material result that I want … except when it comes to my interpersonal relationships. Those are too deep and too close for me to be really very good at and are always, inevitably, my Achilles heel.

      You see, I lack the ability to truly connect in the manner in which I desire. The only people I have ever felt that connection with or for, were my own children. I never knew how much love I was capable of until I saw each of their little faces and held them for the first time in my arms. It is those biological and incalculable changes that somehow occur within our chemistry that raise us to be more than we even imagined we could be, despite what happened in the past.

      I cannot claim to know what will stop the cycle and patterns of abuse from generation to generation, though the question is one I ponder frequently. In my younger days, I had thought I would be the one in my family to break this generational curse of sorts. But the problem with coming from such abuse, without help or true guidance, is that YOU are not even aware of the little things you yourself are doing to promote its ongoing patterns. That is why research and forums like this are so very important. After reading an article by Dr. Tina Marie Hahn, I joined this site as it is the first of its kind that I have come across. A proactive approach by those who have suffered abuse and want to be a part in identifying the indicators and stopping it through help and understanding – not legalism.

      I do not think that it is the will of any of us to continue this legacy, I believe it is the ignorance of where we came from that somehow subconsciously propels us along a similar path that may not be easily recognized nor remedied. I believe it is the lack of compassion for ourselves that causes us to somehow ‘miss’ how we are not being compassionate enough towards others. Likewise we fall into similar relationships as those we were raised in, even though it may be outwardly subtle or non-detectable, until we are too far in to easily get out without more trauma.

      I sometimes can look back on my own life’s circumstances with a merely observant eye and without much emotional attachment (though that is not always the case.) I have found that by doing so, I can more easily identify where I went wrong in my own decisions and how those decisions affected others who were dependent upon me. I did not intend to cause harm … yet, by my lack of good judgment and a place to seek trusted council in the matters of life, I did cause harm. I also know that I did the best I could with what I had and who I was at that time and place. I have also made it my cause to go to those whom I have caused harm, whether purposely or accidentally, apologize and make amends as I can.

      That does not wholly remove the pain I feel for damage, whether intended or not, that I have caused others; but it does give me a window to peer in at myself, my own struggles and my wish to be a better person every day than I was the day before with more compassion and understanding. It allows me to forgive myself which in turn, I think, provides me with the tools and skills I never received in my formative years.

      Like so many here and in so many other places around the world, I have struggled to understand and comprehend how humanity is capable of meting out such atrocities upon one another. However, despite anything I have experienced, my soul… that untouchable yet all-knowing part of myself that is truly ‘myself,’ also knows that humanity is capable of pouring out love, acceptance, understanding, generosity, advocacy, faith and forgiveness.

      It is my belief that it is up to each of us, no matter what we have personally suffered or endured, to go beyond the material conditions we have experienced and live in the imagination of the way it should be. The way it should have been for us, our siblings, our children and even our parents and grandparents.

      Make it your life’s work to heal thyself, to help others, to seek out books, art, science, people who inspire and promote the goodness of our existence here. Support them just as they support and uplift you. Do not fall into watching newscasts filled with despair or reading articles of all the atrocities. Give some small part of yourself, your time, your money, your resources to helping ‘somewhere’ but let it begin with helping yourself and renewing your mind and spirit.

      I heard a Joyce Meyer sermon one time (she is Christian speaker who was sexually abused by her father her entire life and eventually mended that relationship before he died) in which she said,

      “I had two choices. I could be pitiful or I could be powerful, but I cannot be both. I CHOSE to be powerful.”

      I offered that same choice to myself and made my decision, though there are days it is not always an easy one for me. I offer that choice to all of you here as well. Only you control how you perceive what this day and all the rest to come will bring your way. Choose wisely my friends and comrades of abuse, grief and loss – for it is in each of us as individuals that the next generation will find their strength to make the choices that face them.

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  191. //apologies. capitalization isn’t working…//

    another point that may be obvious, but sometimes isn’t. save this narrative and revisit it from time to time. what you’ve written is both a ‘cry from the heart,’ and a checklist of the sins and insults that you’ve survived through. as you grow and add to your parenting and survival skills, this statement will become increasingly a yardstick of how you came to cope and heal. it may also be a good place to go when being a parent and new mom starts to overwhem you.

    and, as these things appear, make notes to yourself about younsuccesses, with an eye towards showing this to your child/children, when the time is right.

    stay strong, good lady. you are a winner…


  192. I feel that losing a sibling at a young age should be added in because this can cause surviving children to feel unloved or neglected while the parents go through the grieving process. This is especially the case when the surviving sibling is not supplied with grief counseling.

  193. I scored 9. I feel that scoring 9 should mean something to me and that I should do something or research something…but, just like when I was a child, there doesn’t seem to be time or energy for any of that. My schedule won’t allow it. Not even time to consider it or read all the information. For years, I’ve made people laugh with my all-to-true statement that “I simply don’t have time to have that nervous breakdown I’ve earned.”

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  195. My score was 3. The reason why I took this was because I really wanted to know if I was abused or not. I am 13 now but I know that I am not abused anymore. It still is very hard for me at home though. Is it normal for me to want to live with another family? Cause a lot I feel like I hate my home and I just want to live with another family or even in a foster home. My mom and I are very close but my dad an I aren’t. My mom works and my dad stays at home. I am homeschooled so I have to stay home with my dad all day. I really hate it and just want my mom a lot. I wish my dad would go to work and my mom would be home with me. My dad is super protective and won’t let me have freedom and have friends. It is super frustrating. Does anyone out there know what to do?

    • Hi, Emily: One of the ways to build resilience is to develop social contacts (i.e., friends) and to do volunteer work. Volunteer work is an important part of schooling, and the education coordinator your family works with would encourage that, and might even have suggestions. Also, it is abusive if your parents do not allow you to have friends, because friends are an important and necessary part of growing up. So are mentors, whom you can find at volunteer organizations.
      Here’s a site a friend of mine runs for teens and parents:
      And if you ever feel unsafe, you can check out the Crisis Text Line.
      Take care of yourself — Jane

      • Hi, I have been very interested in learning more about studies conducted on individuals with High Ace Scores who seem to be resilient to the effects, naturally. I think much could be learned from this category of people. For example, my Ace score is 9 and though my past is traumatic, and I do suffer from depression often and have moments of “triggers”, I am able to recognize the reasons behind the thought process. I am a successful, professional functioning person and I am not certain why I have developed resiliency considering the risk factors. I know there are many others who are similar, and feel it is worth trying to determine the “why” … thoughts?

      • @Angel – Alice Miller makes the point that the presence of a single enlightened witness on the side of the child – someone who knows and cares – can make all the difference. Then, at least, the child knows they are being MIStreated and has some source of love to strive toward. Otherwise, abused children tend to internalize negative self-images that are consistent with the abuse they have no way of knowing they don’t deserve.

    • Emily,
      Have you tried to talk to your mom about your feelings surrounding your dad?
      Maybe your mom would understand better. Having friends is an important part of childhood/adulthood. Certainly your mom would understand that. What are they afraid of? Abuse comes in many forms. Just because nobody is beating you, does not mean that there is no abuse. Keeping you away from friends and isolated is abusive. Sometimes, having an open conversation with one or both parents will make a difference. Tell them how you are feeling.

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  197. Dear Jane Ellen — Thank you. I’ve been searching for a link between obesity and childhood trauma for quite some time. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD in my early thirties and have struggled with excess weight on and off my entire life. Not surprisingly, I scored a 6 on the ACE test. I was a low birth weight baby and wasn’t fed properly as a young child; I also was sexually abused by a neighbor. My mother was mentally ill and extremely verbally abusive and my father was an alcoholic. I wish I could extricate myself from this. Therapy hasn’t helped much. I’ve bookmarked this site. I’m not giving up, but the economic downturn has made things worse and my symptoms haven’t improved with age. I was also assaulted by a boyfriend in my late teens — this was a life-threatening event in which a stranger intervened (or else I would be dead). I was a precocious child and managed to do well in school despite all — I’m grateful for that.

    • Brigit, when and if you have a chance, seek out someone trained in one of the more current (and well researched) therapies like somatic experiencing, EMDR, OEI (Observed & Experiential Integration), or the ones that Chuck and others mentioned above. On a self-help note if you try several you might find an ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meeting that fits for you, or, ISA (Incest Survivors Anonymous). They even have some phone and on-line meetings.

  198. As a new mama I have been reflecting more and more on my traumatic childhood and how angry I am at the horrors those experiences brought to my adult life emotionally, psychologically, and socially – this is the one I’m the most angry about because it affects my relationships, my ability to cope with stress, my professional life, my anxiety levels, and really I just feel like I have fog brain all the time and I have a really difficult time articulating myself and speaking clearly without frustrating whomever I am speaking to. It makes me angry that my parents would be so selfish as to expose a child to such an unhealthy environment. As a victim, obviously I am now susceptible to repeating the same pattern and exposing my children to a negative and abusive environment because I was a victim to emotional and mental abuse for 18 long hard years, and I think that’s why now going into my mid-30s and finally become a parent myself I am finally starting to scratch the surface and begin to deal with the abuse by trying to heal…… Because I do not want to be that person in my own family that exposes my children to an unhealthy environment and I’ve already seen signs of it in myself and my baby isn’t even 6 months old yet. So even though my parents are being very helpful and supportive by helping us out as our lives adjust to having a baby around, I’m really angry at my parents because I cannot imagine exposing my child to any of the crap they put me through. And now that I have to deal with being a mom AND working full time, I just feel like my mind and body are not equipped to deal with this level of stress. I spent my whole entire childhood and adolescent in flight or fight mode and I feel like my cortisol levels must have reached record breaking levels back then. I feel like I wasn’t taught to cope with conflict so now, any time something even remotely stressful happens at work, I go into ‘freak out’ mode and want to quit my job and it’s just awful to feel like this. I feel like if I have to work and be a mom I’m inevitably going to suck at one of them because I wasn’t taught how to deal with stress in a healthy way and I’m susceptible to alcoholism, blah, blah, blah. I just want to quit my job and focus on being a stay at home mom but I can’t do that because we need the money and I would feel a tremendous amount of guilt if I just up and quit. Now, here’s the weird part…..I feel guilty for being mad at my parents (is this normal?). I feel guilty because they were actually good people and good parents. They loved me and they took care of me as far as feeding me, clothing me, getting me to school, encouraging me in extra-curriculurs, that kind of thing. But they H-A-T-E-D each other with a passion and it was constant yelling, berating, cursing, throwing, name-calling, screaming, hatred, hatred, hatred, chaos all the time. And they would put me right in the middle of it from the time I could walk and talk. It also probably didn’t help that my dad was an alcoholic. But the alcoholism is not what I remember being the problem. I remember my dad drank and whatnot, but I think he drank because my mom is and was such a nag. Her mother was the same way. Constant nagging. Constant negativity. Constant stress. It was just awful. I can hardly stand to be around her now because she has such bad energy and is so extremely negative. My dad still drinks but he has his drinking under much better control. I also feel guilty because I have no ill feelings toward my dad cuz he is such a happy guy and fun to be around. My mom blames him for her negativity but I don’t see it that way. I think she is just generally a miserable person and therefore makes everyone around her miserable, yes so much so that she led him to drink. I’m not blaming everything on her. I took her side and was mad at my dad for the first 18 years of my life until I realized this was their problem not mine and I got really mad at my mom for manipulating me (a child) to take her side all those years. So when I turned 18, I kind of turned on her and tried to make up for lost time for all the years I shunned my dad for things that had zero to do with me. Now I am really close with him, and I haven’t been able to forgive my mom because she is still so negative all the time and I can’t stand being around negative people. If she weren’t my mom I would have nothing to do with her. But she’s my mom and I feel like it’s easier to put up with her than it would be to shut her out of my life and have to deal with that guilt. After, like I said she was a good parent. I just don’t like her as a person and that brings me a tremendous amount of guilt. I have seen several therapists to try and deal with all of this emotional baggage but I just can’t seem to find one that has helped me to get in a good place with it all. I am aware that I don’t want to repeat the same pattern so that recognition is good, but I want to get to a place where I don’t feel so angry that they put me through all of this. I could never concentrate in school because my home life was so chaotic. I really feel like this experience halted my growth and development and in essence, gave me a serious and unnecessary learning disability. There are situations now that I deal with as an adult that give me so much unnecessary anxiety because of what they put me through. Now that I’m a parent all of these emotions are rising to the surface and I’m at a loss for how to deal with them at this point. Meditation maybe?….practicing mindfulness? I am big on positive thinking and having a good attitude and that seems to help but I also feel like I want to maybe find a support group for adults who were exposed to the same kind of mental and emotional trauma. Am I just being dramatic? Do I need to just ‘get over it’? Sometimes when I bring up all the shit I went through (that makes me who I am now), my husband is just like, well you aren’t in that situation any more so I don’t want to hear excuses. And to a point I know he’s right, but I’m confused and frustrated because I just want someone to hug me and say ‘I’m so sorry you had to go through what you did.’

    • Thank you for telling your story, Martha. Your instincts are right, to stay with the positive, and to get help so that you don’t pass on your experiences, as your mother did with what she learned from her parents (and your father probably did, too). This isn’t something you “just get over”. It takes consciousness — which you already have on so many levels, which is terrific — and assistance and work and practice. For yourself, look for a counselor who understands the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences. Some people have been helped by EMDR; others by neurofeedback. Here’s a list of recommended therapies for PTSD (which is what many people who’ve experienced ACEs have). And for your relationship with your child, check out Triple P Parenting, which is used by tens of thousands of people in 25 countries.

    • I am sorry that you had to go through all that horseshit as a young child. Children only want to be loved and feel safe and secure in their surroundings and time and time again people have children when they shouldn’t even be allowed to have a goldfish.
      I hope you take everything I say and process it, it will sound harsh, but as someone with a score of 8 ACE who has suffered from severe child abuse, emotionally, physically, and extreme neglect, where I didn’t hear the words I love you from my parents for years, I know what works, please understand this. I was beat to hell and back, my parents tried to give me away to complete strangers, I had bi-polar parents who were divorced and my mother remarried and had nothing to do with me, but had two children that she adored. My mother used to baby my sister and brother in front of me while looking at me like she could kill me. Almost like a game to hurt me. I could go on and on with horror stories, but I am telling you all this because I want you to understand how badly my first 18 years were, and how happy I am now and why.
      Before I was doing what my therapist was telling me to do, forgive them, they are only human, or burying my pain deep inside of me, or doing like your husband said and “getting over it” these things only got me drug addiction, bad relationships, and homelessness.
      You must get angry as hell at BOTH your parents. Do not shift blame off of one because they were not as “bad as the other” or didn’t know any better, or couldn’t “control” the other parent. You must realize that your father had a choice to protect you, had a choice NOT to have children, had a choice NOT to get married and had a choice to drag your ass out of that environment and get you somewhere safe and he choose NOT TO. Why did your father marry this woman? Do you truly believe that she just woke up like that one day after you were born and he was in awe and shock? Why excuse him for the pain he has caused you? Did they both fight? Yes, then they are BOTH responsible for your messed up childhood.
      Too often people, mostly Americans, forgive one parent, while hating the other. Hate both, get mad as hell, and process those feelings TODAY! Write in your journal; tell yourself what you are feeling, why you are feeling it and why they BOTH are sorry sick bastards that don’t deserve you. Talk to them; tell them both how you feel, how they made you feel, and what they can do to help heal the pain today. If they ignore your feelings, discount your hurt, tell you to get over it, tell you ANYTHING other than, I never realized the pain we caused you, what can I do? I love you and what could I Possibly do NOW to stop the hurt? Get them out of your life’s THAT INSTANT.
      FAMILIES ARE NOT AS IMPORTANT as society claims, they have no rights over YOUR PROPERTY –YOU! Somehow “society” claims families have this power to make us feel like hell because“blood makes it possible to drag your soul in the dirt all while wearing a happy, happy family face”. Parents have no special powers to treat their children like dirt just because they made you, it’s such an immoral thing to believe this. This is such propaganda, which is another tangent, society tells us this, because the more we accept from birth to death that parents have POWER/RIGHTS over us no matter what, the more we accept authority and obedience, so we can be good little slaves to our masters: police, taxation, religion, government etc.. etc. etc. etcl. bosses, corporations, doctors you name it, it’s indoctrination at the most evil level.

      Start there, I beg of you, learn about yourself, self-knowledge, philosophy and finding a therapist ASAP that advocates complete elimination of your family if they aren’t supportive is the first step to recovery. I would seriously question your decision to marry a man that tells you to “get over it”. It is not your’s to get over, this is NOT A CHOICE, you didn’t want this sort of life, it’s your parents gd responsibility to help you process your feelings, if your parents or husband doesn’t want to help you with that, LEAVE THEM NOW! Parents and children relationships are involuntary, we don’t choose our parents, therefore these SHOULD be the most moral relationships in the world and WAYYY too often they are the most immoral.
      Secondly, research Alice Miller ASAP, read her books, ASAP, start realizing what you missed out in childhood learning trust, peer to peer relationships etc. AND WORK ON THEM. I beg anyone who has had a hellish childhood to do these things, You will thank your lucky dam stars you did.
      I strongly believe people can’t process feelings or heal from past abuse because too often everyone is quick to tell us to accept the abuser back into our lifes, all while THEY are doing NADA to help us from past mistakes THEY CAUSED US! Would there be any other circumstance other than family we would say that about? Doesn’t anyone else see how insane that philosophy is?
      BTW< guilt is from society, you should feel as guilty as not knowing how to speak Japanese. You didn't decide or even probably WANT these 2 as your parents. We are a product of geographical biology, you just didn't win the parent lottery. Why feel guilty about having been abused? Why feel guilty about hating the person who caused you pain? If you were raped then emotionally tormented tonight would you feel guilty that you hated the man who raped you? Why feel differently about your mother? YOU OWE YOUR PARENTS NOTHING MORE THAN WHAT THEY GAVE YOU IN LIFE.

      • I had a mother who had cancer when I was 6 years old. I wish that was an excuse. Both my parents looked like nice church friends. My father had PTSD after the Korean war. Unfortunately, after the divorce, my mom did like yours, selected SOME of the children that she liked and others that she beat on. To the point of breaking bones. She took prescription drugs, and was disfunctionate most of the time.
        I think the saving grace for the younger ones abused? I took the beatings, I shielded them. And still to this day, three men brought their wives to meet me. For the younger men, they went through two marriages before they got a functional wife with no alcohol and one that liked to work.
        I once visited a friend’s psychologist. Actually, from treating her, he felt I was an enabler, and that my past with my mother was making me the “mommy” in friendships that was not healthy for me.
        He told me, my mother would NEVER apologize for what she did to me. That would release control , and she was so manipulative, who would pay her bills? Who would provide for her like no husband she already had?
        There is a very good book you should all read, it is called “Released from Shame” from Dr. Wilson. She was abused by her step father. She names him in seminars, because he cannot hide from her. There are different people that manipulate us: family, work, and church. If we recognize the pattern, we can break it.
        I hold both parents responsible, I talk to my father and not my mother. After getting her cash flow and lump sum money when her second husband died, she refused to pay me back for supporting her as a young 26-31 year old. She then picked her favorite daughter to spend the money with and continued to humiliate me. I have not seen her, but hear through other family members.
        You would not believe the peace if you stop letting society tell you your parents should be off the hook. “Divorcing Your Parents” is a good book. It is about renegotiating your relationship with your parents. And sometimes, you are better off leaving their unhappy manipulative selves to their favorite family members. Why go insane trying to instill God in them?

      • WOW!!! Sixty-six years old and never have I heard THE TRUTH spelled out so perfectly. Just started reading these posts, and am struck by how intelligent and well-written are the contributions. Guess I’m sorting out my own haunted soul at this late date. Just began researching on the net, and stumbled onto the Felitti data…and eventually to this website. Cannot wait to explore more, and IN THE WAKE OF CHAOS will be my lantern into the cave of pain and darkness. I will take the advice to visit with the lovely and compassionate Alice Miller, as well. Thank you.

    • I am so sorry…I understand your inability to cope,,the guilt of not really feeling good about mom. These things are NORMAL for kids who went thru this stuff.
      I am had to deal with this honey. Nurture yourself (the little girl in you that was hurt)..and your baby too. Just get over it is only said by people who have never gone thru it. There are many classes that help. Life skills, Restoring Relationships…. There is help. We have to walk through the pain, not around it.

    • Hi Martha, i’m in a situation similar to yours. going to open AA meetings and Al-Anon meetings has been a taste of heaven for me. slowly learning to be an adult who can cope with life! :) also http://www.ohmin,org. you can start now and give your child a much better chance. best to you! so glad you’re aware

    • I’m 18 now and I feel that. I’m not yet a parent but I’m scared I’ll be a bad one. I love kids and I won’t to have them but every day I worry I’ll end up like my mother, who also did everything in her power to turn me against my dad who I still have a rocky relationship with. At this point im too confused about who to be angry with to choose but staying neutral is impossible as I live with my mom when I’m not at school, I choice I made so I can still protect my brothers otherwise I would have told my boyfriends parents about the abuse and moved in with his family. Being confused like this just makes me angrier and I find myself just hating everything I try to be kind and gentle but inside I feel like shredding everything and offing myself. I won’t because then she wins but I think of it at least once a day I have the urge too. I’m so afraid my issues will turn me into a parent like her I know she struggled with depression and anxiety all her life and I just feel like I’m going to give in and ruinot my futuse childrend and be as unaware of the damage as she is.

  199. Hi I have had much childhood trauma. Sexual abuse, neglect, drugs, mental abuse. I have never really dealt with it and it has destroyed my life. I am only now scratching the surface. I still have so much and feel very alone most times. My Dad is my support but only knows part of what hurts me. He has his own issues and cant be here for me as much as he would like or as much as I need. I have a daughter that I have passed on my behavior to despite my best efforts. She now has a daughter that I am caring for full time. Please help me. I don’t want to pass this on to her. I need help and don’t know where to get it. I have read the information on your site and cried in abundance because you were talking about me. Please I don’t want to be in this dark tunnel anymore. Please help me to experience life without this following me because despite my best efforts I don’t know how.

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  201. I take pregnenolone 30 mg. It is over the counter. I bought it at a health food store. If you had a work up of tests, they might show other lower hormones. I had a car accident and couldn’t sleep and started gaining weight. I lost 6 lbs and 3 inches around my waist in 2 weeks. It is aksi a natural anti-inflammatory drug. I don’t take pain pills anymore for back problems.

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  203. OK… So I have an score of 15 (since many were by different people) and a resilience of 7 (attempted suicide at 11). NOW WHAT?? I’ve been to several different therapists, but I never got the feeling they were interested in heping me actually ‘heal’, but just patching up the behavior and throw some drugs at me to make the outside look good. I know better than to buy into the belief that this approach is successful. Which type of counseling/therapy is most effective in finally healing the wounds of the past so they do not continue to haunt my today??

    I also noticed the ACE does not mention adverse childhood experiences that were not abuse or neglect.. but rather plain ol’ traumatic — such as serious accidents, illnesses (such as anaphylactic shock), etc.? These can also shape the framework of someone’s thought process.

    • Thanks your comment, Elizabeth.
      The ACE Study measured only 10 types of adverse childhood experiences, but there are, of course, others. At the time the study was designed — in the mid-1990s, the researchers chose those 10 because they were the most common identified by people in a pilot study, and there was significant research on the effects of the individual types of trauma. You’ve got the idea — that any trauma can have a deleterious effect on children.
      Choosing a therapist who knows about the ACE Study and about the long-term mental health consequences of childhood trauma would probably be helpful. Different types of therapy work for different people. Here’s a link to the National Center for PTSD’s recommended treatments.
      There’s also SAMHSA’s list of evidence-based practices.

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  205. You know, unless you understand dietary and sleep, you would miss the diabetes link to possible ACE score and abuse/trauma.
    One of the things about our body that is not totally understood? The endocrine system. If cortisol, which is an adrenal hormone is high , it affects sleep. And it affects sugar and eating in your metabolism. I had a car accident, on top of my over 8 ACE score, and I could not sleep at all. I had no energy. I remembered how I felt as a child, with a violent mother who would beat us. I took the beatings for the other children, because she was breaking arms and kids were going to the emergency room.
    The stress and past memories are SOMATIC. They will come back during a stressful incident where you do not have enough sleep. I take pregnenolone, which makes the adrenals lower cortisol, and if you are a woman, the body will produce progesterone. It helps with cognitive function, and pregnenolone is a natural anti inflammatory supplement.

    • My father showed no interest in me because I wasn’t a supreme jock ,my mother was mentally ill from a traumatic childhood. As a child I denied her mental state and tried to be an athlete but I could never measured up. My powerful elder sister took control of all assets of the family and my brother exposed himself to me and made sexual advances to me and never said a nice word to me growing up and he was glorified by my father because he played basketball. They never mentored me and I became self destructive smoking my mother cigarettes and looking for love in all the wrong places. I never realized why I was having such problems but after I had my kids I got an opportunity to try and gain some self worth through their loving eyes which gave me the desire to live . Unfortunately that resulted in being ostracized,my biggest fear after I got the nerve to stick up to my parents which ended our relationship. It hurt bad but slowly I am becoming ok w/out my birth family which feels quite liberating after becoming a successful business woman ,maybe a workaholic ,the problem is my husband continues to bring up my separation from them every time we have an argument he uses it as a weapon dragging me back into the pain of it all.

    • Is pregnenolone something that you must have a prescription for? I have all the symptoms of cyclical Cushing’s Disease (episodes of high cortisol and high ACTH), yet the reason for it hasn’t been found — so nothing can be done about it. I’m starting to realize they will probably never find a physical cause. I am up 150 pounds from my normal, and the one thing the incidents of weight gain all have in common is that they occurred when my security was threatened or I felt emotionally wounded. My eating didn’t increase enough to gain 40 pounds in 25 days, so I know there’s a cortisol connection. Thanks for helping me find another puzzle piece!

  206. I’m 55 and just now starting to feel like I have a chance to feel peace and contentment. My score is 8 with resiliency of 0. The ACE study has helped me understand why it has taken me so long to get where I am today. I started this journey when I was 19 with serious determination. I have had very few advances compared to setbacks but even when all hope was lost I managed to survive long enough to finally see some light at the end of the tunel. I know that I am in infancy at this stage of my quest and that it took more years to get here than I have left in life but I am so very grateful to be where I am today.

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  210. Hi, There. Thanks so much for all this great info. You’ve done a marvelous job of putting the questionnaires together. I’m sure it’s difficult with so many traumatic issues that could impact a person’s life. I did notice that adoption and foster care were not addressed in any of the questions. Almost 3% of the population is adopted. That is a trauma in itself. People seem to think that if you’re adopted, then your life must be perfect. A person can’t wipe out the cellular memories because someone says to or it’s written on a piece of paper. Perhaps there could be a score for the number of primary caregiver transfers. And then there is foster care. Some foster kids have as many as 30 placements. That would play havoc with one’s stress response. There’s also children who were conceived during a rape…Another commenter mentioned the effect of birth trauma. Anyway, please keep up the good work. Society must address the issue of childhood trauma for us to keep moving forward in a positive way.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Mary. Yes, indeed, there are many other types of traumas. The ACE Study researchers recognize that. They decided to address those that people in a small research study had identified, as well as those individual traumas for which there was a significant body of research. The main points of the research are that complex trauma is very common, that there’s a direct link between trauma in childhood and the adult onset of chronic disease, and that the more types a person has, the higher the risk for chronic disease, mental illness, being violent or a victim of violence. It’s very possible that people who have experienced five types of childhood adversity, may have three of those not appearing on the ACE Study (e.g., living in a war zone, witnessing a sibling being abused, experiencing bullying), but it would be a safe bet to count all those types as an ACE score of 5.

    • Mary, your points are well taken. I’ve known some adoptees who had difficulties about /from that, and so was On The Lookout. I “chose” to assume that loss of a parent qualifies as the same, since the adoptee did lose a parent, was abandoned by that parent. If there’s ever a study that lists all possible traumas and ranks them, it will be a miracle, b/c it seems like humans are incredibly creative at crummy stuff same as creative at good stuff. And even if your trauma isn’t listed on that list, it still counts. Because *you* count.

  211. 9 with a resilience of 8. I have no idea how on earth I survived. I have conquered alcoholism, and smoking. Never got into drug addiction, but was on anti-depressants for 17 years. Did get therapy in the mid 1990’s, which helped considerably. I wish I could have had therapy sooner. I still battle the flight, freeze or fight issue. My two younger brothers and sister are dead, though. All died at age 41-42, from COPD/alcoholism/morbid obesity/liver failure/heart failure…It may be that my grandmother having care and custody of me for my first two years gave me the resilience to survive where my younger siblings did not. It may be that having a different genetic father than they did made the difference, it may be a combination of those factors. Shoud Dr Felitti, Dr Williamson or Dr Anda wish to add my story to their research, I am willing.

    9 out of 10…holy wow.

    • I have found VERY useful guidance about navigating the fight, freeze, flight, flow continuum by reading Mark Brady’s wordpress blog: He offers both “real people” examples AND the neurobiology behind what’s happening that assist me and people I work with (as friend, family and wellbeing-recovery-life coach client). You can search on topics to find something that resonates for you.
      ALSO, I hear many stories of grandparents being a source of resilience. How fortunate we are when wounded parents are able to – for whatever reason – offer that resource to their children and, my sense is, the child/ren they raise are a source of healing for the grandparent being able to parent again when they are older, hopefully wiser and less-ego involved. I wonder who has looked into that dynamic?
      All the best to you Sara and much appreciation for your un-frozen comment.

    • Sara, I’ve found wonderful guidance and “real life” examples of how to navigate the fight, freeze, flight, flow continuum from Mark Brady’s WordPress blog: The Committed Parent at You can search on topics to find something that speaks to you. Congratulations on your journey so far…

  212. I had a 2 and a resiliency number of 7. I did not have sexual abuse and believed I was loved thru most of my life but I still ended up as a drug addict at 17 and struggled with that and other addictions most of my life. I have now been sober for 16 years but I still wonder why I “went bad”. I can see that my resiliency helped me survive though. I left my country at 21 and was just back there to see my father through his death. I am very grateful that I was able to do that and that my family allowed me to be there for him but I also experienced why I left them all these years ago. All in all I have learned that I am now the expert to deal with my particular form of mental disease or insanity

    • There is a gene that gets passed to children from addictive parents. My mother’s Dad was an alcoholic. She was also a pill addict. Somewhere in your family is an addiction cycle.

      • There’s some very interesting research occurring in epigenetics, which indicates that genes, and groups of genes, are turned on and off. So, having a gene (or several) that may predispose a person to using alcohol or food or heroin or work to self-medicate may never be turned on if a child is raised in a healthy environment, and will be turned on in an unhealthy environment.

  213. ACE Score = 4, or possibly a 5 (there are stretches of time I don’t remember well). I’m a high-achiever who has crashed and burned (usually medically) every few years, most recently for 5.5 years. Depression/anxiety/BPD my whole life, 1 rape, domestic violence as child and adult, disabled by chronic pain, financial trouble, smoker, lots of drugs in my past, definite absenteeism, on-again off-again problems with drinking, interesting sexual life, etc. Jeez. Getting better now, though.

    • Funny, my brother was telling me I have a 6 year cycle before I have an accident or major problem. My ACE score is over 8, so the fight or flight response is very high. I took a pharmacy drug course on Coursera. Free classes for those who want to study the brain. When the adrenals are pumped and cortisol is high, you will be hyper-vigilant. There should be more understanding about the adrenal hormones.
      I did real estate full time and had a lot of stress. I would have over $10,000 a month net commissions for two months in a row, and then literally I could not get out of bed for the third month. We have to be kind to ourselves. we are not at the same happy level as everyone else. There is a chemical overload when you have physical and mental abuse. The mind becomes striated with the body, and the body acts remotely, like a robot to protect you.
      Sometimes, people want to drown in pills for PTSD. Why? Your psyche is very aware you are “wounded,” and is trying to preserve your self.

  214. ACE score-3
    Teen pregnancy, 2 rapes, domestic violence as child and adult, overweight, high cholesteral, heart problems, diabetes, chronic pain, financial trouble, depression, …very important study.

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  216. Huh. I probably rate ~3, but not one single question on there is scoped outside the home environment. Such as being bullied every day at school for 8-10 years.

    • That’s true. It doesn’t mean it’s not an ACE, because it certainly is. The researchers began their work in the mid-1990s. They relied on a combination of what Kaiser members who had participated in a smaller research project had identified were significant traumas in their lives, as well as individual types of childhood trauma that had a solid body of research. The researchers acknowledge that there are many other types of trauma, including bullying, living in a violent neighborhood, witnessing siblings being abused, etc. One of the important points of the study is not so much the individual types of trauma, but that childhood trauma is common, that children suffer complex trauma, not just one type, and that the risk factor for chronic disease, mental illness and social problems increases as the types of trauma increase.

      • I’ve added a 1 to my score as I was severely bullied/abused by my only sibling. That gave me a 4. The kicker though is a resilience of 3. That explains my life long battle with mental illness and substance abuse. I must have built up resilience though because I still manage to have a outwardly normal looking existance.

  217. I came from a vey religious family, and both my Father and Mother’s family provided so much money to them, early in their lives, the family financial problems led to a lot of rage and violence. On top of which my father was a returning military Army vet from Korea.
    As my Mother got cancer and divorced my Father, she used abuse and religious guilt to keep the family intact. ANd to manipulate money out of everyone.
    There is a great book by Beverly Engle, “Divorcing Your Parent.” It is about renegotiating your relationship with them. Because dysfunctionate families do not have boundaries.
    I fund my Cortisol was high, and took a supplement that made the adrenal glands lower cortisol.
    I also realized in my sales profession that I was busy “saving” clients ” well beyond the professional vernacular of my duties because I had been manipulated and lacked a clear sense of self worth.
    At one point, I found a good book from Dr. Wilson called “Released From Shame.” She names her abuser in speeches, because he deserves it, and secrets can kill you. And expresses how
    to create healthy boundaries. From PTSD I like Dr Aphrodite Matsakos “I Cant Get Over It.”
    I bought this bok for a Tampa Bay psychologist who found 50% of his DUI clients were sexually or physically abused. This $25 book was standard reading.

  218. Thanks so much for this article and comments. I am only now (at 59) addressing my childhood trauma and as I sit here and read I feel myself getting so damn angry at it all! It has robbed me of so much potential, ambition & dreams cos I never felt I was enough or I didn’t deserve it cos I listened to the chit chat in my head that told me so cos that’s what it is isn’t it? You abandoned me at age 4 and I never understood why so it must have been something to do with me so it must be my fault and I am to blame! Isn’t that the truth?

    No it isn’t the truth and it never was. But no one ever bothered to sit me down, give me a hug, and tell me that fact. So I carried that sense of shame and guilt for the rest of my life..and I feel so angry about it all and at my carer/parent who could have protected me more but didn’t.

    Anyway…that’s how I feel…

    • I 100% understand Mick. I am 58 and my memories( just a few so far) came to me 51 years after the abuse. Mindblowing ….VERY angry …never understood why do I feel less than….The whole thing sucks, but when you begin to deal with it you can’t go back. You will heal.

    • I am so sorry for what you have gone through. I feel your pain and angr through your words. Makes me sad to know that many ppl go through such traumas and that it continues to hunt them through adulthood. I wish and hope that you find the peace that u so much need. I found this prayer specially helpful: Serenity. Give me serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Give me courage to change those that I can. Give me the wisdom to know the difference between them.

  219. I find this site helpful as it gives me insight into my habits (my ACE score was 8). At the age of 32 I still suffer from symptoms of past abuse, but it has made me stronger, more self aware, empathetic and creative. Humans have been through a lot throughout history, so I believe we are much more resilient than we think we are. I went from being a morbidly obese, poor, white trash drop out to going to graduate school at DePaul in Chicago and starting my own freelance makeup/hair business where upper middle class women come to me for beauty advice. I’m health conscious, have a loving husband of 12 years and a fat, rosey cheeked one year old. I have smashed the cycle of abuse in our family. My parents have already died, they too had high ACE scores. I forgive those who have hurt me and I go on with my life because life is short, besides anger only hurts me. I don’t have time for fear so I regularly face it. I don’t have time for toxic people, so set boundaries or eliminate them altogether. I try not to save others as two baby birds can’t feed each other. I do what I love so I can build self-efficacy. I workout instead of taking an SSRI. Currently working on being present, living simply, thinking simply and building a strong support network. Lastly I keep an open mind and despite not being religious the Tao Te Ching book really helped me. I wish all of you peace and love.

    • You’ve come such a long way, Sidra Luna. Congratulations on all your hard work and successes! That fat, rosy-cheeked one-year-old has a terrific mom and will grow to be a health, happy adult.

  220. My ACE score was 9 and my resilience score was 3. From what I’m reading here, I should no longer by alive.
    I’m 47 now and have pretty much been estranged from my bio “family”, as anyone who wasnt abusive has abandoned or passed on.
    At best count, I had been in 52 homes by the age of 7. At that point I was taken from my gypsy mother and her string of men and returned to my bio father. He was an angry man and very I’ll equipped to raise a child on any level. At times he was loving but that wasn’t long lived and his ridiculously hot temper would explode back onto the scene.
    My mother never called, wrote or checked on me. At times I would be sent in the summers to have a custodial visit. She was mostly absent during these and I was left to watch my younger siblings while she partied.
    One time I was left in the airport half a day, until 1 am because her boyfriend hated me and refused to let her pick me up. When they finally showed up, I heard about how much he hated me all the way back to their house.
    She was beaten regularly in front of us when they were there, so we preferred when they would leave for days on end.
    Long story short, I distanced myself from both parents by age 16.
    I speak to one on occasion, but the hope of ever having loving parents has long since died. The entire extended family are angry, resentful individuals who have no sense of what a family should be.
    I have 6 beautiful kids and 5 grandkids, who are my world. I have struggled a bit on adult relationships, as my trust level was non existent. If anything, I built my life around my children and I don’t regret it. They are my family I never had. I shielded them from my bio mess, to protect them and to protect me.
    Resilience. It’s a beautiful thing.

    • Resilience is indeed a beautiful thing, Valorieness, and kudos to you for removing yourself from abuse when you were able, and for not passing it on to your children. It takes a LOT of strength to do that.

  221. My father’s mother believed that a baby and young child should never picked up and comforted when crying, because it might “spoil” it. According to my analysis, this caused an intense development of his amygdala, a.k.a. the reptilian brain. He was a real competitor but lead a life devoid of the “higher” satisfactions that allow us to be fully human. Hyper-criticality was his thing. Fortunately for me, he was preoccupied with “making his place” in the world, so he was rarely around. Rarely he “pretended” to be interested in me, but I could see through it. Whenever he had the chance, he would crush out any special opportunities that came my way, if he knew about them. Fortunately, my mother, and other neighbors and relatives took up the slack, and he hid his abusive side, embellishing an image that ours was “the perfect family”. A lot of people believed it, too!

    Unfortunately, my sister, 4 years older, somehow ended up being cared for by the same borderline grandmother, because of the disruption most families went through during WWII years. She also developed the amygdaloidal personality, with such intensity that her sibling rivalry with me eventually grew to the point I was concerned that she would have preferred that I would die.

    I mentioned my family because now that I’ve made it to age 71, I marvel now more than ever at my resilience. This is not the result of will power or conscious technique. I just back off and let the healing take over from within. I had hoped the above tests might bring new insights to me, but maybe my cognitive style is too far along to fit into most approaches. I’ll admit that I’ve been hung up on Abram Maslow’s psychology of self-actualization. I guess Maslow’s inspiration was a guiding light much as Jesus has shown the way to so many believers. In fact, I consider Jesus to be one of the earliest examples of a self-actualizing person. I’ll admit I’m disappointed to be living in a post-self-actualization era. Maslow isn’t even taught in schools anymore, apparently. I believe that if he were still living, he would recognize and support my self-actualizing lifestyle.

    Okay, my sister still doesn’t relate positively to me, but we “pretend” like all is well. Actually it breaks my heart that something about her mental functions has closed off so many realms of the ideal world that I find myself led back to after some setback or other.

    • Hello, you mentioned the amygdaloidal personality. I looked it up, and all I could find was mentions of lava and a rock band, (ahh, the always resourceful internet!)

      Do you have any more information on it, or know where I can find some? There have been many things in the comments that have rang familiar, but this one stuck out, and I’d like to know more about it. Any info you can provide would be appreciated, thanks!

    • What you’re talking about with your father and your sister sounds like it could be narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). If you’re not already familiar with it, I would look into it. There’s a great book that talks about NPD and gives you tips for dealing with relationships with NPD people, called The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists.

  222. I think one major factor that has been overlooked is what Alice Miller referred to as presence of an enlightened witness. If there is one person who is on your side, who sees who you are and what you’re going through and cares, it makes a tremendous difference. Then at least you know this isn’t the way it’s *supposed* to be – that you are being mistreated and you don’t deserve it. There was none for me, sadly.

  223. I scored a 6 on the ACE test and have been steadily healing old pain from neglect/trauma over the last 14 years. I have found a lot of helpful healing information over the years and wanted to share with people on this website. I have a group on Facebook called Passionate Heart, Neutral Mind if you like the information and want more.

    The first one (The Presence Process by Michael Brown) requires doing connected breathing (no pause between in and out breath) for at least 15 minutes, at least twice a day. longer sessions and more often are probably even better. It has definitely accelerated my healing process.

    The second one is from the The Journey: A Practical Guide to Healing Your Life and Setting Yourself Free Paperback by Brandon Bays but I simplified it. When you are having an intense emotion, feel the emotion and any associated physical sensations as fully as you can without going into story as to why you having that emotion. Going into story feeds the emotional body. Be curious. What is underneath that emotion? You may notice that after a while you are feeling a different emotion, feel that and any physical sensations fully, What is underneath that emotion? keep going until you feel more peaceful and an expanded awareness–the source of who you really are.

    EFT (emotional freedom technique) also has helped when I have intense emotions. And watching emotional, tear-jerker movies have helped as well.

    Best Books I’ve Come Across about Life (Ego, Healing old Pain, etc.):

    1. The Presence Process – Michael Brown
    2. Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha – Tara Brach
    3. The Untethered Soul – Michael Singer
    4. A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle
    5. Radical Happiness – Gina Lake
    6. Radical Forgiveness – Colin Tipping
    7. Conscious Living – Gay Hendricks
    8.A Conscious Life – Cultivating the Seven Qualities of Authentic Adulthood
    9. A Return to Love – Marianne Williamson

    A Document I put together with some iimportant life information:

    • Thanks for this, Chuck. I’m sure many people will find the information useful. Your description of sitting with an intense emotion is also echoed in Pema Chödrön’s writings, which I’ve also found helpful.

  224. My ACE score is four or five. My situation gets worse, not better, with age. I have chronic insomnia and at least a half dozen chronic health problems. I got melanoma this year and unfortunately it did not kill me.
    I am 59 and have no hope of my life ever getting better. I’m certain I have complex PTSD from years of experiencing, as a child, physical and emotional abuse from my father, including watching him hit my mother for years.
    I doubt I will live to see 70, and I’m glad of it. Decades of insomnia have obliterated my quality of life. Even after therapy and medication I still suffer. Anyone is naive to think someone like me can ever lead a normal live. I am just living out my days waiting to die. I don’t blame anyone or feel like a victim most of the time. It’s just the way it is. I have no idea what it’s like to be normal and to be able to function at a high capacity because i am hyper vigilant and pretty much terrified by any action that requires fortitude. Some things are worse then death: my sick life is one of them.
    There is no “cure” for complex PTSD, so please don’t give people false hope that there is.

    • Frank, it broke my heart to read your message. Please don’t give up on yourself! My ACE score was over 10 and my childhood and more than half of my adult life was spent dealing with my sick parents and family. I am 57 years old and finally got the courage a few years ago to confront the people who did so much damage. Nothing is perfect, they didn’t accept any responsibility, my oldest brother who molested me for 10 years said he didn’t have any “memory” of it so it didn’t happen and then told anyone who would listen that I was crazy and on drugs. Neither is true. But it’s not about them anymore Frank, it’s about YOU. No matter how much you want to die or believe that you can’t be helped, please please please keep trying! You are God’s creation and perfect in his eyes. I’m not trying to be religious or preach but whatever you want to call it, God, Universe, Spirit, we are creations of beauty and love. Please don’t let whoever did this to you win by watching you struggle with life and wanting to die! I’ve lived with chronic disease since I was 19. I’ve been on chemo for 12 years. I won’t lie, there have been times when I wish I could give up but there is something inside all of us that knows deep down we are meant to live and embrace our lessons in this life. Don’t hide your gift that actually might help someone else. Tell people who you are and how you are working on making it better. You never know who you might touch and heal just by sharing your feelings and thoughts. My heart goes out to you and I hope you realize that there are people who understand how you feel who have been through similar experiences. And all of us at one time or another wanted to give up. But you can succeed, just the fact that you wrote on this blog means you want to feel better. You are not broken beyond repair! It won’t happen over night and the memories will never completely go away, it’s how we think about them that will change. I don’t always forgive what was done to me, I don’t have to, it was UNFORGIVEABLE. But I can nurture myself the way I should have been nurtured and fill my life with people who are good and lift me up. Get rid of the takers and fakers and treat yourself like you want others to treat you. And be a giver, Frank. Give your knowledge and your time to others who have had a hard time. Please rethink the wanting to die, you have too much to live for!

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  227. I got a 7 on the ACE and a 12 on the second one, but the two questions the second one did not ask concerned whether or not one received mental health counseling and had/have pets. I did receive counseling, but not until after my parents’ divorce (which I was happy about, because it got me away from the abuser) when I was 14 y.o. While my mother’s family was/is (some are dead, some are still living) devout Evangelicals, I knew they still loved me, despite their views on divorce. However, once they found out what my bio-father was doing to me, they granted my mother to divorce him and get me away from him. So on one level I had a lot of love, but not a lot of understanding, until my mother admitted what was happening. Even then there wasn’t complete understanding, because I wasn’t allowed to sent him to jail, due to my mother’s family’s religious beliefs, which also angered me, but even so, with therapy and the fact I knew I had people who loved me, as well as pets who comforted me after high traumatic incidents, I think I came out of it better then the 7 lets on, esp with my pets comforting me. I still have pets and feel, no I believe/know that they do help with one’s mental health, even if for nothing more than to [add more] comfort and love for you. They can even be good listeners, without understanding your words, esp when there is no one else around to listen to you rant, cry, vent or what have you about something that’s stresses you. Sometimes, esp when I was a child, my pets knew what was wrong, why I was crying, because they saw and animals are not stupid. My pets were often the first “people” to come to my aid and comfort me, esp when my mother wasn’t around at the time. There have also been studies that show that pets contribute greatly to better mental and physical health. They are, IMO, wonderful counselors when there isn’t anyone else around at the time. I think my pets helped me a great deal in surviving the emotional, verbal, mental, physical, and sexual abuse my bio-father did to me. There was one time my little chihuahua attempted to protect me again him, unsuccessfully, but he still tried, because he loved me, just as my mother did/does and my grandparents did. I think I would have lost my mind if not for my pets. So I really think the second questionnaire omits a major resilience factor by not inquiring about pets, esp with so many studies showing how pets help us in so many ways, including with physical and mental health.

    • Mriana: Like the ACE Study questions, the resilience questions certainly leave out some obvious factors. Pets are definitely one of them. I’m glad that yours have helped you so much.
      Cheers, Jane

      • I am glad to, because I don’t think I would be the person I am today if not for them and I still have pets to this day, because I believe they helped me a lot as a child growing up under the conditions I did and that we help each other today.

    • Mriana,
      excellent point! Pets are wonderful, soothing, loving companions, and mine help my resilience, as well. I am 9 on ACE, and 9 on the resilience scale.

      Alcoholic, militant, verbally and physically abusive narcissistic dad, I was close to mom, but she was there, for much of dad’s abusive behavior, so she had some responsibility, for the family problems. Dad passed when I was 11, accidental death, oldest brother, killed in Vietnam War, when I was 8, (dad forced him to enlist, he had escaped the draft.)

      Next oldest brother, 8 years older than me, molested me, and my younger sister, for 10 years, longer for my younger sister, since it started earlier, and stopped later, for her. That brother was certified as narcissistic, by two shrinks he went to, with his now ex-wife. Narcissistic, probably psychopathic older sister, ripped me off, when my mom passed, and ostracized me from other siblings, when my mom died.

      Younger sister is a raging alcoholic, with borderline personality disorder, was close to her, at one time, but she jumped on the older sister’s band wagon, despite the fact that they were arch enemies, for at least 10 years. One other brother, who is best friends, with older sister, as she successfully hides her true self, from that brother.

      I was favored, subtly, by my mom, as I was born after a child she lost, and was a healthy, wanted girl. Growing up, I was close to my mom, and she really only favored me, over others, since I was most attentive, and sweet hearted, of her surviving brood. Older sister was mean, younger was bratty and bossy. People who helped to care for my mom, before she passed, told me it was obvious to them, that my mom favored me, but thought it was for the same reasons, that I mention, above. She did favor the molester brother, too, and I kept his secret, for FAR FAR too long, due to that.

      So, I am ostracized. I refused to keep the family secrets, and to hail to the chief, (the older sister.) Saved my mom from her, over much strife, when I got my mom medical help, for pneumonia, which she was dying from, and older sis was refusing care for. My mom, thankfully lived another year, after my sister almost let her die, prematurely.

      Have suffered generalized anxiety disorder and depression, since I can remember, pretty much. It took me over 2 years to start to heal, since the ostracism. Actually so happy NOT to have any of those people in my life, anymore. I have spent about 5 years in therapy. Xanax has probably saved my life, (under a doctor’s supervision and care.)

      Hyper-vigilance caused me to only sleep 3 to 5 hours per night, for decades, last number of years, I’ve learned to sleep better, but usually can’t sleep for more than 6 hours, at a stretch. I learned that I have HSP traits, which helped me to feel more understood, finally, in my very stressful, and overwhelming life.

      I have worked very hard, just to get to center. I spent most of my adult life, recovering from my childhood. So many years that I could have been building a solid career, were spent healing my wounded child-self.

      Classically, married someone with similar baggage, spent half of my life with him, by the time we split. Divorced, for 8 years, and only now, starting to feel like an adult, who can make my way, in the world, at age 53. Since I did a lot of healing, before my son was born, I am a pretty good mom. He is 15, now, and I am so proud of the person that he is becoming.

      He knows I have suffered trauma, but not about the sexual abuse. I don’t want to traumatize him, with the knowledge, at his age, but when he is 18 or 21, I will be honest, about the nature of the trauma I have overcome. Obviously, he knows about my having been ostracized, which in essence, extends to him, as well.

      I take it a day at a time. My mom is the reason that I didn’t commit suicide, all her years, then, my son, of course is the reason, now. I have a pact with myself, that I can never do that. I am working to build my own reasons, why I would never do it, so that I take full responsibility, for my life. It hurt so much, to learn of Robin Williams’ suicide, as his pain struck a chord, in me. It both helped me to vow more strongly, to myself, that I can never make that choice, and to acknowledge, that I remain at risk, in spite of my pact with myself. Depression and terrible anxiety are very high risk mental states, for suicidal ideation and actions.

      It is my objective, to make the latter part of my life happier, and more financially productive. I count my blessings, and know that life is good, even though it has been so painful, and is painful, for so many.

      I am learning to take better care of myself. I ironically fear early death, due to all the trauma, and want to make the most of the time I have left, on this earth. I have wonderful friends, whom I have known since my youth, and those I have met, over my life. Close friends, who know my history and accept me unconditionally, I am so thankful, for them and for my son. And, yes, my cats are very important to my mental health, and wellbeing, too!

      To all you other survivors and tellers of your stories, thank you, for sharing, and helping the rest of us to know, that we are not alone.

      Resilience, the counter to ACEs, yes. This puts a new light on the strength, that what we endure, may instill, within us. Appreciate what I have learned here, today. Thank you.

      • Thank you for sharing your remarkable story, sarahd. It sounds as if your mother and your friends were where you found your resilience, and they provided that very strong love and attachment so necessary for us humans to survive, and eventually, thrive.

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  229. A pretty depressing article actually. Like “child suffers trauma, they’re absolutely stuffed for life” – I am an adult with an ACE score of 7. and what of the Resilience score, (6) does that mean my ACE score goes down to 1? like it evens it out or? Guess it’s up to me to work through the past traumas in some way, accept them, see them as blessings, appreciate them for the growth opportunities (this article wouldn’t suggest there ARE any) they contain and get on with my life. But yes, it would be much more useful an article, not just speaking on my own behalf but if there was some pointers in the right direction for people who have gone through the traumas to do something with this information. It’s just left me with a sense of utter despair. Luckily (or crazily?) I’m optimistic and believe that what I think I create, and am quite health conscious. Even still this article pretty much states “I’ve got no chance” and that I’m pretty much guaranteed to suffer one or more of these illnesses in later life.

    A good scare tactic for parents I guess, and the little sentence about brains being plastic brings a glimmer of hope but that is all. Anyhow, that’s my tuppence.

    • Thanks for your comment. The ACE and resilience questionnaires help to add understanding to the ways you coped with your childhood adversity and to identify resilience factors. The ACE Study can indeed be depressing, but it provides information about increased risk, not a death sentence. For more about resilience factors, keep an eye on other stories on ACEsTooHigh that examine how communities and organizations are instituting trauma-informed and resilience-building practices. You can also check out, a site put together for the community of Walla Walla, WA, but much of the information on there is useful for anyone.

  230. I live in Sydney, Australia. In this country, the complex trauma that can stem from child abuse is not recognised. The adult survivors of such abuse, of which I am one, with an ACE score of 8, must fit a DSM-5 diagnostic criteria to be treated (almost always, by psychotropics) for that mental illness and in all instances, the impact of that abuse is nullified. Thus we have hundreds of thousands of people with high ACE scores who are either not able to get the sort of treatment that would facilitate their recovery or who receive no treatment at all. Our prisons, streets, shelters and psychiatric hospitals are crowded with the adult survivors of child abuse while our governments and the health services they fund continue to deny the reality that a child abused often becomes the adult with a lifetime of suffering. I conjecture that the primary reason why Australia is so staunchly opposed to properly supporting the adult survivors of child abuse is that unlike mental illness, the aetiology of child abuse trauma lies with the wanton or negligent acts of others (parents, peers, teachers, etc).

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  232. I think it is too bad that you don’t include the families in general more. Not only was my father abusive ALL his life, but his family perpetuates it – hiding and enabling the abuse and trying to manipulate, control and further abuse the victim if anyone dares to speak out or act out to any degree. Even people outside the family are rewarded for participating with the abuser and supporting the “image” the family wishes to maintain. The abused get no validation or consideration – you are a threat to the “image” the family wishes to maintain because you might mention your abuse – it’s all about control.

  233. Why does it only consider male abuse of women? My mother had a mental illness that the family hid and she could be violent towards us all and would humiliate me in public.. even at 60,I am particularly fearful of other women!

    • Thank you for your comment, Wendy. You bring up a good point.
      The ACE Study measured only 10 types of adverse childhood experiences. Of course, there are more. The researchers chose those 10 based on a pilot study of patients who had identified those 10 as most frequent, and the prevalence of research on individual types of childhood trauma.
      If your mother was violent toward you, that might be an ACE score of 2, if it included physical and emotional abuse. If she was violent toward your father and your siblings, that would likely count as additional adverse childhood experiences in your history.
      What’s important to know about the ACE Study is that adverse childhood experiences are very common, and as the number of types of trauma increases, so do the risk factors for chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence, among many other consequences.
      There are some ACE surveys that are adding more types of trauma, as is indicated by a particular population of people being studied. For example, if people in an urban environment live in neighborhoods with a lot of violence that occurs in the street, then witnessing a shooting or stabbing of someone who’s not in your family would certainly be traumatic.

  234. Thank you Allen . your reply means so very much to me , I am seeing both of these Dr.s tomorrow. I want to think they do care, and I am going to ask about medicine changes this up and down stuff I am going through is worse , than just trying to handle this life on my own , I am very limited to drs. that are in my area. I just dont understand what they are trying to do for me , why not just get to the point of all of this treatment so I at least [ feel] some progress. or the point of all of this

    • Thank you, Lorri…

      BLISS offers good counsel. Reading and studying about what you’re experiencing can add immeasurably to your understanding of what’s happening, and potentially open up new insights that will help you grow and heal.

      I think you may have touched on something close to the core of your concern, when you write about what they are doing “for me.” Healing the injuries of the past doesn’t happen quickly, and it really is about your entire lifetime. Let me give you a personal example.

      Almost twenty years ago, when I was going through a particularly bad patch, I was working with a counsellor when I had what you might call an “epiphany.” (I had earlier sessions with other counsellors to deal with PTSD, depression, and risk taking behaviors, so “re-upping” for refresher sessions was something that I looked forward to…) As we were talking during one session, I had the stark realization that what I was experiencing at that moment had roots that lay some twenty years earlier!

      “Back in the day,” shortly after I’d left the USAF, I had been presented with three life and career altering opportunities. One way pointed in a literary and cultural direction, another towards a career in government, and a third to taking a job in a communications center. The first two jobs payed barely minimum wage, and the last was a full third above the other two. Because of what I can see now as ACE-driven behaviors and family expectations, I took the job that offered the most money, and unlike the man in Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” took the well-travelled road, although it, too, made all the difference.

      Of course hindsight is always perfect, but I think if I’d not had those subsequent tune-up sessions, I might never have realized the full (and life changing) nature of those decisions in 1968. Although the lesson came too late for me to undo the squandered 20 years, it has become part of my emotional tool-kit and has helped me make thoughtful, and hopefully wiser decisions today.

      So I’d suggest you continue to give yourself time to heal. You’re on medications, so use them, by all means, but pay attention to their effects. Do they make you feel better or worse? Have you noted physical or emotional changes that worry you? Not all medications are right for every person, so if something doesn’t feel quite right, talk to your doctor about changing them in ways that will be beneficial to you. As for “talk therapy,” please continue to work with your counsellor, but, again, if s/he isn’t working out, get another one! You might look around for other supportive groups like “ACEs Too High?”, and search online for publications, chat rooms, and meetings in communities near you.

      Above everything else, remember that you are a child of the Universe that did not deserve to be abused and injured; and that you have survived and continue to fight on! That makes you a powerful woman who should be respected. Live with that in mind and one day, perhaps, you’ll have your own “epiphany” and see that you are what you’d hope to become!

      Warm regards,


  235. thank you for reply, yes I am seeing both , talk and meds, still crying to much , want to stay by myself , and he did say, i am too sensitive. I was asking for [help what is wrong with me I want a diagnosis we have been at this for 11 months finally told me aces,said I should look at it on line , told me it will take another 2 yrs, to cure me told him I took resilience test me ,said he was glad i did that, Something isnt right ? the meds seem work for alittle while ,but it doesnt last , somethings are worse, it was like [ automatic this type of meds, will work , ] we have got this, and I am like hey , I dont even know what to say to these dr.s I am just so tried of everything ,,

    • Lorri, Check out the work of Brene’ Brown, PhD about vulnerability shame, grief, awareness, acceptance, and practices to move to well being. I’ve been following her work for a while and this may be useful. She has several books and cds. I like to listen and get these at my local library. In the past month she has been featured on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday so you should be able to access her online. She also has at least 2 videos on TedTalks – google them.
      Healing and self-care with the support of others is the most important thing we do and first it’s necessary that we really get that we will benefit from a shift and be willing to act on that. Hooray! for you already being there! Finding our way through what looks like darkness is a challenge and can be a joy as we discovery the light available to us! Thank you for writing!

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  237. thank you Rebecka, I have been waiting for reply , what should I ask dr. about this too sensitive thing, i am so emotional, I am not a ‘puddle ‘ anymore as the dr.’s call it , I dont cry as often but hearing of abuse to animals , songs , my vehicles breaking down, it is very hard most days , again your time means a lot to me

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  242. ….and there’s more….the ACE score doesn’t include BIRTH TRAUMA……and the way mothers and infants are handled at birth!! Most all of us born institutionally and mothers babies (yes and fathers) traumatized at birth

    • I dont know about all of this i been in treatment for a yr. now and was told i have aces, score of 7 and now just took this test scored a way to many 5.6 . good god , doc, says i’m too sensitive, I cry all the time , this just sucks, i dont know how to fix this ,

      • Lorri, don’t believe it when someone tells you you’re too sensitive. You are exactly the way you ought to be…and you would have been less sensitive if you had been treated well as a child. I was always told by my mother that I was too sensitive, never mind she was screaming and raging at me all the time! Now I’m a therapist and help other people–and they help me appreciate my sensitivity! I’m 60 now, and sometimes I still feel broken. Don’t give up–I haven’t!

      • You say the ‘doc’ tells you you’re too sensitive. Are you seeing a psychiatrist for meds or some sort of psychotherapist for talk therapy or both? Part of a talk therapist’s job is to help you work with overwhelming emotions, not to put you down for them. If he or she is saying you’re sensitive, that’s one thing. Sensitivity (even deep sensitivity) can be an amazing strength. If he or she is saying you’re “too sensitive”, it can be triggering to you and is certainly not helpful. Maybe find a more supportive therapist?

      • Lorri…

        A couple of thoughts. Working with a psychiatrist or psychologist/therapist doesn’t mean s/he will “cure” you of your issues. Rather, a competent counsellor will help show you ways to integrate and accept your history and make the personal changes that will allow you to take back your life. You’re the person who’s in charge of healing and cures, the others are advisors!

        Secondly, as others have pointed out, I think you should clarify with your caregiver AND with yourself what s/he said about being “sensitive.” Sometimes what we hear from someone that we’ve allowed to hold a position of “authority” over us comes back as confirming or self-fulfilling prophecies. Because ACE traumas can so quickly take over our lives and undermine our self-confidence, we can become “habituated” to hearing only bad news and of not understanding what might have been encouragement or new information to help us with our search.

        On the other hand, of course, if your counsellor did come off as judgmental, dismissive, or rude, you probably should re-evaluate your relationship with him/her. What’s important to remember is that as an educated “consumer” of mental (and physical) health services, you have an absolute say in firing the person who is not meeting your needs. If you’re being poorly or improperly treated, walk away. It may be a critical first (or early) step in treating yourself as a person to be respected. (You have already made an enormous step in seeking out professional counselling!) As for having fears that this provider has such an exalted status that s/he may try to punish you in some way with the community or other care providers, that’s not only unethical, it’s illegal. You can file claims and protests with your city, state, or other licensing bodies; and as an ultimate act of liberation, sue that person!

        Finally, I think we’re all list makers, and something like the ACE and Resiliency scores can get in our way. It may be helpful for you to see these numbers as “indicators” of your psychological and emotional state – past, present, or future. Doing this may also help you gain a fresh perspective about yourself AND the damnable history that far too many of us share.

        Good luck with your journey, and remember to treat yourself with the love and respect you expect from others…


  243. My background paints a very bleak picture. My ACE is a 6 but my resilience score is only 4. Sometimes I feel myself being sucked in and I wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but everything is just so dim.

    • Esme — Keep going. You can create resilience factors in your life now. It’s a challenge, but doable. And after you’ve incorporated them, it does get brighter.

    • Esme, I totally agree with Jestevens. I used to long for death to come take me, but not more! You must believe and then take action to change. Little steady steps are the best….and celebrate each one! It is indeed a challenge – but anything worthwhile always is, as “they” say. Even though I was making changes, it took a long time before I saw the glimmer of light at the end of my tunnel. Fact is, it is right there now! You just need to keep honing your resilience factors and one day you will be able to see it, too!

    • My ACE score is 10 and resiliency is 14. We are all free to choose how we wish to live. In my case, it is not as a victim, it is to love life and be the best mother, friend, teacher and worker I can be. I am a rape survivor (age 21) and have suffered multiple traumas beyond those childhood ones listed.

  244. For me, the results are so sad in a poignant, eye-opening way. My husband, who had a loving, supportive, extended family after his mother left him and his father when he was 6 years old scored a one. I, on the other hand, growing up in a two parent, mom home, dad working, church every Sunday family scored a 7. You see, that large, Catholic family was wrought with physical abuse, mental illness, drug abuse, sexual abuse and plain old everyday neglect behind the tightly close doors.

    A perfect example of the paradox of denial: But they illustrate the perfect family do they not? They certainly can’t be unhealthier than that divorced family can they?

    So please note another burden we who “survived” the 4 plus family upbringing struggle with: Nothing we know for fact is believed by the outsiders as we battled, often alone, to make sense of the ugliness we were mired in…..

    And I wonder why the overwhelming darkness of depression presents itself on regular basis like a fog, reminding me that as hard as I try to live my life as a Normal, the damage done to me as a child is impossible to fix……all I can do now is beat it back into it’s hole and cover it up with a smile and a plateful of fresh baked cookies…….

    • Merry: I very rarely ever comment on articles, but your comment really made me want to say something. Bottling it up is not the only thing you can do, you can never change the things that happened to you in the past, but you can change the way they affect you. I’m sorry you’re feeling depressed and like you can’t “fix” yourself, but try to get away from the mindset that you NEED to be fixed.
      Horrible things happen to children. Some grow up seemingly unfazed, and some are “scarred for life” but this isn’t the way it needs to be. If your parents neglected and abused you, they probably didn’t teach you how much you’re worth, or how to handle your feelings of depression. But it’s not too late to learn this on your own. Discover yourself again, fall in love with yourself, this is the only way to be happy. And counseling or even writing a journal is a great way to do that.
      I was brought up in a broken family. My mother raised me basically as a single mother. My father was an abusive alcoholic drug user, and it eventually killed him when I was 13. My mother had my “half” sister (I say this because as far as I’m concerned we are no less sisters than two girls born of the same parents, I love her with all my heart and we are very close) anyway, my mom had her 11 years before me. My mom had dated MY father while my sister was little, and my sister actually got the brunt of the abuse by my father, more so than myself.
      Most time I did spend with my father he was physically and emotionally abusive. I was afraid of him, and I decided to stop seeing him at the young age of 10. If it weren’t for my mother, my “resilience score”, I would probably be in your shoes with the depression as well.
      I’m so sorry that you didn’t have anyone to turn to, but you do now. You have your husband, friends I’m sure, and counseling is always a good option. My point is, you aren’t alone, and you can “fix” yourself. Don’t give up hope!

    • Merry you can help others and you can believe you are worthwhile, precious and wonderful. Because you are! We can all choose life and love. Sure it hurts. I know so more than many people. But it hurts worse to not feel, not love, and not keep striving every day.

      Look at your name. It means something.

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  248. This stuff is fascinating – I feel really lucky – my ACE score is only 4 and my resilience score is 11. I have none of the health problems associated with higher scores. I feel like I escaped and got out. Great work!

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  250. Hello. I was referred to this site by my cbt therapist. Lots of great information, here…I was sort of taken aback at my low score (a 5). I was sexually abused by various people growing up including intercourse w/my dad; my mom was/is paranoid schizophrenic so I had a pretty tumultuous time all around. My main problems as an adult are mainly relational (social awkwardness, male/female relations) and financial, and I see from your studies these are very common among folks like me. I’ve had over 30 jobs…getting work is no problem, as I can charm my way into just about anything I want, but making it last over 3 months is something I’ve never been able to do; even with my hard won MA. A mystery I ponder DAILY! I am intelligent, articulate, very creative, pretty, physically fit and healthy, yet I’m always only about a step away from homelessness due to chronic indigence. My memory is bad and getting worse…I was very skilled as a kid at forgetting…now it’s become an ingrained habit and I can’t retain anything anymore. I’m really scared. I always just believed others, thinking I was lazy or the like, now I know (at age 42) that’s not true. I’ve patented a product, gotten freelance articles published in major mags, started a couple businesses (that both tanked). My main frustration is experiencing the wonderful, endless wellspring of new ideas and huge potential inside with no way to let it out fully. I fear, as I once heard someone else say, “dying with my song still inside me.”

    • I think many of us who have experienced a heavy load of ACEs fear dying with our songs inside us, Karyn. I don’t think that 5 is a low score. A score of 5 substantially increases the risk for a multitude of issues, including what you’re going through. You’re not lazy. You’re not lazy. It’s just way more difficult for you to do what people without your background do without struggling with the tentacles of the past that grasp and pull at you every single day. I don’t know that those tentacles ever stop pulling, but I do think that if you keep at it, they lose their substantial strength. Your awareness of how your childhood affects your life now is fabulous, in that being able to put words to it and understand it is a major hurdle to cross on the road to balance and happiness. Keep plugging away. It gets better.

  251. I have a high score 9 I have two boys with issues and this helps me to understand how this is passed on. I have a larger perspective now and it gives me a better way to know my life. Thank you. I did some prevention groups with children, education of the mentally ill and families to help these issues but it wasn’t enough. Appreciate this knowledge for my understanding family and adult sons. I was an Art Therapist nurse and many other things and am 72 so I will share with those around me.

  252. I was moderately physically abused by my younger sister (2.5 yr difference) when we were kids. My sister was explosive – she’d throw anything, routinely threatened me with scissors, attacked me with her fists and legs, had loud and violent tantrums that lasted at least an hour, and was unpredictable (though she was an angel at school). My dad didn’t get home till at least 8pm and my stay-at-home mom had no idea as to how to handle her little terror. When I was 12, my mom went back to work and I was left alone with my sister regularly. Even though I was older than her, I felt helpless to fight back too often because I was afraid that I’d seriously hurt her. I know this was an ACE for me, but is it for the questionnaire? I have an ACE score of 2 without considering this aspect of my childhood.

    • Although it’s not part of the ACE Study, if this was the source of chronic and severe stress in your childhood, it likely had a deleterious effect on you. There are many more sources of toxic stress than those listed in the ACE Study; it’s just that those 10 were most often mentioned by a pilot group and there was a lot of research about the effects of those ACEs. Other types of toxic stress that come to mind: witnessing violence outside the home, living in a violent neighborhood, experiencing a natural disaster (hurricane, tornado), living in a war zone, losing a sibling, etc.

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  254. Question 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?

    Why does it not read “Was either of your parents/guardians/caretakers: […]”

    Is it not traumatic if a woman hits a man? If a child sees the woman of the house abusing the man of the house?

    • Of course, it’s traumatic if a woman hits a man, or if a man hits a man or a woman hits a woman, Joseph.

      It just happens that the ACE Study chose that one and nine other childhood adversities to measure because of two main reasons: abuse of a mother was what people in the pilot group had reported was common, and previous studies had already ascertained the negative consequences on the children of abused mothers.

      There are many other types of trauma that affect children just as much — witnessing violence in their neighborhoods, loss of a sibling, natural disaster, being bullies, homelessness, moving often, etc. And subsequent ACE surveys are including some of those questions.

      Rather than the individual types of childhood adversity, the ACE Study is more about how common they are, about their long-term health and social consequences of childhood adversity, and about how the risk factors for these consequences increase as the ACEs experienced increase.

    • Joseph,

      You’re point is a very valid one, and I can also tell you that as the ACES survey is updated, one of the things that is being addressed is this exact bias. Q 7 here was taken directly from the original ACES Questionnaire. At the time, the survey focused on the 10 most prevalent forms of abuse and trauma that were known about at the time (1997).

      MaleSurvivor, and a number of other organizations that advocate for male survivors of trauma have been communicating with the study’s creators and I believe that this issue will be addressed moving forward.

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  256. While I score 0 on family-only related issues, the ACE questions seem to steer away from institutional abuse, i.e., religious, medical, educational.

    A child often spends the majority of his waking hours, not with family, but at school or church (at least in my childhood,) examples being:

    1. Religious genital mutilation as a newborn infant (how great is that for life’s first imprint – taking a knife to your nether regions?)

    2. Nearly constant humiliation at school in grades 1, 2 (art teacher) 4, 5, 6, well, let’s just say, most of school. (John Taylor Gatto has well documented the horrors of “education.”)

    3. Being beaten with a paddle, even in 10th grade–for being smarter than the science teacher about elementary electrical theory. (I won’t go into details, but he was an idiot “jock coach” at a “Christian” school, where science is mostly despised anyway, with zero rational discussion.)

    4. Constant hellfire and brimstone preaching, including being shown various “rapture” movies with people being beheaded, and kids crying and screaming during the movie that was meant to scare viewers into being “saved” and accepting church dogma. I’d lay awake all night going over my latest conversion experience, if I had prayed just right, or had done something to anger a petulant SkyGod.

    It’s not just toxic parenting out there—home was a haven for me—there is a whole toxic institutionalized culture of abuse.

    “Encounters with people are causes of severe, unbroken, unrelenting stress…” ~Joseph Chilton Pearce (1980) Magical Child: Rediscovering Nature’s Plan For Our Children, p. 80

    • There are many ways to be abused; the ACE Study measured just 10, and those were personal and family-oriented. Certainly institutions can also inflict abuse; there are plenty of examples. The experiences you list might easily lead a person to distrust institutions of all types. I’m sorry that you had them — you did not deserve it. A trauma-informed approach focuses on preventing childhood adversity everywhere — in families and in institutions — as well as helping people and institutions stop traumatizing already traumatized adults.

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  259. Back in 1980, shortly after the DAV’s “Forgotten Warrior” study on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was published (Wilson, CSU, 1978), I was involved in setting up a Vietnam Vets counselling program in Juneau, AK, lobbying the state legislature and governor’s office for Vietnam Veteran recognition, and for funding to have statewide urban and rural mental health providers take notice of veterans’ problems. In the ensuing years, PTSD seems to have grown to incorporate a far larger pool of behaviors, including patterns of spousal and sexual abuse. (It was thought, then, that these abusive patterns were outside of the range of PTSD behaviors!)

    My involvement in the project was by no means just a case of “survivor guilt” and doing good works. I was actively engaged in trying to figure out what had happened to me because of my military experiences, not fully appreciative of my pre-military history of self and familial dysfunctional behaviors and attendant health risk factors. I was initially unwilling to accept the value of therapy and a medication regime, preferring instead to “self-medicate.” I’m not a combat vet, but was, after a fashion, very close to the action. With the publication of the ACE study, I know that I’m at least 6.5 and probably higher from childhood experiences, and my resilience factors are only at/about 8. Given that I enlisted when I was 18 in a desperate attempt to get free of familial abuse, I can’t help but wonder how the ACEs study relates to adult, active duty and ex-military PTSD?

    I recognize that the study was deliberately limited to 10 principal factors, and have followed the conversation about the efloration/expansion of other stress inducing behaviors; and I think there is a compelling argument to be made connecting the heightened incidence of PTSD in today’s “modern” military, and the even more frightful increase in GI suicides (currently running at about one death per day), with high risk ACE and and low resilience factors.

    Answers, particularly if there are direct co-evals of ACEs and resilience being a predictive factor for PTSD among the military, can go a long way towards profile evaluations of enlistees, career performance evaluations, and as predictors requiring DoD, DVA, and DHHS efforts for post-active duty service members. Importantly, too, these Federal agencies need to look at other high-stress military occupational specialties (combat aviators, intelligence analysts, forward trauma care units, forward air controllers, combat engineers, etc.) to see if there are other behavioral correlations.

    At the time Wilson’s study was published and PTSD was accepted as an appropriate psychological disorder, the expressed goal of treatment was to reintegrate remote, isolated service members back into society as functioning “pro-social, humanist activists.” I’m afraid I don’t see that as an element of today’s treatment modalities; seeing instead a willingness to slap the PTSD label on the individual, treat them as incurably broken, and make sure they have a full pharmacological toolkit.

    I look forward to reading more about the evolution of ACE factors and/or data as both a means of preventing childhood damage and as a treatment modality that can be used for military and civilian experiences to repair and mitigate PTSD.

    Thank you for your diligence and for bringing the ACE results forward.

    • Hi, Allen — Thank you for your comment. Indeed, there are recent studies that have looked into the link between ACEs and the increased likelihood of PTSD in the military. Here’s one that was done on Canadian soldiers. If you check out other studies from the researchers that did that study, you’ll find others.
      I know that Dr. Felitti had suggested the same thing that you did several years ago, and did get some interest from the military. I plan on looking into this issue later this summer.
      Any research that appears we will post a link to on ACEsConnection, the social network that accompanies ACEsTooHigh. You might do a search on there, too.
      Cheers, Jane

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  262. I sit at a firm nine; probably more as I was the main caretaker/defender of five children at age 13, I was trapped at ‘home’ without any method of leaving for over 5 years (I was ‘home-schooled’ by my abusive parent, who did no such thing, so I was basically a school dropout at 12 until I tested out of high school at 19) and have been labeled as ‘gifted,’ but had no outlet, support, or social life.

    I scored a five on the resistance points; most having to with my early childhood. It’s hard to equivalent the fact that my parents played with me as a 2 year old with what they did the rest of my life. One of them stayed at home, but did nothing about household work, schooling, or child care; they hurt me when I did not do these thing, or when the littles got to loud or noisy, or really no reason at all. The other parent worked and did nothing at all about the situation until they were personally threatened, and now acts like the only thing that was wrong was when they were threatened, and that the rest was totally normal.

    Luckily I have never been sexually abused (I may never let anyone touch me just to avoid that) I don’t remember large tracts of time from my childhood. I have been working on my bachelors degree full or part time for 5 years but I have not graduated; I have no money to pay for classes regularly and cannot get a job. Oh, I can find work, but finding people who are willing to pay me is a whole other problem. I apparently have a ‘please take advantage of me’ sign somewhere, because if I’m not constantly on guard (to the point of paranoia) I will have people do just that. Since I have had to move back in with my neglectful parent (and all the younger siblings, who blame me for our parent’s problems) I am constantly faced with ridicule at my failure and my family’s desire to turn me into a personal servant in repayment for taking me in.

    I have contemplated suicide. I have found myself becoming the kind of person I don’t want to be. My need to avoid people tends to take over most of the time, and being forced to interact with my family brings out my sharp tongue or scares me. I used to be a happy, optimistic person who was always asking questions and doing things. Now it’s hard to even bring myself to care about basic functions like eating. I feel like I’m trudging through life with no end in sight. But I can still convince myself that maybe I’ll be alright someday.

    • Heather — You’ve been through so much. You are already all right. You have tremendous awareness of how your past and your environment affect you. Many people don’t have that. Now, however, you’re probably not in your best environment. I hope you find it and move there soon!

    • I hope you find support, Heather. You are a good person in a tough place. I have sought free or sliding scale counseling services at those times I needed supportive voices in my life. Often this has led to referrals to other services that have helped get my life back on track.

    • Heather, I hope you know how very much you mean to the world, and how very important you are. My heart goes out to you!! I have a very similar story — I was “homeschooled,” the oldest and protector of 5, with talent but years and years of being trapped in my family’s home with an abusive parent and no outlet. I lived with them for years, thinking they needed me and not having enough money to live on my own… while meanwhile, I felt dead inside, like I was just pushing through the days. I struggled in college, but finally got through with a degree that allowed me to start working in a creative industry. Do you like to write? Paint? Dance? Please do whatever it is you love to do whenever you can, because I believe this can help. For me, cognitive behavioral therapy was a life saver (even when my therapist had to take me on as a charity case because my health insurance dropped coverage), as was finally moving away from my family. I was poor for years, but so relieved, so happy to finally be free, that I was willing to eat oatmeal for dinner for days. Please, know that you matter. And know that you are not alone in your story. And know that, most importantly, none of this was your fault.

      • Erin, I felt I was reading my bio with yours. I was also the oldest daughter of six children. My mother left an abusive husband and then went through the family inheritance and started beating the others. I left and the children lived with me. Since I diapered the younger ones, they were my children.
        I was sucked back into being the “man” of the family that destroyed relationships I had with nice eligible men. Up until 10 years ago, I reported my sister for stealing my mother’s money I got for her after her husband died.
        It does not matter, I was Greek and born on my father’s birthday, nothing I could do to make that woman love me. Any husband or boyfriend that would use your separation of your screwed up family against you, you should leave them.
        A book called “Released from Shame” saved me, I realized I did more for her financially than any man she bore children with. How can you explain a toxic evil family? You need to leave them to die without you. They are not whole, nor do they have the spiritual stamina to be so.

    • Hi Heather- Please seek counseling in your area, as was stated there are many places/ services at no cost/ sliding scale. I’m concerned that you have contemplated suicide, I have been there, I’m sure my ACE score would be off the charts, so I know what a dark place a persons mind, heart and soul are in when finally thinking of suicide. There are resources out there, also support groups. Please reach out, you matter, you are important!

  263. I’m not sure I should have read this article, and some of the related ones as they are mind blowers I’ll be thinking about for quite a while. I typically survive by trying not to think about this stuff, but I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that the toxic nature of all of this stress builds like or as a minor or major form of PTSD. My scores? 9/10, but still consider myself very lucky to not be 10/10. 13 or 14 out of 14 on the resilience score—my saving grace. My children are at 0/10 and 14/14. That’s my life’s work and I remind myself of it when I have setbacks with health or business. Many thanks to all who are working in this field.

    • Dear GG, You might find the writings of Mark Brady’s wordpress blog The Committed Parent useful. He describes every day experiences of the toxic stuff as well as how the body/mind is always trying to heal and how we can work with this natural process more effectively – resilience. I’ve become a regular reader and use his material with groups.

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  265. I am a 35 F and I scored a 10 on the Ace and a 12 on the resilience. I came from a pretty abusive then later unsupportive family. I had significant behavioral problems throughout school and even today I struggle to manage using food as an emotional helper as well as anger management issues and also some issues around connecting with others because we moved around so much throughout my childhood. To look at me you would only see the weight. I come off confident and friendly and functional. Most people who I tell my story to are shocked.

    I was kicked out at 18 and from there got my eventual M.S. (only one in family) am married to a wonderful man and am successfully self employed with significant linguistic (i learned Mandarin) ability. I volunteer, I am generous, I am kind. I do not smoke and am a vegetarian.

    Out of my friends who were in similar situations from high school, I was the only one of two who I know who “made it out alive” meaning got a degree and a professional life. We often talk about this and people ask me, “How did you become so resilient?” Honestly, I have no idea except not being like them drove me. My natural intelligence and curiosity drove me, I realize that I have long been the exception and not the rule.

    To hear the later physical correlations are terrifying. I wonder, depsite all the great work I have done to float above my given state… what else may be lying in wait for me?

    • A great deal of your health depends on your feeling you have some locus of control. Look at the article “Assessment of Resilience in the Aftermath of Trauma.”
      With 10 ACE’s you have to be both proactive and gentle in your approach to wellness & recovery & life. Dusty Miller, Brene Brown can help you cope with shame. Dr. Gabor Mate can widen your perspective & knowledge. But as a man who’s mother died @ 51 of heart disease, I know there is no substitute for self-care and you need support for this. I have been in OA for over twenty years, I’m 48, take no Rx’s and am very healthy, loved and connected- I owe a great deal to the rooms and the profound wisdom found in OA. Take good care of yourself by being vulnerable with the right people in the right setting…

    • I’m with you on this one! I scored a 9 on ACE & 9 on resilience. Like you, I’ve risen above the trauma to forge a somewhat normal live (not without problems). I too have had people marvel at me (including my therapist) on how I survived and thrived. But despite it all, I still feel immensely broken, and until recently figured it was my cross to bear. I keep waiting for the ‘other shoe to drop’….what is the long term effect of childhood (and some adult) trauma and where is it lurking to bring me down? I so desperately did not want a life like my mother’s that I made sure I would rise above and do better. In that respect, I have succeeded. Still many scars and hidden pain. In therapy now and hoping to unpack it all and heal.

  266. I have a low ACE score, but also a very low resilience score. Are there resources for building up resilience?

    • Hi, Kit — There are quite a few resources for building resilience, from, which offers tools for building individual, family and community resilience; to sites like the Mayo Clinic. The basics for building individual resilience are taking care of yourself (exercise, nutrition, meditation or something like it), staying connected (friends, volunteering, etc.), and asking for help when you need it.

  267. im at a 10 and its scary because ive had tons of health problems and have attempted suicide more then once. Im in therapy now but its going to be a long long road.

    • The fact that you’ve made it this far shows that you are strong, Robyn. Good for you that you’re in therapy. You’re taking care of yourself. It’s no doubt scary, but stay on that road. It will get better.

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  270. I scored an 9/10 on the ACE. I think that just about says it all. I am overweight and have used food as comfort. I was an overachiever in school and always wanted to please the teachers. I tried to be invisible as much as possible. I have been parentified. I struggle with self worth and self forgiveness. I am bipolar and struggle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis. I continue to often be a loner. The ACE scale only really begins to grasp the severity of childhood abuse and neglect. I currently work for CPS and I don’t think I would be there without my background. I don’t expect any responses to this post-I just needed to be able to say certain things for the first time. Thank you if you took the time to read what I wrote.

    • Liz — Thank you for your comment. And I am so very sorry that you had to endure that abuse when you were a child; you did not deserve any of it. And I am very glad that someone with your background is working for CPS — you have a visceral empathy. I hope you’re taking care of yourself, and that you work for an organization that encourages its workers to do a lot of self-care. Your chosen profession is very challenging.
      — Jane

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  273. I have a score of 8 on the ACEs but 14 on the Resilience. I have many health issues (diabetes, PCOS, obesity, etc.) I fit into a lot of the graphs above…the most surprise is the link to missing work! But I don’t feel too damanaged. I guess the high resilience score is really really good in terms of still being sucessful adult?

    • Yep — researchers say that having a lot of resilience factors goes a long way to ameliorating adversity. I’m sorry that you’re suffering health affects, and that you had such childhood adversity. No child deserves that.

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  277. I’m so appreciative that you paired ACE AND Resilience scores! I will use this with all those I work with on the “wounded healer” path.
    These can be a foundational part of each person’s Health Record as the movement to integrate physical/medical and behavioral/mental health continues to unfold.
    Do you know who is working to make this happen? I’d love to contribute and support this with my background in both fields..
    I HIGHLY recommend an excellent resource for easy-to-read/grasp “translating social neuroscience” is Mark Brady. His blogs on WordPress are The Committed Parent and The Flowering Brain is an excellent resource. He writes with elegant simplicity about everyday experiences and the neurobiology of development, trauma, and evolution.

    • Thanks, Linda. I don’t know who’s combining ACE & Resilience in health records. If you post the question on ACEsConnection, someone might know.
      Thanks for Mark Brady links. I’ll check them out.

  278. Wow, the more research I do the more really great info I find. This is such a big deal… Is there any specific research done on the the
    amnesia part of this. I had no idea for 50 years…would swear to anyone mom had horrible taste in men..but no one touched me. Well the subconscious and that little kid inside can’t stay silent forever, and I know now. How do we help the kids who have the toxic secret inside?
    I think it has to be school based. Younger kids normally don’t remember …kids are not meant to cope with this.

    • Yes, people with higher ACE scores had a higher risk of amnesia. Figuring out how to help kids — a lot of folks at and associated with SAMHSA are figuring this out.

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  284. I wondered if experiencing serious childhood illness and its treatment (eg cancer) has a similar impact to those of the risks that are asked about in the ACE questionnaire?

    • That’s a good question, Sarah. If the experience was traumatic and ongoing, then it’s likely to have impact on the brain. It would be worth doing a search in the medical literature to see if anyone’s looking at that. It’s clear that there are many other types of severe and chronic trauma that can alter brain functions; the ACE Study measured only 10.

  285. a new concept to me, tho i think i usually get a pretty good hx. might want to use this questionaire. whats the possiblility that children with add/adhd are more likely to have some of those experiences?

    • Hi, Doug. There’s research that says that much of ADD/ADHD is misdiagnosed. It’s really a normal response to trauma. Search for Victor Carrion at Stanford — he’s been doing some interesting work in this area.

      • I’m sorry JESTEVENS, but I must disagree with you in the strongest possible way. When you make unscientific statements like “much of ADD/ADHD is misdiagnosed, it’s really a normal response to trauma you are showing gross lack of awareness at least and gross incompetence at worst. ADHD/ADD is a biologically based disorder that is a result of an imbalance of neurotransmitters within the brain. Your nonsense is not based on science, but rather mythology that allows individuals with this disorder to suffer needlessly. I would suggest you visit reputable organizations that are committed to providing factual information like, The National Institutes of Health, and the United States Department of Education.

      • Actually, it is based on science. I’ll be doing an article soon on the latest research that has led many scientists, including brain researchers, to that conclusion. As you point out, the response to trauma is indeed biologically based — it’s been long known that trauma causes significant changes in the brain. But it may not be a disorder. It may be a predictable, normal response of the brain’s neurotransmitters. And, if that’s the case, then a solution may be to prevent, reduce or stop the trauma.

      • Could giftedness be a trauma? I’m thinking the very common parentification, social isolation, boredom (trouble resulting), lack of protection/attention from teachers (who see others as needing resources more).

        Also, recent study ( links anxiety with positive school performance. I know ADHD and anxiety can often be comorbid, but it appears to me that anxiety can serve a protective function on some of the impulsive behaviors of ADHD (e.g. indecision to the point of paralysis can prevent overspending, hypochondria can fight heavy drinking, fear of disappointing teachers can motivate one to complete busywork). But this adaptive anxiety would also, in my hypothesis, significantly decrease the likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD.

        Lastly, I probably have 2-3 ACE criteria if one rounds up (none from the list; no intentional failure of any adult to love, protect, provide for, and take care of me (some close extended family deaths due to old age diseases, a few moves/school changes, a few new sibling additions, parents who clearly meet many criteria for ADHD (without any known ACE criteria of the ten listed))). I have many of the characteristics of ADHD, as do all of the members of my immediate family, and some of my extended family. Of my very closest friends, two have ACE scores of at least eight and five, two are around two, and two have none that I am aware of. All are very gifted and meet many criteria for ADHD (many have had it suggested by doctors or teachers or other professionals). All are very broad in their interests and all are concerned about other people’s suffering/the state of the world.

        Given the above (which is virtually worthless data), I have trouble seeing ADHD especially when it occurs alongside giftedness as a response to trauma as I understand it from ACE. I certainly find myself quite fond of it and believe the individuals I describe are limited only by the ability of society to help them find a way of using their broad skill sets and deep dedication. Is there another kind of mental “condition” that better fits this kind of extremely broad curiosity, patterned/system thinking, intense focus to loss of sense of time, fidgety habits/need for daily exercise?

        When you say “much of” ADD/ADHD is misdiagnosed, is there a particular subset that seems accurately diagnosed with a different etiology? Does this hold equally true when looking at adults as well as children? Would this include ADHD that doesn’t come to the attention of professionals because the individuals are high-functioning or have developed coping mechanisms? I don’t doubt the research point to trauma as a cause of much ADHD, but I’m curious as to how this might work in the other cases I’m describing.

      • Thanks for the comment. Google Dr. Victor Carrion at Stanford University — he’s been doing a lot of this research.

  286. Pingback: Survey finds teen, young mothers using Crittenton services have alarmingly high ACE scores « ACEs Too High

  287. Pingback: Survey finds teen, young mothers in Crittenton homes have alarmingly high ACE scores « ACEs Too High

  288. Hi there,
    Thanks for all the amazing information. In connection with the Forensic Pediatrics Department at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, I’m producing a video about child abuse which features the ACE Study. Do you happen to know how I would get permission to feature some of the above charts and graphs in the video?
    Melody George

    • Hi, Melody — I sent you a reply via email. But in case you don’t receive it, feel free to use any of the charts and graphs from the “Got Your ACE Score?” section. Just credit Drs. Anda and Felitti, with a link to the CDC’s ACE Study site —
      Cheers, J.

  289. Pingback: Childhood ACE is a measure of lifelong trauma. « Probaway – Life Hacks

  290. This study fascinates me. I have an ACE score of 5, and I also have chronic depression, chronic fatigue and asthma. At least I now know the root of some of the stuff I’ve gone through.

  291. Kind of depressing to be at a 4…however, I realize I’ve been battling the results of childhood trauma rather successfully…I’m a recovering alcoholic 29 years clean/sober – still active in my recovery. Exercise to deal with depression with the occasional counseling session to manage life happenings. Didn’t have kids to pass the illnesses on to, thank goodness, because I probably would have. Have supportive friends/family. At 67, have to do the best I can to be positive and enjoy the beauty of nature and life in a spiritual (not religious) way. My latest favorite saying is “It is what it is.” This helps me keep my head up – along with being around people who make me laugh out loud! Best wishes to all of us; knowledge is power!