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. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

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


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? _______

1,138 responses

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  4. 8 ACE, 14 Resilience. This explains why most of my disorders are manageable with only lifestyle adaptations and not necessarily medication, and why I seem to have “turned out okay”, despite the lasting effects of trauma. I feel lucky now that I have that second score; never really did before that.


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  8. Wow–the information is good and helpful. Grateful I am completely sober. I score a 9 using standard additive scoring. What is most impressive are these comments–so much generosity and wisdom plus hope. Thanks!

    Related helpful NPR articles:

    I have heard this expression, “You are only sick as your secrets.” Even the researchers admit being overwhelmed by recognition by the sheer sense of suffering as evidenced by study results. I have been able to have compassion and not look further to family members ofr support, because I feel they simply do not have the psychological or emotional resources. What a relief!

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. ACE: 9 Resilience: 2

    I struggle with severe post traumatic stress disorder, OCD, depression, disordered eating, and a weight problem due to the limited types of food I can eat.
    I had troubles with connecting with people as a child and as I am now my mind is constantly telling me that any stranger on the bus is likely to hurt me. Life is very scary, but medication and counseling have started to help.
    I haven’t spoken to my mother in five years, and I think that helps too.


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  12. ACE: 4, Resilience: 7, so not bad, yet still, struggling with depression, anxiety, low self-worth, insecurity, chronic pain and relationship issues through all my adult life. Finally, decided to do sth abou it and started my healing journey few years ago, learning all I could about brain development, PTSD, attachment, etc. Things that help me most: yoga, meditation, mindfulness, writing, CBT, EMDR, self-care.

    Thank you for all tools and resources this website offers!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. On the ACE test I got 5 .
    On the true def true not true test I got an 8.. I don’t see anything explaining what this may or may not mean other then I assume it’s not healthy. Which I would understand from how I did grow up. I hope they can put this into a system to help children sooner rather than later.


  14. My score was 10. I’ve been in therapy for 3 years now. Started EMDR about 6 months ago in addition to my counselor. I joke that it’s taking a village to help me. My severe depression and PTSD are getting to be less severe, but things still trigger bouts of suicide ideation. I won’t do that to my son. I won’t leave him, but there is a part of me that feels overwhelming sadness on a regular basis. I still have a long road ahead but I’m facing my demons a little at a time. I’m worried about my health. Do people who seek treatment become physically better?


    • I too have very high scores on low resilience and high ACE. My adult life has been pretty confusing and sometimes unbearable. What helped me enormously was discovering yoga. I met a teacher with whom I resonated and he supported me in my practice and interest in yoga. It has been a transformative experience, it has grounded me on my life path and it has given me tools that i couldn’t have imagined.
      I found this book very helpful by Bessel van der Kolk, The body keeps the score.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Karen – you can heal. I scored high too – an 8. I was in therapy for five years in my early 20’s after a suicide attempt and it was enough to make me functional but not at peace. Within the last four years I went through MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) followed by mindful self compassion training. These changed my life profoundly. I’m 45, and for the first time in my life I’m at peace and authentically happy (most of the time). The big lessons for me were that WHY doesn’t matter because abuse isn’t personal – I was an object and hurting people hurt people, and that I can love and forgive others and myself – which was a concept I really didn’t get. So I was able to forgive myself for the unhealthy ways I dealt with my pain and eventually even forgave my mother and father and others who were sick and harmed me. I’m now a mindfulness teacher (I studied it at UCLA) and work with abused kids who are hopelessly caught in the system because they’ve been taken out of their homes and live in group homes, residential facilities, etc because I don’t want them to lose as much time as I did healing the heart and brain. You can do it. There’s hope – thankfully our brains are changeable and our hearts can be rediscovered and cherished. Much love to you, fellow survivor.


  15. Thank you, I have done my own research into child abuse and the impact on the brain. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it, so I did research. I realized that my brain was pumping chemicals constantly to perhaps assist me in survival. As a child these particular chemicals weren’t appropriate for my age. So I concluded that parts of my brain did not receive the correct chemistry, there by causing, if you will, brain damage. The Mental health environment call it Clinical Depression. and PTSD. It’s brain damage!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra, thank you for sharing this. I’m pretty sure that, because I was on high alert all for SO many years, and my brain had no opportunity to develop in a healthy and functional way, it took a serious pounding. FYI, I’m now reading An Abbreviated Life. It’s a memoir in which the author (with high levels of ACEs) explains how her therapist said that her brain might not have been damaged so much as altered. Maybe so, but it’s hard to believe that mine is not actually damaged / chemically unbalanced and rewired – especially when I’m knee-deep in dissociation.


    • It’s still a good idea to seek our a professional to discuss what you know. It’s their job to stay current and to know ways to deal with this. It’s not only the brain that’s affected by such chemicals. It’s the body, emotions, and of course all of these are connected in many ways as well. You can help treat this from either or both ends–body and mind/emotions. Learning to deal with how your body has been affected through various forms of relaxation training, yoga, tai chi, qigong for health, etc. all can contribute to changing that chemistry now. And working from the other end, seeing a therapist for some form of therapy that is specialized to the treatment of abuse results can help. My idea is to use everything available, to tackle the problem from all angles, even including vitamins and herbal supplements! Everything that validates you and helps you feel better is good, including your own research if you learn how to use the research to change how you feel, how your brain works, and how you act. It’s all good! It’s more than brain damage. It’s damage to a whole person in a whole way. So, the treatments should also be “holistic” and allow you to view yourself as a whole person. If you haven’t availed yourself of help like this, you may be surprised how much it can change that body chemistry, however gradually.


      • I agree Jill, especially about the holistic approach.
        Just yesterday I took my first Qi Gong class! I’ve also been practicing Iyengar yoga, I swim, walk meditatively and try to eat healthily. The art / painting that I practice (on my own & facilitating with others) is both cathartic and a balm to my soul. I’m pretty sure that these outlets – for creative expression and finding stillness and sometimes joy – are, to a large extent, responsible for keeping me afloat.
        Check out the book called The Brain That Changes Itself.


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  17. My ACE was 8. I couldn’t calculate the Resilience score as I have no personal memory of childhood. I learned in college that means sexual abuse. It would be great if there was a study update to include folks like me. My sisters and I have dealt with severe depression and PTSD. I think my reliance score would be very positive. I just turned 60 and want to help others overcome. If I can, anyone can.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow this is an eye opener. I really had a stressful life and I think I have ptsd. I’m having relationship trouble and can’t understand why.


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  20. My ACE score is 5, my resililcence is zero. I am 49. I am waiting for clothes to dry then checking myself into a hospital for major depression, BPD, chronic PTSD. I can’t go on any longer. I can’t feed myself. I have kids.


    • You probably won;t see this until you get back. I hope the hospital is helpful to you and that you get some of your needs met, along with a plan for when you are home again.

      Major depression coupled with PTSD is the pits. I wouldn’t take the BPD too seriously, as it might evaporate when you have dealt with the depression and PTSD. Many people — not all of course, have found this to be so.

      Sending good thoughts to you



    • You are brave. The journey begins. And teh journey toward healing continues throughout a lifetime. I still do things to calm mysself—tai chi, qigong, yoga. They all help. Whoever wrote the recent essay here on forgiveness knows that’s a big one, too. After you take care of yourself, you may have room to explore the body and mind issues that linger, but you are taking the first and best step to getting immediate help.


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  23. It definitely seems to me that we could use an ACES support group. Someplace where we could encourage each other, share resources and things that have helped us.

    Is there something that I could do to help?


  24. Thank you so much! I first learned of this study when reading The Quincy Solution. I was trying to navigate the family court system. I do hope that this study becomes a tool for all involved with children (as a preventive tool) and adults (as a healing tool). ❤



  25. I am very glad I found out about this study. I have been in and out of therapy, on and off meds and definitely have a score above 4. I am in Connecticut and really want to know more about this and if there are any new techniques, coping skills, etc that are useful. Even any online groups for support would be amazing. I would torally volunteer fir any studys being done as well. I want to beat this!


  26. Is there a study or information of what can be done to derail and perhaps reverse the effects of ACE while the child is still young (7 and 4)? My 7 year old has started play therapy. I am raising my granddaughter (4) and am wondering if play therapy should be implemented for her as well. What other things could be implemented?
    I too would be interested in a Facebook group.


    • Hi, Shannon: For some ideas and to link with other caregivers, you can check out the Parenting with ACEs group on, a social network for people who are implementing practices based on ACEs science. There are more than 11,000 people on, and nearly 200 in the Parenting with ACEs group.


  27. My advice would be to get as many of your parts as possible on board, and ask inside if any part is against the idea, and for what reason. Work with them, and then give EMDR a reasonable try. Also, ask if the EMDR therapist has worked with others with DID, cause the approach sometimes needs to be modified.

    Good luck!



  28. Dear Kevin:

    I think it will happen, but it’s in the organizational stage now, and will be fro at least a couple of weeks.

    We are all in the same boat, regardless of our scores, and so all will be welcome.



  29. Oh Nikkie,that is fantastic!!!!!!

    Do you have a FAQ, how to post rules etc all written up? If not I can send you the one I use and you can change it to suit your needs.

    Do you know how to set up a closed Facebook group? I have a friend who just did it and she could guide you or me through it.

    What else do we need to do, besides publicity?

    Are you an old hand at groups? On line or real life? I think on line groups are easier to moderate/lead.


    Could we do this in this group, as it might get others interested in joining, or they could give suggestions all through the process.


  30. ACE score 8
    Resilience 3.

    Age : 26

    My mother had Skizofrenia. So basically me n my siblings need to handle ourselves. I need to cook, clean, n prepare things for school myself. Except my father paid for the fees.
    In school, i basically had no friend, n i one of the bullied victim. My father never seem to care for me. Everytime school do events that needed my parents to come, i cant seem to make it happen. N i will just sit silently until it finished and the teachers will asked me to go back home (if parents come i can go back home with basically all children already went home with their parents).
    And my brother had been raped me repeatedly since i was 10 (if i’m not mistaken. I cant seem to remember the details). This same brother also keep repeatedly punch and hurt me. Also my younger brother and my mother. Until i was accepted to university on my 20th. On the same year, my mother died. The problem with me n my mother is that she seems never to love me. It looks like she hate me so much. But i just cant understand why.
    And my father also tried to rape me (i cant seem to remember how many times).
    My father died in 2014. When he died, i got kick out of home by my brother. So i live on my own now.

    I once saw an acted of murderer trying to kill someone and it took me years to calm myself.

    I know i have trauma. I know i need to heal myself. Because i cant seem to believe in myself or even hoping for future now. So. Please wish me luck for healing myself ^__^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your story is very sad. I’m sorry for what you went through and for what you’re going through. I hope you find the help you so desperately need. I know it’s out there. Just keep looking and never give up. You’re worth it.


    • Wow! You are very brave to survive all you did survive. You are already a “survivor,” but can be so much more. Get help. There must be some resources where you are for mental health help. If there are none, you can try churches who often help people in everything from shelter to food to counseling. Once you have a good person to talk with in person, keep on telling your story until you understand it and also understand you have survived the worst, and are now a stronger person than most people, and capable of empathy for others who have suffered in similar ways. You will need help to heal. Don’t depend just on yourself. Find some people who are kind and maybe who have some training to help others. Keep looking until you find the right helpers. You will have many helpers like this throughout your life once you know how to look for and find them. Yes, I wish you good luck and my heartfelt hope for your full recovery. I already know you are a survivor!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Feyhan, my wish for you is to be patient and loving towards yourself, forgiving and open to a slow and steady healing. It might not be easy some (most) days, and hard to imagine a future that is anything different than your past; but if you can take one day at a time, hold onto even the tiniest glimmer of hope, and find the support that is hopefully out there for you, I believe that you can learn to deal with the trauma.. even if it takes a lifetime. Blessings to you, Amit


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  32. My name is Juia.
    I’m 47 yr old
    My ACE score was 9
    My Resilience score is 2 I suffer from Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorder.
    I began EMDR 6 weeks ago, so far no change. Any advice?


    • Hey Juia! You’re a courageous woman and I feel for you; I suffered under the bleakest shadows of dissociation / DD for about 35 years. With an amazing therapist who counseled me as I emerged from the deepest shock and grief of it, I’ve worked hard to overcome through my own inner fight, resilience and patience. It felt like coming out of a closet/coma… (I’ve been dealing with PTSD too; times 2 – because of a near-death accident 7 years ago.) I wish for you to find the strength, determination and self LOVE to heal yourself…some day. Much love to you!


  33. My ACE score is 7 and my resileince score is a 5 at best. I’m 42 years old and am still struggling to come to terms. I voluntarily attended Anger Management class when my children were younger once I realized that I was perpetuating the cycle of anger and fear that I lived with as a child. DBT and CBT therapies haven’t done much others than to help me some what manage my panic disorder and to help stop my self-injerous behavior.
    While this is great, I’m still dealing with all of the issues that sent me to therapy. Nightmares, flashbacks, negative thoughts, panic attacks to the point that I rarely leave my home. The depression is leveled out but still there all the time. My anxiety is nevertheless under a 6 out of 10. That’s without taking my weight, blood pressure, smoking, Crohn’s disease and prediabetic status into account.
    I’m at a loss as to what to do, I live in a small town and have restrictions on who I can see because of health insurance.


  34. My ACE is 4. I think. Maybe 5…
    I’d say I’m at a 5 for resilience.
    But I’d like to see a ranking such as this divided up into smaller age-ranges; say birth-3, 4-6, 7-10… At least for me, there were monumental shifts over all those years, before – and after – I reached 18.


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  41. Is there an online support group? If not, is there any reason why we couldn’t do it?

    I could do the tech part, but hesitate to also volunteer to moderate. The tech part would not be through because I don’t know their system and have a very slow learning curve.


    • There isn’t an online support group through ACEsTooHigh, Jean; it’s a WordPress site, so doesn’t lend itself to a group. Some people started a private online support group on Facebook, but it needed moderating, and that’s quite a commitment, so it didn’t get off the ground.


      • What a shame. I wish I didn’t have so many projects, or I would offer to moderate. It’s fairly easy to do, as long as you have clear rules. If somebody else would like to moderate (and organize the group from scratch) I would be glad to help with the rules and the general FAQ.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Healing Pilgrim

        Could you do the organizing? For now

        1.Keep track of pple like you who are interested.
        2. Post every now and then on ACES too high to get more pple, hopefully
        3. Let me know when you get to about 10.

        CAn do?



      • Hi Jane and Jean,
        It sounds like Jane will take the lead in running this Facebook group which I’m happy to support, as time allows me. I think it might prove to be a great way for outreach.
        Please let me know how I can help, and if it would be best to take this organizing discussion offline – from ACEs I mean😉


      • Hi Jane,
        Is that private FB group still online? I searched and didn’t come up with anything other than the ACEs Study. See below, Nikkie offered to moderate; that’s wonderful. If she’d like, I’ve offered to co-moderate.


  42. Hi Cheryl,

    It can be a real eye opener to learn about these links to autoimmune illness for sure. You’ll find many ideas for treatment in Donna Jackson’s Nakazawa’s book that she refers to in this blog post as well as throughout the comments when you have time to look through them (along with a lot of encouragement).

    Trauma therapy specifically also seems very appropriate for working with chronic illnesses of all kinds, some of which Donna also mentions in her book. I have a blog page describing a few types of therapy approaches for different types of trauma and links to help find a therapist in your area. And it absolutely makes sense that you might have PTSD following surgical interventions and so much of what can occurs with medical interventions. That could be a place to start as working with any type of trauma tends to help address other layers from other types as well.


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  44. Age: 38
    ACE Score: 9 (possibly 10)
    Resilience Score: 6

    I am just getting to the healing portion (Part 2) of “Childhood Disrupted” and found this site. My mom was murdered when I was 13 and before that constantly abused at the hands of my stepfather. My father struggled with drugs through my life and ended up overdosing when I was 30 and pregnant with my son. I then was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune diseases that her affected my eye sight and nervous system. I’ve been through so much and have always tried to push on but the past couple years I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I am disconnected and overwhelmed.

    I do not know where to begin. Therapy? What kind? I want to be a better mom to my 8 and 6 year old. I feel like I may even PTSD after having two eye surgeries in 2015 that were really stressful. I never thought to connect any of this to my childhood just always figured I had some really bad luck. I want help now so I can be a better mom and my kids see a strong, positive mom and not a stressed out disconnected one.


    • Cheryl, please find a therapist who understands trauma, PTSD and uses EMDR in treatment. My score is 7 and that’s made a big difference. Also, read the book, ComplexPTSD by Pete Walker. Guessing you might also have “emotional flashbacks” where you feel small and powerless. Good luck and on the days you cannot do it for yourself, do it for your kids – that’s what I had to do to keep going sometimes.


  45. I would love to know. More about this! I would love to work with children and families to help them overcome and have better health and lived.


  46. Pingback: Got Your ACE Score? – Just A Closer Walk With Thee

  47. Pingback: 7 ways childhood adversity changes a child’s brain « ACEs Too High

  48. FORGIVENESS. I know it is difficult to forgive someone that you don’t think deserves it, but forgiveness isn’t really about the other person. Forgiveness releases the reasons you hang onto resentment and anger, like a hot coal. When you release it, you stop the continued injury and begin healing. Forgiveness is also continual, because it is a state of being. Yes, being forgiven feels great too, because being forgiven leads to forgiveness of self. That’s the really important part so we stop beating ourselves up.
    I didn’t always know this for myself. I needed help. I found a wonderful soul-centered therapist who provided me a safe place to first release all of my unfelt emotions, mostly grief. She showed me how to be in the present, which allowed me to see the past as a memory and not a continued event. We talked about forgiveness and I began by forgiving one person in my present; not to his face. Then I forgave myself for hanging onto the hot coal of anger. What really matters is that afterwards, things truly got better. He seemed to treat me different, but the truth is I felt different about myself, which attracted better treatment and quit seeing myself as a victim. He can treat me badly still, but I now choose to let my anger go after I feel it. I had to forgive him several times until one day his behavior became just an annoyance to me and I could immediately move on. Everything takes practice, even forgiveness.
    I did forgiveness exercises about my step-father and a wonderful thing began to happen. I held resentment over the hard labor he used to make me do. Forgiveness enabled me to look at my life and see a time when what I learned through that hard labor, kept me warm during a freezing Maine winter. Wow, I actually learned and invaluable lesson from his bad treatment. The labor was still more than a child my age should have to do, but one day I thanked him for teaching me those skills, because they saved me many years later. He said he thinks he could have went about it better, but he really appreciated me saying so. I was amazed and touched and forgave him for some other things when I hung up the phone. Then, I forgave myself some more for hanging onto the anger so long. The truth is, one the original traumatic event is over, it is ourself that keeps the pain going by hanging onto negative feelings. It kept me from appreciating the silver lining. Do I wish trauma never happens? Sure! The reality is, trauma happens and we can choose to stop feeling angry and resentful. It is your choice only. For some people it is as simple as that. For some of us, it needs to be learned. Forgiveness was what worked for me. I hope it helps someone, or many, here.
    Thank you for reading. Lots of love and gratitude to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your comments. I also found forgiveness a primary turning point in my own growth from a background of abuse and childhood trauma. It takes a lot of thinking through things to come to that point of real forgiveness. I credit all my helpers in life who helped be get to that point, from wonderful employers I had as a young woman to therapists I found while attending universities, and even some of the philosophy classes I took, as well asa few choice religious discussions and events (primarily, books by Thomas Merton like his autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, and my appreciation of the previous Pope’s act of visiting the man in prison who had intended to assassinate him in order to forgive him–I am not Catholic, by the way, but these influenced me tremendously). There’s the concept of forgiveness, and the actual heartfelt motion of the body/mind. However you come to that point, it is a powerful healer, I agree, and releases you from so much of the self-harm we inflict on ourselves quite naturally once we have been harmed by others. It’s important to separate what was wrong–being harmed, the actions and behaviors of harming–as distinguished from the person(s) who inflict harm, too. Forgiveness needs also to be just. I think we need to recognize what was and is wrong in what happened, in order to do work in the world to help prevent future harm to others.

      Liked by 1 person

  49. 8 ace score
    8 resiliency
    5 are still the same
    I would love more information or resources to be able to not only understand more but assist with not letting these events effect my relationships today


    • There’s more information on ACEs 101, and there are several good books, including Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. Other books by Gabor Maté and Bessel van der Kolk are good, too.


  50. My ACE score is a 9 and my resilience score is a 0. Last therapist I went to told me I’ve had so much happen to me there is no chance of me ever finding any happiness. I do not want to believe him. But so far I can not prove him wrong. I am 54 years old, I am 10 + years clean and sober. My mother and the man she says is my father has abused me and my children so that my 27 and 29 year old children refuse to speak to any of us. Their last question to me was, dad why do they hate us so much? I have no idea why I don’t drink or drug any more. After 11 years of marriage I discovered my father in law got my wife his daughter pregnant with her first child. Instead of telling the truth, her and her father divorced me to keep their secret. The courts just said because I said I was a recovering alcoholic there was most likely no incest, but they would not prove it either way.
    Why is it people come up with all this information and will not help others unless they can make lots of money from their misery ? What an ugly world we live in.


    • Drop your therapist and get a new one! Fast!!!
      Your former wife and her family are toxic and, by divorcing you, have given you an opportunity to live life on your terms including incorporating the new information and techniques that you have for living. I know it’s hard. I know you loved her, but they may have given you the best gift ever.

      The thing that has helped me the most is to always look for the beauty and the good. Savor the taste of the ice cream. Be grateful for a beautiful sunset. Be generous with thanks and look for reasons to give it.

      You’re doing great! Remember that. You. Are. Doing. Great! You are so far ahead of so many people in similar circumstances. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other…

      Liked by 1 person

    • You need to be around better people, and you need a better psychologist. Those who wrote you off or treat you poorly need to be removed from your life. They are too toxic to make your life better. If they choose to treat you better then you can reconsider. A psychologist doesn’t put you in a position of feeling like you cannot get better. You can get better. If you are a stubborn man then being stubborn work for you. Refuse to give up on yourself and your wife. Refuse to give in to the negativity. Some medicine for depression would probably help you a lot. Because this issue has gone on so long you have a hormone imbalance. You can’t make the issues with your hormone imbalance go away without medicine. And finally, believe in yourself when no one else does. Asking angels to guide you, which I highly believe in, to keep you company. This way you’ll never be lonely again. When they are near they give you tingles so you know they’re there. I still need help now and again but after a few years of help made all the difference for me. If I can do it so can you. You are investing in yourself, the best kind of investment ever.


    • Michael…you can get through this….seek a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Highly relevant and a double bonus if the therapist also specializes in Addiction and Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Abuse does a number on the limbic system–believe it or not there’s some good material on this on youtube. You can recover. It is a process. Call a state help line if you can’t find a therapist in your area, someone will help you. I’m rooting for you.

      “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.”


    • I admire your resolve. There once was a time I was determined to make it despite my own personal baggage but the struggle has been too hard for too long and I am now resigned to the emptiness. I am left to trudge through my days while I wait for my body to realize that the rest of me is already gone. Sending you blessings, I wish you all the strength and success I never had.


      • Willowed1, I still believe in you. I believe in you. I don’t know your pain, but I believe your brain and heart are still intact and your small choices like reaching out to bless others is your calling that can heal you.


      • Never give up! When it all seems too much, when you are at the end of your rope, tie a knot and give yourself permission to just exist, relax, and breathe. HANG ON!

        From a life time of trauma my coping skill of choice has always been to “check out” in other words to disassociate to take a trip and never leave the farm. Some days it’s all I can do.

        It’s my firm belief that we are here, and have survived til now, to help each other, so that we can learn, grow, share our burdon and hopes.

        For years I was in therapy for adult trauma and refused to ackowledge childhood trauma (ACE 6, RES 4).

        Recently I went to a therapist to learn to cope with my sons mental health issues (lives with me and is bi-polar), only to discover my own fingers pointed back at me. I am 68 and have just discovered that by being “super woman” and never wanting to show my soft underbelly to talk about my assuredly “f’d” up childhood I have successfylly used monumental amounts of energy to keep my deep wounds hidden and thus perpetuated that legacy in my own child.

        I want the proverbial buck to stop here. The legacy of “f’d up ness” stops here. I will no longer remain unconscious. By acknowledging and releasing this gigantic balloon filled with hurt that I have been trying to keep submerged… I free up all 68 years of energy i expended.

        You can heal, I can heal. Each morning I say to myself.,,, Whether you believe in God, or not (substitute your own higher power)universal consciousness, or whatever…..

        The light of God surrounds me. The love of God enfolds me. The power of God protects me. I am the perfect embodiment of Gods divine love.

        I am more optimistic and positive than ever. I use my time hanging at the end of my own rope, to do whatever brings me joy. By healing my self and recognizing, acknowledging and being kind to myself, I allow healing and kindness to flow outward…It can’t help but be contagious to others I interact with especially those I am around every day.

        By healing ourselves, we heal each other and our world. Spread the word! The only thing that matters is our relationships with each other and our love.


  51. By my late 20s I had begun to feel pretty good. I had several years of therapy under my belt, was on my own and about to start a new life with my wonderful boyfriend of 7 years. I thought I had pretty well overcome the childhood trauma. Now 15 years later I’m starting the healing process all over again. I began to feel re- victimized and traumatized when my children reached the age that my traumas began. I was seeing them at that vulnerable age and getting angry and hurt at those who let me be victimized at that age. It was strange how the pain started bubbling to the surface all over again. I have broken the cycle and my children. Have a better life than I ever did. It is hard to find balance as a parent when you didn’t have a normal upbringing as reference. I constantly question myself . Has anyone else experienced the same re-victimization like me when they had children? I haven’t met anyone else who could relate or even understand.


    • It’s not unusual to be re-traumatized by childhood experiences when you’re older, either because you’re seeing your children at the same age you experienced some of your trauma, as you say, and also because you have more life experience and may be ready to take on things that you couldn’t understand or deal with when you were younger.
      If you’re interested in asking this question to other parents, join, our companion social network, and go to the Parenting with ACEs group.


  52. I have my 7 year old grandson. He has multiple diagnoses including substance in utero, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, PTSD, ADHD, and there’s a suspected traumatic brain injury. He is delayed in all areas and is scheduled to get a neuro/psych evaluation in march. He can be very violent, argumentative, disruptive, and destructive. He has no friends and is unable to understand that others have feelings too. He frequently crosses the boundaries of others. He also has tried hurting my 13 year old dog. Could your program help him? He scored an 8 on your resilience test.


    • Theresa — Depending on what part of the US you live in, there may be programs and schools that have integrated trauma-informed, resilience-building practices based on ACEs science. Check out, also the Parenting with ACEs group on, our companion social network.


  53. I noticed in the ACE test was mainly about how adults treated/affected a child. I feel because of that it didn’t give me accurate results. The majority of my childhood trauma was because of abuse from my sister whom is 2 years older then I.


    • There are many other types of trauma that cause toxic stress, including bullying by an older sibling, and many others. As mentioned in the introduction at the top of Got Your ACE Score, the ACE Study focused on only 10 types. There are, of course, others.


  54. Can anyone recommend an effective treatment for someone with a high ACE score and reilience score? I have tried CBT and it hasn’t helped me very much. I struggle with severe social issues and I am very isolated which causes many problems in my life.


  55. ACE 7

    My childhood sucked, lost my dad at 6, my mom was verbally, physically, emotionally abusive. I was sexually abused by a brother, uncle, brother in law, and strangers. I never felt loved or wanted, I had no one to turn to, i spent many years looking for love in all the wrong places. With therapy, a positve attitude, and education, I turned myself around. At 49, I’ve never been married, never had kids, still single, trauma/ drama free, and happy. I still have anxiety, panic attacks, Diabetes (strong fam history), a loner at times. I work as a nurse in mental health today and see the effects of childhood trauma on a daily basis. Part of me says, I escaped why can’t they? Another part wants to hold them and take away all their pain. I tell them about my childhood, and get asked how I did it, my response is always the same prayer and a positive attitude. I wouldn’t trade any part of my childhood, it’s made me who I am, a strong, independent person.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. ACE score 10
    Resilience Score (from youth) 9
    Resilience Score (as adult) 12
    The research is very interesting and does ring true for me. It does make me wonder if having such a high score & the health conditions I face could be related.


    • Initially, I put myself down as an ACE score of 3. Then… I really thought about it. Three questions I’d initially said “no” to…. they were really yes responses. Especially #9 — my father’s adult-onset epilepsy wasn’t really a mental illness, but the depression, to the point of near-catatonia, that resulted from it? Hell, yes. And 40 years after the fact… this is the first time I’ve ever really thought of my father as having been mentally ill. And he was. Seriously mentally ill. If someone could’ve explained depression to me when I was a child, it probably would’ve saved me a world of pain.

      So, ACE 6, Resilience (youth) 8, Resilience (adult) 13.


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  58. ACE – 5-7, depending on what is meant by “often”.
    Resilience – 2.

    I did fine in school, because my parents were hyper-focused on my school performance, and basically nothing else. My performance reflected on them as parents and people. My performance created status for them.

    But I did suffer from depression and anxiety. Entirely apart from my parents’ issues, we were utterly isolated, because we were the literally the first in our ethnic group ever to live in our state. Literally the first.

    I am probably gifted in a number of ways, which has kept me from being an utter failure. But I have not done well in any career, other than teaching. I am not married, and have not had long-lasting or deep relationships. I am trying to be a writer now, and write about some of my experiences. But doing so is so painful and isolating that I can barely stand it.

    I also have asthma and eczema, chronically. I am probably very close to being addicted to alcohol.


  59. ACE Score: 7
    Resiliency score: 3

    I wasn’t sure how to apply the Resiliency score. It seemed from the intended use that it should apply to me as a parent. Although I can only guess at what my son believes, it is an unfortunate score nonetheless.

    What initially interested me in the ACE score was the correlation between COPD and a person’s ACE score. I have been diagnosed as having ILD and I never in my wildest dreams thought that there would be any correlation between my childhood issues and my lung function! I do have many other issues, though. Social anxiety disorder, major depression, impulse control, inability to maintain close relationships, frequent sexual encounters with different individuals, abuse of pharmaceuticals, control issues, etc.

    I am seeing a psychiatrist who has told me many times that she is worried about the level of trauma that I have experienced – both in childhood and in the military. I am a person who buries his feelings rather than dredge them up (too painful) so we have not made the progress we would like.

    I have been a very successful person, with a doctorate degree, a very satisfying job and extraordinary financial rewards. And yet, it still seems as though I am looking for a “well done” from my father. It all seems hollow.

    Unfortunately, that will never come. As my awareness of ACE increased, I felt that I should simply stop communication with him, as Dema did. It felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I stopped expending the energy it took to stay angry at a person who did not care and would never change. One year later he committed suicide by gunshot.

    I am working hard on having a positive outlook and eliminating my cynicism, but it is hard to change a life-long mind set. I have used every maladaptave coping mechanism in the book and, of course, those have only hurt me more.

    Being more open to discussing my issues is helping a great deal, but I recognize I have a very long way to go.

    Sorry for the long post. It does feel good to talk with others who have experienced childhood trauma, though.


    • Thanks for telling us your story, Rex. If childhood adversity isn’t dealt with in childhood, it will indeed fester. That’s just one reason I launched, and our companion social network, I’m 68 today, and still reverberating from the chronic shocks of childhood. But since I started this healing journey in earnest, I’ve made great progress, and I’m thrilled about that. And I understand that it’s a daily endeavor. I used to be angry about that; now I embrace it, because I’m taking care of myself every day.


    • Rex, your statement is very moving. You seem to have a lot of self-knowledge. I have a suggestion for you:

      The best thing I’ve found for counteracting the ACEs in my past is to help people in the present, especially those who are weak. I feel like I am righting the universal balance, putting good in the world in spite of the harm I experienced — the sense that while I could have been defeated by my past and now do more harm or simply do nothing, I rebel against the harm, neutralize it, have the last word, vanquish some of it.

      In my case, I volunteer with shelter animals and disadvantaged kids, but it could also mean helping impoverished old people, mentally retarded or mentally ill people, people in prisons, etc. Anyone who is helpless, as you were when you were a child. I love the feeling this provides me. It is empowering and curative. You don’t even have to put in many hours to get this feeling. And it’s not a feeling of cynical pride or a transaction where I do something rotely to get something for myself: it feels like sincerity, like kindness, like how the world should be.

      I’m suggesting this to you in particular since you have been financially successful so you probably have freedom to do this kind of work now. I believe it’s lifesaving both for me and for those I try to help.



      • I absolutely agree with Teri. Helping others has been very healing for me (my ACE score is 9 not counting the multiple family breakups and foster homes). When I was working in northern Uganda, I came across a boy living in the streets who had been burned over 35% of his body. As someone who had been given up by mother at age 11 to veritable strangers, I could identify with this boy who was all alone and had no one who cared for him. Long story short, we became friends, I took him for a surgery and later brought him to the US for long term medical treatment at Shriner’s Hospital in Boston. It changed his life but it also ended up changing mine. NPR ended up doing a story about us and if you’re interested, you can listen to it at

        Liked by 1 person

  60. Ace score: 5
    Resiliency score: 5
    Age: 34

    Current issues:
    – severe anxiety
    – mild ocd (used to be much worse)
    – moderate hypochondria
    – occasional binge drinking (much worse in my 20’s)
    – Issues with impulse control
    – strong desire to be “successful”

    Now onto the positives! My rough childhood in many ways has made me very resilient because my hardships have taught me that I can overcome anything. Despite having a shitty childhood I have a wonderful adult life. I’ve been happily married for a decade to an intelligent, kind, hilarious man. We have two beautiful boys that are deeply loved & well taken care of. I’m fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living and we are immigrating to New Zealand in a few months!

    What helped me?
    – Being conscious of toxic thinking habits and replacing them with constructive feedback
    – Forgiving those who hurt me because they were victims of abuse too
    – Regularly practicing self-compassion and gratitude
    – Regularly facing fears
    – Fostering healthy coping skills like exercising everyday, eating well, meditating, doing crafts and writing
    – Keeping up to date on health checkups, and seeing a therapist
    – Cultivating a healthy social support network
    – Making every effort to move as far away as possible from the toxic cesspool and people I grew up around

    Granted, a lot of it boils down to luck, but also sheer will. Our politics and the fact that corporations are valued over humans doesn’t help.

    What we need is
    – Free, easily accessible contraception (lets reduce abortions, FAS, unwanted children, crime, etc.)
    – Everyone should have access to basic human rights i.e. food, shelter, quality education, healthcare (including mental health), etc. You can’t become a productive/healthy member of society without having basic needs met. And for those who are fiscally conservative, these tactics would save billions of dollars in the long run!


    • Ace score: 6
      Resiliency score: 9

      I’ve spent the last five years with a therapist who practices EMDR so I could be comfortable with my childhood trauma. It has made an incredible difference in my life. I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, two back surgeries and countless other medical issues all stemming from an abusive and neglectful childhood. There is hope out there. I volunteer as a Patient Advocate to help those who are vulnerable and it warms my heart. People like us who have suffered really need to find a way to calm the terror and insecurities. My life is much more peaceful now.


    • Yes Sucks doesn’t it. Ace 10, Resilience 0.
      It means you have to give yourself credit and appreciation for every little thing you do, find a way to connect to others, and make peace inside yourself. Thats how I take it anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  61. I am commenting off another person’s post, in which they said, “I don’t like the name of ‘resilience’ for the second scale, by the way — it would be better named ‘resources available.'”

    I feel that resilience has to do with persevering DESPITE lack of resources. In the resilience questionnaire, there are 2 questions that DO seem to point to the inner strength of a person, the questions that say, “I was independent and a go-getter” and “I believed that life is what you make it.”

    When I did the Resilience questionnaire, I understood why the questions were asking about “other resources,” such as teachers, family members, etc. But I also was wondering…. “Hey, what about the fact that I worked my butt off and used my inner strength? What about MY strengths?”


  62. I guess I was a fortunate child. Ace 0, Resilience 14. Being a product of immigrants may have contributed to this. Of all my friends, my parents were the most trusting towards me. They were extremely proud of me and my siblings, having accomplished what they lacked in education. And because of their trust and respect I could never do anything that would disappoint them. I married a person of similar background and we have 4 amazing children.


  63. Ace 5 Resilience 10
    Graduated university. I based most of my answers excluding my father as he was abusive towards be after he left. In the neighbourhood I was considered the good kid. My mom was the person the kids came to with problems. I am still referred to as the good daughter by one of my late mom’s friends.


  64. ACE 8, Resilience 9: sometimes I wonder how I function every day. But then I remember that those rules and the need to escape the situation as a teen made me fight to be better. 2 semesters shy of bachelors, worked my up to a very reasonable position and salary in a company I’ve been with for 14 years (Forbes top 100), married 21 years (not without issues tho), two awesome kids, involved in community. However, the greatest improvement I have made was in the last 5-6 years when I discontinued speaking to my mother – the biggest cause of my ACE score. The toxicity had to go. Now my cholesterol is down and I’m no longer on the meds, I’ve reduced my antidepressant/antianxiety prescriptions to one, weight is slowllllllly going down. But I whole heartedly believe that my childhood and upbringing – matched with the hereditary issues of depression and violence – have been the greatest cause of my on and off health issues over the years. Here’s to overcoming!

    Liked by 1 person

  65. ACE score 7
    Resilience score 12

    College dropout but do have an AA. History of depression and substance abuse but not currently. Weight fluctuation throughout my twenties, right now on a downward trend. I’m about to turn 30. Just got married. Love my work but not where I work. Kinda loving life right now. Kids eventually… Past few years have actually been the best of my adult life. Through choices I made to be better.


  66. My ACE score is a 3. My resilience is a 14. I believe my mothers ACE score would be higher than a 6 but less than an 8 and my guess is her resilience score is no where near as high as mine. My resilience score is mostly attributed to her even though she is a life long sufferer of depression, but I believe she made a conscious decision to make that a reality. As a health care professional, I am a little disheartened by the lack of evidence base correlating at all with heredity and environmental factors. Many diseases, including depression, heart disease, copd, etc are preprogrammed Into our DNA. My mother has major depressive disorder. I also have it. My daughter has recently been diagnosed at age 16. We are all medicated and high functioning with anti-depressants.

    This may not be a popular opinion, but there comes a time in everyone’s life where it is time to stop blaming your childhood and/or your parents for your current state of health. Mine came at 35 which is way too damned late. I would encourage anyone reading this to seek help for medical and/or psychiatric conditions up to and including GP assistance and counseling. It is a choice to take control of your future. Make it today.


  67. I am 63. My father died when I was 2 1/2. Mother became severely depressed. Moved back to home state with her overbearing and very strict mother. When I was 5 she remarried a man who made sure we girls felt like we were worthless. At 8 I was struck by a car and put into a coma. Many surgeries later, I walked out of the hospital with the loss of a kidney and my child hood memories including any of my father. At 12-14 I was sexually molested but 3 different people. And I wonder why I have fibromyalgia, depression, obesity, horrible sense of self worth personally – though the two things that have been positive are I feel very confident in my career and there is no doubt that my kids have grown up knowing I love them unconditionally and have been and always will be there to listen when they need it.

    I truly believe this research is very on point. I got a 4 and then an ace of 4. The top portion would probably have been more if I could identify better with the questions.


    • ACE 5, Res 2, I am 68, today is my mothers birthday (she died when I was 13). Witness to much emotional abuse and physical abuse of my two older brothers. Taking the survey made me sick to my stomach. I have depression, obesity, PTSD, heart attack, married three times to weak and emotionally unavailable men, In my family we were taught to verbally abuse each other (I was not abused myself physically) but was made to participate in and encouraged to verbally abuse my siblings. Molested by a stranger when I was 4, raped when I was 29.

      I recently began seeing a therapist who pointed me to the ACE study. I noticed that after I began uncovering the early childhood trauma I began having an issue with boils. I think the boils are releasing childhood trauma as symbolic of hidden abuse not spoken of (I had nobody to tell and why should I?) I have been in therapy for a long time and just now discovered this wonderful information. This gives me profound hope for healing the wounds or at least mitigating the affects.

      I send healing to all who tread this path with me. We are legion! No one has a perfect childhood, but some of us survived in spite of our circumstances. Stop trying to hold the ball under the water,,, and lance the boils.

      I wish us all healing and ease.


  68. My ACE Score is 10. My resiliency score is only a 4.

    At 30 years old I am obese, have a myriad of physical health issues and also deal with addiction, depression and have attempted suicide more than once.

    That said I’m also several years sober and manage my depression pretty well. My health has definitely gotten worse.

    It’s crazy to see the increase rates of heart disease, divorce and other things. My wife is my rock and she alone makes my resiliency much higher. This is very educational and also a little frightening.


    • Congrats on your sobriety! I know what you mean about this information being frightening. At first, it just depressed me. But now, I am using the information to get my butt moving on my healing. It is scary, true, but I am determined to improve my situation.


      • You can’t take care of yourself. You can’t make yourself do anything positive when depressed and in this state. No sleep. Living with safe people…. that ship sails early in life.


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  70. I scored 5 on ACE and 10 in resilience. I was sexually abused from the age of 8 and on and off until 18 once at 27 by my father. My mother was very strict and we used to get beatings and they weren’t all deserved. She was physically abused from age 8 by her father for standing in front of her mother to protect her from getting another beating. He kicked babies of of her and even smothered at least one. I got a beating for something when I wasn’t even home. My mother was beaten occasionally when I was a kid. He started drinking in the army at age 24as a dare. But as all evenings out had a bar and you had to pay whether you drank or not, a lot of people started drinking. It got more frequent over the years and more hitting mum, he was even arrested by military police on more than one occasion but as he was a nice man and had paedophiles friends high up the chain he didn’t stay there long. He wrecked the house when I was about 8 or 9,and when i was a new mother at 18 I was visiting my mother and he was drinking, he threw a shoe at mum to get her attention and she threw it back and it hit him so he tipped her chair over and then all hell broke lose.we stuck up for mum and one of my sisters threw a camp bed at him, he locked me and my baby daughter out on the balcony and the sister who the the bed ran to the phone for the police. He was home within an hour. Over the years he abused others and I didn’t know until my late 20’s but in my 40’s a sister and niece asked me to back them up in going to the police and I agreed. They were both in self destruct mode, my niece was drinking a lot and sleeping around even with other women’s husband, so was her sister who she confided in. I also rang mums friends whose daughter he abused and she ended up running away from home, doing drugs and alcohol, getting raped twice by strangers and one by her uncle and was in a bad way, told her what we were doing and she rang her daughter to come back to our town for the police statement. She agreed. Since then she had changed her life around, it’s clean and has a job with authority. So he told police it started when his uncle advised him at age 14. in 1966 when he was away with the army Paedo ring got him. He abused a Senegal girl age 6 then 2 years later started on me and worked his way through some of my sisters and friends. I found out last year he’d abused a friend but I didn’t remember her staying over and she never stayed again. He got 5 years in prison, did less than 3 but didn’t serve for me because it happened in Germany but he was under British law, they said complaints commission said it didn’t count. How is that supposed to make a person feel, that they don’t count. I was and am still gutted and the bastard died not long after my mum. I hated having to give him a big when we left or did birthdays so I stopped going to mums when he was there. If I went to see her and she was out i’d tell him is come back later, I wouldn’t stay in the house with him on my own.. She divorced him in 2011 but we couldn’t relax because she lived right across from her old house, always the fear of seeing him. My nephew left it slip where she lived and he came round one night banging on the door, he was drunk. We hated going to the local supermarket in case we saw him. We used to get really agitated. 3 of my sisters stuck by him and my eldest daughter and they even visited him with their children and grandchildren in prison. We was on paedo register and they had him in their houses. I now suffer from rheumatism, osteo arthritis, sciatica and fibromyalgia with recurrences of pain from singles!


  71. ACE 6 – Resilience 9. I’m 26 so I’ve been healthy so far but I do drink and in periods of increased stress I do smoke (only started after 20 because I wanted to make sure it was a mature decision and there was never peer pressure).

    I was more likely to have violent outbursts when I was under 16 but because of the violence at home I developed a strong non violence attitude and I am now unable to get angry in situations where people get angry and yell. The only emotional outlet that may occur in such a situation is to start crying but usually I stay calm until it’s over and then cry. As a result a lot of my friends have commented they can’t even imagine me being angry because I am always so calm.


  72. I also think it should include issues related to adoption. Loss of birth parents – especially birth mother – is the very definition of trauma to an infant or young child. How well they “bounce back” from those events depends on the individual. Circumstances of course – number of placements, abuse in foster or adoptive homes, but just the abandonment of an infant alone is life or death for that child. Sensitive children can be caught in that flight or fight response for a long time. I believe another Yale study showed that resiliency is at least partially determined by which type of a certain chromosomal allele you have (they found 3 varying kinds).

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    • As I see it, the ACE test question about abandonment by a biological parent encompasses adoption, which is why I answered yes to that question. You don’t say, but I’m assuming you’re adopted, too. Did you search and find your birth parents? I did – quite the emotional roller coaster ride, and the reunions were far from perfect, but I am grateful to have more insight into my biological makeup. By the way, the book about ACE, “Childhood Disrupted”, mentions the chromosome-resiliency connection. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.


    • I could not agree more. My feelings of abandonment have never been resolved, even after reuniting with my birth mother. And I’m now 61 years old.


  73. I am curious why your charts of adverse effects for ACE scores mostly stop at <4 ? Was there any statistical significance in adverse events if someone with higher scores? I would be interested in knowing the breakdown of health issues in people with higher scores. From your data it looks like 15.2% of women had scores over 4.


  74. I am 56 and 8 were probably true for me as a child. I have managed to manage depression that I began to notice during high school.

    My current score would be 10 for true or provably true.


  75. I don’t understand why sibling abuse (less than 5 years age difference) is not considered an adverse event. Sibling sexual assault is overlooked, and under accounted. My brother was 3 years older than me, and he had complete control due to the family environment. Your scoring system is faulty.


    • Please read the top of the post of Got Your ACE Score. There are many other types of trauma that were not included in the ACE Study. Subsequent ACE surveys are adding other types of trauma. Sibling abuse is one of them. It is indeed considered an adverse event, and there are studies of the consequences.


      • It seemed to me that that was when you witnessed traumas being done to siblings, not siblings being the perpetrators. Also, I don’t know why the age gap has to exist at all.


      • Experiencing an older sibling abusing (bullying, incest, etc.) you is considered trauma; I think the age gap exists because siblings closer in age will have conflicts anyway, but it’s a size/power/development issue when there’s a wider age gap. Someone smarter than I am (a researcher who’s looked into this) can give you a definitive answer.


    • If you felt traumatized by it, I don’t think the age would matter, I would count it as an ACE. But, I think the reason for the gap are two-fold. 1) It’s not uncommon for siblings close in age to “experiment” with each other. This is likely a mutual experience without much consequence, but experiences can vary. If the sibling was that much older than you than they were likely far too old to have been “experimenting” with a much younger sibling. 2) In the absence of the first scenario, you would be surprised how many adults don’t realize how truly bad it is for an older sibling to have abused their power as the older sibling and to bully or sexually abuse their younger siblings and how some adults don’t recognize the great harm that often causes people. This experience might be written off or buried or seen as unimportant because the abuse came from the hands of another child. Hence the reason to point out if there was an older child in the home, that child by virtue of their increased cognitive abilities due to age was in a position of power and could inflict harm on someone younger. Unless the younger child was mentally or physically impaired, a year or 2 difference is not as likely to be an issue of abuse/bullying.

      And your’e right, there just isn’t much discussion on this problem area. There is far more discussion about bullies in schools than the bully child in your own home.


  76. My ACE score was a 6 and Resilience a 3. There are other things that I’ve dealth with that don’t make the “common” trauma cut, though- several of those being that my mother was abusive towards my father, I watched all of my siblings being abused, and grew up very isolated (home schooled, had no friends, etc).


    • There are more recent ACE surveys that are taking the other traumas you experienced, as well as more. They all have an effect. I hope the resilience factors that were given you in childhood are helping you to heal.


      • My Resilience factors had mainly to do with school and rules. We were home schooled so (obviously) our parents cared about our education and we had a LOT of rules. I had a very “Duggar style” upbringing. My parents were very religious and very strict. Unfortunately, they were also very abusive. We were also really isolated- until I left home I had never been to a doctor, a dentist, had never ordered for myself at a restaurant, shopped for myself, etc. I didn’t know how to communicate with my peers because I hadn’t had friends and didn’t grow up “normally” so we had nothing in common. Being out in the “real world” was an incredible shock to the system. I was painfully shy. I started self-injuring (I had no one to punish me so I punished myself) and thanks to a friend that happened to be a counselor I got help. I attempted suicide several times and had to be hospitalized. Ironically, my last two attempts should have been fatal and because I didn’t die when I was told in no uncertain terms that I definitely should have I thought that perhaps was meant to be here for a reason.

        Thank you for your reply and for caring ♡


  77. I found this pretty depressing — ACES 6, resilience maybe 2 if I’m being generous, because I was told that as a baby I briefly had a grandmother in my life who was kind to me, but I don’t remember anything about it.

    I don’t like the name of “resilience” for the second scale, by the way — it would be better named “resources available.” I would venture to guess that those tend to be inversely related for most of us. That is, the horrible childhood we had is not completely unrelated to being unloved / abused / not watched out for / not nurtured etc. If people had been watching out for us, providing emotional or other support to us, providing physical or emotional safety, we wouldn’t have been at the mercy of ALL this crap right? Maybe just part of it.

    “Resilience” might often be the _result_ of having been lucky enough to have the resources described in the second questionnaire, but that’s not quite what the questionnaire is measuring, is it?

    Also, there’s something about the word “resilience” that implies some kind of merit or superiority — “Well, I had a hellish childhood, but I’m RESILIENT, unlike all those other poor slobs with their chronic diseases and their depression and their struggles with attachment and trust and forming basic human relationships for which they have no template and no models.” I don’t know. Maybe thinking about all this stuff — about how my life has been crap from the beginning and I didn’t have much of a chance, ever — put me in a horrible mood and I’m responding accordingly.


    • I think the term “resilience” refers to our own quailties that allow us to adapt and survive, precisely because we may have had some of the resources available to us in childhood (ot later) as suggested in the resilience questionnaire.

      So, it’s really about semantics. Your “take” on what the questions are about is perceptive–the questionnaire does probe for childhood resources that were available to us. But the term “resilience” is also apt, as our own greater adaptability or resilience is the RESULT of having had those resources at some point.

      Psychologically speaking, resilience is what we attain when we are at last able to internalize external sources of support or any “available resources.”

      Does the term “resilience” now make more sense in this light to you?

      I include a good many years of therapy post-childhood in my own available resources that have led to greater resilience. So, I don’t think “available resources” stops at childhood’s end. Later, we can take steps ourselves that help us make use of resources for understanding, recovery and survival.

      I think people should not think of their current conditions of health or “dis-ease” as indicated by a test score and difficult or abisive childhood as permanent, but as a starting place from which we can now make efforts to obtain resources that may have been lacking in the past.

      It does require efforts to avail ourselves of resources and, sometimes, long-term efforts over many years. But we can take first steps or continuing steps every day to improve our own outlook and outcomes.

      It really is never too late to alter how we are experiencing our lives. For those of us who suffered stressful and abisive childhoods, there are also physical ways to improve our adaptability and ways to “unlearn” stress responses.

      Whether you begin from the physical side, or the psychological side, to work on things I don’t think matters. Just begin and keep on beginning. We are mind-bodies and help in one area spills over into other areas. ‘the damage appears in a holistic manner (mind AND body) and so can recovery occur in a holistic manner.

      I personally owe a lot to a friend who taught me some yoga when I was in my twenties, to therepists over the years, and more recently, to tai chi teachers, from all of whom I learned to de-stress and replace negativities with positive internal feelings and thoughts and images.

      There are many, many, many ways of recovery available to us all. We do have to choose to seek them out, though.

      It’s not like changes can occur overnight, either, but we can work with where we are now and go from there.

      I wish everyone on this page the opportunities to gain greater resilience with all the resources available and the courage to support themselves and others in their efforts.

      If there is anything positive that can result from such damage, it is that those so damaged can often much more easily empathize with others who’ve suffered abuse and neglect.

      It is a rare ability to be able to imagine how others may feel who’ve had such difficulties. Empathy is not always culturally acceptable. But I also don’t think it helps to just TELL others to get help and “be positive,” as we each have to find our own way to the light. Still, we can all be supportive and understand how difficult life can be for those so damaged in early life.

      There is a wealth of empathy, experience, and wisdom here that can be shared. We are the people who can hear these stories and understand them without turning away, and offer support instead. It’s a brave group of people because, of course, the experiences we’ve had are “shaming” and difficult to communicate.

      ACE 4-5 (I was abused physically and sexually by my dad and had a 6-year long illness as a teen for which I had major surgery at age 19 and almost died); Resilience 10


  78. Why isn’t being bullied in school part of the ACE questionnaire?? Jesus — you’re talking being verbally & physically abused, insulted & assaulted by groups of your peers, over *years*. You can’t tell me that it’s somehow “separate” from all other types of trauma, especially given how most parents still respond with stupidities like “you need to develop a thicker skin” or “just ignore them”.

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  81. This information is very helpful to me. It certainly validates the craziness I felt in my household as a child. My trauma score was 9…I struggled with anger, self destructive behaviors as a teen, and low self esteem. I’m so much healthier today but those negative thoughts still come up and compete for my attention. I’m learning more each day about self acceptance and that most of my life, I’ve been my worst enemy…😈

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  83. I’m confused by the standard of what sexual abuse is defined. The abuser according to this has to be 5 years older. I’ve heard ad read otherwise. It also depended on who the abuser was in relation to the victim. How about the age it began and duration. I had a very sarcastic father that physically abused my brother and was verbally abusive towards me ,him and my mom. I was sexually abused by my brother from 9 to 12. My ace score was 3 and resilience 14. So explain that.


    • The ACE Study definitely did not include all types of trauma that children experience. It what you experienced was traumatic and ongoing, it created toxic stress that affected you. However, strong support, such as what you seem to have experienced from your high resilience score, goes a long way to helping you survive and heal.


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  86. I am 44 and found this information insightful and I suffer from several autoimmune diseases; Crohn’s Disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, as well as fibromyalgia, which is not classified as an autoimmune disease. I was also born with glaucoma which means I’m legally blind and have been all my life. As well as degenerative disc disease.

    My mother isn’t in the same age group as my peers. My mother was 31 at the time of my adoption (more on that later) and my dad was 38. I was born in September and adopted in 1971 at 3 months and 4 days after my birth because my adopted mother had an emotional break. (Today if she were to attempt to adopt she would not be allowed)

    As a kid I suffered terribly with my stomach… and was nearly always a nervous wreck. My mother was raised very strict as such so was I and was in near constant fear of my mother wrath, even if her anger was not “triggered” by my behavior.

    The older I got (folks divorced when I was 11 or 12) the worse the emotional, mental and physical abuse got. Family saw the way I was being mistreated but no one dared cross my mother. By this time the physical abuse amped up, she had no one to talk with but insisted I needed mental help… She had a handful of diamond rings and often I received backhanded slaps across my face or where ever she could get to me. I was beaten with a thick leather belt IN FRONT OF MY ENTIRE CLASS in 4th or 5th grade… why? Because I was not wearing a bra… (At age 9 or so I had to start wearing one) she discovered this faux pas because she was doing laundry and noticed that there were 3 of my bras… I only had 3… The teacher tried intervening but my mother threatened to smack her with the belt and have her fired. (She is from a formerly very powerful family who had ties to the mafia) This was not the last time I would be beaten in front of my peers… notice I’ve not said “friends”… I was not allowed to have friends inside the house nor was I allowed to go into anyone else’s home. I had never had sleepovers nor gone to any… “Friends” we’re few and far between because of my mother until my maternal grandpa and stepgrandmaw move closer to us.

    I wasn’t aware that my mother was a drinker… that didn’t change much… ha! I was drinking in high school… literally… in classes. Vodka and juice… I was also smoking cigarettes (Both parents were smokers) I never smoked pot… her anti-drug method was: reach in her purse, remover her .38, place the barrel beside my head and would say, “if I ever catch you having anything to do with illegal drugs I will blow your MF’ing brains out for you!” (I live in Washington state… legalization is awesome!)

    Does any of this play into my health, I really can’t say… I do know that my youngest son (19) has many of the same autoimmune problems I suffer with including severe stomach pains. My oldest (24) he is starting to suffer from some joint and back stuff but thus far no autoimmune problems.

    As far as genetics… adoptions in the 1970’s was nowhere as detailed as those of the last 10-15 years. So, unless I win the lottery (gotta play to win, might be why we haven’t won… we don’t play) my adoption records will remain sealed… if hurricane Katrina didn’t distroy them… I won’t know anything about where I truly come from or what’s in my DNA.

    Again, does the emotional, mental and physical abuse I and so many other experienced effect my/our health… Seems plausible… but I feel that there’s more to be learned about ACE.

    PS… I broke the cycle of abuse


    • I have a very similar experience to yours…adopted young from one neglectful and abusive house into another abusive house. I have kids now and I also have Sjogren’s and Social Phobia. I am fascinated by what we pass to kids. I feel like I work so hard to give my kids the love and support I never had. But I see the same tendencies in them to be a copy of me and my ex, who also went though a devastating childhood. So I have been researching genetic memory too. I found 23 and Me really helpful. I will do the Ancestry App one day when I can afford it. Adoption records being closed in Louisiana and born in 1977, I hit roadblocks too. But I feel like we can sidestep them through Ancestry a bit now. On another note, I got my medical genetics from 23 and Me and I have a tiny minuscule little marker for Sjogren’s, considered a genetic low risk. So my experiences must have aggravated it to the point of blooming. I wonder if my daughter and son have a slightly higher risk genetically now. Wanna get their genetics done and see where their autoimmunity markers are.


    • Yes, it does affect your health, undoubtedly. In addition, as you experience life, your cells physically change. Your children inherit cells from you, so your life experiences may also affect their health as well. Build their resilience and yours through forgiveness and learning to look at your story with a positive spin. It will benefit healing.


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    • The ACE questionnaire is meant to be taken by adults to assess what happened to them as children. However, some pediatricians are asking teens to fill out the questionnaire to assess how many ACEs they have, because toxic stress can have an effect on health when you’re an adolescent.


    • I’d say sit down in a quiet place and decide for yourself if you should take it or not. You know best what you can handle. And you already know what has happened to you: this will just make it seem official. You might also want to make a plan to get support if you take it and totally freak out.


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  93. As I read these lists of factors, I reflected with gratitude on the supports in my childhood. As well, I was drawn to reflect on people I know with more trauma-related childhood challenges and fewer supports. I had an ACE score of 1 and a resiliency score from childhood of 12. I wasn’t sure exactly how to reword the questions for adulthood, but I came up with 12 or 13.


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  95. I see now that I didn’t have any protection people during my childhood. For the most part I have taken years of therapy that have helped. However, sometimes something sets it off for me and I get so frustrated, because I an right back there again, experiencing it all in my head. I do wish I can get to where I don’t trigger anymore.


  96. It’s the same concept of PTSD. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 1997. The questions mostly focus on family. I was sent away to school at age 10, because I am Deaf. There is a lot of what I endured at the school for the Deaf.
    Would be interesting to know what my score would be if I took the test with different questions.


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  101. I had a high ACE score, emotional and family mental health, but high in resilience. My grandmother was a loving person and somehow I knew my mother loved me even though she was depressed.


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  103. Although I scored a 7 on the ACE, and only 1 on the RESILIENCE Questionnaire, as a 65 yo adult, I have learned to cope and to get through life. As a child, I don’t think I believed that Life is what you make it, but as an adult, I know that to be true. It concerns me that I may be at risk for inflammatory diseases, and I know I participated in risky behavior as a young adult. So far, though, I have been very healthy. I think that with proper mental health care, more people would learn the coping mechanisms needed to overcome a troubled childhood. I started seeing a psychologist at age 16, and met with other psychologists through my 30s, as needed. Too bad our society looks down people who need mental health services.

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    • Thank you for your reply. I scored a 7 on the ACE test too and I have been having a really hard time trying to overcome my troubled childhood. I have been considering getting mental health help but I was reluctant due to having that documented in my history and the societal views associated with it. Thank you for your comment. I shall try to get an appointment this week and set that up.

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      • Nikiitasha, please don’t worry about what other people will think. They will only know that you have received mental health services if you tell them, and it is nobody’s business but your own. Although I started seeing a psychologist when I was 16, it wasn’t until I was 30 that I ever spoke of my childhood molestation. I needed to admit it to myself, and I needed to find the RIGHT psychologist, before I was able to tell. So, if the first one doesn’t seem to be the right one for you, don’t give up. Keep searching until you find the right doctor. Good luck to you, and know that you have a much right to be happy and comfortable in your own skin as anyone else. For some of us, it just takes a bit longer to get there! Love and happiness to you!


      • I was scared too. I’m a 9 1/2 and a 5. I finally went to therapy again and I’ve adjusted to being ok with always being in therapy. Unfortunately, I just learned I have chronic pain. It helped me realize I don’t know how to properly take care of myself. Everyone else, sure, but not me. Two quotes helped me. The first is anon: “Self care is survival, too.” The second is Buddha: “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Simple words, but they ring so much truth. Truth has helped as well. Every person that speaks the truth breaks the stigma. I found that every time I spoke the truth, it broke the part of me that is filled with shame. Silence, secrecy, and judgement is how shame survives. (That one is by Brene Brown, she’s wonderful). It was such a strange validation to break the silence. Not everyone will respond. There is no right way to respond, but I believe that they try. Maybe they have a mental illness they haven’t come to terms with, or they know someone who is hurting from a mental illness and don’t know what to say.


      • What you deal with in a therapist’s office is much like in a law office–the consultaitons are private unless there is any threat of harm to self or others. And the laws are very specific regarding that. More importantly, you’ll need to realize that finding the right therapist is a lot like finding the right doctor or teacher–it can take trial and error. Trust your own instincts as to whether any particular treatment is truly beneficial for you. You’ll know. Don’t discount all the other possible means of help as well. It’s not mentioned here, but I know there are “survivior” workshops and group therapies available in many places. And a lot of different physical and spiritual approaches that can also be very helpful. Even vitamins can help! You’re the one who can best manage finding your own ways of dealing with the residues of childhood trauma. It’s a kind of commonplace, but once we are grown, we become, in effect, our own fathers and mothers. To whatever extent we can achieve that, we can provide ourselves with support that might have been lacking earlier. So, taking steps to find help is one way you are being supportive of yourself. Keep at it. And trust yourself and your own responses to the forms of help available. Look at all of Veronique’s replies here, too, as they are very helpful and she is a therapist.

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    • Donna – I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have exactly the same score as you in both tests. The result of my childhood was 2 abusive marriages, one forced abortion and one suicide attempt. I got little or not help and have refused anti-depressants on several occasions. In the end, the key is to ‘let go’ and to cease being angry – just walk away! My family is highly dysfunctional and I have cut all ties with them to save myself. My biggest ambition was to sever the chain of abuse and bring my children up in a happy, loving environment. I’ve been rewarded by a third very happy marriage in which I’ve been blessed with two lovely daughters who have grown to be smart, loving, balanced and emotionally intelligent human beings. I remain avoidant and still sometimes struggle with life and social gatherings, but I know I have done the right thing. I no longer feel like the world is ‘against me’. I used to feel bitter about my family but now I realise that their absence during me raising my children was an absolute blessing – because I wouldn’t have been able to raise my girls in the environment I wanted for them if my family had been involved. I’m glad they’re gone!


      • Monica, I am so glad that you are happy, with a loving family. Although I have never managed a stable marriage, I am well loved by the people I work with, I have a son who EVERYONE tells me is “such a nice young man,” and know that I need no one but myself to have a good life. I use to wonder what was wrong with me that no one loved me, but I realize now that I had to love myself first. And, yes, I had to come to terms with my contradictory feelings about my family, too. I gave myself permission to dislike the brother who had molested me, thinking for so long that I HAD to love him because he was my brother. I have learned to step away from a mother who is a narcissus, and to communicate with her only by phone as much as possible, as she is less toxic that way. And, like you, I realize now that being mostly raised by my grandparents was a blessing in disguise. I felt rejected by my mother, but know now that my inner strength and morals are due to the grandparents who loved me. These ACE scores might show our scars and flaws, but it’s not set in stone that we will always feel wounded. We are who we choose to be, and I choose to be a strong, warrior woman. My favorite quote has always been, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To thine own self be true. And it shall follow, as the night the day, thou shall not be false to any man.”


    • There is another way to look at mental health services and it is a healthier viewpoint for all of society–not just those who need services. Today our society (parents, teachers, and other influencers) model unhealthy habits of thought and we adopt those habits as children. When we encounter adversities as children or adults our habits of thought are only as good as we know how to make them. Now that science knows which habits of thought lead to better outcomes (resilience, happiness, better physical, mental and behavioral health, better relationships and higher levels of success) all children should be taught how to use those habits of thought.
      Seeking mental health services simply means that your life failed to provide you with the habits of thought that will allow you to deal with your situation alone. There is absolutely no shame in that nor is there anything wrong with you. You simply need more information and mental health services is a way to obtain the information you need.
      It’s really no different than checking safety ratings by Consumer Reports before buying a car when your car is no longer serving your needs. You want to make sure you get one that will work well.
      If your habits of thought aren’t serving you well, you want to learn about habits of thought that will serve you better. It’s wise to do so.
      In the larger picture, now that we know (via science) the types of thinking that lead to success, teaching ALL children how to use them should be a high priority of every school.
      Healthy habits of thought isn’t telling someone what to think. It is creating psychological flexibility so an individual can adopt the habit of thought best suited to the unique circumstances of their life on a moment-by-moment basis.


    • I scored a 6 on the ACE and a only 5 on the Resilience questionnaire although I have trouble remembering much of how I felt at 18 (now 50). It has also been my experience that with effective mental health counseling, I was able to learn healthy coping skills- as well as the recognition of healthy relationships. My focus has been on a strong spiritual identity and a lot of really hard work! It is what has motivated me to return to school in my 40’s to pursue a career in mental health counseling. I have confidence that society will continue to heal as we value and implement the education of resilience and the practice of mindfulness in early childhood education.


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    • Technically, it is, Rachel. It’s just not the way the question was worded in the original ACE Study. Most people don’t lose a parent to death before they’re 18. This was getting at the most common way children lose a parent.


      • The ACE questionnaire needs to be updated to include: 1 – maternal death at birth. Mothers do die in childbirth. 2 – maternal death prior to the age of 18 due to cancer. This is a growing medical acknowledgement. Pregnant women do suffer from cancer. Cancer hospitals now have programs that involve the pregnant mother, her husband, and their older children in preparing for an uncertain future. If it is known that the pregnant mother will die, the family is given counseling to prepare for the mother’s death. Depending upon the age of the fetus, a decision must be made as to terminate the pregnancy or wait it out or treat the cancer. Family preservation is a cohesive plan of action if the mother dies. This is did not happen when my mother was dying of cancer at the same time while pregnant with me. She died of cancer 3 months after my birth in 1956. No one offered to help keep our family together. Instead, the Catholic priest told my father that “the baby needs two parents” and I was given up for adoption. My father kept his four older children. My mother’s very early death had a profound and lasting effect upon me and my siblings. … I do realize that parents die from many causes prior to a child’s 18th birthday. That is why we have so many half and full orphans in the world. AIDS, other diseases, famine, flu, crashes, earthquakes, floods. Be realistic. It is very important to more people than just “Most people don’t lose a parent to death before they’re 18. This was getting at the most common way children lose a parent.” That point of view is very exclusionary. There are more half orphans and full orphans than what is shown on the ACE test. And we DO exist in America.


      • Thank you for your reply, Jane. I’ve thought of some other things that are not on the list. Besides having a parent that died, I also experienced severe school bullying and childhood illness accompanied by invasive medical procedures. My ACE score is either zero or one (it’s hard to say for sure whether my mother was officially depressed) yet I am a mess as an adult. On the other hand, I wonder about the inclusion of some things that are on the list. Like, is it really an ACE for my four year old that his teenage siblings (my stepchildren) smoke a lot of marijuana? They don’t do it around him. Just playing devil’s advocate a little here. This is all really useful stuff to be thinking about.


      • There are several newer ACE questionnaires that add bullying and childhood illness with medical procedures/surgery. And, yes, unfortunately, it’s an ACE for your four-year-old if his siblings smoke a lot of marijuana, even if they don’t do it around him. If they smoke a lot of marijuana, they’re using it as a coping mechanism for something that is troubling them.


    • This is a shortened version of the test. Question #6 is intended to cover loss/absence of a biological parent in ANY way. They just want you to be aware that divorce is considered part of that. This is why the question states separated or divorce since death is also a source of separation. The wording can be misleading though. A better wording found on longer versions is: “Before your 18th birthday, was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason?”

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  121. I see there are many comments and this question may have already been addressed but I did not catch it.
    Can you offer me resources or advice on how I can go about talking to my doctor, and to which doctors, about this so that I may attempt to treat this in relation to my health and especially my life performance. Is there a precedent for this? Should I search for a professional that is familiar with the study and applications?
    I feel like I get much less done and struggle more to meet my potential (which is often described as mental illness or adhd) and I’m curious how I can translate this, in connection to my trauma, medically.


      • My ACE score and Resilience score were both high. I grew up in an alcoholic home and witnessed abuse. I work in Behavioral Health here and we are using our traditional medicine to get better. With out prescribed medication but with natural healing. We are teaching our young children how to identify emotions and tell them they are normal. What we have lost through historical trauma and when the western influence came here(missionaries, diseases,..) and taking our children away for school resulted in loss of our ancestor’s teachings on how to live a healthy life. We are now teaching utilizing our Elders as tools to re-teach our ancestors way of good living. We use talking circles in each gathering because talking it will help heal us. Keeping it inside is making us sick.

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    • Definitely true, if it happened sometimes. Rarely, so as not to make much of a difference in your life….I’d say probably not true. This is meant more as a guideline to understanding how resilience factors can make a difference in your childhood, and to increase awareness of how incorporating resilience factors can help create a healthy life now.

      Liked by 1 person

  123. Hope this becomes public knowledge so that everyone who comes into contact with a child will realise what a difference they can make to an individual’s life.


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  126. We are currently raising our three year old grandson as foster parents. He was removed from his parents who are both drug addicts. The boy was shaken repeatedly by his mother, accidentally hit by his mother, and for 18 months lived in a very toxic environment where there was a great deal of yelling and put downs. It’s actually a miracle that he lived through some of the things he endured. He is quite delayed with his expressive speech although his receptive speech is very good. He walked at 23 months but since he has been with us has developed at a rapid speed. At 18 months I witnessed him being the nurturer to his father who was likely going through withdrawal symptoms. He has bonded extremely well with us, gives lots of love, and does seem to enjoy being part of a healthy family unit. Even from a not very verbal three year old he seems to convey this by wanting group hugs and wanting his close people to be together. His parents have been absent from his life for eight months. Termination of parent rights is in the works but it terrifies me that ultimately a judge decides whether the child is reunified with his parents or gets adopted or a guardianship. We are dual licensed and will absolutely adopt our grandson if that opportunity presents itself and knew how critical living in a healthy household was to a child BUT reading about ACES makes it that much more critical. Prior to reading about ACES I just thought that statistics seem to indicate that children who grow up in a toxic home will more likely follow in the same bad patterns. Again, after reading about ACES that is very much confirmed. Our grandson’s score would be anywhere from 4-7 based on what I know. It’s hard to say what his answers would be on some of them but I tried to base it on what I know or what I’ve been told by others.

    My question is this. After spending the first 18 months of his life in that kind of home and now the last 19 months in our home, attending a school two days a week and loving it, going out and experiencing the world far more, and witnessing a loving home how much damage is done and how much can be undone? Any help you can give would be very much appreciated. The little guy deserves the best and we’re trying to get all the services he needs and to make sure he feels loved, safe, and is in a stable home.


    • Ma’am, I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by it…but I score a 10. It has certainly been a struggle however I am a functional productive member of society. Not everyone wants to continue the cycle. You can’t blame your failures and such on your past. It is about acceptance and taking ownership…to do anything not to be a victim but to be a survivor.I am glad your grandson is safe. I just wanted to put that out there.


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  128. Thank you so much for this article. I’m a survivor of childhood trauma and this article has explained so much to me about my self prior to being recently diagnosed and medicated. I scored an 8 on the ACE. Does anyone know more about the resiliency score?


  129. I scored four or five on the ACE but also high on resiliency factors. Sometimes I look back in my childhood and can hardly believe I have made such a good life for myself. I’m a work in progress, to be sure, but still moving forward at 51. I’m so glad we are learning to help children overcome harm.

    Liked by 2 people

  130. A comment on why men have lower ACE scores than women, perhaps it is because men have been socialized to “suck it up” and not complain. So perhaps there is more denial and repression among men.


    • I would say it’s also likely due to the fact that females are marginalized in society, more so in the past, and females are much more likely to have been sexually abused that males.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I tend to disagree. The marginalization of females has largely come from their being protected and kept in safety. While this is obvious discrimination (education, banking, etc) it also has buffered women from hardships such as dangerous occupations, death in war and many other dangerous and violent events. The boys and men have also faced marginalization since they faced sex discrimination in being the ones expected to take care of all of those dangerous events, wars, etc. and were much more likely to die in the process.

        From an ACE point of view it is important to consider how boys and girls were treated as children and I think a good case could be made that during childhood it is more likely for the girls to be protected and the boys to be expected to suck it up.

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  132. Thanks so much for an excellent article. I am new to the ACE information but being a therapist it is very pleasant to see my world view confirmed via this research. I have seen over the years the impact of trauma and its connection with old childhood events. Therapy that helps work integrating that story is always helpful and gives people more access to joy and peace.

    I do have a question or two. I would love to look at and analyze this data. Are there online sources that give you access to the raw data?

    The other question I have is related to the ACES numbers. It seems that, in general, women have higher ACE scores than men. But men die earlier from nearly every major disease. Men die from accidents and suicide at a much higher rate. Wouldn’t the theory predict that since women have higher ACE scores they should be more prone to early death, and death from cancer, heart disease etc? The fact is that it is men who are dying more often and earlier than the women. It is also a fact that ,men’s longevity is about 5 years shorter than women’s. Most seem to attribute this to risky behaviors of the men but doesn’t the ACE idea predict that the higher scores would also predict more risky behaviors? This puzzles me.

    Thanks for any help with this and thanks again for a fascinating article.


    • Hi, Tom: You’d have to go to the CDC to access the raw data. If you go to the CDC ACE Study site — — you can find all the 60+ publications from the study (and more in press). After looking at those, if you want to contact them, there’s contact info on the site.
      You can also join, the companion social network to, to see what others are doing to integrate this knowledge into their work.
      I can only guess at why women live longer….they tend to turn their response to stress inward, and so there’s more immune system damage, so a lot of damage, but not instantly lethal. (See Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s book, Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal — she gets into this.) Men tend to turn their responses outward, so engage in more violence and more thrill sports. They also use guns for suicide (more lethal).
      That would be something to ask some of the ACEs researchers, whose names you can find on the publications on the CDC site.


    • Hi Tom,

      This is such a great question you put out there about why there seem to be such differences in health for men and women in response to ACEs.

      As a physician turned trauma therapist I having been exploring the role of ACEs in long term physical health and chronic illness. I am beginning to wonder if the effects of early trauma show up in different ways in different people / situations / groups etc.

      For example, I see the long term effects as showing up for some individuals as behavioral changes (addictions to food, substances, work, exercise, hoarding, etc).
      For others, it may show up more as an emotional symptom or mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar and possibly contribute to schizophrenia, autism etc as well).
      And then for still others it arises as a chronic illness (MS, chronic fatigue, Rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease etc).
      I see all of these illnesses as the result of nervous system patterns and physiological responses to trauma (and not as conscious choices or responses to purely “negative thinking” etc).

      I’ve also started wondering whether men’s physiologies generally (if not always) default towards response patterns to trauma related to fight/flight, as Jane Ellen alludes to. This could lead to behaviors that are higher risk or chronic illnesses such as heart disease that can have higher rates of sudden death; whereas women’s physiologies may default more to the state of “freeze” and to experience more health issues such as autoimmune diseases (which generally occur at higher rates in women).

      This field is rich with science that can help us keep asking these kinds of questions that feel so filled with curiosity and new kinds of solutions, perspectives, non-blaming attitudes, and treatment possibilities.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Veronica – Thanks for a fascinating post. I am betting you are correct that there are some reasons beyond our present understanding that play out in how we respond to stress. The work of Shelly Taylor on stress is a good example where she found that men and women were fundamentally different in their response to stress with the males more likely to fight/flight and the females more likely to do what she named “tend and befriend.” That is, women move more towards interaction while men are more likely to move towards action/inaction.

        Have you noticed any sex differences? I’d love to hear more from you about what you are finding.

        I think the masculine risk taking is at least partly related to the testosterone flood, male/male competition, and precarious manhood. All of these play a role in men’s behaviors and I am guessing they may also be involved in how their stress manifests in their body.

        The other piece of this is the likelihood that men have under-reported on their ace scores. Due to the provide and protect role and precarious manhood men are much less likely to admit to trauma and abuse. That would explain a great deal.

        All sorts of interesting twists and turns and we know so little now. Makes it fun to guess and work on it! I’d love to hear more from you about your observations if you have the interest. If you want to find me you can go to and there is an email address on the contact page.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Tom,
        Your phrase “reasons beyond our present understanding that play out in how we respond to stress” seems to hit the nail on the head about this issue. I’ll be in touch via email.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I understand that men do indeed need more advocacy in our culture. I’ve done academic research on welfare reform, where men are hardly ever considered the “deserving poor” compard to women and children.

      However, your view of the greater protection afforded women and children misses the double-edged sword of protectiveness, since greater protectiveness can also render those protected more vulnerable and seemingly “weaker.” That means they can be taken advantage of by those who consider, or need to consider, themselves stronger and more powerful.

      A lot of abuse is about power, in fact. Men are taught to desire physical strength and dominance by many cultures, including our own. When we see women pursuing sports as in the recent Olympics, we see a culture changing, so that those prevoiusly considered weaker are beginning to strengthen and yet still find themselves, as many Olympics reporters noted, still find themselves viewed as secondary to males, including athletic husbands, or women’s sports as less than male sports.

      There are, then, two sides to protectiveness. So, while men may die sooner and from more accidents and suicides (anger and violence as more acceptable forms of expression for men may be only one factor here, as well as the risky behaviors you mention), women and children are much more often abused. Those are the facts.

      This doesn’t mean men don’t also suffer abuse, nor does it discount the need for attention to the traumatic experiences and results of those experiences for men. The awful suicide rates of verterans are one such area where a culture’s definitions and prescriptions for men to be strong can lead entire institutions to ignore help desperately needed, as well as cause men to ignore their own needs and vulnerabilities.

      It’s not really a matter of who needs help more than who else. It’s more a matter of both/and reasoning. We need to help both men and women.

      I don’t see it as a contest, though I can see how that view can develop when men’s needs are so underserved. As they are.

      While the socio-cultural tendencies are to protect the vulnerable, defined in different eras of our own history as widows, women, and children, often excluding men, that does not decrease the actual vulnerabilities of ALL groups, which are also often supported by a set of cultural practices that render them less powerful socially.

      There may also be genetics to consider, since males do die at greater rates than females from fetuses to birth and onwards, even before cultural conditioning begins to set in.

      Not all illness or risky behavior is caused by trauma, then. Causes for men’s greater degrees of illnesses, deaths, and other are complex and not only releated to who suffers more abuse in childhood. There are many cultural factors, including those which socialize men as the “protectors” of others and others as “protected.”

      I have to say, though, that from my own experience, abuse which young boys and men may suffer can be particularly brutal and brutalizing. However, there are also lifelong forms of damage which result from the abuse of children and women who may have a lesser ability to fight back and who are similarly expected to “suck it up” as in not tell anyone about their abuse.

      So, again, really, I don’t see this as a contest over who suffers more abuse or whose results of trauma are more damaging. We need to embrace awareness of ALL forms of abuse and suffering and damage, rather than discount anyone else’s. Does that make sense to you?

      I think I’m saying that it is good to be an advocate for men’s needs, but that it is possible to advocate without discounting the suffering of others (who you see as preotected and who, in fact, are not perhaps as protected as they are culturally deemed to be, if the facts of abuse rates are also considered. Is it possible for you to be an ally for women and children as well as an advocate for men? That’s what I would hope for in advocacy, especially as you do work in this area.

      Liked by 2 people

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    • Anita,
      So did I. And I am as surprised as you, not just at being here but also at doing this well for myself.
      With only an occasional struggle,I usually manage to forget and suppress the past.
      I have been doing this for many years, mostly almost subconsciously.
      But I am here, because I am a fighter.

      Liked by 1 person

  135. Why is question n° 7 only about women? In my personal case, the one who got assaulted often was my father. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.


    • As mentioned in the explanation about ACEs above the questionnaire, there are 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.

      Also, some newer ACE surveys are including other questions, such as racism, bullying, witnessing violence outside the home, and involvement in the foster care system.


    • I had the same question Arlen. I went back and looked at the original questionnaires that were used and the question was only asked about males assaulting mothers or step-mothers. This is a serious mistake and omits men who are nearly half the victims of domestic violence. I am guessing that the questions were designed in the early or mid 1990’s when the public awareness of domestic violence was just beginning and most assumed that women were the only victims. i suppose they can’t alter the questionnaire at this point but I hope future versions will remedy that sexism. BTW if you are interested I wrote a report for the state of Maryland about male victims of domestic violence and how and why they have been ignored for many years. You can see a copy of it here


      • As mentioned at the top of the Got Your ACE Score? page, 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 ACE co-founders, Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda, are well aware that there are many other types of childhood trauma. And there have been subsequent ACE surveys, such as the Philadelphia Urban ACE Study, that have added more questions.

        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.



        According to this American Bar Association report, on specifics of domestic abuse, of all types, it is stretching it quite a bit to say that “nearly half” are men. Clearly, women and children are a higher percentage of victims of all the types and forms of abuse.
        Here’s just one summary of the whole report:

        –Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
        –84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
        –Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
        50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims.
        –Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse


  136. ACE score of 7. I started getting recurrent pneumonia when I was 4 years old, had about 30 of them in childhood. Now I have an immune system that is overreactive and not normal in ways that don’t fit a specific disease patter. Cholinergic urticaria, elevated T cells, elevated complement, high TNFa, high NK cells, skewed cytokine ratio. To add to the toxic stress, I lived with smokers. Didn’t stop smoking just because I had pneumonia.

    What I’m most interested in is how to reverse this hypervigilent incompetent immune system of mine.


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  138. ACE score 4, resilience 9. Do not know how I got to be a successful professional (professor) and highly-functional person despite trauma, depression, and a family history of schizophrenia, but I am grateful that somehow I had the core strength to weather the terrible storms. A LOT of therapy has helped, and I’m always on an anti-depressant, have been for years; it keeps me from falling down the black hole.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ellen, my ACE score is 4 too, I have earned master’s degree and now I am working on additional bachelor degree in entierly different field. I am just glad that there are other people out there who made it🙂


      • Dont let high education success fool you. This can be a coping process for self worth. Contentment is key. Hopefully you are experiencing satifaction and healthful success.


    • EE, I had a 4 1/2 & 8; am a professional; the experience made me very tough; I’ve heard many worse stories than mine; a client with a worse story just left my office; she told me about this website. Never taken anti-depressants. Became a Christian at age 35 & found answers & help w/o counseling. My beautiful & smart older sister didn’t do so well. 1 day at a time; thanks for sharing.


  139. Do you realize that these questions are difficult for an adopted person to answer? Most adopted people only can answer questions about the family they were raised in, not their family of birth (their genetic family). How am I to know that my mother or father smoked? Which set of parents are you referring to? I am one of a growing number of adopted people who do know somethings about our genetic families, about our mothers and fathers, but, I do not know details such as if either or both of my parents smoked. I cannot answer some of these questions because I am adopted and do not have specific answers to questions concerning my actual parents and my full blood siblings. What I do know is that my mother died of cancer three months after my birth. I was in an incubator for the first 6 weeks of my life. My mother was dying of cancer while pregnant with me and was x-rayed with me inside her at my gestational age of and a half months. The only reason I know this is because I was lucky to have had a reunion with my natural family and asked my doctor to get my mother’s hospital records. What are my epigenetic risks? … Other questions are very confusing for an adopted person since we were adopted by strangers, so yes, even though we called these people our parents, and even loved them as such, they are strangers to us biologically. Many adopted people were adopted as older children and will have visceral reactions to these questions. Many children who were taken from their homelands and adopted into America will also be unable to answer these questions. Too many assumptions for adopted people. Again, while the introduction states there is a question about abandonment of one parent, I did not see this question. Nor did I see any questions regarding the complete and permanent separation and loss of both parents due to relinquishment to adoption. Adoption is not abandonment, even though it is felt that way by the adopted person. There is a contradiction in society – larger society sees relinquishing a child to adoption as a positive, yet, since you mentioned abandonment of one parent being a risk factor, do you not agree that a child who experiences the total loss of both parents and siblings as more of a stress risk? Please contact me via my website contact form:

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    • Hi — Thanks for commenting. As is explained at the beginning of the survey, adverse childhood experiences are not limited to the 10 in the survey. In fact, subsequent surveys are including other ACEs such as racism, involvement in the foster care system, bullying, witnessing violence outside the home. These questions do not refer to what your biological parents did specifically, especially if you did not live with them. They refer to the experiences you had in the family you lived in.


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    • 6 out of 10 for me.

      I was physically abused so bad I now have CP. I also survived emotional abuse, abandonment, neglect, and had several members of my family with mental conditions.

      Oddly, most of the health consequences so far have not happened to me. I quit smoking in 99′ or 2000, did consider suicide when I was 15, and do have some dental issues due to my entire childhood of neglect, developing cardiovascular concerns directly related to my disability, arthritis, and some trust issues, but everything else has eluded me so far.


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    • The pediatricians in the Children’s Clinic in Portland, OR, find that parents with high ACE scores and high resilience scores handle stress and challenges better than parents with high ACE scores and low resilience scores. And then there’s this research from Dr. Robert Whikaker and colleagues —


    • It is not a good resiliency score, but it was free. It measures primarily supportive factors that you had as a child. It does not measure factors that you have now. It is also not a validated resilience screener. The pediatricians at The Children’s Clinic will begin using the CD-RISC resilience scale (there is a 25 / 10 / 2 question version).

      How you score this is from 0 to 4 or 1 to 5 — this doesn’t matter. So if you answered all the questions as definitely not true your score would be 0x14, if you answered all as definitely true, you would score 4 x 14. The higher the score, the more protective factors you had as a child — these protective factors protect you and protect all children from the damaging effects of ACEs.

      Thanks Tina


    • So for example, for myself, on this questionnaire, I have 0 for most of these but #7 I would put 4 but this is only during high school when I was about to be kicked out of the house and when I was much younger I was tormented by teachers, so how does one answer this question? Number 10 — in our house every one was crazy and beatings were capricious and there was no rhythm or reason for that — it is kind of ordered, but I would say zero and for Question 14 – I would say 3.

      So that would mean that out of 56 (using a scale of 0 to 4, I would have a resilience score of 7). The lower, the less supports and less supported you were as a child.


  158. Something I want to point out is that the ACES questions could include older siblings. Sibling abuse, like neglect in general, is so rarely talked about because “that is just siblings fighting”. Sometimes it’s not fighting, sometimes it’s physical abuse that is consistent and really scary, especially when they used to be friends and suddenly one sibling turns on the other and is abusive. Sometimes it’s worse.


    • That’s why I scored a 2. My brother was awful. He is 6 years older than me, and it seemed to be his goal in life to terrorize me. He held me down and made me watch scary movies. Chased me around with syringes (they were for the dogs), threw me against a tree, threw things at me constantly, hit me, tormented me emotionally, put bugs all over my bed, it goes on… and on…


  159. Wow, my ACE was 10, but my resilience score was 9.
    So that means my ACE was 100% but my resilience was at 64.29%…
    I guess that means I have a better chance at getting over it than not getting over it??


    • Same here, and I still count on having victory in my life. But I’m 60 yrs. old now, and have all those diseases caused by chronic stress, and most of my life has been wasted just trying to cope or survive in one way or another. But in the end, I’m going to win. I believe you can too, but my advice is to put a rush on it, don’t let time go by without getting all the help you need. I wish you well.


  160. I’m at 7 and my resilience score is 1. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this knowledge now. I’ve attempted suicide 3 times since last year and I’m not sure what to do other than that.


    • Knowledge is power. You know that the adversity that you faced has lead you to choices that are dangerous to you. I think this knowledge should make you desire to not let your past dictate your future. Seek professional help to guide you this this. Pray…..God saw me through drugs, saw me through abuse, saw me through near death and completely changed my life. Through yourself into a church and let God help you on top of professional help. Good luck!~


    • JL, I don’t know you or pretend to understand your situation, but I want you to know that I am thinking about and praying for you. I am sorry for the abuse you suffered as a child, a score of 7 means it must have been a pretty horrible childhood. I am glad that you are still here, because this world is better with you in it. I didn’t really see anything in this article about what to do once you know your scores, but I am getting my master’s in social work and we have been talking about this very thing. There are treatments and therapies that can help. Even if you have been to counseling before, it is very probable that they were only trying to treat your symptoms and not understanding that they were related to a traumatic childhood. I would encourage you to take this article in with you to a counselor and even your primary dr and try again. There is hope and help for you and it is very likely that your quality of life will dramatically increase with the right counselor and plan of action. Again, I’m praying for you.


      • So how does one cope when their older sister is a social worker that resents you to his day (I am 49) for being a difficult teenager knowing full well of the physical and sexual abuse only endured by me the youngest child in the family? I celebrate stories of people that are able to move on and who have found a way to make that daily choice to put themselves first…I can’t even begin to know what that would look like for me


    • I have 8 ACES. I’ve decided that these protective factors and the 40 developmental assets can be built to offset ACES effects thruout my life. I did not finish High School. I have a Masters Degree. I have 2 beautiful children and 2 wonderful granddaughters. I have headaches every day. Most days I can work thru these and carry on. I’ve been widowed, divorced, and am married to the most amazing man, Life has sucked in a lot of ways, and I’ve found joy because I made it thru every one of those “I don’t know how I’m going to get thru this” moments. As Shane Koyzcan says in “To this day, for the bullied and the beautiful” “if you don’t like what you see, Find another mirror.” Our society doesn’t mirror trauma survivors well. You Are Beauty.


    • My Ace score was 7 and my resilience is 2. I want to reach out to you because we have very similar scores on both tests. When I read that you want your life to end because of the pain you are feeling, it made me feel sad. Having hope for tomorrow to be just a little better than today, is what keeps me going. Life is so difficult, and at times I wonder how I will make it from day to day, but those times are when I try to remember that every situation is temporary. Like a roller coaster, we go up and down. For you and me, the downs happen more often than others, but hang on tight, because the upswing is coming and it is wonderful and worth waiting for.


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  166. Wow. 9/10 for ACE and only 3/14 for resilience… I’ve found your test because I was looking for answers, I was wondering if it’s possible to feel better and building a strong happy life..


  167. Where does living in a hoarded house fit into this? My mother hoarded every house we lived in and seemed opposed to cleaning anything – even things like cleaning the bathroom. She would get mad when I did it. She also had zero ability to make friends and was constantly on the outs with her parents and siblings – which cut me off from any stable adults who would have served as that one sane person that believed in me.


    • Hi Robin,

      I would add to Jane Ellen’s comment that your mom’s hoarding and other behaviors likely reflect her own trauma and perhaps a high ACE score. For example, some people who hoard had terrible losses in childhood (loss of parents, siblings, pets and other loved ones) and or lost or had to give up their most cherished possessions (toys, dolls, clothes, homes… their sense of self) whether because of moving or having to start over in new families or foster homes, natural disasters… or being denied who they were and not seen…

      Hoarding can be a reflection of unrecognized and unprocessed loss and grief and pain which then affects the next generation – such as you.

      There are ways of working with transgenerational trauma even when past generations are no longer here with us. Each of us has different preferences for what works best for us:

      The book “Ancestor Syndrome” can be helpful

      Trauma therapy such as somatic experiencing, EMDR, sensorimotor psychotherapy, Internal family systems and more can be helpful with a therapist who is attuning, compassionate and skilled in their field.

      Another approach is Family Systems / Constellation / Hellinger work which is done with a skilled facilitator

      I’m so sorry you went through this and I wish you support and healing on your journey.


      • Thank you Veronique! I will look into those. Since we’re talking about Mom’s ACE’s, I’ve always had a hard time understanding just what made her so dysfunctional. She is one of 5 siblings and is by far the most dysfunctional of the group. I know of no major traumas in her childhood. Whatever dysfunction went on in their home that may have been an ACE didn’t affect any of the 4 other kids the way it affected her or to the same degree. The only thing that would differentiate her from her siblings (that I know of), is that she was a twin, but the other baby was stillborn. Is there any info on the loss of a twin sibling at birth and ACEs?


    • Hi Robin,

      How profound that your mom was so different from her siblings in her level of dysfunction and that she was the one who lost a twin at birth.

      There is a significant and growing body of literature looking at the role of adverse events in prenatal life, at birth and in the first few weeks of life including how it can affect health into adulthood. It is much less known than the ACE research.

      Particularly relevant to your mom’s experience is that there is gradually increasing understanding of the impact of early loss such, such as of a twin or triplet, especially since the onset of in vitro fertilization, where there has been an increase in multiple embryos and in ultrasound tracking.

      Here are a few articles about the effects of twin loss:

      In Wikipedia:

      In The News:

      A book presenting research called The Lone Twin that I just discovered and hope to read:

      A longstanding support group in the UK called The Lone Twin Network:

      This is all just the tip of the iceberg on trauma at this phase in life.

      In the US there is an organization called the Association for Prenatal Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) that hosts regular conferences, has many articles and resources as well as a list of therapists and other health care professionals specializing in this field of care.

      They describe a book on this topic called Womb Twin Survivors:

      I hope the information is helpful.


    • I would suggest trying to figure her ACE score and residence score from your understanding of her childhood. I think hoarding is usually a red flag for childhood trauma which you were born into. Working toward improving your self and life is the point to the resilience from my understanding. I wish you the best and blessings in your life. There are studied about hoarding and the mental implications it has on children.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robin, tonight I saw a screening of an excellent film called Paper Tigers. In it, several youth are followed over the course of a school year at a high school integrating ACE awareness. One of the kids has an emotionally unstable mother who seems to be a horder- the kid has been forced to be a grown up in his household. You might enjoy the film.


    • Hoarding is a mental illness, right? I have a tendency to let magazines pile up and I hate to let any of them go, but I do it reluctantly anyway. It is so painful to watch those shows on hoarding. The family really suffers and it puts that person and other family members in jeopardy of physical illness. Neighbors in apartments are also affected. This is a debilitating and isolating phenomenon.
      I feel for you.


    • Definitely applies as mentally ill – the Hoarding that you describe rises to the level of an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Also # 4, b/c for a child, it would appear that she “cared” more about her “stuff” than about you


    • Robin, in addition to what Veronique and others have said, if your mother’s twin was still born and your mother was a living newborn, she had a mother who was awash in grief & confusion and would have had a difficult time attaching to your mother. The difficulty of mother’s unresolved grief (your grandmother) means your mother didn’t get her secure attachment needs met, and then her dysfunction rolls downhill on to you. Pain is multi-generational… Some clinicians focus on these attachment issues. My heart goes out to you. I hope you keep healing.

      Liked by 1 person

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  171. Are you sure you got your question #6 correct? My understanding is that the question should be “was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or another reason?” My ACE score was 7. I had 3 out of 4 grandparents dead by the time I was conceived, and both parents and my (very much adored) Grandfather by the time I was 11. I was separated from my brother and sister too (allowed to take one suitcase and dumped at a train station). And that was just the first chapter of a difficult childhood. I can tell you without any question of a doubt, losing a parent – and a whole family – is devastating to future health. Now, at age 57, I am diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and I’ve had to have 3 colonoscopies in less than a year. I guess that 20 year shortening of my lifespan is catching up to me even though I’m incredibly resilient to adversity. Probably too late for someone my age to correct the DNA damage, but I hope the research will help children who are at risk.


  172. Had an ACE score of 6, but a resiliency score of 9. Despite depression and a failed marriage, by the age of 40 I was working with an excellent therapist and decided that it was up to me to make the best of my life, and not continue to give abusers power over me. I am now 68 and living a happy successful life. I have some health problems ( RA) and could lose some weight but I think the resiliency score is an indicator of how well an adult can overcome an abusive childhood.


  173. Protective factors and individual resilience.
    Werner, Emmy E.; Meisels, Samuel J. (Ed); Shonkoff, Jack P. (Ed), (1990). Handbook of early childhood intervention. , (pp. 97-116). New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press, xxi, 760 pp.

    even in the most disorganized and emotionally impoverished homes, and beset with serious physical handicaps, some children appear to develop stable, healthy personalities and to display a remarkable degree of resilience the first objective of this chapter is a clarification of concepts, the second is an overview of the different methodological approaches that have been used to study protective factors and resilience, and a third is to summarize what is presently known about the role of protective factors in the development of children, families, and the community at large / concludes with a discussion of implications for early intervention that arise from our yet fragmentary knowledge of the roots of resilience in children

    Basically this “resilience” Scale is a Protective Factors Scale. If one had positive adult relationships during their childhood, they are more likely to do better. It doesn’t really say what an adult can do now (except cultivate relationships and not necessarily with parents who may or not be sea and who may or not be toxic and dangerous for health).

    I just don’t like always having to see — come back to this scale. Some of use had really sadistic parents that locked us in rooms and basements and didn’t allow us to interact with others at all. It is a miracle of resilience that we did as well as we did but has nothing to do with positive or protective relationships during childhood. It is more like being in a war zone and doing whatever it takes to survive — for some resilience is basically doing whatever a small mind can muster to avoid death — an internal characteristic brought about by lack of protection and all our innate struggle for life — but in the end when going to a normal society after this type of early brain development, the outcome is not good and you have massively severe developmental trauma. The scale may help some think but for some of us, it is just another reminder that we were and have always been alone. Thanks.


  174. Where are the citations for this resilience scale? I am looking for them on MSU online library and can find nothing so far. PS, Dr. Bruce Perry is s child psychiatrist (please see The Boy who was Raised as a Dog). etc. i want to see the data and research about this scale. Sincerely, Dr. Tina Marie Hahn, MD, FAAP


    • Hi, Tina: This resilience survey was put together by a group of researchers and physicians several years ago, because they thought there should be something to use with the ACE survey. They wanted people to know about protective factors that they may have experienced in their childhood as a way of explaining resilience and to help people build on, or build in, resilience factors in their lives. They perused the literature on resilience, including a lot of the work that Dr. Emmy Werner, now professor emeritus at UC Davis, did on identifying resilience factors in children and families.


    • The Search Institute has done research on their Developmental Assets. When I’m using the ACE study in my work with kids, I use the 40 developmental assets because they are research based, very specific, internal & external. I also talk about trauma informed care approaches (SAMHSA funds).


  175. My score was 5, but I should note that both parents were Holocaust survivors. I heard their horrific stories of death, torture, rape, starvation, etc… for as long as I remember.

    On top of that, my Mother just didn’t like me as a child. She spanked, threw things, and had no shame in being physically abusive. She often insulted me and made fun of me – throughout her life. Neither my Father or brothers stood up for me, or stood up to her. Occasionally I did, and so was punished. She was never really proud of any of my accomplishments.

    When I was sexually abused as a young girl, and then again by my a boss during my teen years, my Mother said — that’s just what happens. She never even considered taking action against them, or telling my father… in fact, sent me right back to the perpetrators.

    I found out later that my Mother told a therapist when I was a child — and then me, later — [she was in therapy on and off her entire adult life; sometimes institutionalized] that she wished she’d had abortions instead of having her children. When I said — but you did have us and you love us, right? She said – no, she still wished she had had the abortions. I was about 20.

    I’m over 60 now, and have found ways to cope with depression, anxiety and insecurity — it helps having a loving and understanding spouse! I recognize the past’s influence on my present — and other than being over-vigilant, I am also overweight — but have overcome a lot to be here now.


      • My mother’s dad died when she was 6 years old. She was taken fro her mother, who was a young single mother from his wealthy family for the insurance money her dad was getting after his death. Then her mother came back 5 years later and kidnapped her back with a new husband. She really was abused by her mother. She incidently said the same thing after a nasty divorce from my father. I did so much for her, even after her cancer surgeries and securing money for her the rest of her life after her third husband died in Alaska.

        Now, after she humiliated me with my sister who was stealing her lump sum income I got for her , I left them to each other, after I reported my sister to the state of Utah for elder abuse. My mother denied it. I walked away. And so she has no teeth, my sister is really taking her monthly SS check I got from her dead husband’s benefits for her. And walking away from that insanity is the best thing that ever happened to me.

        The three boys that I raised after she abandoned them on me, we go on vacations and see each other. We don’t know her. Because to call her you get sucked into her manipulation. The past for some people cannot be changed for them. You cannot save them , it will destroy YOUR FUTURE.


  176. I scored a 9 on the ACE but also had a high number of protective items as well. When I left home I spent a while in therapy, but there are large blank spots in my childhood memories up until my mid-teens. The psychologist i saw suggested that whatever I couldn’t remember was probably so traumatic that my subconscious refused to let me remember at a conscious level in order to protect me. After a year or so, he announced that I was ready to leave therapy. I went on to complete college, and have a successful career. I was married for almost 35 years before my spouse passed away somewhat unexpectedly. Like many other folks I do have some health issues and am overweight.
    One person recommended pregnenolone to help reduce the stress hormone. I was curious so looked it up, and as a warning, if you have any type of hormone related cancer (breast, uterine etc), pregnenolone is converted to estrogen in the body so is probably not safe.


  177. I got an ACE score of 7. Never thought too much about the health issues my childhood may have left behind but this is definitely got me thinking…. Any advice? I watched Nadine Burke’s TED talk but she does not discuss treatment in-depth. Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jamie,

      I’m a family doc who retrained as a psychotherapist and learned that there’s a whole world out there about trauma that I’d never heard of in my medical training, including the ACE studies. I’ve specialized in trauma and chronic illness (including working with my own chronic illness from this perspective). There are many helpful approaches and as many other readers have commented, you really can heal from the effects of trauma and reduce physical symptoms over time. I have a list of some treatment modalities with links to their websites and their practitioners on my blog FAQ page:

      You might also read Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s book “The Last Best Cure,” which details her exploration of meditation, acupuncture, mindfulness and more to work with her health (autoimmune diseases and severe eczema, among others). She’s a health science journalist and presents the research re these modalities on the long term effects of chronic stress, which has similarities to the effects of trauma.

      I hope that helps!

      Wishing you the best on your journey!


    • There is a good book about this issue and there you`ll find also many suggestions for treatment in it: “Childhood disrupted” by Donna Jackson Nakazawa


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  179. I want to Thank Everyone who commented. My ACE score was 6, although I also experienced some other types of trauma before I was 18, and some Resilience building which were not noted. My Mother may have had what is now PTSD, both from her service as a WASP pilot in WW II, and ACEs of her own, that I’m aware of. My father, also a WW II veteran, had at least one ACE in his childhood, too-that I’m aware of. I also want to thank a substantial number of people who contributed to my Resilience, and I will probably return here, and endeavor to do that later. I especially want to thank Jane Stevens, founder of ACEsConnection, and the author and Editorial staff of Preventing Chronic Disease journal-which published the outcome of the Texas ACE Sequel study-reported in the April 2010 issue.


  180. I very much appreciate what you’ve put together on this site. My score on the ACE was 5, but I had some other significant traumas not mentioned in the study. My mother attempted abortion while pregnant, and as a result, my twin died in utero. There is a body of research that shows prenatal and birth experiences can profoundly affect a person.In addition, I lost the only supportive people in my life through death at the ages of 3 and 7. I was molested by both my older brothers and an uncle before the age of 12.

    I know people so often mention therapy as a way to work through trauma. However, in my case, it primarily re-traumatized and left me in a much worse place. That included somatic experiencing, which might have helped, but the therapist ended up violating boundaries. After that, I vowed I would never go to a therapist again and I stand firm in that decision. I gave it a much better chance than I ever should have. I kept thinking it meant there was something wrong with me that it didn’t help.

    I have, if you will, created my own therapy. I do daily qi gong practice, meditate, eat a very clean diet, take a few supplements, spend time outdoors as much as possible, and exercise 6 times/week. This has done more for me than anything else I’ve done over the years. I have some support through a naturopath, massage therapist, and chiropractor. Working through the body has been much more beneficial than any type of therapy I tried.

    I was on antidepressants for 10 years, which almost ended up killing me. I gained a ridiculous amount of weight, developed diabetes, allergies, asthma, acid reflux, kidney disease, and ever-worsening depression. Everything has improved since getting off the drugs, except that my nervous system has been left in a more than ever heightened response. I believe I was damaged by the drug, and that it exacerbated the impact of the ACE. I would NEVER take antidepressants again. I am not alone in this, as I’ve read literally hundreds of stories of people similarly affected by the use of these and other psych medications.

    I’d also say that the people I’ve seen who are doing the best to recover have, like me, developed their own treatment plan. A good deal of what is labelled “mental health” is in fact, not helpful for people who have had trauma.


    • Hi Judy,
      I also scored a 5 – for different reasons.

      I’m a retired Clinical Psychologist and a former Wealth Manager at JPMorgan.

      Unfortunately, I and 98% of most other Psychologists AND Psychiatrists in the USA did not receive any training in The Psychology and Treatment of Developmental Trauma…What’s even more remarkable is that PTSD wasn’t even considered a Psychiatric diagnosis ( as it is now ) when I was in training to become a Psychologist … Alas, Developmental / Generational / Complex Trauma ( as you probably have ) is not currently considered an official diagnoses by the American Psychiatric Association – although some Psychiatrists / Psychologists are working hard to get it listed in the DSM.

      I can relate to some of your comments, and in particular, your disdain for talk therapy as not having been an effective strategy in dealing with your trauma history.

      I feel really bad that you suffered for so long.

      It must have taken a great deal of courage for you to leave your therapists and find some healing modalities that have worked for you.

      If you’re comfortable with talking to me – I would like to explore this further with you – via a phone conversation.

      I can be reached at 718-844-6011 . I live in Brooklyn, N.Y.

      Thanks again for sharing some of your very painful / resilient history.

      All the best,

      – AARON

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Aaron,

        I appreciate that you’re trying to be helpful, but talking about my history, including therapy history with someone, is not of interest to me.

        My experiences of therapy were not just unhelpful, they were harmful. The mistakes made with me were not because therapists did not know about trauma–it was more that they had zero idea how to be with someone who was suffering. In several cases, bad boundary violations occurred–such as revealing personal information to strangers, without my permission. These things have nothing to do with therapists not being trained in trauma. It has more to do with therapists who have not done personal work themselves, and thereby, inflict their unresolved issues on clients.

        What happened to me is not in the least, unique. I’ve met many others who suffered similarly. When you have trauma, there is little room for such blatant mishaps. It only adds to what is already present in the nervous system.

        I don’t work with any practitioner who does not respect the healing I do for myself or in any form, tries to tell me what I should be doing. I work in partnership, not with any practitioner as one up or one over..

        Personally, I detest the DSM and everything associated with it. In my view, it’s just a way for the pharmaceutical companies and psychiatrists to manipulate and harm people further. Another diagnosis just has the drug companies rubbing their hands, knowing they can invent or use some other med as a way of making money. I have zero faith in diagnosis, or any form of western treatment.

        The focus of western treatment, including therapy, is to search for what is “wrong” and try to eradicate it. All that focus on what’s wrong brings clients to do the same with themselves; it turns them into victims of the system, in addition to whatever ways they have already been victimized. It frequently treats clients as though they were stupid or as children. Any system or method that places the doctor or therapist as expert, rather than the client themselves, is in my view, the worst kind of harm.

        It was not hard at all for me to leave therapy behind. I only wish I’d done it decades earlier and not wasted the time/energy/money that I did. A considerable amount of the healing I’ve done in recent years is strictly from the therapy I did. Now I’m healing from antidepressants, as well as from the trauma. My focus is not on what’s wrong, but what’s right with me. I move towards the things that bring me happiness, joy, and peace.

        I try to sow the seeds wherever I can that relying on someone else is not necessary and often, not very helpful. There are a multitude of self-healing methods and if one chooses, they can be part of a group or class. Peer support plays a very small role in my healing.

        If you want to understand the problems with psychiatry and psychology and it’s influence, I’d highly recommend 2 books by Robert Whitaker: Anatomy of an Epidemic, and Psychiatry Under the Influence.

        If you are at all interested in the harm done by psychiatry and how people are healing, I’d refer you to the site:


    • I just wanted to add that in investigating a number of sites on ACE..the same kind of problem exists. There’s so much information on all the potential harm that ACE give a person..and almost nothing on how one can heal. How is it helpful to show someone they can get every illness under the sun, but not offer possibilities for changing those odds? All I found were a few references to particular therapists…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Judy,

        I understand and respect your right to make your own therapeutic choices. I am very glad you have found a method that works for you. However, I have been helped tremendously through talk therapy and medication. I am bipolar and have an ACE score of 6. Talk therapy and medication have helped me become a different person, a healthier person, a survivor not a victim. Not all therapists cross boundaries inappropriately.

        I also wanted to say that the ACE Study gave us this valuable information but it takes time to educate people and develop a strategy for treatment. There are still many people that haven’t even heard of the ACE Study. My goal is to educate as many people as I can. Just knowing the results if this study can help change people’s perspective within their specialization, whether it be medical health, mental health, social services, education and so on. The discovery of bacteria contributing to disease was not immediately followed by the discovery of penicillin…it took time. I am excited by the possibilities created by the ACE Study.



    • I am a retired LCSW. In my private practice, I became a specialist in trauma, and PTSD, mainly because I noticed that was an underlying issue in just about everyone who sought my help. The ACE system confirms my own observations.

      I also was stalked and know PTSD personally.

      You are absolutely correct in your own realization that conventional talk therapy often re-traumatizes the person and is absolutely not helpful. The key is some form of body work, as trauma is stored in the body. Massage, acupuncture, meditation, etc. address trauma on a level where it can be released and healed. In my practice I discovered EMDR, and found it extremely helpful in treating those with a trauma history and PTSD. It also was personally helpful in my own PTSD.

      Bessel van der Kolk, MD in Boston is a phenomenal resource. His passion is helping trauma survivors, and he bases his beliefs on research, not anecdotal stories. He founded the Trauma Center in Boston, and it is a wonderful resource in what to do in addressing past wounds.

      It is important not to just find one’s ACE score, but to know what to do next, once past events are identified and understood in how they impact life and health in later years.

      Bless all with the Courage to Heal.


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  182. I was recently introduced to the ACE test at my work. My emotions were quite mixed when I realized that I held the highest score (9) than anyone else in the room. (32 people) I was a bit embarrassed and yet a bit proud of how far I have come. I cannot say my resilience score was very good because I honestly had nobody I could count on growing up. Nobody was there for me, and yet I have come so far in my life. My world is NOT perfect BUT I am a pretty happy person overall and feel like I am well adjusted considering everything. I don’t consider myself just a survivor, I consider myself a victor! I am learning to love myself more and more each day. My kids are well adjusted and in college. I am a nurse and quite proud of that accomplishment. On the flip side, I will say that this theory is spot on as I do fight a rare auto-immune disease which has almost taken my life more than once. I had 2 heart attacks prior to me turning 36. I have had times in my life when depression almost got the best of me. My faith in God and my love for my children healed me as I asked for God’s help to assist me in making sure my kids NEVER had to experience the same pain I did as a child.

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  185. I am so grateful to find this website and Dr. Harris. I have people tell me to “just get over it” as if I can change the structure/function of my brain and my dna just by wishing it so! It is so incredible to find someone speaking the TRUTH about all of this, about how developmental trauma lasts a lifetime and causes lifelong damage. God, I am so sick of the liars and the abusers and those who just want to make us shut up and go away.

    My ACE was 6 though I have some unique traumas that weren’t covered. I was Satanically Ritually Abused, yes it’s real and it happens. So was drugged, gang raped, forced to eat feces and vomit, men urinated in my mouth, torture both sexual and mental and physical and forced to watch others suffer as well. That was at my church/school. Also father alcoholic who sexually abused me, mother just let it happen, sometimes put “dad” in bed with me and closed the door. And later denied abuse happened! She also tore me down emotionally, hated me, but was subtle about it, too. These were adoptive parents because birthmother, who was raped and that’s how I was conceived, abandoned me at birth. So I feel like my ACE is really a 10, just different set of traumas.

    And like everyone else here my life, health have been affected. I have severe depression, disabling PTSD, OCD, BPD, anxiety/panic, self-harm (cutter), eating disorder, intravenous opiate addict (have had 4 staph infections including 2 abscesses from injecting) and wish every single day that I was dead.

    Only one friend, counting the days til she dumps me. My “doctor” just betrayed me and cut me off, I’m on methadone and cold turkey withdrawal could kill me but she doesn’t care if I die alone in pain. Evil bitch! I have one counselor who is my lifeline. She has been true and will hopefully stay that way.

    I don’t see any way out. I will commit suicide when I have enough meds to do it with. Sometimes the trauma is just too great. I am 51, exhausted, have nothing left to fight with. Took the resilience test, got a big fat 0. I have no resilience, used whatever I had long ago just fighting to survive.

    I hope something can be done to prevent/heal others suffering. This has to stop!

    Thank you Dr. Harris for caring and speaking the TRUTH!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sun Crow: I’m so sorry that you endured such devastating events in your childhood. You are remarkable to have survived and to be so clear about the connection between your childhood trauma and your current health problems. And I urge you to contact a suicide hot line; people there can help you. Also, here’s a list of support organizations that might be useful.


    • I had a violent mother . The only thing that kept me focused was the younger child we I protected from her. I took the beatings by her . She would beat us so badly that arms and legs would get broken. Child protective services would start to investigate and we would have to move.
      I visited therapists in the beginning but I felt they were 1) amused and 2) wanting the money from insurance . I don’t know if you are still in contact with the adoptive parents STOP talking or obsessing about them .

      I take pregnenolone 30 mg . It is a natural over the counter supplement . It lowers cortisol which is your fight or flight response . It lowers BP and is a natural anti inflammatory. I don’t share slot of the violence up front with people.


    • Sun Crow,
      As terrible as your experiences were, and I can’t even begin to imagine, they place you in a unique position to help other people who have experienced this rare level of abuse. You say you have no resilience but I think that if that were true you would have given up a long time ago, and you haven’t- you’ve survived and you’ve done what it takes to function. I bet if we sat down together and talked you would be able to tell me a lot of ways that you resisted your abusers and continue to do so today.

      Please believe me that you aren’t alone in this and that your experiences can be valuable in helping others- other people out there have experienced torture and ritualized abuse, and need people who have the understanding only lived experience can bring.

      I don’t know where you live, so I can’t direct you to further help, but the internet is great for that. It sounds like you’ve got a good counsellor, but that you worry it might not last- if it doesn’t last that’s ok, you’ll be able find someone else and you won’t be alone. Look for trauma-informed counselling (often different from trauma counselling, oddly), and if you decide you want to get clean look for trauma-informed treatment options. Talk to your counsellor about it, or if you respond here or to my email address and let me know where you are I can help look into options with you.

      I wish you all the best, and I want to say again that your experiences are valuable and that through helping others who have been through things similar to what you’ve survived, you can experience some freedom and happiness.


    • Dear Sun Crow:

      Believe it or not, you have amazing resilience to have made it for 51 years and you totally get why people want you to shut up — taking you seriously would wreck their comfortable world view or, if they are RA perpetrators, put them at risk of being exposed. Which is exactly what is needed!!!!

      Here is a ritual abuse resource you might find useful; it’s basically a compilation of other available RA resources. Look through the section “by and for survivors” first. Perhaps you will feel a little less alone.

      Liked by 1 person

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  188. Pingback: "Childhood Disrupted": ACES and Your Physical Health

  189. I was born the youngest of 5 children but I was never the “baby” the brother that was 16 month older than me was a double cleft pallet and required numerous surgeries for repairs, My eldest sister who was 5 years 9 months older then me will tell you that she raised me, I remember being 3 ish yrs old and feeling like I was being smothered by her, she was constantly following me around, forcing me to hold her hand etc. She started babysitting us when she was 12 yrs old, a 12 yr old responsible for 4 younger siblings who were not that much younger than she was. When I was 5 my eldest brother who was 4 yrs 4 months older than me, started sexually abusing me and my brother, it started as a game first, but once you play the game you are forced to continue when things got horrible and since this was a brother who could lie his way out of getting caught red handed and could do no wrong in my father’s eyes and my mother wouldn’t and couldn’t go against my father, we were stuck. I remember a severe beating by my father, it was all 5 of us involved. My brother fed my sister’s Hershey bar to the guinea pig and dad was on the phone and an argument broke out and my dad was livid. I was around 4 yrs old and had watched my brother feed the guinea pig, of course my brother lied about it and there began one of the worst beatings of our lives. Belt to one of us and to then say who did it, belt to that person and my brother made sure he picked us all, everyone of us beat to bleeding oozing welts that eventually bruised and from our mid back to the tops of our knees and it was our fault if he missed our butts because we moved. Once my brother finally admitted to doing it, dad made each of us beat my brother with a belt for lying and making us get beat. My dad kept yelling at me to hit him harder and harder and if I didn’t, I would get more. Another time after a beating mom got a suitcase and pinking shears, she and dad loaded us into the car and told us they was driving us to Hell unless someone told the truth. The person who was lying was staying in Hell and getting their tongue cut off unless no one admitted to it, then we were all going.stay and get our tongues cut off. All of this was before the sexual abuse started. I wet the bed everyday until my 4th grade year and everyday my mother took the belt to me, my middle sister sister shared a room and bed with me and everyday she would go down stairs and tell mom I have something to tell her, and mom knew what it was but everyday, I had to tell her I wet the bed, then get the belt for her. I caught my oldest brother and middle sister smoking when I was 9, instead of telling they talked me into smoking and I could be cool like them, I took the bait. I could never go to Easter egg hunts because I wet the bed, I could never drink sodas because I wet the bed, so my siblings took great pleasure to rub it in. When I was 13 my brother went into the Navy, I was so happy he was gone, he came home from his basic training and talked me into visiting with my Aunt and Uncle (whom I dearly loved) Mom and Dad had planned to take him out to eat out of town, they went and he and I went to visit, we was there for 30 min and he insisted on leaving, I knew in that moment what his plan was and said I didn’t want to leave, he threatened to leave me and mom and dad would beat me when they had to come get me, so I left with him, he stopped and bought a can of Pam cooking spray (which we used to huff) I said I’m not doing that, he said so what, I am. We got back home and he forced me to huff the Pam until I passed out, I woke to find myself on my bed and a bag over my face and I was out again, I woke up again and I was on the floor completely naked and he put the bag on my face again and I was out, I woke again to the pain of him trying to rape me and I knew if I didn’t get away… he was too far away from the bag and Pam and I was able to push him off me, I grabbed my clothes and got dressed downstairs and heard him go to the bathroom and I fell into the recliner and blacked out again. I woke up and heard him come out of the bathroom and came down stairs, he looked at me and said “What?” I didn’t say anything, I had a splitting headache and it wasn’t long and Mom and Dad were back home. As usual, I said nothing, but wondered, Did it really happen??
    I remember laying in bed at night, I couldn’t breathe, I would think I was dying. I remember laying in bed thinking about if there was any way out, runaway…where would I go, can’t tell anyone because I would be beat for lying. I wanted to kill my brother and my dad and maybe even my mom for allowing me to live my childhood in hell, and I was only 10 or 11 yrs old. My only refuge was my maternal grandparents. My grandma would come get us on a Friday after work and Mom and Dad would pick us up on Sunday and my Grandma would tell my brother, I know who you are and you will not lie and get by with the crap you do at home, I will whoop your ass. I got peace at Grandma’s house, but she also knew the fight there would be if she said anything. She didn’t know what was really going on there but she knew the dynamics of the home was way off and some were treated much better than others. I started stealing things (with my siblings) when I was about 10, we didn’t need to steal, it was a thrill, and of course 3-4 teen smokers in the home, mostly we stole cigarettes. After school we would steal snacks. Mom and Dad had quite the liquor cabinet, they pretty much didn’t have anything left that wasn’t seriously watered down. We bought a lot of our liquor, paying bums and drunks, just buy them some and they will buy yours for you. I was pretty much done with the drinking by age 15 and started smoking pot with my sister. I never actually bought any myself, my sister was always way to willing to get me high. My brother tried to rape me again when he moved back home and I was 15, he had evidently laced some pot with something else, after that I swore off the pot too. I got married when I was 18 and pregnant, had my first son when I was 19, 7 months later my mom died, that killed me, I had actually been treated decent for about 8 months and now she is gone?? Second son came 19 months after the first and he got very ill at 3 months and was sick mostly until he was a year and by then my marriage was over.
    Medical problems, I got Shingles when I was 5 yrs old (The first of 7 times) I got Vitiligo (Autoimmune) when I was 5 or 6) After my divorce I started having flashbacks, esp over the sexual abuse. I had 2 miscarriages and a mole pregnancy, I had numerous bouts with ovarian cysts one was a corpus luteum cyst and ruptured, I bled internally and had my first miscarriage and first major surgery. Then I had cysts after cysts, adhesions from the cysts, finally at 26 I insisted on the removal of my uterus, cervix and ovaries as, well as my appendix. When my youngest was a month old my husband came home coughing and I told him not to cough our direction but alas in a couple of weeks we were both sick, our eldest did noy get sick, he was nearly 2., when he turned 3 months old they admitted him with whooping cough and due to my continued coughing, they thought I was getting him sick so they sent me to a pulmonologist who said I had Chronic Bronchitis, Asthmatic Bronchitis and Moderate COPD. I personally thought I had Whooping Cough but they refused to test me for it. I was put on a ton of meds, I was about 24 yrs old. Other than the occasional seasonal asthma, shingles, lots of cold sores and severe depression. I had a fairly good run of no major illnesses until I was 44 yrs old. I had not been able to walk without cramping for 7 yrs and no matter what, my doctor wouldn’t listen, I thought it was my back because we have back issues in my family, x-rays showed nothing, he sent me to an ortho doc and I wasn’t sure why but I did some research and realized that maybe my legs were not getting oxygen, the dreaded PAD, so I asked the ortho if maybe that was the problem. I only had one blockage but it was a big one, my abdominal aorta was 100% blocked before the bifurcation, since I did a lot of walking even though it was painful and I had cramps I had built up collateral arteries to my abdominal muscles from both my legs but that was only enough to keep them alive if I wasn’t doing anything. After the worst surgery of my life, it was fixed. A few years ago my Thyroid stopped working, I was sick for 8 months but just laid and refused to do anything because I felt I could die and my husband wouldn’t care, finally I got up and went to the Doc, my TSH was 86, went to an endocrinologist and was Dx with Hyporthyroidism. I kept having lymph nodes in my neck become inflamed my endocrinologist humored me and did an ultrasound, I had nodules which had grown in and enlarged lymph nodes so she said I needed biopsies which I wasn’t keen on having because she may biopsy one and another is cancerous. I asked if I could get it removed since they had pretty much said it wasn’t functioning, I said it is like you are waiting to get cancer, so I had it removed and the lymph nodes in the area, they said I has Hashimotos Thyroiditis, fibrosing variant. In the last 2 years I have been Dx with Bipolar Disorder and PTSD, they were long overdue, my younger brother has Bipolar Disorder too and a multitude of medical issues, I recently had an anastamotic pseudo aneurysm of my left femoral artery. Yet another painful experience. I had a pulmonary function test about 5 yrs ago and it was just shy of normal. I still have asthma, I still smoke and probably always will.


    • To everyone…people suck. Our parents and communities sucked but WE ARE NOT WHAT THESE PEOPLE DID TO US!!! They areeee!!! They are ill and messed up. They do not know how to love, understand or respect. Too bad for them. I know we are only what we are taught but we have ourselves as adults for way longer then they had us as kids….nowww we decide!!!!!!! I had it all. Speed ball shooting dad, crack addicted born sister at 2lbs. Dad in jail. Selfish in illness, didnt feel much love. Mom from family no one loved her and her 2nd husband raised me and fondled me sleping. I just told u about some people. NOT MEEEEE. THEY WERE THAT AND DID THAT. It is in my mind as a movie. Maybe like a orlando studios ride thats 3d and touches me at some scenes….at the time when it happens it is crushing. Especially the shocking things u never see coming but life and time go on…if im depressed its because of current life situations but if im alone at a moment then i must not be working on bring people into strong relationships, now, currently. If im distructive stilllll its because i didnt use time between childhood and now (34yrs old) constructively as i should have by now. I have plenty of time to put in the work, move, walk, run in any direction i want too. We fall….wipe up and do it better. Killing ur self or still having this get to u is ur choice. Find ur power and keep on trucking down that rode. Never fall or they get to see ur “victim”. All family who never knew how to do better with me, as an adult, i have taught themmmmm love. Shown them how to express it and be a bettr person. In a way, thats sort of the ultimate revenge. Forgiveness and teaching them to do it riggt!!!!


  190. Pingback: The Battle for Supremecy | dylansworldblog – the stroy begins

  191. Every day is harder & harder. AT 64 I can’t see it getting much better. I’m exhausted,
    hate noise, can’t tolerate people, even my husband, crave sugar, only look forward to eating &
    have become overweight
    & don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel like I used to. I hate ME and am disgusted with
    myself & feel like a FAKE who puts on a good face. Forget anti-depressants. Been there &
    done most all of those on the market. No one to reach out to because they’ll slap me in a
    facility & force drugs on me. My ACE is 8+


    • My ACE is 10. I’m 19 years old and a university student with a personality disorder, not pregnant, didn’t have sex before 15 and now I can enjoy most of my days thanks to marijuana, even though I have to study most of the day (math and physics, I study engineering, even though I barely passed math in high school and my skills are more artistic-drawing and similar, so I could say I put the highest challenge of all for myself in front of me). People don’t believe me when I tell them 5% of my story because the actual chances that shitstorm’s been hitting the same place that many times is almost unbelievable. I attempted suicide 3 years ago, and now I’m happier than ever in my life, and I can say it’s because I’ve started medicating myself frequently. If I didn’t I wouldn’t manage to finish high school, and university would be just a idea I would never reach without high school. You are 64, you lived most of your life already, now you should just enjoy yourself, not fill your self with hatred to others (I don’t like people also and I go outside of my apartment once a day just so I can buy food or marijuana). And the less I care about anything that doesn’t influence my future terribly I am happier and still get everything done in time. You just have to find yourself a purpose. We weren’t given one, we chose one, so take something, anything you love and do it, you have a lot of free time now I suppose. Try new things that are in your reach just so you can say “I’ve tried it/I’ve done it.”. The way you treat others will be the way other people will treat you. If you spread good energy around yourself good things will happen in your life, or you’ll see everything with more optimism. I’ts never too late to change the outcome of your day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ace score 10 resilience 1-2. Depression, anxiety, adhd & PTSD.
        Am 34, pregnant with my first. Am I able to live a good life? And my child not have to deal with what I am? Seems like there are ppl that are a lot older and still struggling so will it ever get better? Very hard to get good help and too expensive.
        Euthanasia should be allowed. How many ppl here have to live like this!


      • I hope for your sake you don’t lose your rose tinted glasses, but please know that any addiction can be dangerous. Maintain your purpose, for sure.


    • Hey Sharon I am sorry that you still seek the peace that one imagines comes with self love. I am soon 43 & have thought myself to have risen above my childhood turns out nah. Was just busy enough in life to keep the door closed. Life changed & with it came all the crap I was sorta hoping I could get some professional help & leave this shit where it belongs. I am so tired of despising myself, my sugar addiction is embaressing & as for tolerating people pfffftttt even when I believed myself mentally well this was never a strong point of mine lol always known to state bluntly what others only think😦 the reason noise does my head in – tinnitus constant noise for me its like a combination of : fire alarm, a plague of chirping circada’s/crickets, the horn in a vehicle stuck on, oh & can’t forget the old high pich whine that can happen in water taps when not quite shut off properly. Yep all them, all at once, all the effing time😦 anyhoo just wanted to say hi ;-/


      • I think I would have done better SOONER in my life . But I was the first born of six with a weak mother. She was cancer ridden and actually used guilt to make me feel I owed her and the younger children I raised a standard of living .

        I made a lot of money early and of course stayed single because no man was going to put up with this financial emotional dysfunctional woman who called hersel my mother . After her husband died I supported get and borrowed money doing it and helped her get a lawsuit lump sum and a monthly income now for over 17 years. She never paid me back and of course my sister who did not know her when she was poor and destitute spent her money, now has her in a basement and co trims her monthly income . Justice, as this is the apple of my mother!s eye, the only child she didn’t beat or slam up against walls .

        You need to distance yourself from your sick family and renegotiate your relationship with them. Two good books; Divorcing Your Parent by Engle and Released from Shame by Dr Sandra Wilson .


    • Even though I don’t know you, it pains me to read your comment. no one should go through life that way. I have had a very rough start myself and have felt like I wanted to give up several times myself. I’ve sa all the things you’ve said to yourself and started to believe there was no hope for me. I said I wa broken inside and no one could fix me. Years of counseling and medication too. Nothing…still broken…:(.
      But I discovered something! (With help). It’s a type of therapy that actually helps your brain process things differently. ( I promise you, I’m not selling you anything. I’m just paying it forward.) It’s only been out since 2004 and it has proven to be so successful that insurance companies are covering it too! It’s called EMDR (Google it!!). They have been using it on people that have been in combat! Look into it. It is quick working and it will change your life. Best of luck to you.


      • EMDR is revolutionary, but it has been around a lot longer than 2004. It’s about 30 years old now. It is approved by the WHO, the US Dept of Defense and myriad other organizations. Most insurance will pay for it the same as it does for traditional psychotherapy (which doesn’t work when you’ve had a rough childhood).

        EMDR is also backed up with solid scientific evidence that it works, including (but not limited to) brain scans that show the size of the amygdala changed after successful treatment with EMDR.

        The amygdala is part of the primitive brain and it is triggered by fear–this part of the brain is not affected by talk therapy because it is in the right hemisphere which is not verbal. EMDR directly affects the amygdala, so we now know for sure that fear and bad experiences (ACEs) physically affect the brain. And for how long have we been telling people to “get over it”? “Stop living in the past”? You can’t stop living in the past when your brain has not properly or adequately processed traumatic experiences or other ACEs, because in your brain, it is still happening.

        Want to stop living in the past? Do yourself a huge favor and look for a qualified EMDR therapist at Do not be worried about asking how long someone has been practicing, how much experience they have with people who share similar life experiences with you, and so forth. If you’re going to be paying for this, you have a right to ask those questions, and a professional, good therapist will spend the time to answer those questions for you.

        I’ve had EMDR before, and I know first hand how powerful it can be. Unfortunately for me, the therapist I had was not certified by EMDRIA and she did not have anywhere near as much experience as she pretended to have, so I spent well over a year and a lot of my hard earned money without the effects I know I could have achieved with a qualified therapist.

        I am starting tomorrow morning with a new therapist. I am now in my 50s. I’m really sad about my age, my god, all the missed opportunity. But I cannot turn back the clock, so I’m doing the best I can to salvage what is left of my life. I found my new therapist by doing a search on EMDRIA. She is EMDRIA-certified and spent a good amount of time going over her experience with me, as well as listening to me explain my life symptoms and experiences.

        Also, for anyone interested in these topics, please look up Nadine Burke Harris giving a Ted Talk on the effects of ACEs. Its on YouTube. It is the absolute best Ted Talk you will have ever seen. Do not waste even ten more seconds listening to people telling you that you ought to just get over it. Listen to Dr. Burke, and then find yourself a way to get to a qualified, compassionate therapist. You can help your brain heal.

        Liked by 1 person

  192. Pingback: Resilience and adverse childhood experiences | Middle Aged Rage

  193. I scored an 8 on the ACE and 3 “probably true” on the other (I honestly don’t remember that much from before the age of 16 so I just went by what I think as an adult, retrospectively). I don’t know what it means or what I’m supposed to do now. I remember I used to be called “little old lady” when I was small, had something to do with my seriousness and with how I talked to people; they thought it was adorable. I have health problems all over the map, and last year had a cardiac scare (at 32 yrs). I already informed my husband of the likelihood of my having an early death (unless I can find some miracle doctor).

    I was informed that stress, tension, incessant hypervigilance, was literally killing me. Petechiae started popping up all over my body last year and it still won’t quit. Docs don’t know, they did the big tests for cancer and other things, then they just gave up and said it’s probably stress.

    I tried to do something about it with two pdocs but I don’t get any feedback from either one of them. I have more cathartic conversations with a wall (that’s not an exaggeration).

    Part of the problem is my own intellect. I don’t know how many times I’ve desperately wished for a normal IQ so I wouldn’t be so isolated from everyone in my life. I hate that yawning black chasm. Worse, when people try to say something to me trying to be genuinely helpful, I immediately see the cliche phrases, empty comfort statements, inadvertently patronizing advice, and generally approaching me with an infantilizing manner, which just makes me feel more hopeless and further isolated. And angry because it means I truly have no one to talk to, not about life issues, not about interests, hobbies, goals, perspectives… etc. Small talk is the best I can get and is something that is very difficult for me to convincingly fake so that I don’t offend anyone.

    The internet is different, on the internet you can find all kinds of nerds or people with specific interests and easily find some people you can actually engage with. But it’s not the same, it’s not a replacement for having a person in flesh in the same room with you, looking at you, talking to you, listening to them hearing their voice, their laughter, seeing their expressions and body language, someone you could deeply bond with…

    But I’m just rambling at this point. I don’t know what the fck I’m going to do now.

    Any ideas? What should I do with these numbers?


    • I figured I should leave a bit more about my medical history here:

      – onset of migraine at 21 yrs, to present day

      – first UTI at 21, didn’t really know what to do because I’d never had insurance or taken myself to a doc before, so I did nothing and let it go for about a month and a half until I could barely walk or sleep from the back pain (kidneys almost failed, docs lectured me)

      – 21 to 23 yrs: repeat episodes of kidney infections

      – started smoking cigarettes out of the blue at 21 (after the migraines began)

      – no street drug abuse, no alcohol at all (migraine trigger), no addiction other than nicotine or internet

      – 22 yrs old: had 8-day migraine, on the last day I went to be sick in the bathroom at work, lost consciousness and was taken to ER (I was fine though)

      – 21-25 yrs: lost all jobs due to migraine including being a lifeguard for the city (loved that job)

      – 23-27 yrs: stint in the active Army as a medic, during this time I had my first sinus infection that went on for about a month and a half (I thought it was just cold because I always stay sick for a long time with simple colds) before I was hospitalized after my WBC was so sky high they were afraid other systems were being infected. Because I kept getting sinus infections after that, they put me on claritin which helped (apparently, leaving California was a bad idea lol). They x-rayed my face and said there was beaucoup calcium deposits in my sinuses that might need laser treatment in the future if they got worse. But coming back to CA was the best thing for this.

      – 26 yrs: aseptic meningitis, spinal tap, sent home, then hospitalized for 6 days while they tried to fix the hole in my back so my CSF wouldn’t drain out of my skull (I couldn’t sit or stand up without pain so bad at the top of my head that I would and vomit or dry heave right on the spot before I could get to anything- lying back down disappeared the pain immediately) They did an epidural blood patch and then tried to do a second spinal tap after I flushed all over my chest and had high fever in the night after blood patch (I don’t remember that) because they feared infection from the patch. Teaching hospitals are fun.

      – 27 yrs to 30 yrs: after the Army I stopped doing anything except reading. I didn’t have much execution functioning to begin with but at that point I had truly given up. I did nothing but get pregnant, still having migraines all this time

      – 31 yrs onward: finally noticed my intellectual decay over the past 5 years and was very alarmed by it. Had trouble reading my own papers (some sciencey stuff, some logic and philosophy stuff) from years past, was forgetting things right in the middle of doing them, huge memory gaps, had trouble reading the same scientific papers that I distinctly recall breezing through in my early 20s. Also lost a good bit of verbal fluency. I speak like a moron but continue to write at the postgrad level (or so my professors say) though it takes a little more effort to do now, and I believe my writing has also taken a hit but it was originally pretty up there when I made an effort or was actually interested in the subject. That’s probably the most upsetting to me, partly because my major is biological sciences with emphasis on ecology and evolution, I also want to minor in math soon and go on to work in evolutionary biology. It’s been pretty much the only dream I’ve had … ever. And I’ve had it for a long long time, but now it looks like it might not happen if I turn into a cretin from the brain damage that the unending depression and anxiety are doing to me.

      I can only imagine how much my hippocampus and prefrontal cortex has shrunk in the past 10 years. I makes me want to die if I really give it a serious thought, honestly. So I just make jokes about it instead if it comes up. I started experimenting with nootropics.

      There’s a bunch of nonsense on the other side of my medical history. I’ve heard major depression, generalized anxiety, PTSD, auditory processing disorder, sensory processing disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, schizoid personality disorder… then finally nailed it last year with Asperger’s/ASD and ADHD. Now everything about me makes perfect sense, all my strengths and weaknesses, which is the best part of all. Not that I don’t also have PTSD , but that complicated everything, masked my sensory processing issues, and delayed diagnosis and treatment.

      My daughter was diagnosed with autism, she has a speech delay so she is not an Aspie like me. Stanford geneticists tell me she has an abnormality on one of her X chromosomes and want to check out my genes next since my father was dyslexic (also bipolar and committed suicide when I was 12), my brother diagnosed ADHD at 5, myself autistic with ADHD-inattentive features though I wasn’t diagnosed as a child because I was a girl (and all of these things are genetically & neurologically related, as is migraine).

      I’ve controlled my migraines a great deal with the help of ambien (to regulate my sleep schedule, keeping it constant no matter what), bupropion and a small finely-tuned pharmacy of supplements that took me about 2 years to finally complete after all the experimentation.

      Other drugs I have: ritalin, lorazepam, sumatriptan. Since the beginning, my docs kept telling me my problem with being at school was anxiety and kept trying to give me benzos (I refused all of them for a long time; I know what benzos do to the brain, but eventually accepted the ativan because its unique in that I can take it, not be *sedated* or cognitively compromised). The ativan helped only slighty. Then one day the doc said “let’s try something different” and gave me adderall. The adderall worked like a dream on some days but it just had dirty feeling and I wasn’t comfortable taking it because, like benzos, I know what amphetamine does to the brain with long term use. I requested ritalin instead because its mechanism of action is very different from the amphetamines, and it’s the only one shown as having beneficial effects on brain structure without the dopaminergic damage the amphetamines can do. Ritalin is sorcery; I really should have had this stuff growing up.

      I’m still hypervigilant though. I don’t think that’s ever going away, my brain and body are just too hard-wired from years and years of fear, unstable, volatile environments, too much unknown and isolation (13 different schools that I remember, possibly 15 and just don’t remember because of my only being there a couple of months, moved homes at least twice that many times), pretty much from birth to 20 years old to settle down now.

      One thing is very certain though: I’m very tired. I’ve been tired for years but it’s really piling on now. I think it’s a scary kind of tired, as in it should probably worry me, but it doesn’t. I don’t care enough to worry about it.


      • First, I feel for you because I had headaches as a child. I know some are hereditary , but I had a violent mother who felt after a divorce that I reminded her of my father. Several times she slammed my head into walls , so that is why I continued to have head trauma. I got insurance and went to a neurologist. I blamed the headaches on a car accident . (I had some of those too) and I was put on topurimate . Lowered blood pressure too . Slept good too. To deal with stress I take a bio identical hormone that is also a cheap supplement called pregnenolone . It lowers cortisol (fight or flight syndrome) lowers BP in 5 minutes – not a diuretic , lowers inflammation if you are a woman it makes your body produce progesterone and men makes your body produce testosterone $12 for 60 capsules at any health food store. Same group like MSM . You are fighting the visual imagery of the vile cry if your childhood. You need to get a book called I Can’t Get Over It by Aphrodite Matsakis she is a Greek PHD professor from the VA hospital in Virginia great writer over 10 books about PTSD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, there- you wrote this a few months ago, so I don’t know if you’ll see a response notification, but I wanted to say I can relate to much of your situation. I’m the same age, similar intelligence (over 150) and high ACE with concurrent health problems. It sounds like you are developing an autoimmune disorder. The onset is prolonged, and usually not accurately diagnosed until you’re past the point of no return. I’m not sure if there is a way to stop it except perhaps effective stress reduction, management and a lot of support, sources of positivity, etc. The good news is, even if it can’t be stopped, that’s also the only non-pharmaceutical treatment after diagnosis… Ha. Ha ha.

        Yeah, that wasn’t funny. I know. I’m sorry. I have lupus and Addison’s Disease. Apparently it’s part of a polyendocrine syndrome, which may be genetically influenced, but I think the childhood and early adulthood experiences play a big role. Your hypervigilance issue is very familiar to me, and the tiredness is, too. It might be time to have an ANA check done, along with cortisol and thyroid hormone levels, just to see if an autoimmune disease process is occurring.

        Lowering stress sounds ridiculous, and it is, but making it a priority is necessary regardless. Having a child makes it even more difficult and essential. Having time for yourself to do things you find rewarding or relaxing must be nearly impossible. I hope you have people to talk to. Your opinion on many of the drugs is quite accurate. Theanine might help a bit, but only as a supplement; green tea tannins can actually harm your ability to process vitamins, especially if your endocrine system is damaged from the long term fight-or-flight response.

        You’re unique, but not alone. That’s all I wanted to say.


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  195. Feel like I’ve found my tribe. Love you guys. Not marketing, but do want to say that it is for us that I have made my Soul Messages cards and book, to counter the negative, limiting and untrue messages we received growing up in our families and in the culture at large. I personally need these new affirming and encouraging messages everyday. Bless you all. This work is so important. Just to acknowledge the reality is to regain some sanity and power. For me, It is a delicate balance to claim the truth yet not succumb to victimhood. To claim the truth I must have a safe space, and I see that this is such a space, and wow, ok, I’m gushing. To not succumb to victimhood, I must believe that I can heal today, regardless of what happened in the past.

    For myself, I scored a 2 on the ACE and 8 on resilience. I am in recovery from addiction, and I am just now realizing the sleep connection with mood and chronic pain, which is a win for me, as each discovery empowers me more to stay on this healing path. I expect to be healing forever, as new layers of pain are exposed and healed. I am also a chronic optimist, which sometimes borders on willful denial. But denial is a protective mechanism, and I respect that I can only be where I am today, and tomorrow might be a different story.

    I can relate to so much of what others have shared in terms of consequences: frequent moving, many partners, underemployed, under-earning, chronically laissez-faire about money, etc. I have an autoimmune disease, became addicted to drugs in my teens, got into recovery in my 40’s, have been involved with addicts my whole life, have an anxiety disorder and depression. I have called it having a “messy life,” because part of what has fueled my sense of shame is the idea that everyone else’s life is neat and orderly. Then I realized, nope, almost nobody’s life is that. It’s really helped me a lot to realize that whether or not I achieve success that can be measured outwardly, I am still actively becoming a better and better person. I feel I am adding to the kindness and goodness in the world. That’s enough.


  196. ACE score of 5, resilience 6. Mother died when I was 13; depressed alcoholic neglectful father; sister attempted suicide (sister also bulimic and brain-injured); no other caring adults in my childhood (despite growing up in a wealthy area with highly educated parents and an excellent school system).

    I am now 48 years old, with 3 degrees and 9 years of post-secondary education. I am underemployed (partly from staying at home with kids, but largely because of anxiety). Three children, and a spouse with ACE of 2.

    I have been diagnosed with depression, GAD, ADHD (inattentive type), PTSD, insomnia, and high blood pressure. I take cymbalta for depression, vyvanse for ADHD, and valsartan for high blood pressure. (And Ativan and zopiclone as needed for sleep).

    I am in a good place now, I think. Motherhood has helped me keep my priorities straight. I have close friends, an excellent counsellor, a great yoga instructor, a good psychiatrist and gp, and am learning to not overextend myself, and to tell people what I need (time alone, for example). It has been a long journey getting to this place. But whenever I prioritize my own mental health (even to the point of what might be seen as “selfishness”) everybody benefits.

    It has helped a lot that my father is now deceased! It has also helped that I have connected with others who had similar experiences in childhood. I also have a spouse who is also keen to unlearn the crap he was forced to grow up in.

    I am wondering about high blood pressure. My doctor is very concerned. They cannot find a cause (I don’t smoke, I don’t abuse drugs or alcohol, I am not overweight, and my heart is fine). None of the many meds I have tried for high blood pressure have been able to get mine down to an acceptable level. I want to stick around to give my children the ACE of 1 that they deserve (just a fact they have a mother with mental illness, sigh). My youngest is only 5. My doctor acts like I might have a stroke at any moment.

    Jane, can you point me to any information on ACE and high blood pressure??

    Thank you. And thank you to everyone who has shared their stories.


    • I have learned from my training as a psychotherapist that high blood pressure can be unreleased anger. When I read your story there could be a connection. A very good background for your body to have this symptoms.
      Wish you all the best.


    • Hi Anonrain:

      It sounds like you have done a ton of personal work and are really reaping the benefits as well as have created a great support system for yourself.

      Here are some references that might be helpful or confirm that this is a potentially important area to keep working with.

      From my work with chronic illness (my own and that of others) as a physician turned psychotherapist specializing in trauma treatment, the research supports the finding that the physical expression of early trauma includes high blood pressure too. I often found that physical symptoms may be one of the harder symptoms or the later ones (after improvements in psychological and emotional health) to resolve. It may therefore just be a matter of time as you keep working with your history and possibly with additional approaches for working through old the trauma.

      1) Like Jane Ellen’s link, the ACE research has found links. I just finished reading Nakazawa’s new book “Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal.” She cites a decades-long prospective Harvard research study showing that difficulty in early relationships increased risk for … high blood pressure…” (location 1919 on the kindle version).
      2) Here’s another study linking ACEs to BP:

      3) There’s a cardiologist specializing in hypertension whose written a chapter in a book called “The Divided Mind,” beginning on p 187. He describes his theories about how to work blood pressure unresponsive to treatment and how he’s learned that it links to trauma:

      4) Two books describe research looking at the role of prenatal stress and how it also affects risk for adult disease, including the metabolic syndrome and hypertension (the sources of stress go way back, don’t they?!).
      There are ways of working with trauma in all of these areas, including prenatal stress and trauma (feel free to email me if you’d like links to treatment approaches for people specializing in this area of trauma).

      book 1: Life in the Womb
      p. 148

      book 2: The Fetal Matrix: Evolution, Development and Disease
      Chapter 4, p. 178:

      I hope that helps and wish you the best on your continued healing journey!!


      • I too have a score of 8, and like you, I put my hope and money into EMDR. Im starting tomorrow with a new therapist.

        Keep getting the word out there–you CAN heal your brain; EMDR might just be the therapy for you.

        Don’t waste your money on talk therapy. It doesn’t work when you’ve got a very rough childhood background.

        Peter Levine’s books are on Amazon, and he has a different approach, but again, it’s about healing the brain from the trauma in your past.

        There is also neurofeedback, which also bypasses the futility of talk therapy and goes right to the brain for the answers.

        EMDR to me has the most scientifically backed up studies.


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  205. ACE score 9, or could be 10 since I don’t know if I was sexually abused when I was kidnapped.
    Resilience – high. Didn’t need to take a resilience test to find that out.

    What led me to this website is having come across an article about murderers and the ACE test. Turns out most have a score of 8 -10. Didn’t expect to score so high.

    So, here’s the outcome of having a score of 9:

    Early childhood: protective, stubborn, curious, loved to read and explore, adventurous.

    Childhood: Began to steal food due to neglect, learned to physically fight, would sometimes cry myself to sleep, learned to use people to get what I otherwise could not. Learned to lie and manipulate. Tried to get child services to take me away, looked forward to being sent to a bootcamp/juvi for troubled kids (never happened though). Felt resentment when no one, not even the police, would help me (and so began the lack of trust in others). Even while dealing with abuse and neglect I, luckily, never thought something was wrong with me, but couldn’t understand why I was not being protected and cared for.

    Teen years: anger issues, criminal activity, domineering, reckless, lots of drinking and smoking. Little to no trust in people, saw people as things to use and abuse for my own gain. Never considered, nor treated anyone, as a real friend.

    During twenties: lots of change, self-reflection, getting back to my undamaged self. Stopped feeling the need to punish those who have wronged me. Now I can look at them and just shake my head, knowing they are just as pathetic as before and so are their lives. Gives me justice.
    I never liked anger to begin with, but would use it as a coping mechanism and as a weapon when needed. Being able to brush off others mistreatment makes me feel light, and like myself. I never wanted to be weighed down. I’ve learned diplomacy and know that if something doesn’t make me feel comfortable there is no need to stay and fight, damaging myself in the process – I can just go. Before my pride would kick in and I had to win, no matter the cost. Now that I know myself and what matters to me, there is almost never a good reason to deal with toxic people/situations.

    Now I am 26. I have two degrees, an AA and a BA. Decided to back out of graduate school because I’ve known since I was little (but forgot for a while) how entrepreneurial I am. Love reading, art, travel, architecture, nature and solitude. Always had a soft & protective spot for animals and nature.

    As for what got me to a score of 9:
    Abusive environments, physically, mentally, emotionally. Sadism, neglect of basics (food, clothing, toilet paper, etc). The whole package.
    Lots and lots of moving, living with different people, different languages, different countries, different socio-economic levels. It’s easy for others to talk to me about their lives because if it’s negative, I will most likely be able to relate.

    And if anyone was wondering as to what my gender is – female.

    Others have commented how a high ACE score does not mean you are forever damaged, nor is it an excuse to act like a moron. Your life is your life, and now you have the power to make it what you will. You are no longer a child. You don’t need someone to hold your hand or protect you. You hold your own hand and protect what you care about. Those who have wronged you – they have issues. These issues are not your concern, it’s theirs, so no need to waste any more energy on such BS.


  206. I had no idea such a test existed. While I understand there’s much more involved than just answering a few questions here or there to determine if someone has had childhood trauma, these questioned are worded perfectly. It took me a long time to write this because I’m a little embarrassed, tbh. I scored a 10 and a 2. And the hardest part to admit is that those results are spot on and speak volumes about my life. I am successful now, after so much hard work, and I have two beautiful children. My only hope is that they never have to feel the way I do right now or experience anything close to what I have in my life. I remember very little about my childhood and decided long ago that I didn’t want to after experiencing even more extreme trauma in my adult life. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD and it made me literally laugh out loud. When I asked the doctor, “What do you mean ‘PTSD’? What do I have PTSD from?” They answered, “From life, sweetie. From life.” And then I sobbed.


    • EMDR has been working for me in such a positive way that I want to tell everyone but I can only reach a few like you. Your health insurance might cover it too! It’s life changing and is making such a difference in my life.
      It’s so much quicker than just therapy. It’s similar though. Hope this helps!


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  210. Dear Shutmymouth,
    yes, without a doubt, your ace score is devastatingly high, and your resilience score is very low, at the current moment. I can relate to the high ace score. The questions have been slightly modified, since I rated myself as a 9. With the changes in the wording of the questions, I decided that I am an 8, not as high as yourself, but in the bad news category. My resilience is pretty high, at about 8, as well, which does help to counter the aces, thankfully.

    I believe that the only thing we can improve is our resilience score. It helps you to know that you are not alone. Your past has impacted you, in ways that are acknowledged to be harmful to anyone, specifically a developing child. Knowledge and understanding will always equate to a greater ability to process your stuff, your emotional trauma.

    I do worry about the potential negative health impact of such a high ace score, but am grateful for the opportunity to have greater insight into my life experiences. You can build up the positive resilience score, by reaching out to others, getting therapy, perhaps adopting a pet, if connection with animals makes you happy, and you have to ability to take care of a pet. And staying away from jerks, and only spending time with people who care about you and would never abuse you

    I too, have to remind myself to be thankful, and to have gratitude, when life has mostly kind of sucked, and I have spent most of my adult life, overcoming my youth and family of origin. And I still struggle, every day, as I imagine you do. Hopefully this information will help you to see how strong you have been, to survive your beginnings. You are victorious to still be standing. You deserve to have the rest of your life be different.

    Sending best wishes for a better future, every day, and healing. May greater understanding bring you healing. A terribly challenging past, is a great burden. May you live long and prosper, in defiance of those that wounded you!


  211. My ACE is 6 (though probably closer to 7 or 8 if you count neighborhood issues, babysitters and casual not often violence). My resilience score though was 12 and I would say it is probably still around 12. Though my ACE score is high, I am pretty much at peace – but it was a long road to get there.


    • I really need to add (echoing comment below) that the traditional family bias and gender assumptions are glaring and really need to be modified.


    • People are indeed adding other types of childhood adversity to ACE surveys and screenings, including bullying, sibling violence, racism, gender bias, homelessness, moving often, witnessing violence outside the home, etc.


    • What about years long illness (cancer) and death of a parent during childhood. Ongoing stress with no respite. The first thing you think of on awakening and your last thoughts on going to sleep. The prospect of certain death, just a question of how soon. Seems to me it should get more than the 1 point listed for death of parent.


      • If your parent was suffering years-long illness, then it’s possible that you didn’t get the emotional support you needed growing up. Neglect doesn’t have to be intentional to have a deleterious effect on a child. And, as is explained in Got Your ACE Score?, there are many more types of trauma than just the 10 measured.


      • As stated in the introduction to the survey:
        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.


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  213. Why does it only count if the abuser was more than 5 years older than you? Are victims of sibling abuse – no matter how serious – somehow less traumatized? Why does it only count if a female parent was beaten or humiliated? For that matter, why doesn’t it count if a sibling is abused in front of you? Why does it only count if a biological parent is estranged?

    Due respect for the goals of this questionnaire, but it seems to be pretty extremely biased towards a traditional nuclear family with traditional gender roles and stereotypical vulnerabilities. I hope it’s not being used to ‘grade’ any real kids anywhere in terms of what kind of resources and help they’re going to get.


    • There are 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, being sexually abused by a sibling (no matter what the age difference), 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 who participated in a pilot study; 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. They all count.


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  216. Now this IS very interesting.. I had an A.C.E score of 7 and a Resiliance score of 7 and the factors that are still true was 5…. When i read all the comment not one is so 50/50 so what does that mean?


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  218. ACE 5. Resilience – well, according to the list 4, but until I read down to the explanation that a 1 or 2 meant a plus on the resiliency score, I thought that these were also negative. Yes I had someone who cared for me when I was an infant. Apparently I had a nanny who looked after me when I was a baby, but when my mother saw that I preferred the nanny (and didn’t want to go to my mother), she was fired on the spot. Then – yes it mattered how I did at school. And I was never good enough. However good I was – and I was very good in school – I was a failure. I was terrified of telling my mother exam results unless I had an A+ or 100%. And rules are good? Not always. And as somebody else wrote – you have to know what they are.

    I have been reasonably successful in my work life and still have a good, well-paid full time job. I have struggled for years with anxiety, depression and mild agoraphobia. I have been seriously ill on several occasions (eg meningitis and cancer) and have several auto-immune problems. I let my husband emotionally abuse me and since I turfed him out have been unable to start a new relationship. I get on well with lots of people but don’t have any real friends. I am ashamed to say that my 3 children would not score 0 on the ACE scale – probably around 3-4. I have now done years of therapy, which although it helped me recognise a lot of issues also confirmed my feeling that I am broken.


    • I hear you, and the voice of “confirmation” of just being broken. We have to remember that figuring out how we are broken also gives us a way to see how to put things back together. The hardest part is forgiving ourselves and being patient for how long it takes to get back up again.


    • I’ve read your post too, and “hear” you. My ACE score is 8, and I’m sorry to say that my children do not have 0s for their score. I’m doing what I can to salvage things now.

      I would encourage you to look into EMDR. Please, just google it, and also scroll up for more commentary on this topic. EMDR can really help you heal. It is backed up by real scientific studies, and is even approved by the US Dept Of Defense.

      You say you have a good job? That’s fantastic. I wish I could say the same. I don’t, and I don’t have insurance, either, but I’m going to spend money anyway on more EMDR. I can tell you that it works. Use the resources you have and go for it–you can heal from the horror of the past.

      I wish you well.


  219. The resilience questions as interesting when you have one parent, and they happen to have been unmedicated severe bipolar. There’s a lot of ‘sometimes’ in there.


  220. ACE: 5
    (although I’ve taken it before and it was 7. Not sure what the difference is other than questions worded differently)

    Resilience: 6

    Health: I’m admitting that I hate being controlled outside of myself, so no overeating, drinking, smoking, or risky behaviors.

    Lots of stress though that I too often internalize. Cancer scare.

    I think the worst outcome has been not having tools needed to make informed decisions, and so for a long while I was easily led and did/believed what I was told. It’s made me less trusting and very wary.


  221. 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


    • I’m right there with you. Both parents were hoarders. My dad was an alcoholic and very verbally abusive to us all. He was emotionally unavailable. My sister and I were anorexic due to it. My brother has an amazing anxiety disorder. I feel like I got the brunt of it all because my sister eloped at 19 when I was 11 and my codependent mom focused her all on me. I’ve been promiscuous and got caught shoplifting in college. I’m on my 2nd marriage. It’s verbally abusive, my last marriage was physically and verbally abusive. Every relationship I’ve been in was abusive in some way (usually someone emotionally controlling or physically violent). I always got attention for being smart so I earned 4 degrees but I have zero ambition.


    • 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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  223. 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.


  224. 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


  225. 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.


    • you might want to rethink the role that christianity plays in your life. you are correct to observe that many of the christian beliefs are toxic.

      If you want a different view, try youtube and search for a video called The Empty Cross. plus check out the many related videos. Then you can see for yourself…


      • Follow your instincts. You must break free from your fundamental beliefs. John Lennon summed up the mill stone of religious torment: “God is the concept by which we measre our pain……I don’t believe in…….” Your religious convictions have defined your living hell. Only you can break this cycle. You are not alone.


      • Oh boy, do I agree. Organized religion makes so many people hate themselves. It is poison. Regarding Christianity, the belief that babies are born guilty is incredibly toxic. This belief is at the heart of the Puritan belief that has trickled down into spanking-happy America: child depravation. What a crime, to regard children as inherently evil and advocate using violence on them.


  226. 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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  228. 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.


  229. 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.


    • In my home, one of the rules specifically for me, as the “nice” sibling, was that I was not to bother anyone with medical problems or illness.

      A broken arm once took a whole week for anyone to notice.

      Smashed my front teeth in an accident on the sidewalk and was scared that I was in trouble. When one of those teeth eventually required a root canal because of nerve damage, I lay awake all night with a throbbing tooth ache; it never even occurred to me that I should ask for help.

      Another broken arm had me terrified to inform my parents 12 hours later, but I felt I had to because of the pain.

      I knew the rule: shut up and don’t bother us with your problems. I was invisible.


  230. 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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  232. 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


  233. 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.


    • I’m so sorry, Kathy. No child should have to live through what you did. I do appreciate that you took the time and energy to write your story here, though: it’s important, I think, to emphasize that no study is perfect. Your parents can be responsible, you can have a stable home life, and so on…and mental abuse from just one other person, or more, can destroy your feelings of safety and confidence in this world. Especially if you have been manipulated into keeping the secret–or if your parents just don’t care that much, or are otherwise emotionally unavailable. Emotional and psychological abuse, particularly without parental support, can be utterly devastating all on its own.


  234. 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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  236. 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.


  237. 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.


  238. 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.


    • You feel tired and lost and i get it,but think of what you have accomplished all by yourself!You are strong and i would be proud if you were my friend.keep pushing through.🙂


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  242. 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.



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


  245. 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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  248. 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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  250. 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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  254. 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!


    • To confused-dude: it sounds like you are still in contact with your parents. Can I encourage you gently (although I want to scream it) to distance yourself from them? When you are immersed in a toxic environment as a child, it is very difficult to see it and unlearn it. But you are very young still and have many decades ahead of you. I recommend you cut your parents out of your life completely. Move to the other side of the world if you have to. Don’t feel any obligation to them. It is your life. Once you have had a good amount of time completely away from the toxicity, you will be able to find true friends and get to know your own strengths. (My life improved greatly when I made a conscious decision to restrict my contact with my father and actively analyze and reject his views on life).


    • Oh my gosh, I wish I could reach through the computer screen and hug you.

      You have had a really rough ride through life so far. Your father is wrong–got it? WRONG. He is and was out of control, and he has abused you and your entire family. You have every right to blame your bad childhood–it sounds like a never ending nightmare. I’m glad you survived, and I’m extremely impressed that you’ve got a masters degree in management. You will always have a job if you want one–that is a treasure, and you earned it.

      Please be good to yourself. Be good enough to yourself that you seek and get some therapy from a compassionate, qualified therapist. Like I have for so many other people both here and in other forums as well as in real life, I’m going to tell you that you should check out EMDR therapy. It CAN heal you. And believe me, you’ve got damage to your brain from the physical abuse alone, but the emotional and mental abuse damaged you too. It is because of that abuse that you have such dreadful feelings. You can be helped–please google EMDR. You have a masters degree, so I know you are familiar with how sound scientific research is done; EMDR has been studied in peer-reviewed settings, and the science backs up the claims. is the website that will have a database of therapists listed by location. They are all certified. Don’t trust anyone to use EMDR with you unless they are certified. And you can get the books from Amazon, or even just read the reviews, if you want to know more about what exactly it is.

      Other than that, I want to wish you healing and peace. You have been through way too much already, but you are young–and that alone is a gift. Your story is not yet written. You can change things with the help of a compassionate professional.

      Please be good to yourself. You have been mistreated badly and you did not deserve that. Still, you’re an impressive young man who can still create a bright and happy life for yourself. Please look into it, okay?


  255. 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!


  256. 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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  258. 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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  261. 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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  263. 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.


  264. 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 thre