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? _______

944 responses

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  3. 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


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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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  10. 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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  12. 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.


  13. 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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  18. 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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  20. 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.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 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.

      Liked by 2 people

      • 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.


    • 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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  38. 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.

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  40. 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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  43. 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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  45. 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?


  46. 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

  47. 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.

        Liked by 1 person

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  49. 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

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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

  52. 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.


  53. 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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  55. 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.


  56. 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:

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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.


  75. 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…


  76. 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.


  77. 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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  83. 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..


  84. 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.


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  88. 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.


  89. 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.


  90. 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.


  91. 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).


  92. 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.


  93. 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.


  94. 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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  96. 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.


  97. 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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  99. 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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  102. 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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  106. 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!!!!


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

  108. 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

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

  110. 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.


  111. Pingback: The Heroine’s Journey: I am an Emotional Mountain Climber | Radical Mystic

  112. 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.


  113. 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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  122. 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.


  123. 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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  127. 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!


  128. 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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  130. 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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  133. 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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  135. 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.


  136. 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.


  137. 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.


  138. 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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  140. 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.


  141. 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


  142. 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.


  143. 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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  145. 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.


  146. 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.


  147. 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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  149. 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


  150. 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.


  151. 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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  153. 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.


  154. 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.


  155. 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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  159. 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.



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


  162. 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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  165. 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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  167. 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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  171. 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?


  172. 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!


  173. 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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  175. 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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  178. 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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  180. 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.


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

    Liked by 1 person

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


  190. Ace 5, Resilience 6… ??

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


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


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


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


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


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


  193. 7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

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


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


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


  194. Ace score 9

    Resilience score 14

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

        I wish you all the very best on your journey x


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


  200. Ace score 19
    Resiliency score 2

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

    WARNING – graphic content!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


  206. ACE score 7, resilience score 3

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


    • You probably also have:

      -a lot of patience

      – mental strength and stability =)

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


    • Oh no =(

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

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

      “the water that runs down my back”

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


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


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


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


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

  217. ACE: 8
    Resilience: 4

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


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


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


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


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


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


  220. 10 Ace and 2 resilience. My life is a nightmare. I am a mess. But I managed to be a good mother and a fabulous grandmother. Everyday is a struggle


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


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


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


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

        See what I mean?


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

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

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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

      But, the frustrations continue….



    • So do i..😉

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


  232. ACES: 10
    Resilience: 0

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


  235. ACE score: 7
    Resiliency score: 10

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

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


    • ACE test: 9
      Resiliency: 10

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


  236. ACE = 5
    Resilience = 7

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

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