In Canada, 32% of an adult sample indicated that they had experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or exposure to intimate partner violence during childhood (2014).
A 2014 U.S. study found that 8% of children have experienced 1 childhood trauma, and 23% have experienced 2 or more. These traumas (aka “adverse childhood experiences”or ACE) include: extreme economic hardship, parental divorce/separation, living with someone with a drug/alcohol problem, witnessing or a victim of neighborhood violence, living with someone who was mentally ill/suicidal, witnessing domestic violence, a parent serving time in jail, treated or judged unfairly due to race/ethnicity, and the death of a parent.
What would your score be? Take the quick 11-question ACE survey. https://corecounselling.ca/ace-survey/
No ‘outright’ abuse for you? What about emotionally controlling, unavailable or inconsistent parenting? Did you learn to value and manage feelings? Did you get enough self-worth or mirroring of who you really were? More than likely we developed a repertoire of negative (and false!) cognitions about our self (I’m useless.) and life (‘What’s the point?’)
Regardless of the type of childhood adversity (STRESS), these actions cause immediate and long-lasting emotional and psychological suffering. On a neurological level, studies show specific changes in the brains of traumatized (and not fully attached and attuned) individuals. These changes correspond to noticeable inabilities to process feelings and to self-reflect, inhibit creative capacities and alter one’s sense of identity.
Time does not necessarily heal the pain.
Many people, even those with obvious traumatic (‘bad’) backgrounds, do not fully see the connections among past abuse, current behaviours, body symptoms and (mental health) suffering (depression, anxiety, anger, stuckness). Higher ACE scores showed increased instances of long-term health effects including gastrointestinal problems (e.g. IBS), frequent headaches, fatigue, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.
We may notice increased symptoms (e.g., headaches, body aches, etc.) when we are facing current stress, so imagine a child’s body/brain bathed in toxic stress molecules for often chronic levels of time. There will be changes and lasting effects.
Review your trauma history and identify the adverse childhood experiences. How did you cope or adapt to the trauma? How do you think the trauma has influenced and still continues to affect your life?
The memories, including images, sounds, tastes, touch and smells, are often stored in our implicit or unconscious memories and can surface later when triggered by similar stimuli. Memories can also be recalled symbolically in dreams and in deeply relaxed states (e.g., EMDR psychotherapy) where unconscious material can surface.
In order to aid the healing of our wounds, we must be open to revisit the stored pain in order for our wounded inner child to share his/her full experiences and feelings. With our older, wiser self listening, we can compassionately teach the truths about what happened, that we were not to blame, and that we are lovable, worthy, and good enough.
October 8 – The Impacts of Childhood Adversity & Trauma
6:30 – 9 pm Parksville Community Centre (132 Jensen Ave.) By donation to SOS.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence, growing up with family members who have substance use disorders, mental health issues or merely, chronic ‘not good enough’ parenting. Often we think our childhood was “okay,” yet the often unacknowledged emotional, psychological and even spiritual wounds follow us into adulthood, indicating that there is something deeper at play in our choices and behaviours.
- types of trauma (from womb, childhood abuse, developmental trauma)
- impacts of trauma on one’s sense of self, emotions, relationships & world view
- neurological & physiological changes
- how one adapts to trauma
- accessing our inner healing nature
Register (to ensure a seat and handout) via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (250.586.7380).