Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term used to describe the types of abuse, neglect, or other potentially traumatic experiences that can happen to a person under the age of 18.
Trauma can come from a variety of experiences. Common examples of trauma that children and adolescents can experience include things like:
· Sexual Abuse / Rape
· Emotional Abuse / Narcissistic Parent
· School Violence / Bullying
· Natural Disasters
· Military-Family Related Stressors
· Sudden or Violent Loss of A Loved One
· Serious Accidents
· Life-Threatening Illnesses
NPR has a basic Adverse Childhood Experiences quiz you can take as a sample self-assessment to get started on your healing journey. Please note, this sample quiz is not a replacement for an actual therapeutic assessment. It does, however, provide some good background information. There are other resources available in our new book Acknowledge and Heal: A Women-Focused Guide To Understanding PTSD.
It is important to recognize that upsetting experiences are not always traumatic. Divorce, for example, is an upsetting experience for children. It can create a feeling of abandonment or parental loss in a child, but the divorce alone is not necessarily traumatizing. How the parents handle the divorce, however, can be. If one parent attempts to use the child as a pawn with the other parent, that can create a traumatic situation for the child. Situational context is important.
In most cases of abuse, it is the caregiver who is identified as the perpetrator - someone the child knows and relies on for care: a parent, teacher, religious leader, coach, or family physician. This includes direct abuse and/or negligence in reporting abuse involving a child and caregiver.
We should also note that many children who are exposed to potentially traumatic events may experience initial distress, but it is short-lived. In the case of PTSD, it is the duration of symptoms that categorize the disorder. That is not to downplay the seriousness of trauma. Again, context is important.
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