The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted (mid 90’s) to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. It has since been studied in several states with similar results and they are continuing to follow the original participants.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study Pyramid



The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States. It is critical to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences. Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention and recovery.

2/3 of the people had at least 1. Several yes answers increases risk as an adult.

It is helpful to understand our lives and the impact of trauma. We are not personally at fault. This is how our brain and nervous system works. Maladaptive coping strategies arise as a result of trauma. Trauma CAN be healed. As we heal our nervous systems our risk of disease is lowered as well.

ACES questions:
While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:
Answer Yes or No. If Yes, this counts as 1. Maximum score of ten.

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?
(Count 1 if either of these are true, not one for each one that is true)

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?

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?

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?

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?

6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?

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 at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?

10. Did a household member go to prison?