Studies confirm that women of color experience racism, sexism, regular harassment, and assault. Black women are particularly affected by these daily experiences and experience great stress as a result. These traumas are not new and too often mirror the experiences of a childhood fraught with the same. ACES are Adverse Childhood Experiences that put all of us at risk, particularly women of color.
Why? ACES are traumatic experiences (for example, sexual abuse and domestic violence) that one has experienced before adulthood. ACES have a profound impact on self-development and womanhood. Girls of color disproportionately experience multiple ACES-they have more ACES, more often and at earlier ages.
“An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood… the rougher your childhood, the higher your score.” NPR
WHAT YOUR ACE SCORE MEANS
This is a test where 10/10 is NOT a good thing. “Points”=ACES, one point for each “Yes” answer. A score of 4 points means that you experienced 4 ACES. An ACE score of 4 or higher is considered to be a high ACE score. A score of 7-10 is extremely high.
High ACE scores can be remarkably predictive in terms of life outcomes: poor health and disease, emotional issues, depression, abusive relationships, risky behavior, substance abuse and addiction, eating disorders, even future traumatic events. All of these are predicted by high ACE scores.
Generally, as your ACE score increases, your risk for disease, social and emotional problems also increases. Mental, physical, psychological and even spiritual development can be stunted and hindered, putting women of color at risk through the entire lifespan.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
While it may sound like doom and gloom, unfortunately, yes, it can be. However, it does not have to be this way. High ACE scores do not factor in other variables that build resilience.
Resilience is a shield that strengthens holistically.
Focusing on building resilience and healing will be helpful for women who have high ACE scores.
You can take control of your trauma by understanding what it is and how to heal yourself. When you learn how to recognize trauma and its affect on your life and you could build resilience. You may already be resilient, having caring adults or a best friend can shield you from the pitfalls of abuse and neglect. Most of all, you can focus on overcoming your past to live a life that is full of present positivity, meaningful connections, love, and purpose.
Take the first step-find your ACE score. There are only 10 questions and it is pretty straightforward. If your ACE score is high, consider getting professional help in the form of counseling and support groups such as Sister Circles.
Understand that you may be in denial at first. You may have a high ACE score and say to yourself, “I am not like other people. I’m doing just fine.” Yet, look at your relationships. Examine your feelings and moods. Look at the dysfunction that may exist in you, also your family, your children, and your extended family members.
We do not arrive in a place of high ACES by ourselves. We were just children when these events occurred to us and around us. Often, we are the product of generations of trauma, neglect, and poor health. You can break the cycle. You can be the revolutionary in your family. You can heal and find peace.