What Are ACEs?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the science linking them to long term health  outcomes comes from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study published by a group of doctors from the USA in 1998.

From that study, the ten most common experiences often called, the 10 ACEs, was formed which are:

1 – Physical abuse

2 – Sexual abuse

3 – Verbal abuse

4 – Physical neglect

5 – Emotional neglect

6 – A family member who is depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness

7 – A family member who is addicted to alcohol or another substance

8 – A family member who is in prison

9 – Witnessing a mother being abused

10 – Losing a parent to separation, divorce or death

The study found that children’s developing brains and central nervous systems are so profoundly affected by childhood trauma, that there is a significant correlation between ACEs and adult chronic diseases, mental illness and violence.

It is widely accepted that the above list of ACEs are not exclusive and there are many adverse experiences that are not on the list. We also know that domestic violence is not exclusively aimed at women. The list of 10 ACEs should be viewed as a guideline of the 10 most common ACEs appearing in the original study and not as a list of criteria.