Sep 2018

In The Know

Scoring a “10”
By Jo Gabriel

Scoring a “10” is often associated with the reaching of perfection. You can think back to the 1979 filmtitled “10” in which Bo Derek appeared, and her score of “10” was used to refer to her beauty. You can think of endless surveys where you’re asked to rate something on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest. You can think of the meaning and symbolism of the number 10 as defined in numerology as the number representing absolute perfection. Whether thinking of beauty, surveys, or numerology, 10 isusually a positive thing. It is the best of the best and the highest of the high.

However, scoring a 10 on the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study
(abbreviated to the ACE Study) is serious. This study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect relative to later-life health and well-being. The study was carried out from 1995 to 1997. The higher one scores on the ACE Study scale of 1 to 10, the more potential there is for early death occurring in their life.

The ACE Study is categorized into three groups: abuse, neglect, and family/household challenges. The findings of the study uncovered how childhood experiences have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization, long-term health, and later opportunities in life. Its findings speak volumes about the relationship between childhood abuse and household dysfunction with many of the leading causes of victimization and death in adults.

The ACE Study can easily be and should be incorporated into all trainings for professionals who deal with any and all forms of victimization. It’s comprised of a simple, yet very telling, questionnaire. The results can be extremely enlightening as the study assesses cumulative childhood stress. Knowing your score can lead you to empowerment through self-awareness.

Adverse childhood experiences lead to a disruption in neurodevelopment. That neurodevelopment
disruption brings about different levels of social, emotional, and cognitive impairment which lead to an adoption of health-risk behaviors. Those health-risk behaviors can lead to disease, disability and social problems which can bring about an early death. Many of the clients we see in shelters, resource centers, clinics, safe spaces, and law enforcement agencies have adopted health-risk behaviors. Understanding of the ACE Study is critical for reactive purposes as we try to assist our clients with their many challenges.

However, if we have training on the ACE Study, we can also attempt to address issues from a
preventative and not just reactive stance. We can see where potential future issues might arise. We
can attempt to tackle the issues before the person’s neurodevelopment is affected. We can work
towards reaching out to them before they have developed social, emotional and cognitive concerns.
We can have the goal of intervening before those health-risk behaviors have been incorporated into
their lives, and they are self-sabotaging themselves by putting themselves in harm’s way.

The stressors measured in a child’s life on the ACE Study are usually beyond the child’s control as their stressor exposure is highly dependent on their environment, guardians/parents, socio-economic status, cultural practices/beliefs, educational opportunities afforded to them, etc. However, those of us in helping professions can work with those children as they transition into young adults and need to understand themselves to reach the best adulthood possible. It’s conceivable that by thwarting further damaging situations, we can create a less impactfully negative life style.

In my most recent years, as a highly educated professional specializing in victimization, a
CEO/president/founder of two companies, and an author of numerous publications on victimization and vulnerability, I have frequently led training on the ACE Study and how it can be helpful in our work. Over the years, I have used my empathy and personal “on-the-job” training to train others about how very important the ACE Study can be. I have used the ACE Study for my own self-awareness purposes. I have used the ACE Study to help others grow in their own self-awareness.

However, my empathy for my clientele does not come from my textbooks, degrees, companies or own publications. My empathy comes from my earlier years as a person who was on her own at 15, a young single mother of four, a rape victim, a person with eating disorders, and a survivor of 18+ years entangled in a web of domestic and sexual violence. Most impacting to me is the fact that I hold a score of 10 on the ACE Study. Hence, today, after close to five decades living, I find myself unwillingly fulfilling the findings of the ACE Study. I am forced to deal with serious health challenges, while facing a worrisome prognosis, which leave me staring straight into the face of an inevitable early death.

In this message, I can only emphasize the priority we need to have as professionals and survivors to be aware of and trained on the ACE Study, and I can only wholeheartedly express my wish that I and so many others did not hold that “perfect” score of 10.

If you would like to read more about the ACE Study, my autobiography contains a full analysis at the back of my book. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Xlibris. Its title is Once Upon a Time, There was a Lost, Gay Little Boy by Jo Gabriel.

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