A friend of mine asked about the term “High Ace Score” in my profile.

ACE measures adverse childhood experiences (violence, abuse, neglect), which correlate numerically and unsurprisingly to a host of poor outcomes in adulthood – divorce, incarceration, COPD.

Your ACE score can be a great tool. I think of it like an oven mitt for trauma.

What are adverse events?

Here are a couple moments to illustrate:

Scene 1: My dad to my 13-y-old sister, as he smashes plates against the kitchen wall: “You made me angry, so you have to clean these up.”

Scene 2: In my dream, my mother writhes in pain on the couch, while I stand over her. When I touch her shoulder to comfort her, we instantly switch places.

Scene 3: Sitting cross-legged on the backseat of a powder blue WV microbus, I see two of my siblings shrug, exchanging resigned glances. My father floors the accelerator and wrenches the steering wheel to one side. In slow motion, I watch from outside my 9-yr-old body as the vehicle careens off the lip of a blacktop road, lurches into a cornfield and flips, side over side, two full rotations before coming to rest on its wheels.

What if you have a high score?

4s, you’re probably in therapy.

7 and above, congrats on surviving. And sorry.

Unable to get below a 7 after two tries, I set to work.

Here’s what I do:

productive solitude



cognitive behavioral therapy


And I share my story.

One thought on “ACE Score: an Oven Mitt for Childhood Trauma

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