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ACE Study FAQ

Pedophile up for release

Louis Van Wie, who admitted to sexually abusing over a hundred children, most of whom were barred from court due to the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, is about to get released from prison and that is terrifying neighbors and victims

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N.Y. man who confessed to sexually abusing more than 100 kids set to be released from prison

A man who admitted to sexually abusing over a hundred children was convicted of abusing only two, because of New York’s Statute of Limitations on the crime. He served his sentence and now is about to be released.

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Bolivar teenager shares victim story of sexual assault

The teen who survived Monte Gann’s sexual attacks, Ryan Briggs, said he never heard from Bolivar police. He is hoping to protect other child sex survivors and plans to work with Bolivar R-1 Schools to host an mandatory reporting training session for educators in January.

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Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear

Chronic or traumatic fear in childhood causes permanent changes in the structure of a child’s brain, and this causes long-term problems in adulthood

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I Am A Rape Survivor And I’m Not Staying Quiet

It seems almost weekly that I see claims that accusations of sexual assault ruin men’s careers and futures. We don’t give the same concern to survivors – but many of us have been pushed out of careers due to sexual harassment or assault. I think the long-term impact of these events and situations are frequently overlooked. We’re expected to have “moved on” and are made to feel bad when three years later we are still having panic attacks and flashbacks, like it’s something we should have just dealt with by now, like it’s something you can ever forget.

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Survivors surviving the holidays

The holidays are predictably a rough time of year for survivors, and often their families and friends inadvertently make it worse. A little bit of understanding can make the holidays happier and healthier for everyone.

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It’s OK to be Not-OK

Bad things happen to us that keep our lives from being what we think they should be. But if we can accept that it’s OK for our lives to be imperfect or go in unforeseen places, it’s much easier to move forward.

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3 more child sex abuse lawsuits filed against Guam priests

After passing the Child Victims Act, more sexual abuse survivors in Guam are bringing suits against their abusers, including Catholic clergy

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Sexual assault survivors struggle to cope with Trump election

Many scandals surrounded Donald Trump’s presidential bid, and these were sometimes stressful and triggering for sexual assault survivors. Now that he got elected, the stress and triggers haven’t diminished. Here are some tips for coping with them.

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The Catholic Church has a plan to compensate sexual-abuse victims, but many will get nothing

One diocese has come up with a commission to provide financial compensation to clergy sex abuse victims. But they are making it hard to access and are putting so loopholes in it that will likely bar most victims from using it.

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Minnesota archdiocese offers $132 million to settle sex abuse claims

A bankruptcy judge has decided the Minnesota diocese isn’t as impoverished as it said it was, and they have more than doubled the sum of money available to clergy abuse victims.

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Life after child sex abuse difficult, but survivable

Survivors and experts talk about successful life as adults life after child sexual abuse.

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Stages of Grief: What Happens for Sexual Abuse Victims?

Child sexual abuse causes its survivors to go through stages of grief, similar to the loss of a loved one. And just like the grief that comes from death, the grief that comes from child sexual abuse need not be permanent.

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Police say child sexual predators come in all shapes, sizes

Sex offenders come in all shapes and sizes and live in every neighborhood in America. But there are things parents can do to protect their kids from them.

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The Lesson

High school students in Brohead High School in Wisconsin were subjected to a “death drill” to teach them not to text and drive. What they learned is not to trust their school

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4 former altar boys sue Guam priests they say sexually abused them

After Guam passed the Child Victims Act, several survivors of clergy abuse are coming forward

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4 Things We Can Do To Help Heal And End Sexual Violence

“Locker room talk” is real, and it’s genuinely harmful. But there are things we can do to recover from it, as individuals and a society

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Until church, Legislature deal with this issue, it is still news

Despite record media coverage and pleas from victims, the Albany diocese and local politicians are re-hashing old excuses about the Catholic Church’s culpability in child sexual abuse scandels and the Child Victims Act

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Lack of justice compounds pain and shame of abuse

Society has sympathy for victims of child sexual abuse- for awhile. Or until it means stepping out of our comfort zone.

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A Halloween Treat for our readers

A piece of fiction that conveys the truth about child sexual abuse and Halloween

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Frequently Asked Questions
Doesn't everyone experience some adversities in childhood?
Yes, but the ACE study did a good job at sorting out which ones are most likely to cause long term damage to someone throughout their lifespan. It also quantified exactly how damaging they are, and how they interact.
What are the ACE study factors?
There are three basic categories of factors; childhood abuse, childhood neglect, and household dysfunction. These, in turn, are broken down into ten separate experiences, all of which are given an equal weight.  
So what exactly happens when a child experiences one of these things?
All of these events are so stressful to a child that they actually affect the way their brain grows and develops. The brain and endocrine system release chemicals that are useful in ensuring short-term survival, but are harmful to long-term health. They also make changes in the way cells interact with their own DNA.
How can things that happen in childhood have such a long-term effect on a child's future?
There are some logical relationships between some of these effects. A child whose brain developed under chronic stress is going to crave experiences that make that brain act normally. Alcohol, tobacco and street drugs all can help achieve those ends. Since the drive to use those is partially biological, it makes logical sense that this helps lead to the increased risk of addiction that is seen in people with high ACE scores. And the use of these drugs, in and of themselves, causes an increased risk for many of the diseases that ultimately kill people.
Aren’t things like abuse and sexual assault bad for adults, too?
Yes they are. However, an adult’s brain is much less flexible and less influenced by external events than a child’s brain. Children also have fewer coping mechanisms than adults do to enable them to deal with any and all forms of trauma.
What about a child who is rescued from a very abusive home while very young, doesn’t remember much of the abuse and then goes on to have a happy childhood?
If the child experiences an ACE, they experience it. Even if they have no conscious memory of the event, their body, brain and DNA were still were affected by it. It is certainly better for them to go on and have a happy childhood than an unhappy one- this contributes to resiliency. Therapies can help undo much of the damage. But forgetting the abuse, forgiving the abuser, etc., still doesn’t entirely undo the damage.
I have a high ACE score. Does that mean I should cash in my retirement fund now and enjoy the time I have left?
No. These numbers are statistical averages. Every teenager who commits suicide, for example, cuts many years off the average lifespan of people in the study group. People with high ACE scores can live long lives, especially if they are mindful of self-care.
What about children with high ACE scores? Isn’t it awful to say that a very young child is doomed, completely through no fault of their own?
There is evidence showing that many of the changes that happen in a child’s brain as a result of ACE’s can be largely reversed with appropriate therapies, especially if those therapies are started while the child is still young. This is why health care for children, including mental health care, must always be a priority. Yes, it is absolutely awful to say that a young child is doomed, completely through no fault of their own. That doesn’t mean we can ignore the evidence, as grim as it may be. Rather, it shows why it is so important that we work together to stop abuse.
How many people have each type of  ACE?
  • Emotional Abuse 10.6%
  • Physical Abuse 28.3%
  • Sexual Abuse 20.7%
  • Emotional Neglect 14.8%
  • Mother Treated Violently 12,7%
  • Household Substance Abuse 26.9%
  • Household Mental Illness 19.4%
  • Parental Separation or Divorce 23.3%
  • Incarcerated Household Member 4.7%
How many people have each ACE score?
  • Number of people with an ACE of 0 36.1%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 1 26%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 2 15.9%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 3 9.5%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 4 or more 12.5%

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