During the past year, six of my friends who initially came to Shepherd’s House Ministries for help have passed away. At the time of their passing they were all in the age range of 25 to 60. They left us much too soon.
I remember the first time I heard about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Seven years ago I picked up a little pamphlet highlighting an ABC News story that made the jaw-dropping assertion that childhood trauma shortens a person’s life by roughly 20 years.
In the middle of the 1990s, Kaiser Permanente and the CDC performed a study that has become know as “ACES.” The findings of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study are truly shocking. Here is a quote from ABC’s report;
“New study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children who experience six or more traumatic events in their childhood – events that can include emotional, physical or sexual abuse or household dysfunction – have an average lifespan 19 years shorter than those of their counterparts who do not suffer that degree of childhood trauma.”
That’s a huge amount of a person’s lifespan no matter how you look at it. A majority of the people we serve come to us from backgrounds of childhood abuse or neglect. More and more the fields of medicine, neurology, and psychology are uncovering the truth that traumas during childhood start people on rough paths in which the cards are often stacked against them.
Compared to an ACE score of zero, having four adverse childhood experiences was associated with a seven-fold increase in alcoholism, a doubling of risk of being diagnosed with cancer, and a four-fold increase in emphysema; an ACE score above six was associated with a 30-fold increase in attempted suicide. The ACE study’s results suggest that maltreatment and household dysfunction in childhood contribute to health problems decades later. These include chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—that are the most common causes of death and disability in the United States.
The time is now!
This reality has purposed me with all the more motivation to love people well. I have more of a sense of urgency than ever before. Their time with us is sacred. From the moment a wounded soul walks through our door, it is incumbent upon us to love them with the love of Christ; to create a safe and healing environment wherein they can begin to experience a life of grace and freedom. I can only assume their time with us will probably be shorter than it should.
From my heart I thank you again for partnering with us as we strive to love well; as we strive to reach people with the love of Jesus. Thank you so much for your prayers. Thank you so much for your support.
You can find examples of Adverse Childhood Experiences in the list below:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Physical neglect
- Emotional neglect
- A parent treated violently
- Household substance abuse
- Household mental illness
- Parental separation or divorce
- Incarcerated household member
By Cash Lowe
Organizational Chaplain, Shepherd’s House Ministries