IF YOU FACED CHILDHOOD ADVERSITIES LIKE CHILDHOOD DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (CDV), HEALTH-PROMOTING ACTIVITIES CAN HELP FOSTER YOUR HEALING AND RESILIENCY IN ADULTHOOD
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Shanta Dube, Associate Professor at Georgia State University, who is on our Georgia Chapter’s Board, has spent decades tracking and evaluation Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their long-term impact. Adverse experiences faced in childhood can have many detrimental effects in adulthood, such as violence or substance abuse, which in turn expose the next generation to ACEs, creating a looping cycle. So to limit adversities and their profound impact on subsequent generations, adults who experienced adversities in childhood need to look inward and heal the wounds from their own past. In her recent article, Dr. Dube offers evidence-based lifestyle suggestions that can curb the negative effects of childhood adversity in adults and promote better outcomes.
The ACE study launched in the mid-1990s, which was the most extensive and sweeping study to examine the impact of childhood adversity well into adulthood, offered a groundbreaking look at how childhood trauma can impact overall health and wellbeing for adults and their families long-term. Whether it is facing divorce, neglect, substance abuse or domestic violence in the home, it has been proven that ACEs can put adults at a greater risk for numerous negative health and behavioral outcomes.
The human body is biologically built and wired with mechanisms to deal with situations that are threatening, and on the flip side, it is also wired with neurochemicals like dopamine and GABA that induce feelings of safety, wellbeing, happiness, exhilaration, drive, etc. What’s more, we can personally unleash these neurochemicals by practicing self-care. In 1996, medical sociologist and anthropologist Aaron Antonovsky coined salutogenesis, which suggests that “as humans we have an innate capacity to move towards health in the face of hardships,” and hence, health providers should focus on the things that can promote and advance good health rather than focusing solely on preventing poor health.
“Unfortunately, childhood adversities such as abuse and neglect cannot be prevented by vaccinations,” says Dr. Dube. “However, we can limit the impact of ACEs on future generations by taking a close look at what we are doing today – not only for our children, but for ourselves, as adults….To prevent adversities for children, we must address the healing and recovery of trauma in adults.”
In 2013, Dr. Dube and her colleagues conducted a follow-up study examining 5,000 adults from the original ACE study who reported at least one childhood adversity. They assessed the outcomes for four main strategies that have been proven to promote good health: exercise, abstaining from smoking, access to emotional support and attaining at least a high school or higher level education. The studies show that the higher the number of health-promoting activity a person participated in, the better they seemed to fair. Two health promoting activities? 1.5 times better health outcomes. All 4? 4.3 times better compared to engage in just one or none. Dr. Dube and her colleagues replicated this study a second time with a new set of adult trauma survivors from four states and the District of Columbia, and found near-identical results.
Dr. Dube urges anyone dealing with childhood trauma to actively attempt to exercise at least two if not all four of these strategies, to help empower the body, the mind and spirits, for sake of self…AND for the next generations.
To learn more, read the full article, “The Steps That Can Help Adults Heal From Childhood Trauma” by Shanta R. Dube, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, on The Conversation via this link: https://theconversation.com/the-steps-that-can-help-adults-heal-from-childhood-trauma-77152