4 Realms of Trauma

Adversity consists of a wide range of experiences or conditions that threaten the health and well-being of children, families, and communities. Using the term ACEs from the original ACEs Study, the acronym ACE has expanded to be considered in four primary ways referred to as The Four Realms of ACEs:

  1. Adverse Childhood Experiences (represented by the tree): Impact individual and interpersonal conditions. Examples include parental mental illness, substance abuse, interpersonal violence homelessness, incarceration, divorce, death, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, caregiver separation and medical crisis.
  2. Adverse Community Environments (represented by the soil and roots of the tree): Impact population conditions. Examples include poverty, structural racism, community disinvestment, police violence, lack of affordable housing, lack of opportunity and economic mobility, lack of access to green spaces, unemployment, and deteriorating built environments.
  3. Adverse Climate Events (represented by the storm cloud): Impact community conditions. Examples include COVID-19, climate change, wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes, environmental injustice and pollution.
  4. Atrocious Cultural Experiences (represented by the ground water): Impact macro- and socio-historic conditions. Examples include slavery, genocide, colonization, segregation, forced family separation, removal of property and other harmful social norms such as low sense of political and social efficacy and mistrust. These historical traumas are passed along from one generation to the next through a process known as epigenetics.

4 Realms of ACE’s

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