Beyond survival: resource for organisations working with child abuse survivors

This toolkit provides resources to enable survivor support organisations become more sustainable.

Appendix 2: About Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences are “intra-familial events or conditions causing chronic stress responses in the child’s immediate environment. These include notions of maltreatment and deviation from societal norms”. The landmark Adverse Childhood Experience Study conducted by Kaiser-Permanente in America involved surveying 17,000 people about their childhood experiences and health. For the first time, a relationship was observed between childhood adversity and lifelong impact in the domains of:

  • Injury and death during childhood;
  • Premature mortality and suicide;
  • Disease and illness; and
  • Mental illness.

Impacts affected immediate and long-term health with significant costs over one’s lifetime. For example, studies consistently show strong, graded associations between childhood adversity and risk of adult substance misuse, development of anxiety and depression and suicide risk, as well as poor physical health including development of long term conditions like heart disease and cancer among others. Findings in the United States have been replicated in the UK.

The findings are compelling and indicate that the cost to our communities is tremendous and deserving of focused attention. There is a growing body of evidence that high quality support can make a real difference to a person’s ability to cope with the impact of abuse, and that the benefits of providing such supports are worth it: to people, to communities and to our society. The Scottish Public Health Network observes the importance of creating a culture of compassion that links individual experienctions.


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