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Adverse Childhood Experiences

Friday, October 5th, 2018

By Tara Knobloch, MSW, LCSW-PIP

The month of October is devoted to Domestic Violence Prevention in the U.S. You might see people sporting purple ribbons or t-shirts showing solidarity and bringing awareness to this pervasive problem in our society. You might even donate to your local shelter or safety center. While much is known about the impact domestic violence has on adult victims and survivors, it seems that its effects on children is less understood. We see the images of the “battered woman,” bruised and shrinking in fear. We see the stories depicted in television shows, movies, books.

Awareness is essential; prevention is necessary. But…what about the kids?

Imagine living in fear. You’re scared that when you come home from school, mom will be hurt again, bad. You’re scared that one night, dad might turn on you, so you hide in your room. You’re scared to even ask mom if she’s okay, or to tell dad how your day was. You try to protect your younger sister, ushering her into your room once the yelling starts.

This is reality for children who live in an abusive home. It’s not physical pain they feel, but emotional and psychological harm. However, there is often a great physical impact as well. Witnessing domestic violence falls into the list of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. The ACEs tool is a short quiz to help determine a child’s adverse experience history. The more ACEs a child has, the greater the impact on brain development. Also, it poses a higher vulnerability to develop chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and depression.

Sioux Falls Psychological Services has several group opportunities for children. One of those is Kapable Kids, which is a 16-week group designed for children who have been impacted by domestic violence. Throughout the series, children will be able to express their feelings, learn from peers who might have had similar experiences, and develop coping skills for the future. Just knowing that other kids have felt the same feelings, had the same fear and confusion, can be so helpful for a child.  We meet you where you are, offering hope.  You may now schedule an appointment in the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls Psychological Services Therapists from your own computer or smart phone.  To schedule an appointment using a confidential technology connection you can call 605-334-2696. 

There is still hope; you are not alone. Check out this link to learn more about ACEs, as well as the work the state of South Dakota is doing to bring awareness.