Domestic violence is serious grounds for divorce, and it’s important for spouses looking to file for separation to act as quickly as possible before the abuse gets worse. But those planning to file for divorce over domestic violence must also consider that their children are potentially facing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
What are ACEs?
Louisiana law says ACEs refer to “all types of abuse, neglect and other types of traumatic childhood experiences linked to lifelong health and social problems.”
ACEs include the following types of experiences:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Parental neglect
- Domestic violence
- A household member’s substance abuse
- The incarceration of a relative
- The divorce/separation of a parent
The mental and emotional damage caused by ACEs can haunt children years after the painful incidents.
What are the risks associated with ACEs?
A study conducted by Kaiser-Permanente, in collaboration with the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC), found a link between traumatic childhood experiences and a heightened risk of acute medical and mental health issues in later life. It found that the following risks were heightened among those with ACEs:
- Mental health
- Maternal health
- Infectious diseases
- Chronic disease
- Risky behaviors
In addition to the above, toxic stress coming from ACEs can alter a child’s brain development and affect the way their body reacts to stress
How common are ACEs among Americans?
The CDC study found that:
- Among the study participants, one in six US adults said they had four or more types of ACEs
- More women (15.2% of participants) said that they had four or more ACEs than men (9.2%)
- At least five of the top 10 leading causes of death are associated with ACEs
How can one address their child’s ACEs?
In cases where a spouse filed for divorce on the grounds of domestic violence, the children must not be left in the custody of the abuser. Both the filing spouse and the children may need therapy to address any mental and emotional trauma they may have sustained.