Michiganders: Take this test for childhood trauma

Experiencing domestic violence in your household when you were a child is one of many traumatic episodes that can lead to physical or mental health problems that can follow you into adulthood.

Health experts have developed survey questions to score a patient’s level of physical or mental trauma sustained during childhood. The ACE quiz (which stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences), has proven a vital resource for gauging underlying or potential health risks.

Michigan Health Watch is made possible by generous financial support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Michigan Association of Health Plans, and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. The monthly mental health special report is made possible by generous financial support of the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation. Please visit the Michigan Health Watch 'About' page for more information.

Research has consistently found that multiple childhood traumas (four or more)  are linked to everything from heart disease to depression, obesity, substance abuse and heavy drinking.

Physicians who use the ACE test say it can open a window for patient and doctor alike in the connection between past events and their health challenges. In some cases, physicians refer patients with multiple traumas in childhood to mental health professionals for treatment.

RELATED: Childhood trauma is tied to health risks, but Michigan doctors don’t ask

Of course, a high trauma score does not inevitably lead to poor health. But those who score high on this test might want to consult with a physician or mental health professional about appropriate actions to take. 

Take the test yourself: 

Q1: Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often ... Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? Or act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

Q2: Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often ... Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

Q3: Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever ... Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

Q4: Did you often or very often feel that ... No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

Q5: Did you often or very often feel that ... You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? Or your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

Q6: Were your parents ever separated or divorced?

Q7: Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? Or ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

Q8: Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?

Q9: Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?

Q10: Did a household member go to prison?

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Leslie Dietrich
Fri, 12/13/2019 - 8:44am

What about the loss of a parent or close relative that has died?

Joe Smith
Sun, 12/15/2019 - 8:53am

My mother died of polio when I was 5; 74 years ago. It still aches in my bones, the loss, the sadness, the anger. I try hard never to share this with others, so I've used a pseudonym.

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 9:57am

Why does the domestic abuse question only address abuse of the mother? Numerous studies demonstrate that women are as likely as men to initiate domestic violence.


Fri, 12/13/2019 - 11:10am

Why does Q8 only reference mothers who are targets of domestic violence? Studies show that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.

Gloria Woods
Sat, 12/14/2019 - 9:35am

Actually, Bob, the statistics have been consistent in showing men are the batterers (96%) while women are the victims of men's violence (4%). There is a pretty active subgroup of (mostly) male activists who beg to differ, but they are incorrect.

For well-researched information, you can start with: https://nomas.org/myth-battered-husband-syndrome/ a well-written paper on the subject. The citations at the end of this article will help any reader find more factual information.

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 2:06pm

Actually Gloria, the following link indicates that your offered source may be somewhat dated.


"This bibliography examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600."

Perhaps Dr. Straton was not familiar with this source. Of the sources used by Dr. Straton, none were more recent than 1992, and the vast majority were 1988 or earlier.

The above source I offer has more current data (at least 9 different studies since 2010, with some as recent as 2012).

Peggie J Burke
Fri, 12/13/2019 - 11:29am

So, I have taken the test. Answered yes to half. Now what? You haven't told me anything I haven't known for years. Everything that happened to me & around me as a child & teen has affected everything in my adult life! I really hope this article helps people to get the help they need.

Sat, 12/14/2019 - 8:15pm

What about persistent school bullying? Sometimes the threat of violence isnt from home.

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 10:34am

Where is a question about how many changes of address a child experienced and how many were long distance moves? Community/relatives/friends/school disruption can be traumatic.

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 6:37pm

Both my parents and paternal grandparents all living in the same small town died within 5 years during my early adolescence. It affected decisions that altered my entire life. Profound loss!

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 9:31pm

Tear gassed? Close fist punches to face? Verbal threats of harm.
Praise Jesus that He showed me how to forgive these events. Happily married for over 35 years. Yippee!

Sun, 01/26/2020 - 4:46pm

Don't overlook being bullied outside of the home. It's twice as difficult for kids that are being bullied outside the home and then have to go home that's also not safe, caring or protective. There's nowhere left to go. Tough stuff for a kid to have zero support system.