At Session 20 of the OACBHA Conference held December 2013, Steven Stone, Executive Director, Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County presented “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study: Implications for Social Service Agency Practice workshop.” There were handouts and an introduction to AVA, the Academy on Violence and Abuse, whose mission is “to advance health education and research on the recognition, treatment and prevention of the health effects of violence and abuse.’ The AVA reports that “childhood exposure to violence can disrupt neurodevelopment and alter lifelong brain structure and function”, among other detrimental effects, and “the total economic cost of child maltreatment in the US is estimated to exceed $585 Billion each year.” (Fang, X., et al.)
There’s a one page tree diagram by David McCollum created 1/09 produced by AVAHealth.org, The Academy on Violence and Abuse, titled: “COLEVA, known and suspected consequences of lifetime experiences of violence and abuse.” This comprehensive tree diagram shows documented and potential health effects of abuse across the body/mind systems. Main trunks of the tree include key areas including: orthopedics, rheumatology, neurological, genital-urinary, dental, dermatology, mental health, behavioral issues, respiratory/pulmonary, surgery, allergies, ob-gyn, gastro-intestinal, cardiovascular, general, ENT (ear, nose & throat), infectious disease, endocrine, and ophthalmology.
Within the neurological system, one might find symptoms/conditions such as chronic daily headaches, seizures, dizziness/lightheadedness, altered sensations, and transient amnesia among others. Within the mental health branch, the list includes: depression, anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD, bipolar disorder, cutting and other self-inflicted injury, suicide/suicidal attempts, aggression/anger problems, agoraphobia, alexithymia, Munchausen’s syndrome, somatization syndrome, dissociative disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hallucinations and schizophrenia. Among behavioral issues, one finds alcoholism, illicit drug use, tobacco use, decreased seat belt use, decreased helmet use, reduced compliance with medication and treatment, promiscuity and hoarding.
The most important finding/outcome/understanding is that the mind/body/spirit is an integrated and interdependent system. There are neuropeptides, hormones, and chemicals throughout the body. You CAN feel it in your heart or your stomach and that is validated through research done by the NIH on neuro-immunology. He or she really can trigger a ‘pain in the neck’. Our language is full of such references. In the presence of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, one‘s immune system and the body-mind is under assault from heavy and persistent stress. Research shows the negative effect on the brain.
There’s a booklet, ‘Hidden Costs in Health Care: The Economic Impact of Violence and Abuse” with a strong reference section, and an AVA Scholars Program. There’s also a resource guide, ‘Competencies Needed by Health Professionals for Addressing Exposure to Violence and Abuse in Patient Care” with a bibliography. See http://www.avahealth.org for more information.
[Photo credit: Dmccale/Dreamstime 19920405 ‘Sad depressed teen girl on stairs’]