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Do You Have Complex Trauma? Take the ACES Quiz

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Complex trauma refers to the wide-ranging effects of repeated traumatic events. Many women are survivors of traumatic experiences and don’t realize the weight of what happened until long after the event. The impact of trauma often hides under the surface, manifesting in a set of self-preserving behaviors. Having experienced trauma can also create a relationship with shame, making it difficult to open up, get help, and find healing.

At New Directions for Women, we’re passionate about helping women begin to heal from their experience of trauma. We offer comprehensive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) at our women-only facility, giving women a safe place to process their experiences, explore their responses, and move forward with a new narrative.

If the memories of your experiences are close and loud and you can’t seem to find space from them, we can help. Shame wants to make you feel isolated and struggle alone — but you are not alone. There are others that can relate to how shame shows up. Whatever the source of your trauma is, the team at New Directions for Women can help you address it with self-compassion and acceptance.

Keep reading below to learn more about trauma, our responses, and how to know if you are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or symptoms related to a trauma narrative. While the information below is PTSD-specific, there are other ways trauma can show up in our lives. The definition of PTSD here is not exhaustive, nor is it the only type of trauma diagnosis.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition brought on by a traumatic experience. Many women experience symptoms of PTSD after a painful and deeply troubling life event, and these symptoms can be debilitating.

The symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving the traumatic experience in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts.
  • Experiencing deep shame and negative thoughts about yourself, as well as feelings of anger or guilt.
  • Numbness and apathy, along with trouble focusing on daily activities or feeling in touch with your emotions.
  • Avoidance of people, places, and situations that bring back memories of your traumatic experience.

Women with PTSD may also have a relationship with anxiety and depression, which can, in turn, make PTSD’s symptoms more problematic. It may be important to note that alcohol use is often a response to symptoms of PTSD.

The ACEs Quiz

Studies show that the more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) one has, the greater the likelihood of depression, anxiety, addiction, and autoimmune disorders.

In addition, higher levels of ACEs may indicate complex trauma, also known as layered trauma. This is trauma that exists outside of single experiences. The quiz below may help to shed light on why you may feel down, find yourself in a problematic relationship, or struggle with self esteem. Please note: the ACEs and other quizzes on our site are tools to help inform you, and are not conclusive.

Take the quiz below slowly and thoughtfully. For each question you answer “yes,” add one point to your overall score. The higher your score, the more likely it is that there are complex trauma symptoms that could benefit from treatment.

  1. Did a parent or another adult in your household often insult you, swear at you, put you down, or make you feel embarrassed? Or, did that family member ever act in a way that made you fear for your physical safety?
  2. Did a parent or another adult in your household ever push you, grab you, slap you, or throw an object at you? Or, did that family member ever hit you so hard that it left marks or caused injuries?
  3. Did an adult (or a person at least five years older than you) ever engage with you in a sexually inappropriate way?
  4. Did you often feel that no one in your family loved you or thought of you as important or special? Or, did you ever feel that the members of your family did not look out for or support each other?
  5. Did you often feel that you didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, or had no one to look after you and protect you? Or, were your parents or caregivers ever too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if needed?
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
  7. Was your mother or stepmother often pushed, slapped, grabbed, or had objects thrown at her? Or, was she ever kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with a hard object? Or, was she ever hit repeatedly for at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or a knife?
  8. Did you ever live with a family member or other person who was an alcoholic or street drug user?
  9. Was a household member ever depressed or mentally ill? Or, did a household member attempt suicide?
  10. Did a family member ever go to prison?

When Should I Seek Help for PTSD?

If you answered yes to 4 or more questions on the ACE quiz, we encourage you to contact us today and explore options for PTSD treatment. PTSD is treatable, and deep healing is possible with the right support. At New Directions for Women, we’re here to walk alongside you on your recovery journey, helping you review the story of your life and explore new stories about yourself that are compassionate, life-affirming, and hopeful.

Our PTSD treatment programs take a non-pathologizing approach to wellness through the use of Narrative Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and more. We take a holistic approach to treatment, helping women get in touch with their bodies, minds, and spirits to facilitate the healing of the whole self.

To learn more about our treatment options, the admissions process, and more, contact us today. Our team is ready to help you understand responses to trauma and bring hope, peace, and joy to your life.

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