number of negative life outcomes experienced later in life.50 Specifically, the study found
that painful childhood experiences, such as verbal abuse, domestic violence, or family
and household dysfunction, can lead to negative life outcomes, such as high-risk health
behaviors like substance abuse and sexual behaviors that serve as a coping device.51
These experiences, in turn, can increase the likelihood of early death.52
Reacting violently to certain situations is not a natural impulse, but persistent
traumas can shape intergenerational patterns of human behavior.53 This is largely because
of the depth of damage that is possible from adverse events accumulated over time.54
When the underlying stressors in the lives of trauma survivors are never alleviated, there
is little opportunity for healing and recovery.55 As the ACEs research indicates, when
persistent unresolved pain reaches a certain threshold in a person’s life, unhealthy outlets
for that pain emerge.56 Significantly, not everyone who survives trauma becomes an
aggressor;57 in fact, the majority do not.58 But among those who experience adverse
childhood experiences, violence is one established response.59
50 Id. at 245, 251. The ACEs study found a strong “relationship between the breadth of exposure to abuse or
household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death
in adults.” Id. at 251.
51 Id. at 252–53.
52 See id.
53 See MAIA SZALAVITZ & BRUCE D. PERRY, BORN FOR LOVE: WHY EMPATHY IS ESSENTIAL—AND
ENDANGERED 198 (2010) (“Studies show that people exposed to extreme threat regularly develop faster
reaction times.”). “Extreme stress changes the way we respond to the world” and “frequently experiencing
a state of fear can train the brain to react more impulsively.” Id. Trauma can also transmit across and
among generations. Molly Castelloe, How Trauma Is Carried Across Generations, PSYCHOL. TODAY (May
28, 2012), http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-me-in-we/201205/how-trauma-is-carried-across-
generations. Caregivers who have profound experiences of trauma often have difficulty reacting
appropriately to children’s needs. Multigenerational Trauma, RANCH,
http://www.recoveryranch.com/articles/trauma-and-ptsd-articles/multigenerational-trauma/ (last visited
May 11, 2014). Their maladaptive and sometimes violent ways of interacting are adopted by children in
their care. Id.
54 See Alexandra Cook et al., Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents, 35 PSYCHIATRIC ANNALS 390,
390 (2005) (noting that additional trauma and cumulative impairment may result from children’s exposure
to complex trauma).
55 Michael Ungar & Bruce D. Perry, Violence, Trauma, and Resilience, in CRUEL BUT NOT UNUSUAL:
VIOLENCE IN CANADIAN FAMILIES, at 15 (Ramona Alaggia & Cathy Vine eds., 2d ed. 2012), available at
http://cctasp.northwestern.edu/wp-content/uploads/Trauma-Violence-and-Resilience.pdf; Bruce D. Perry,
The ChildTrauma Academy, Introduction to the Nuerosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) (2010)
(PowerPoint available at http://cctasp.northwestern.edu/wp-content/uploads/Introduction-to-the-Neurosequential-Model-of-Therapeutics.pdf) (notes on file with authors).
56 See Felitti et al., supra note 48, at 252–54.
57 SCOTT MENARD, OFF. OF JUVENILE JUSTICE & DELINQUENCY PREVENTION, U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE,
SHORT- AND LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF ADOLESCENT VICTIMIZATION 12 (2002). Analysis in the
Youth Violence Research Bulletin of the National Youth Survey showed that roughly fifteen percent of
youth who were victims in adolescence would be expected to become property offenders and violent
offenders as adults. Id. The same data predicted that twenty-six percent of adolescent victims would
become domestic violence offenders. Id. at 5. Inversely, this indicates that eighty-five percent and seventy-four percent, respectively, of adolescent victims are unlikely to offend with respect to those particular