February Story of the Month

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

Young & Healthy has spent the last several years teaching the community about ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences, and how these very stressful events in childhood can affect our brains and bodies in dramatic ways. Exposure to child abuse, substance abuse, family violence, just to name a few, alter the way we learn, emote and process stress. Sometimes I think we make assumptions about what someone with a high ACE score might look like – bedraggled, angry, uncooperative. Sometimes we would be right, but lots of times, we’d be wrong.

People are very good at hiding their pain. Sofia, a sweet, nicely dressed (ironed jeans & ironed t-shirt) young woman, arrived at our office with her adorable little boy. He was shy, hiding behind his mom, with a mop of curls that made you want to reach over and tousle them. Talking with Sofia, I learned that she was here to get help with her taxes. She said the DV shelter had sent her. Young & Healthy is more than happy to help them with their taxes or anything else they need. I made cheery conversation and got the little guy a teddy bear. I was smiling and hopefully helpful, but my heart was breaking.

When she said a DV shelter sent her, short for Domestic Violence, my heart sank and a lump appeared in my throat. Racing through my mind were all the statistics I knew – it takes an average of 18 attempts before a woman successfully escapes a violent partner and they are in escalating danger with each attempt to leave. I also knew with devastating clarity the damage domestic violence was doing to this darling little boy and his still growing brain,

And yet, here they were, safe in a shelter getting necessary help and resources. And here we were, able to deliver some of those resources. These moments are reminders to us all, you never really know what burdens people carry. You just can’t tell by outward appearances.

But what we do know is that kindness and compassion go a long way.

It is a gift we all have to give.


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