Teen Moms Anonymous
Who We Are
Teen Moms Anonymous is a ministry for teen moms who are trauma survivors. Participation is open to teen girls 15-19 who are currently pregnant and parenting (with written consent from a parent or guardian) and adult women who were teen moms and are still living with unresolved trauma.
Our mission is to help teen moms who are trauma survivors.
- Heal from trauma (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and
- Prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with their children.
What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)?
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are events that occur in the first 18 years of your life. ACEs are divided into three primary categories with subcategories, and they include:
- Abuse - emotional, physical, sexual
- Neglect - emotional, physical and
- Mother treated violently
- Substance abuse in the household
- Mental illness in the household
- Parental separation or divorce
- Incarcerated household member
The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) has found that having these kinds of traumatic events happen in your childhood can have a lasting impact on your physical and mental health. A person with an ACEs score of 4 or higher is 2x more likely to develop depression and 3x more likely to develop anxiety disorders.
ACEs are Prevalent in the Lives of Teen Moms
While each teen mom has her individual story, teen moms collectively have a story of violence and abuse (ACEs). Research by The Healthy Teen Network in a report on Interpersonal Violence and Adolescent Pregnancy notes there is a strong connection between violence, abuse, and teen pregnancy. They are all intertwined and violence and abuse lead directly or indirectly to teen pregnancy. For example,
- Many (as many as two-thirds) of young women who become pregnant as teens were sexually and/or physically abused at some point in their lives–either as children, in their current relationship, or both. This includes only the ones reported. The numbers could be higher.
- A substantial number (no fewer than one-fourth and as many as 50-80%) of teen moms are in violent, abusive, or coercive relationships just before, during, or after their teen pregnancy.
- This violence and abuse lead directly or indirectly to their teen pregnancy. Directly via sexual abuse, incest, or birth control sabotage. Indirectly because the emotional and psychological damage of that prior abuse makes them especially vulnerable to coercive and violence partners when they leave home. They may be depressed and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. All of these circumstances and conditions put them at a high risk of a teen pregnancy.
Impact on Children of Teen Moms
The report, Interpersonal Violence and Adolescent Pregnancy, further notes children of teen moms are "at a high risk for difficulties stemming from the pervasiveness of violence and abuse in their parents' lives. They are at direct risk if they continue to be raised in abusive and violent settings or if their parents continue to form unhealthy partnerships and/or have few safe living alternatives (a serious problem for adolescents with children).
Their parents' ability to provide for them can be compromised by education or employment sabotage (where the controlling partner limits parent's ability to go to school, look for work or keep a job) and/or by substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of trauma, violence, and abuse."
Parents Must Heal from Their Own Trauma
The report concludes that "there is increasing evidence that parents need to heal from their own violent experiences in order to support the healthy emotional development of their children.
Without healing, it can be challenging for parents to attach, offer consistently nurturing interactions and respond appropriately to their children’s needs and demands.
In terms of risk, it is tough to be a child of an abuse survivor, even an aware and recovering one. It is not easy to be the child of an adolescent who is likely to be struggling to complete his or her own education, earn an income, and manage a family. Evidence suggests that it may be especially difficult to be both."
— Interpersonal Violence and Adolescent Pregnancy, The Healthy Teen Network
Healing From Trauma
Teen moms (and adult women who were teen moms) can begin healing from trauma (ACEs) by taking the 10-question ACEs quiz. The ACEs quiz lets you know how much trauma you were exposed to as a child. Knowing this is a good starting point to know what you need to heal from.
To take the quiz, you answer yes or no for each question. Each yes counts for a 1. At the end of the quiz, the number of 1s is tallied and that is your ACEs score.
The higher your score, the more childhood trauma (ACEs) you were exposed to, and that trauma has a direct impact on your physical and mental health. It also has a direct impact on how you parent your children.
Knowing your ACEs score and then attending one of our 12-week support group meetings is a great place to begin unpacking that trauma. Take the ACEs quiz right here.