childhood sexual abuse Trauma is defined as an experience that puts a person's life in danger and results in emotional disstress. This definition makes it clear that not all sexual abuse is traumatic. Some people are not traumatized by sexual abuse and this is partly because of the intensity of the abuse. This is to say that sexual abuse does not lead to trauma in all cases and it is suggested that this is partly related to the intensity of the abuse. It is stated that an absence of control of the experiences in a childs life can lead to trauma. Trauma can also occur because of innate hatred for pain. If a person cannot stop the pain from occuring then this pain will be transfered to the human mind which will contribute to the trauma. Just the threat of bodily harm is enough to cause the same amount of trauma as would the actual act itself.
Sexual abuse is more likely to be traumatic if it occurs without prior behaviour that would have for shadowed the abuse. Abuse that evolves slowly over years, gives the child a chance to develop defense mechanisms to psychologicaly shield himself. The authors state that abuse without warning causes trauma and when it is incremental and of long duration it causes depression. One possible reason that trauma stays with the victim for a long time, if not forever, is because of "classical conditoning principles". Every aspect of the traumatic event, objects, scents, people, can become linked with the abuse and thus the victim is reminded of her victimization everytime she comes in contact with those elements. Trauma is identified most often by what is called "reexperiencing". This is when victims respond to something that makes them feel as if the actual abuse was reoccuring.