One traumatic event is all it takes to cause emotional trauma in a person. Major accidents, natural disasters, deaths, or assaults are all one-time occurrences that can instigate emotional trauma. Repeated instances, however, can also cause emotional trauma. Childhood neglect or abuse, concentration camps, and relationships characterized by patterns of abuse all fall under the category of repeated events that often cause the condition.
A Answers (2)
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Sheri Van Dijk, Psychiatry, answered
Yes; emotional trauma can be related to just one event, such as a car accident, a natural disaster, or being the victim of a crime. It can also be related to on-going trauma such as abuse or living in a war-torn country. Emotional trauma can occur when someone is a victim of a trauma, or just by witnessing a trauma - think of all the people emotionally traumatized by 9/11, for example; it wasn't just the people in the buildings or even the people who were at the site. I was treating people in Canada who were no where near the buildings who were emotionally traumatized by what they saw and heard about that day.
It's also important to remember that what's traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another - everyone is different. The extent to which a person is traumatized by an event will also depend a great deal on the supports in their lives at the time of the trauma, and how others react to their emotional experience. For example, if a 13 year-old girl is sexually assaulted, tells her parents and is taken immediately to hospital, offered counselling, and is supported by her family, she will experience less emotional trauma than if her parents expressed disbelief or did not react in a supportive way (for example, acting in a blaming way for putting herself in a dangerous situation).
The bottom line is that trauma is different for everyone; if someone you love is suffering from emotional trauma, support them as best as you can - and if you're not sure how to do this, ask them.