As dramatic, reprehensible, horrifying, and damaging as discrete instances of abuse may be, viewing them through the frame of their surrounding interpersonal context transforms their apparent significance. Some traumabased models would suggest that abusive incidents are traumatic because they are anomalous or discrepant with previous experience and prior cognitive assumptions (e .g. , Horowitz, 1986; Janoff-Bulman, 1992; McCann & Pearlman, 1990). Instances in which an atmosphere exists that allows maltreatment to continue for protracted periods of the child's development contradicts this claim. In the context of such an interpersonal environment, it is difficult to conceive of circumscribed abusive events as being paramount defining moments in identity formation and long-term functioning. Instead, they seem to be occasions for a morbid confirmation of an already evolving self-image of being helpless, inept, isolated, unlovable, despicable, undeserving-in essence, of being irredeemably and fundamentally flawed.