• 💖 [Donate To Keep MyPTSD Online] 💖 Every contribution, no matter how small, fuels our mission and helps us continue to provide peer-to-peer services. Your generosity keeps us independent and available freely to the world. MyPTSD closes if we can't reach our annual goal.

Sexual Assault PTSD triggered years later

ER28

New Here
Does anyone have experience with PTSD from a past trauma but didn't have symptoms until after another traumatic event?

I was acquaintance raped when I was 19 (16 years ago) and never told anyone (even therapists) because I blamed myself and didn't believe I had the right to call myself a victim- something I still struggle with. A few years ago my doctor started sexually abusing me and it continued until another patient finally spoke up about 7 months ago. In October numerous women came forward and at first I was in COMPLETE denial. There was a lack of empathy on my part towards the women who publicly spoke about their bodies being violated by him.

I felt more "assaulted" psychologically from the betrayal, broken trust and being manipulated for years. Especially when I realized the abuse started right after an extremely painful break-up. In November I started seeing a psychiatrist and an amazing therapist and was doing ok.

About 6 weeks ago, trauma from my first SA hit hard. I'm sure I had some PTSD after it occurred but I can't really remember what that looked like at the time. Suddenly I'm constantly feeling on edge, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, not sleeping, emotional breakdowns, etc.

My therapist and psychiatrist are in a agreement that I'm suffering from PTSD. I always thought of it as something veterans got after continuous exposure to war or kids that were abused for years. My experience was certainly not as traumatic. When I tried to talk to the people in my life about my anxiety and how I'm feeling, they counter with all the stress they are under. I wonder if I am just making up how bad it is.

My therapist is suggesting an out-patient program but I don't know how to justify it to them. I'm also in grad school and can't easily take time off. But, shit keeps coming up. Last week I had a vivid memory of something I didn't even remember happening.

If this is PTSD, how do I explain to people I'm suddenly suffering from it 16 years/7 months later? I suffer from depression and that's sort of how my family is treating this. Like I can pull myself out of it or something.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Does anyone have experience with PTSD from a past trauma but didn't have symptoms until after another traumatic event?
There were probably a few hundred or few thousand traumas between my first trauma and symptoms of trauma.

I can’t really put a specific kind of thing on there, as I was diagnosed a full year before I thought there was any kind of problem, and that was probably at least a year after I started showing symptoms.

My therapist and psychiatrist are in a agreement that I'm suffering from PTSD. I always thought of it as something veterans got after continuous exposure to war or kids that were abused for years.
Sexual assault is one of the most common causes. As in it has it’s own little line… Life threatening OR Sexual Assault, being criterion A… it’s that big of a deal. A zillion kinds of things that are immediate threats to life… and? Sexual assault.

If this is PTSD, how do I explain to people I'm suddenly suffering from it 16 years/7 months later?
What kind of assholes do you surround yourself with that demand explanations, rather than have any kind of empathy or life experience?!? Yikes. I really hope this is your Avoidance symptom cropping up rather than the caliber of friends/loved ones in your life.
 
how do I explain to people I'm suddenly suffering from it 16 years/7 months later?
It’s very often how ptsd works. For many of us.

Symptoms arising years later, is par for the course.
Like I can pull myself out of it or something
Heh, yeah. Not how illness works. You can emotionally muscle your way out of ptsd about as easily as you can will your way out of diabetes or arthritis.

You have an illness. The finer details of how it becomes symptomatic, and the treatment required to get you back to where you want to be aren’t matters for speculation from people around you who have no idea what they’re talking about.

It’s common for ptsd to be caused by sexual assault.
It’s common for ptsd to develop years after the event.
It’s common to need actual treatment for illness, including ptsd.

Glad you have a treatment team helping you with your recovery. Hopefully the people around you can learn to be a bit more compassionate. If they can’t? Then they don’t deserve to know didley squat about your medical conditions.
 
Yep. Here too. Not so much another big trauma setting it off for me decades later, but my dad accusing me of making up an incident my sister and her children went through and the police being called. That accusation set it off for me. And a downward spiral began.

However, if I think it through: the symptoms were there. I was just managing symptoms by another symptom: massive massive denial for decades. Emotionally numb for decades. Gaslighting myself for decades. They are all symptoms. But ones that seemingly made life easier and manageable. Until that didn't work anymore.

So less manageable symptoms occured.

It gets easier. The journey of acceptance and self belief and self worth.
 
I think it is probably helpful to let people closest to you know, but it's their responsibility to learn a bit more about it. But you don't have to explain how you came to develop PTSD.

I repeatedly experienced traumas without experiencing PTSD symptoms. When I experienced the last trauma (1 man, 2 events), all of the previous sexual trauma started coming up. I still went a couple of years before getting help, minimizing trauma and feeling that I was wrong for getting so worked up and telling myself not to, or removing myself from all the triggers ( mostly people) to get temporary relief. But trying to deny it or believe that next day I could cope better made it worse, because it's an illness that wasn't going to go away without treatment.
 
hello er. welcome to the forum. sorry for what brings you here, but glad you are here.
I'm sure I had some PTSD after it occurred but I can't really remember what that looked like at the time.
as it was explained to me, "PTS" or "post traumatic stress" is fully normal. a minor car accident can leave one shaky and symptomatic for days, weeks or even months. it becomes the disorder after the victim dissociates from the trauma and begins to repress and/or normalize the symptoms. in these cases, it is extremely common for the proverbial dam to break, suddenly and ferociously, years or decades later. my case was atypically severe and i started therapy as a teenager (i'm currently 69) and i STILL have to deal with new memories emerging unexpectedly. the good news is that dealing with that inconvenience has gotten much easier with the help of my psychotherapy toolbox.
If this is PTSD, how do I explain to people I'm suddenly suffering from it 16 years/7 months later?
i don't bother attempting to explain phenomena i don't fully understand myself. it's not my job to educate anyone but myself. works in progress. . . i seldom share details of my healing journey with anyone who NEEDS explanation. i reserve that sharing for members of my healing network who share my experience deep perspectives and help me sort and cypher WTF is going on.

but that is me and every case is unique.

steadying support while you sort your own case. welcome to my healing network. i hope you find stabilizing companionship here.
 
Terribly sorry about what you are going through but just know that is 100% valid. The hardest lesson I've learned since my diagnosis is to stop looking for other people to understand me. Friends, family, and everyone in between. We do not live in a culture where enough people are trauma informed and talking to other people will gaslight yourself into some dark self-hating spirals. I currently only discuss my symptoms with safe people and places this forum. Some friends and family have been cut out. Not saying that's for everyone, but that's what necessary for me. We cannot even begin to heal and I'm just really starting my journey unless we accept what has happened to us and stop minimizing the affect's it's caused, even if someone else goes through the same thing but responds better than you. That's them, not youI, and your experience is just as valid
 
Back
Top