Send Your Replies to Lynn W.:

Lynn, here are my thoughts.

There is most likely a difference in the type of PTSD between people who are assaulted one time and people who are abused over many years. Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, author of Trauma and Recovery, has proposed a diagnosis called "Complex PTSD" to cover the effects of long-term trauma. That diagnosis includes alterations in emotional regulation, consciousness, and self-perception, among others. Information on that diagnosis can be found at

This is not to say that PTSD from a single trauma is not damaging. I have a friend who was raped and almost murdered as an adult. What I have learned from her is that PTSD can be extremely severe, and it is important to do everything you can to try to heal from it. She has been tireless in pursuing options to get better and I think that is very important. I think our struggles are similar in some ways and different in others. We both deal with depression and anxiety, and PTSD that can make daily living difficult.

However, I think our experience of PTSD is different. She has physical damage from the assault that causes her a great deal of pain. This is tough to deal with on top of PTSD. However, I deal with "complex PTSD" which, as stated above, has some symptoms that are not listed in "regular" PTSD. I have a hard time dealing with my family due to the nature of the abuse. There are also differences in memory. I have many images of sexual assault, some that I'm sure are memories, and some that most likely come from my imagination. However, I am aware that the only way to be certain about what happened to me is to obtain external corroboration.

My friend has always remembered most of the assault, and there is no doubt about what happened and who did it. I am pretty certain about one of my perpetrators, but I still have some significant areas of uncertainty regarding what really happened. To me, that's another part of the damage caused by my childhood, which I am trying to come to terms with. Hope this helps, Lynn!

Mary K


Dear Lynn W.,

I am a survivor of sexual childhood abuse. In my readings, I have found one similarity between Vets and my own trauma, and that is the constant state of hypervigilance. We are always on the lookout for ourselves and for those who may betray us, often reacting immediately to a trigger that may or may not be dangerouse for us - rather than going through a rational thought process about the trigger, we immediately go into defense mode, often being accused of over reacting. Hypervigilance is extremely energy consuming and takes up so much of our emotional defense mechanisms, that there is little energy left to enjoy life.




Lynn W.,

In society it appears to be acceptable to discuss openly the political war zone issues around the world. Whereas, when personal tragedy - abuse within the home (of families, neighbors, local schools) is discussed openly it is treated as taboo - not permitted to be discussed. Ironic this is often the heart of national wars (taking of property, power, superiority). So there are similiarities of feelings and issues. The treatment is the difference.

Ms. After shocks