PTSD symptoms can appear years after the traumatic event happened. When this occurs, people often think something else is wrong, because they’ve forgotten or repressed the earlier trauma.
This “delayed reaction” frequently occurs in cases of child abuse or child sexual abuse. At a young age, children just can’t process the excruciating pain and betrayal that accompanies abuse. Then, years later, another trauma can bring up awareness of the earlier traumas. This is like “hitting someone when they’re down” because now the person with PTSD must process multiple traumas, not just one. Although this is intensely difficult, each trauma often hold clues to the other traumas. Working on the traumas together can actually speed up the process of healing.