Long story short, my MC, Helen Chert once suffered severe trauma as a young cadet (she was around 17-18 years old then.) She and several other members of her captain's ship were captured in a failed mission and spent months as POWs to the opposing army. They were experimented on, tortured; she watched her best friend starve to death, and she herself was controlled via a serum to murder someone she cared about. The main story is set 20 years later when she's 38 and the captain of her own starship. The new mission has her being forced to work with one of the alien scientist who once tormented her, but had a change of heart and spent the next two decades trying to make up for his sins. The overall theme is about redemption and forgiveness, and if one truly deserves such a thing. This is a tricky subject, not just because, in my opinion, redemption/forgiveness depends on the individual; because with Helen still having residual trauma, I want to strike a careful balance between Helen the sharp, confident captain and Helen, the person trying to cope with her past coming to the forefront now that she's being forced to work with someone responsible for her suffering and that of others. I should probably also add that all this started when she found a stowaway child in the cargohold who is of the same species as those from her nightmares. She wants this kid gone, but due to circumstances, she can't just boot him out. This is especially tricky because I want to show that this species isn't all bad despite the fact Helen thinks otherwise for very understandable reasons. OK, let me just make a TL;DR version... • At age 18, Helen and several other members of another starship were captured and imprisoned by an alien race at war with them. She suffered severe trauma and, at one point, was controlled by a serum to murder someone she cared about. • 20 years later, she still has residual trauma left over. I had thought of addressing that she has a horrible scar on her left leg that twinges, but I'm not sure if that really has anything to do with...anything. • She's forced to interact with the alien species she so hates because of her suffering due to finding a child in the cargo hold and working with someone who says he's changed despite the fact that two decades ago, he was one of the men responsible for the whole thing. That element, I also want to explore. • I want to strike a careful balance between Helen, the captain and Helen, the person with PTSD. I also want to show that this alien race is not, in fact, the embodiment of all evil, yet I don't want to seem like I'm refuting Helen's suffering. Would it be realistic if she still had this trauma two decades later? I know she'd probably still have the flashbacks and recurring nightmares, but is there anything else she'd experience? Would it be realistic that she'd seem cold and distant toward the kid (this would be happening at the beginning of the story) because he's of the same race as the monsters who hurt her and her friends? Thoughts?? NOTE: Just to be clear, this isn't one of those stories where she'll get over the trauma by punching it in the face, or having an excellent time. Not that at all. It's quite offensive, imo.