Many adults underestimate the levels of trauma a child can endure. Children are capable of experiencing deep pain and loss at any age. A child may be confused after experiencing abuse of a sexual nature, simply because she has been thrust into a sexual context long before she should have been. This does not mean she cannot feel the weight of what’s been done to her.
The notion that the younger they are, the less they will hurt can perpetuate an attitude which that child will combat their entire life, even into adulthood: that is, they will struggle with the lie that the abuse they experienced as a small child (perhaps abuse they can only vaguely remember) is somehow less traumatizing than the abuse older children and adults have endured. Parents have been known to disbelieve their child when he/she reports abuse. Some will even punish their child for creating stories.
No five-year-old invents the story that he was molested.
Children are smarter than we often give them credit. They know what’s going on, they know when they’re being patronized, and they know when they’re being handed platitudes rather than compassion. The aftercare of an abused child is incredibly important. It will directly influence the child’s life-long healing process.