Identifying Abuse

Child Abuse + Neglect

The staff at The Center for Family Justice is dedicated to bringing hope and healing to all child victims and their families.

We provide crisis intervention, conduct forensic interviews and offer emotional support and counseling to children who are victims of sexual, physical and domestic violence, including cases where the children witnessed abuse.

The Center for Family Justice is an accredited Child Advocacy Center, and the operating agency of the Multidisciplinary Investigative Team (MDT) of Greater Bridgeport.

Child Abuse

Child abuse is an act resulting in serious physical or emotional harm, exploitation or death; including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.

Home should be a safe place, but for far too many children it is not because of domestic violence. Sometimes children become the victims of domestic violence; other times they are emotionally scarred because they witness a caretaker’s abuse.

Studies have proven that exposure to long-term violence in the home, whether it is directed at the child or not, has a long-lasting effect on the child. Consequences of abuse can include depression, anxiety, fear, guilt and low self-esteem.

Physical signs of domestically abused children:

  • Frequent injuries, often described as an accident;
  • Absences from school;
  • Child never invites friends home;
  • Excessive fear;
  • Depression, low self-esteem, frequent crying.

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is any injury suffered by a child at the hands of another person. Sometimes you can see the injury; often you cannot.

Physical abuse often causes emotional wounds as well, which can be manifested in the child as aggressive behavior or extreme shyness. The child might also be afraid to go home, or show fear of their parents or other adults.

What are the signs of physical abuse?

Physical signs of physical abuse include:

  • Injuries on the child’s body in the shape of an object, such as a strap or belt buckle;
  • Bruises or burns on the child’s body;
  • Fractures;
  • A delay between the time of injury and medical treatment.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse damages a child’s emotional, psychological and social development and sense of self worth. Physically or sexually abused children often suffer from emotional abuse. Emotional abuse also happens with constant criticism, threats, withholding affection and negligence.

Physical signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Low self-esteem;
  • Severe depression;
  • Aggression;
  • Withdrawal;
  • Severe anxiety.

Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault is any inappropriate touching, showing pornography, sex and exposing body parts to the child for the sexual stimulation of the adult.

Although in many cases there will be no outward signs of the abuse, the child often has poor relationships with peers and suffers from low self-esteem; their grades may drop; they show an unusual interest in sex for a child of their age; they might run away or become delinquent; and older children may use drugs and alcohol or become sexually active, become depressed or develop eating disorders.

What are the signs of child sexual abuse?

Physical signs of child sexual abuse include:

  • Sexually transmitted disease;
  • Trauma to the mouth;
  • Stained or bloody underwear or bruises, bleeding or discharge in the genital area;
  • Swelling, itching or pain in the genital area;
  • Difficulty walking, sitting or urinating;
  • Chronic sore throat, stomach upset, headaches.

Child Neglect

Neglect can be educational, emotional, medical and physical. Neglect can result in depression, withdrawal, low self-esteem, anxiety, and aggression/passivity.

Signs include:

  • Abandonment
  • Denial of proper care and attention physically, educationally, emotionally, or morally
  • Subjected to living under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to well-being
  • Abuse
  • Inadequate food
  • Malnutrition
  • Inadequate clothing
  • Inadequate housing or shelter
  • Frequently missed appointments, therapies or other necessary medical and/or mental health treatments
  • Withholding or failing to obtain or maintain medically necessary treatment from a child with life-threatening, acute or chronic medical or mental health conditions
  • Withholding medically indicated treatment from disabled infants with life threatening conditions.
  • Failing to register the child in school.
  • Failing  to allow the child to attend school or receive home instruction in accordance with CONN. GEN. STAT. §10-184
  • Failure to take appropriate steps to ensure regular attendance at school if the child is registered.

Through our Child Advocacy Center Clinical Services (CAC), our staff provides individual and group trauma focused therapy. We also assist families with any barriers to receiving services including transportation.

We help build children back up after experiencing the trauma of abuse, in whatever form it has taken in their lives. All our programs are free and confidential and are offered in both English and Spanish.

Creating Hope

The Elizabeth M. Pfriem Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport/Pathways to HOPE program seeks to improve social-emotional outcomes in children impacted by domestic and/or sexual violence, abuse, and neglect through a trauma-informed camping and mentoring experience.

Camp HOPE + Pathways to HOPE

An evidence-based camping and mentoring program for children exposed to trauma.

  • kid enjoying the lake
  • kids enjoying their summer camp experience
  • teens hanging out at camp hope

In addition to our Child Advocacy Center, we provide year-round programs for youth healing via CAMP Hope & Pathways to HOPE.

We reach children from the Greater Bridgeport Region ages 7-17 who are victims of or witnesses to such violence.

The staff at CFJ is here for our most vulnerable clients. If your child or anyone you know is experiencing child abuse, do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Call our main office at (203) 334-6154 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Domestic Abuse


Sexual Assault


Child Abuse


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