POLAND — When he was younger, Dominic Ferry saw his mother get punched and kicked by a man, and years later by another man.

Dominic understands how domestic violence can traumatize children.

As Christmas nears, he wants to help children hurt by violence in the home. He’s holding a blanket drive for children who’ve had to flee their homes.

Through Wednesday, Dominic is asking people to drop off a blanket at the Whittier Middle School on Route 26 in Poland, or at Buy the Fire on Route 26 in Oxford, a store his grandfather owns.

He’s collecting blankets because a few years ago he met a scared little boy at a shelter. The boy and his mother had to leave their home in the middle of the night with only the clothes they were wearing.

It was nearly Christmas. Dominic asked the boy what he would like.

“‘I miss my blankie!'” the boy answered.

Children exposed to domestic violence often grow up and become victims or abusers themselves, because they’ve been conditioned to think violence is normal, research shows. Dominic is breaking that cycle – and then some.

At age 12, he’s become an advocate. With help from his grandfather, Don Ferry, he’s established a nonprofit named Quiet Cries, which partners with Safe Voices of Auburn, a nonprofit working to end domestic violence.

Quiet Cries has a Facebook page, water bottles with a purple and white logo, and stress balls in the shape of a tear.

Dominic’s grandfather asked why the name of Quiet Cries.

“Because nobody hears the voices of these kids,” Dominic said.

A football player, Dominic organized his teammates to wear purple during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. This year, one player also dyed his hair purple.

He’s held blanket drives at a road race and at football games in Poland, where he mans his Quiet Cries tent, passing out information and collecting blankets. He’s also held a blanket drive at his church.

The blanket drive at his school is his largest yet. He’s working with Principal Shawn Vincent and school counselor Bonnie Robbins.

Dominic is passionate about helping children, Robbins said, and each class at the school is making fleece blankets.

He’s also working on the blanket drive with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office.

WITNESS TO VIOLENCE

Dominic doesn’t remember how his mother was beaten 10 years ago. “I was only 2,” he said.

But his grandfather does. He never liked the man his daughter was involved with, but because she loved him, Don Ferry said, he tried to like him.

The abuse went on for two years, Don Ferry said. One night he got a call from his daughter. She was getting beaten and was pregnant with her second child, near full term.

“He was kicking her stomach,” Don Ferry said. “He broke her phone in two.”

“She called and said, ‘Please Dad, come and get me,’ ” he said.

He got there fast, broke down the door and took his daughter and grandson to safety. The police showed up. His daughter moved in with her father. “She never went back,” he said.

While Dominic doesn’t remember, the violence affected him, his grandfather said. “He had panic attacks, night terrors, until he was 6.”

Years later, his daughter was involved with another man who hit her and her two sons.

“He slapped my mother,” Dominic said. It escalated to close-fist punches. Dominic was 9 years old.

“I kicked him in his privates and pushed him over,” Dominic said, and ran upstairs and called his grandfather. The man drove away.

For more information, contact Bonnie Robbins at the Whittier Middle School, 998-3462, or [email protected] c/o Dominic Ferry.

Bonnie Washuk can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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