Children Who Witness Abuse, Ernie + Brianna's Doll

Donna Ferrato, American, born 1949



Archival pigment print

Image: 13 3/16 × 20 1/16 in. (33.5 × 50.9 cm)

Sheet: 20 × 24 in. (50.8 × 61 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Margaret E. and Russell A. Rabito



Place Made: United States, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area


Not on view


Signed and inscribed, on reverse, lower right, in black ink: Donna Ferrato / Children who / Witness Abuse / Ernie + Briannas Doll / 1995


Play allows children to process their experiences, and dolls are often used to explore a range of emotions from affection to anger. In this image, part of a large body of work that graphically documents domestic abuse, Donna Ferrato shows a child who has witnessed his father assault his mother in an incident that led to his arrest.

A reporter described visiting the Vermont home where Ernie lived with his mother and sister: A year later, the children can’t forget. They act it out over and over. Ernie kicks in doors, punches walls, beats his sister, tries to choke her. Brianna doesn’t try to evade him. She knows there’s no use. Males hurt; females get hurt. Kids don’t think this stuff up. They are re-enacting the roles of the two most powerful people in their lives: Daddy and Mommy. —Claudia Glenn Dowling, Mother Jones, 1998

From the 2019 exhibition All Dolled Up, curated by Amelia Kahl, Barbara C. & Harvery P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming

Exhibition History

All Dolled Up, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, May 11-August 11, 2019.


Margaret E. and Russell A. Rabito, Scarsdale, New York; given to present collection, 2014.

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