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A Child Called "It": One Child’s Courage to Survive
By Dave Pelzer
Smack! Mother hits me in the face, and I topple to the floor. I know better than to stand there and take the hit. I learned the hard way that she takes that as an act of defiance, which means more hits, or worst of all, no food…I act timid, nodding to her threats, “please”, I say to myself ” just let me eat, hit me again, but I have to have food”. Another blow pushes my head against the tile counter top. I let the tears of mock defeat stream down my face as she storms out of the kitchen , seemingly satisfied with herself. I breathe a sigh of relief. The act worked. Mother can beat me all she wants, but I haven’t let her take away my will to somehow survive.

This is the autobiographical story of Dave Pelzer’s life as a child. His case is considered one of the worst cases of child abuse in California history. It is written from his perspective as a child. I could not help but be drawn into the narrative. Here is a child who was beaten, tormented and invalidated as a human being by his own mother, the one person that he should have learned trust and love from. He was reduced to not even having a place within his own family. His father stood by and did nothing to help him. An act that I find more reprehensible than the mother’s whacked out abuse. (IMHO, it is worse to stand by and do nothing when it is in your power to do so.) His siblings learned how to treat him as less than human by emulating the mother. They knew no other way.

He was treated as less than an animal, less than dirt. His mother referred to him as merely, "It". This book graphically describes his experiences growing up with such a mother. He was fed table scraps if he was lucky. He slept on a cot in the basement. His mother played horrible mind games with him. He was not allowed to participate in family activities. He was not part of the family. He was an outcast. His self-esteem was completely shot to hell.

Yet despite the abuse, this child found the will to go on. Dark as the story is, I can not help but marvel at the child’s determination. His strength of spirit is shown throughout the book. He simply refused to give up. He used his brains to outwit his mother and, more importantly, to survive. His body may have been beaten but his spirit triumphed.

"In my dreams, I flew through the air….. I was Superman"

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