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A Child Called It

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"A Child Called It."

Dave Pelzer is the survivor of the third worst case of child abuse in California's history. Dave grew up with his two brothers and two parents. Catherine, Dave's mother, loved to cook exotic meals for her family and decorate their home in creative and imaginative ways each holiday season. She was full of energy, often taking her kids on tours of downtown San Francisco while her husband was at work as a fire fighter, exposing them to Golden Gate Park and Chinatown. Once, while on a family camping trip, young Dave was watching the sunset when he felt his mother embrace him from behind and watch the sunset with him over his shoulder. "I never felt as safe and warm as at that moment in time," he recalls.

But then, his mother changed. Slowly at first, but drastically. Her behavior became unusual and her drinking increased heavily. She became easily frustrated, and it seems that her biggest source of frustration was Dave, the loudest and wildest of her children. And thus, Dave's nightmare began. Pelzer is never clear on what caused this harsh change in behavior; most likely, he doesn't know and never will. Dave struggles to stay alive in a home where he treated basically like an animal and a slave. Catherine

found any excuse to punish Dave, while favoring her other children and her punishments grew more dangerously the older he got. Besides being horribly beaten, Dave was forced to eat his own vomit, swallow soap, ammonia, and Clorox. This was just the beginning of his mother's "games". Initially, she would slap him, smash his face into the mirror and make him repeat "I'm a bad boy!" or make him to search for hours for something she had "lost." But with time, her cruelty grew to include not giving him food for days on end, making him sleep on a cot or even the floor in the basement, forcing him to wear the same dirty shirt and pants to school every day for three years, making him eat his little brothers dirty diaper and referring to him only as 'the boy' or 'it.' She also had special punishments for him, such as turning on the stove's burner and laying him across the stovetop. One incident Pelzer describes gives a good example of his daily life. After being without food for three days, his mother had given him 20 minutes to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. Staggering drunk, she grabbed a kitchen knife and began waving it in his face, shouting, "If you don't finish on time, I'm going to kill you." Pelzer's mother lost her balance and stabbed Dave in the chest. Initially, the mother took care of her son herself, denying him medical care despite his blood loss and the severity of the stab wound, but after a few days Dave was left to take care of himself again, even when his wound became infected three days later. Dave's hopes for rescue initially lay with his father. Once a supporter on behalf of his son, Stephan Pelzer, is also an alcoholic, he eventually grew tired of battling his wife and allowed her to do what she would to Dave. When Dave told his father that he had been stabbed, Stephan responded by asking why. After hearing that he had been stabbed while doing the dishes, the

intoxicated father told his son, "Well, you ah, you better go back in there and do the dishes." He did, however, promise not to tell his wife about their conversation so that the boy wouldn't get into further trouble. It was at this moment that Dave realized that no one in his household would or could help him. Dave had to grow up being beaten, tortured and neglected by his parents from the age four to twelve. He later was place in foster homes until he turned eighteen and then he joined the U.S. Air Force.

What is an Alcoholic parent? Is a parent whose excessive drinking interferes with his/her health, social, relational, family, or economic functioning. Growing up in an alcoholic family is certainly traumatic. In these homes, children experience a daily environment of inconsistency, chaos, fear, abandonment, denial, and real or potential violence. Survival becomes a full-time job for children staying with a alcoholic parent. Sadly, there are millions or children from around the world who encounter some form abuse. The abuse Dave encounter was physical, emotional abuse, and neglect from his mother. It is currently believed that factors that may increase the likelihood of developing antisocial behavior are child abuse and having an alcoholic parent. These factors are considered to be independent of each other, but may also be interactive in their effect on behavioral development (Pollock).

Child abuse consists of acts that endanger a child's physical and emotional development. Physical abuse is defined as non accidental injury to a child, includes burns, cuts, bruises, hitting, whipping, throwing, having anti-social behavior, or having fear of adults. Emotional abuse is attitude or behavior that interacts with a child's mental

health. This includes yelling, depression, name-calling, and lack of affection. Neglect is failure to provide for a child's physical needs, which includes extreme hunger, lack of supervision, abandonment, and denial of medical attention.

Children of Alcoholics (COAs) refer to children living in families where a parent abuse alcohol, dependence, and addiction is present. COAs have different life experience than children in non alcoholic families. Which contribute to the fact that living with an alcoholic can cause stress for members in the family Statistics show that eighteen percent

of children live with an alcoholic while growing up and about forty-three percent

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