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A Child Called "It" Timeline
Transcript of A Child Called "It" Timeline
One Child's Courage to Survive
By Dave Pelzer
December 29, 1960
Dave Pelzer was born on December 29, 1960, in Daly City, California. His father Stephen Joseph was a San Francisco fireman. His mother Catherine Roerva Christen was a housewife.
June 1, 1964
When Dave Pelzer was young, his mother did not abuse him. His family was completely ordinary. Once, Dave's family took a trip to a river not far from Johnson's Beach. This was Dave's favorite trip and memory of his family past.
Dave's birth into the Pelzer family enabled the horrific events later in his life to occur. Since Dave's father was a fireman, his father was away from home most of the time. This allowed Dave's mother to be in charge, causing many problems later in his life. However, Dave's first few years were very pleasant and full of love.
March 1st, 1965
Dave's mother soon began to change drastically in her behavior. She beat Dave often now, and once she forcefully broke his arm. When others asked what happened, she claimed he had fallen out of the top bunk in his bed.
Dave's broken arm marks one of the first
January 8, 1967
Dave's mom becomes very drunk, and while in her rage she stabs Dave accidentally. The wound is not taken care of properly, and it becomes infected. Dave tells his father about the incident, but his father tells him to keep doing all the chores that his mother insisted him to do.
Dave's normal childhood gave him a taste of what a loving family was like. Later in his life while being abused, Dave longed for that same feeling of love he experienced earlier in his life. Dave's loving childhood created major confusion when his mother started to abuse him. Dave did not expect his loving mother to turn into a violent alcoholic.
January 6, 1966
Dave's mom soon started to starve him constantly for days at a time. If he finished his chores on time, his mother would let him eat the leftover cereal left in his brothers' breakfast bowls. David soon became weak and skinny.
Starvation acted as a very effective torture method. Dave was forced into doing chores by virtue of his own life. If Dave completed the chores, he would get some leftover crumbs from his brothers. If he failed to complete his chore in the allotted time, Dave would not be fed and would become closer to death. Dave's mother used starvation in order to enforce her power over him. All of Dave's decisions from this point on revolved around survival. Dave could not afford to go days without food, or else he would die.
The knife accident showed Dave that his life really was in danger around Mother. Dave's outlook on Mother drastically changed after this event. This so called "accident" caused Dave to stay out of her way in the future. At this point, Dave knew that even being in Mother's presence was risky and potentially life threatening. This event also acted as the turning point in Dave's faith in his father. When Father refused to help him with his wound, Dave knew that Mother now had complete control over his father's actions.
Dave continues to starve, and has entered the second grade. As his mother becomes pregnant with a fourth child, his parents begin to fight. They fight constantly at night, mostly over the treatment of David and his brothers.
April 9, 1970
Dave's mother has always played little "games" with him. She invents a new one called The Gas Chamber. She dumps a mixture of chemicals into a bucket, and locks Dave into the bathroom with the bucket while the chemicals are reacting. He cannot breathe during these periods of time, and nearly dies on several occasions.
January 13, 1971
Dave's rescue marked a turning point in his life. His abusive mother would no longer harm him again. Dave could now learn to love people without their betrayal. Dave could now live a normal life and make normal decisions. Instead of thinking about survival at all times, Dave could now branch out and experience new things. Despite these new freedoms, Dave's painful past will haunt his memories for the rest of his life.
March 5, 1973
Dave Pelzer refers to March 5, 1973 as "The Rescue." The principal, school nurse, teachers and the police intervened and got him removed from his abusive home.
The frequent beating and broken arm event caused Dave to fear his mother. Every decision Dave made was based around evading his mother. Her harsh disciplinary actions created an atmosphere of fear around the house. The broken arm incident marked the day when Dave slowly became the family's slave. Dave had to work hard in order to not get punished by his mother.
"My two brothers and I were blessed with the perfect parents. Our every whim was fulfilled with love and care" (17).
"My relationship with Mom drastically changed from dicipline to punishment that grew out of control" (29).
"By this time, I had become afraid of Mom. Very afraid" (29).
"At night I was so hungry, my stomach growled as if I were an angry bear. At night I lay awake concentrating on food" (48).
"A heated battle of words broke out in front of me and, as always, Mother won" (66).
Dave's parents fighting had a major impact on him. Dave knew that his parents were almost always arguing over him, and how he is treated. Dave always felt guilty when a major argument broke out over him. Dave felt like it was his fault, yet in reality, the blame rested in the hands of his mother. Dave's father always tried to stand up for him, but lost every time because of his mother's complete control over Dave. From this point on, Dave convinced himself to not cause anymore arguments between his parents.
"I focused all of my attention on Mother's face. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blurred object fly from her hand. A sharp pain erupted from just above my stomach" (87).
"As I breathed in the fumes, I collapsed and began spitting up. My throat felt like it was on fire" (108).
The gas chamber pushed Dave to his limits, both emotionally and physically. At this point, Dave had no hope. He knew that his mother did not care if he died and he knew that his father was not going to interfere with his mother's actions. At this point, Dave had to rely on himself. Dave had to use his own mind in order to out think his mother. During gas chamber sessions, Dave would clasp his mouth to the air vent and suck in mouthfuls of fresh air. Dave knew that fast thinking and not falling for tricks were the only ways that he was going to survive.
"No, David. You have nothing to worry about, honest. Your mother is never going to hurt you again . . . you're free" (14).
Created by Jason Feldkamp p.3