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Transcript of Catherine Pelzer
Where are they now?
She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 1st,1929
Her parents divorced
Was abused by her own mother, who suffered at hands of her own father
Once of legal age she moved to California
Background: Childhood and family
A Child Called "It"
A Child Called "It" is the unforgettable story of a child whose courage and unyielding determination enabled him to survive extreme life-threatening odds. As a child, Dave was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous games--games that left him Dave nearly dead. With only his willpower to survive, Dave learned how to play his Mother's sinister games in order to survive because she no longer considered Dave a son but a slave, and no longer a boy but an "It." Although A Child Called "It" contains situations of mistreatment Dave suffered, it is a real life story of the indomitable human spirit. This gripping account is told through the eyes of a child--who will pay any price in order to succeed.
The Lost Boy
The Lost Boy is the long-awaited sequel to A Child Called "It," and is the compelling story of young Dave, who is rescued from his abusive, alcoholic mother and placed in the hands of the foster care system. Having been subjected to years of extreme physical and psychological suffering, Dave fights for a stable setting, but finds himself moving in and out of five different homes, while continuing the fight to cope with his past. Throughout Dave's journey, social service personnel, educators, counselors, and foster parents give their all to ensure Dave's well-being and protection from his vindictive mother, who, at one point, wishes to have Dave committed to a mental institution.
The Pelzer family lived in Daly City, a middle-class suburb in San Francisco, California.
She had five boys by 1960 driving her to drink
She eventually drank 30 liters of vodka a week
Only 6 people attended her funeral, which were her five sons and her mother
Responsible for the worst child abuse on record in California
A Man Named Dave
A Man Named Dave is the gripping conclusion to his inspirational trilogy. With stunning generosity of spirit, Dave invites his readers on his journey to discover how he turned shame into pride and rejection into acceptance--how a lost, nameless boy finally found himself in the heart and soul of a man who is free at last.
Didn't stay around the house because he did not like the way she treated Dave.
Would try to help Dave when he was home, (get him food, etc) but always lost.
"Some day you and I will both get out of this madhouse."
His attitude of Catherine abusing his son changed frequently due to his alcohol abuse.
Married to Stephen Joseph Pelzer- Firefighter in San Francisco
Happily married for first four years of Dave's life.
Alcoholics- Contributed to abuse
Separated in 1972
Stayed legally married until 1980 Stephen's death
Five sons: Robert, Stephan, Dave, Richard and Kenneth
Robert: oldest, proud of him, mother taught him to abuse Dave.
Dave: only son to suffer abuse from his mother; suffers extreme abuse for 8 years.
Stephan: Mother taught him to abuse Dave
Richard: watches his brother get abused, learns to despise his brother, Dave, "Mother's little Nazi".
• He was rescued in 1973 at the age of 12 and 68lbs
• "In my 31 years of teaching," schoolteacher Athena Konstan of Daly City wrote, "David Pelzer was the most severely abused child I have ever known."
• Pelzer is the survivor of the third worst case of child-abuse in California’s history,
• March 5, 1973. Having had his head smashed into the kitchen counter that morning for some minor offense 12-years-old
• The nurse, once again, doesn’t believe him and checks her file on the boy. Bruises, cuts, malnutrition, and, of course, the stab wound: it’s quite a thick file.
• She found any excuse to punish Dave, while favoring her other children, and her punishments grew more demoralizing the older he got. Initially, she would slap him, smash his face into the mirror and make him repeat “I’m a bad boy!” or require him to search for hours for an item she had “lost.”
her cruelty grew to include denying him food for days on end, making him sleep on a cot in the basement, forcing him to wear the same unwashed shirt and pants to school every day for three years, and referring to him only as ‘the boy’ or ‘it.’ • she also devised special punishments for him, such as turning on the stove’s burner and laying the naked boy across the stovetop.
After being deprived of 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.” In her drunken stupor, Pelzer’s mother lost her balance and stabbed her son in the chest.
She wrests his arm out of its socket and casually walks away. Later that night she takes him to the hospital.
• She locks him in the bathroom with buckets of ammonia until he passes out
He is forced to lie in a bath full of ice water naked
• for hours, his brothers bring friends in to see him and make fun of him
His mother stuffs a bar of soup in his mouth, he is forbidden to speak without permission
He over hears his parents fighting about the Christmas 2 painting gifts his father bought him and how he is spoiling “the Boy”
• Once his mother made him eat old spoiled food and when he through it up, he was forced to eat the chunks out of the puke
• He was forced to eat his baby brothers poopy diaper
Relation to "The Myth of the Bad Mother"
Was raising five children hard on her?
If so why did she single out and really only abuse Dave?
Did her abusive relationship with her mother have a role in how she parented her children?
Did she have a supportive "holding environment"?
Dave is now a well-known author of several autobiographies and self help books. He has been married three times. He is currently married to Marsha Pelzer.
Catherine was never charged for her crime due to the lack of child protection laws at the time.
Catherine later died of a heart attack in 1992. and only 6 people attended her funeral.
Dave and Richard have been feuding for several years over the books that they have written.
In 1979, at age 18, Dave joined the Air Force.
In 1986 he married his first wife and they had a son in 1987.
1994 he divorced his first wife
1999 he married his second wife
2005 he divorced his second wife
2010 he got married to his third wife
Catherine's son Richard wrote her a letter around Christmas 1991 telling her that he loved her, but never wanted to see her again or have her be a part of his or his children's lives. Catherine had died prior to receiving the letter so Richard cremated the letter with her