Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Child Called "It", by Dave Pelzer


Note- The full title is A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive


This book chronicles the early years of young David, who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of his mother. He was isolated until he was no longer part of the family, was starved, beaten, forced to drink ammonia, and suffered numerous other horrendous acts. Through it all, David had the will to survive, for that was the only way to beat his mother at her game of abuse. One of five children, David was the sole target of the mother’s wrath and abuse during his early childhood, to the point she no longer considered him her child, and referred to him only as “the boy” or “it”. His father, once his hero, slowly surrendered control of the situation to the mother. It was only when David’s teachers contacted authorities with long documented accounts of abuse and neglect that he was rescued from this terrible situation.

This book is pretty standard reading for college students, yet somehow I never read it until now. I actually borrowed it from my sister, who in fact did just read it for college. It is hard to describe this book as “good”, because you are reading about the cruelest, most heinous acts imaginable, and they are being perpetrated on a child by his own mother. Throughout the book, I almost wished that the story was being exaggerated, because I did not want to believe any parent, or any person for that matter, would behave in such a way. But I do believe it, because I have seen it with my own eyes. This book stirred up very raw and organic feelings within me- anger, fear, pity, contempt, and most importantly love.

Child abuse is so common, I am sure we all know someone who has suffered, whether we realize it not. And the abuse is not always just physical. Mental abuse leaves scars too, we just do not see them. As a former social service worker, I can attest that many children seem to be damaged by the abuse they suffer. Sadly, not all will survive; however, to help those that do, we must be able to relate to them. This book is an excellent resource. Because we see the abuse from David’s point of view, we are given a better idea what he, and the countless children like him, have gone through, their fears and insecurities, and we can help to heal the wounds the abuse left behind, wounds that are physical, emotional, and spiritual.

A word of caution, this book portrays very graphic scenes of abuse, so please take that into consideration. That being said, I believe this book is a must read for anyone in a ministry or job that deals with children, because so often children who we see as just being “bad” or “troublemakers” are actually victims of abuse, and understanding their situation may better equip us to help them.