There is much to admire about Dave Pelzer. He proudly served his country during Desert Storm, and has received commendations from Presidents Reagan, Bush the First, and Clinton for his work as a motivational speaker. His other honors include being named California's Volunteer of the Year in 1990, one of 1993's Ten Outstanding Young Americans, and one of the Outstanding Young Persons of the World for 1994. In addition, he is a best-selling author and a loving husband and father. That's a lofty set of accomplishments for any man, yet what I admire most about Dave Pelzer is that he didn't grow up to be an abusive, alcoholic, psychotic mess. He certainly had reason to.
Pelzer is the survivor of the third worst case of child-abuse in
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Many are her "punishments" are too sickening to describe in the space available here, and to do so would destroy much of the emotional impact of the book. Still, one incident Pelzer describes gives a good representation of his daily life. 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. Initially, the mother took care of her son herself, denying him medical care despite his significant blood loss and the severity of the stab wound, but after a few days the boy was left to take care of himself again, even when his wound became infected three days later:
I snatched another rag, rolled it up and stuffed it in my mouth. I focused all my attention on the thumb and first finger of my left hand, as I