I chose the Dave Pelzer testimony to review because of its varying slant on the typical societal perception of child abuse which predominately deems maltreatment as either occurring from infancy, or instigated by males. Evidencing this misconception, Dave’s childhood is portrayed as idyllic until, around aged four, life rapidly deteriorates when his mother develops mental health and alcohol issues and turns from being devoted and loving into a sadistic, controlling and manipulative woman. At the hands of his own mother, Dave is singled out from his two brothers for being ‘naughty’, scapegoated and subjected to appalling treatment which leaves him physically, emotionally and psychologically scarred. Written from the perspective of a child aged 4-12 years, Dave’s story brings alive how he was forced to adapt from his positive early life, to a lived experience of different traumatic events whilst growing up in America during the 70’s. The testimony also emphasises Dave’s resilience, courage, determination and hope to survive, grow stronger and eventually obtain a better life.
The narrative unfolds by fast-forwarding to the events surrounding Dave’s ‘rescue’ and his disbelief at the realisation of being ‘free’. It begins by highlighting the survival tactics twelve year old Dave has developed, having perfected learning his mother’s thinking style and demand for supremacy, over years of repeated torture. Consumed by hate, but knowing how his mother functions, Dave is aware survival is dependent upon him not retaliating or being disobedient. Terrified of repercussions, Dave instead visibly displays submissive signs to his mother’s beatings, including tears and...
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...ther’s behaviour, but his father abandoned him due to the shame of repeatedly failing to protect Dave. Alone, dejected and feeling deserving of ill-treatment, Dave lost all sense of self-worth and hope so wished for his life to end.
In accordance with this period of low came Dave’s rescue where life changed for the better because a teacher, who he had previously confided in, had recorded and reported all his experiences to the police. In light of the significant evidence confirming the level of abuse and neglect, Dave was removed from his mother’s care to ensure his safety. Although the events following on from Dave’s rescue are continued in the next two books of his life story, this particular chapter concluded with Dave as a man, reflecting on the experiences endured which he believed made him develop as a stronger and better person and father to his own son.
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