Dave James Pelzer was born on 29 December 1960 in Daly City, California to a San Francisco fireman named Stephen Joseph Pelzer and his wife, Catherine Roerva Christen Pelzer. He was the second of five boys and, according to Pelzer, he was tortured constantly by his mother. She starved him, forced him to drink ammonia, beat him and once stabbed him in the stomach as part of a 'game' she played. After his teachers learned about his mistreatment, he was placed in foster care on 5 March 1973 at age twelve.
Pelzer joined the Air Force in 1979, and then became an author. His most well-known book is a memoir of childhood abuse entitled, A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage To Survive (1995). But, Pelzer's works and their authenticity have been questioned, even though a younger brother also wrote about his childhood abuses. A supporter of his work is one of Pelzer's former teachers, who stated that Pelzer was one of the most severely abused children she ever knew.
His retractors include another brother and a grandmother, with the latter stating that his work should be labeled as fiction. One author, David Plotz, stated:
Pelzer's dialogue, which is full of such over-the-top lines, is sometimes suspicious. Though it's reconstructed 20 or 30 years after the fact, it is eerily precise. His stories often seem too elaborate, detailed, and graphic to be real. There's no doubt he was horribly abused, and no one has disputed any of his tales, but they are mostly irrefutable. Everyone who could question them—his mother, father, and grandmother—has died.
Pelzer has written a number of other books as well, including The Lost Boy (1997), A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness (1999), Help Yourself (2001), The Privilege of Youth (2004) and Help Yourself for Teens (2005).
Image: Dave Pelzer, 2006; Public Domain as a work of the U.S. Air Force.