The David Pelzer "A Child Called It" Family War aftermath of book


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Although the State of California called David pelzer's child abuse "the third worst case ever in California history" three of his brothers deny there was any abuse at all. I thought this article was interesting. It shows the degree family members will go to in order to discredit an abused family member or maybe they really didn't pay any attention to what was going on, since it wasn't happening to them. Thought I'd post it since it ties in with my other thread about how family members tend to jump and rave against somebody who brings up family dysfunction, many claiming the abused is a liar and/or it never happened.

Here is the article, if anyone is interested. I am assuming here that most people have read "A Child Called It', the national bestseller by David Pelzer.

Memories of a family at war
March 29, 2005

Richard Pelzer doesn't deny he helped his mother abuse his elder brother. In fact, he used to watch with glee. Helena de Bertodano reports.

When Roerva Pelzer died, only six people attended her funeral. Her five sons and their grandmother, her mother, stood in a row and watched the coffin pass. Not a single tear was shed. "It was very odd, the lack of emotion," says her son Richard. "But there was just silence, and a feeling that this was finally over."

For Roerva Pelzer, say two of her children, was responsible for some of the worst child abuse on record in California. Her second son, Dave, wrote about what he claimed he suffered at her hands in A Child Called 'It', an international bestseller five years ago, spawning a Dave Pelzer mini-industry in sequels and self-help books.

In A Child Called 'It', Dave describes how his brothers collaborated in his abuse and how his mother encouraged them to view him as the "family slave". One brother in particular stood out. "Even though [Richard] was only four or five years old at the time, he had become Mother's Little Nazi, watching my every move, making sure I didn't steal any food. Sometimes he would make up tales for Mother so he could watch me receive punishment."

Far from denying Dave's version of events, as the three other brothers have done, Richard - the fourth brother - wholeheartedly corroborates it. In his memoir A Brother's Journey he graphically describes how he and his mother treated Dave, who was starved, beaten and isolated from the family. But Richard also reveals that once his elder brother was rescued by police, at the age of 12, he, Richard, took his place as his mother's "punching bag".

Whereas Dave occasionally excuses the worst of his mother's excesses as accidents, Richard refuses to let her off so easily. For example, in one scene, recounted by both brothers, Roerva stabs Dave in the upper chest. While Dave has always maintained that this was not intentional, Richard believes she intended to kill him.

"I started to realise that she had been preparing herself to kill Dave for years," he writes. But what is more astonishing is his frankness about his reaction as he watches his brother being stabbed. "I could taste the adrenaline that now flowed throughout my body," he writes. "I ran for my life. She now had the power to kill. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I was more fearful that she might kill me than of the possibility of my brother bleeding to death."

When he does worry about his brother, it is from a selfish standpoint: "I needed him to live so I wouldn't be the one lying on the cold, damp cement wondering if I was going to live through the night." Richard, now 39 and married with two children, agrees with Dave's description of him as his mother's collaborator.

"Mum made me into this obedient child that she could totally manipulate," he says. "I was very much turned against Dave, and I would lie about him and make stuff up just to get him in trouble." He even admits that although he was partly motivated by fear he also used to enjoy watching the degradation of his older brother.

"To prove that he hadn't eaten anything during the day she forced Dave to throw up on the kitchen floor," Richard writes. "Many times he was forced to reconsume the mess he had just thrown up. It was awesome to watch. I was excited to stand there and enjoy the show until I started to think about Mom doing that same thing to me. I had a vague feeling I would eventually take his place some day."

All the brothers were encouraged to alienate whichever one their mother targeted - after Dave left and Richard became the victim, it was his older brother with Bell's palsy who collaborated with his mother.

As an adult, Richard feels nothing but remorse for his actions. He says he has discussed what went on only once with Dave: "I've said to him, 'This book is a purging of my soul because of the way I treated you.' Dave said, 'Oh, I forgive you because I know it wasn't you; I know it was Mom.'

"But later on he'll say the opposite, so I really don't know what he feels. It's hard to say I don't know my famous brother but I don't." He has seen Dave only twice since his brother left the family - once, a year later when Richard was 9, and again at his mother's funeral in 1992.

The Pelzer family lived in Daly City, a middle-class suburb of San Francisco. Their father, Stephen, was a fireman, and in the early years the sons remember an almost idyllic childhood. "My mother was very much a socialite," says Richard. "She met Steve Pelzer and they fell madly in love but what changed it was when she suddenly realised, 'It's no longer parties, now it's diapers and baby bottles'."

She had five boys in fairly quick succession throughout the 1960s, driving her to drink. Eventually she was drinking about 30 litres of vodka a week. "When she was on that plateau [of intoxication], it was just the normal routine of getting a slap, getting a kick, not eating, little beatings. When she didn't drink or ran out is when she was just a maniac; it was as if she was possessed." The boys' father was not around often and when he was, he did not do much to intervene.

At 12, Dave was finally taken into foster care after his teachers reported the apparent abuse. No charges were ever brought against Roerva, and it remains something of a mystery why only one boy was removed from the family.

As Richard says: "It was 30 years ago and the laws were so limited. [If it had happened today,] I'm totally confident that the state would have come in and taken all five of us."

By then, with Dave gone and her husband moved out, Roerva's eyes alighted on Richard. At first the abuse was physical. Then she started to branch out, excluding him from family outings, and making him drink hot Tabasco from a serving spoon. Once some of it spilt on the floor and, as he recounts in his book, she became enraged. "Lick it up. Like a dog," she yelled. Once she beat him so severely that he had to be hospitalised. But she made him promise not to tell anyone that she was responsible. "I felt a duty to protect the ongoing secret," writes Richard.

What does Dave feel about his younger brother's writing career? "When I first told Dave I was submitting a manuscript to be published, he thought it was a great idea, thinking it would never get anywhere. When it became a reality, he changed. Dave has told me that he feels I shouldn't be an author, that I haven't earned it. He thinks, like him, I should go through years trying to find a publisher."

His other brothers, with whom Richard has very limited contact, and grandmother feel Richard, like Dave, has exaggerated their mother's behaviour. Their grandmother once said of Dave's writing: "His books should be in the fiction section."

Nevertheless, no one denies that Roerva was a drunk and that the house was severely dysfunctional. Richard says he's unperturbed by his family's lack of support, saying that writing the book has been great therapy and may even help others.

"This book has done so much for me. If it helps one kid, great. I can live with people being mad with me."

When Richard was in his 20s he wrote his mother a long letter.

"In Christmas 1991, I decided I'm going to bury the hatchet and I'm just gonna tell Mom, 'I love you as a mother but I never want to see you, I can't stand you, I don't want you to be a part of my life or my children's lives. But I forgive you. Just simply go away.' It took days to write and I decided to mail it after the holidays. But she died on 2 January. I had it cremated with her."

Asked if he thinks his mother loved him, Richard doesn't hesitate: "I don't think she loved me or any of the boys or her husband or herself.

"I don't think she was capable of love and she should never have had children."

The Telegraph, London

A Brother's Journey is published by Penguin.


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Pelzer's story is interesting. I have read a book and already while reading it, I remember thinking how some things described are unbelievable. And not in the way "oh my gosh! Can something like that happen?" but in the way, that makes you go "that is either a lie, exaggeration or false or tainted memory." The abuse described in the book would had left him dead or seriously and permanently injured. For example there was a part about being held in freezing water for hours. Even adult man doesn't stay alive in cold water that long. For example if someone is held in 40 F water for a time being, they lose their concious in 15 minutes and are likely dead in 30 minutes. So I wasn't surprised after reading a book that there is lots of controversy about it.

It is of course impossible to know how much of what he tells is actual, objective truth and how much may be something else, but I find this old article rather interesting when it comes to him:


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That is an interesting article SuZir. I also have read the book and wondered how a child could possibly survive the things he mentions. I suppose it's possible that the facts are there, but exaggerated from the memories of a how things you revisit from your childhood are so much smaller than you remember them?

Either way, the younger brother writing a book seems like he just wants to cash in on Dave's success. Oh I know! Dave had a best seller - I'll tell my version of the same thing and have one too! $$Cha-ching!$$ Kinda like Wicked is The Wizard of Oz, from the witches point of view.

Regardless, that two boys would insist it happened at all, while the other three and the grandmother deny it, shows a very dysfunctional family dynamic.


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I also have read the book and wondered how a child could possibly survive the things he mentions

And not just survive but to be fit enough to be accepted to serve in military. According to book he was made to drink bleach and ammoniac, breath the fumes excessively, stabbed either to stomach or heart depending the book, starved and so on. It seems incredible that after all that his health would had made it possible for him to pass the medicals before enlisting. We of course have military obligation in my country so the process is bit different but generally you will not be considered fit to serve for even rather slight medical issues. I know people who have been found unfit for things like broken pelvis while a preschooler despite the fact, that kid seemed fully recovered and was quite a good track and field athlete. Still that old injury caused him to be exempted of his military obligation, because military was worried the injury could cause problems and they would need to pay for treatment and possible disability.


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This is how my sister was with me. ("I miss my sister...")
"Even though [Richard] was only four or five years old at the time, he had become Mother's Little Nazi, watching my every move, making sure I didn't steal any food. Sometimes he would make up tales for Mother so he could watch me receive punishment."
My Mother before she died said to me: "You used to tell me she was like this. I didn't believe you."

More and more I am seeing that my grief since my Mother died is grief for myself.


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Well...I believe him. It is typical for abused kids to not be believed. Happens in foster care all the time. And happens to those sexually abused. Even if she did half of what he said she did, she is a monster. It is interesting how most people have jumped on him as if he were the problem. David was taken from his mother at age twelve and had many years to recover before he joined the service. I don't see it as unbelievable. People in the service get hurt in the service and still go back and finish serving. I just don't see his childhood injuries affecting him so much later. He ended up in a good foster home and they treated him well...

Nothing life threatening happened to me, but mind breaking, yes. I am attracted to books of abused children. I am not sure why. Maybe I relate. The abuse they suffered was much worse than me as sexual abuse also comes into the picture and there is always family who says it didn't happen.

There are people who deny the Holocaust. LOTS of them. I used to chat with some of them on my #politics channel. They truly did not believe it and had plenty of "logical" reasoning to back up why it was a big Jewish lie that most people bought, but it wasn't true. Some people will deny anything.

This is why abuse is allowed to continue. I believe, and this could have changed since I heard, that history books in Japan do not include the Halocaust at all in an attempt to deny. It is amazing what people will deny to save face of their people...

The books about child abuse are always weirdly the same. The kids are abused, they ask for help, the abuser threatens to kill them and then smiles while the social workers are there and since there is no proof, the parent gets the kids back. I have been a child advocate since my childhood, hoping to make the differnce in the lives of children through foster care and adoption. My own childhood had traumatized me to that point...I wanted all kids to feel loved.

I do think the younger brother probably wanted to cash in on the first one's fame and fortune, which I'm glad he achieved. However, I also think Russell (his real name as stated in his book) was still brave to tell his story and deserves the money he got. People wanted to hear more about the craziness and lots of us do believe him. And he and David have to put up with those who don't believe them, like some of my friends here, and you put yourself out there when you tell about what you went through. So it's not all fame and fortune. Richard, in particular, has had as difficult life. He is one of my heroes.

The State of California said that David's case was the third worse abuse case they'd ever seen. He must have been in terrible shape when they got him. There is proof he was abused. Whether or not his memory tricked him or he lied (which I don't believe) or he just was treated like a prince and wrote a book to make money, he was starving when he was taken from his mother. That much is documented.

When a woman is raped, she can't prove it. Most don't even bother to report it, at least in the U.S. because the guy will say it was consensual and it will be a "he said" "she said." That doesn't mean she wasn't raped. Kids are bullied badly at school. That can impact your later life too and very few get punished for it. The bullied one is blamed.

Bad things happen all the time and the reason I use this site as sounding boards is because we certainly are not going to tell this stuff to our next door neighbors and sometimes a therapist is not enough. I'm talking about the problems some of us have had with our adult children too. How would you like it if you told somebody and were told, "Oh, come on. He'd be dead if he used that much dope. You're exaggerating." Or worse, "What did YOU do to make him that way? I think you're lying about your own child to make yourself a victim and to look good, like you're such a great mom and I don't believe he stole from you. If he had, you'd have called the cops. Anyone would." What if we didn't believe one another?

We hurt and want people to know what has happened and what can happen to anyone's child. That's why I come here. Very few outside of this place know how I really feel aobu tmy FOO and the experience I lived. In fact, until I knew my siblings read this, even they had no idea how bad I thought it was. And how much it had affected me at one time. I told only two extremely close friends, one who has sadly passed on and another whom I still trust and talk to. ONe is already an angel. The other will be.

This has always been a safe forum for me. Nobody, at least, has told me I'm full of

If some of you think the story couldn't have happened, I respect your opinions. I do think the majority who read it, however, who have suffered from any abuse do believe it. I think it is much harder to believe it if you had a loving family. Let's face it. Mothers are supposed to love you. The true fact is, not all mothers do.

My mother never loved me, not from her pregnancy to her death. There was nothing I could do to make her. She mocked me. She called me horrible names (and I probably called her horrible names back as it was so hurtful). But she was the mom and she started it at a very young age. And I knew it.

I believe David Pelzer. And I know my mother hated me too. I just glad her hate did not ruin my life and that I got help early.
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There are people who deny the Holocaust. LOTS of them. I used to chat with some of them on my #politics channel. They truly did not believe it and had plenty of "logical" reasoning to back up why it was a big Jewish lie that most people bought, but it wasn't true.
Thank you for this SWOT. My child for the last year has gotten into conspiracy theories. Among them anti-Zionist themes which I find hateful and disturbing. I have tried to reason with him, asking him not to discuss these themes in my presence or in my home. Before I discovered this site I still hoped that reasoning, persuasion and polite discourse might eventually work.

A couple of weeks ago, he started a sentence with, "Mom, do you who xxx was? "Yes," I replied he was an important financier." He responded..."Zionists...." Immediately, I slammed him: "Never again in my home mention those words again. Never." "But Mom, it's not Anti-Jewish (like i know nothing and he has to teach me.) He continued...."Zionism and Judaism are different things."
...I amped up more. "If I ever hear those word again in my home, you do not come here."

A little bit later, I had calmed down. "Mom, I have NEVER heard you so mad." He has not mentioned ANY conspiracy theory since.


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I heard the same thing. But I was talking to people froma all over the world and I heard plenty of people who said it WAS the Jews. Actually, I don't see a difference.

Denying the Holocaust is an extreme example of denying any sort of hideous abuse. But it happens all the time.

My FOO is Jewish. It infuriates me when somebody starts in on the Holocaust didn't happen garbage. I may not like my FOO, but I know the Jews were victims of the Nazis and some of my family was probably in concentration long dead that did not abuse me.


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Then that must have REALLY hurt.

One thing that makes me really upset is people who are bigoted. Fortunately, that is not an issue I've had with any of my children. It would be hard to have grown up in our family and be bigoted. Princess and BuddhaBaby are Asian (well BB is half, but looks more Asian right now), Sonic is black and Jumper is black/white. They were also brought up to respect all religions and have been to many churches. Never went consistently myself with my younger ones, but any time they asked to go with friends was happy to let them go and to find their own spiritual path. I am not a practicing Jew. I went through Judiasm to Christianity to finally Buddhism/New Age/Life after Death and that is where I have stayed since my thirties. So I really don't care which religion my children choose or if they don't choose any specific one at all. But I they were raised not to think any religion was bad or evil. My kids tend to be on the liberal side, with Bart being fiscally conservative but pretty ok with most liberal social issues.

I am happy with this :)


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Well...I believe him. It is typical for abused kids to not be believed.

Even if she did half of what he said she did, she is a monster.

I agree with this. Please don't think I think this man wasn't abused. I think he probably was terribly abused. But some of the things he says are things that would likely kill, not just injure. That's what makes people skeptical. I think that perhaps they are misremembered or exaggerated, as I said, like when you go back to your childhood home and you think, "Wow! I remember it all being bigger."

Then again, there are (regrettably) regularly stories in the news where authorities have found some 40 lb 13 year old chained in a closet. It's amazing what people can survive. There are sick, sick, sick, evil people in the world. The State said it was the 3rd worse case of abuse they'd seen - 30 years ago. Sadly, I bet they've seen worse since. :(

There are people who deny the Holocaust. LOTS of them.

Those people just disgust me...maybe more so than some as a child of a WWII soldier. Where do these people think those photographs come from? Do they think those camps, that still stand, were a vacation spot? I read somewhere that if you had a moment of silence for every victim of the holocaust you wouldn't speak for two years. Horrifying. I actually have an old boyfriend who, for some reason that escapes me, always says he dislikes Jews. I don't get it, really, don't. But even he doesn't deny it happened and took a trip a few years back to Germany. He went to Poland too and toured Auschwitz...with an elderly friend of his...who is Jewish. Go figure.

One thing that makes me really upset is people who are bigoted. Fortunately, that is not an issue I've had with any of my children.

My son's been known to use the N word - when angry at a black person, not as a general "everyone" word. I have chewed his butt so thoroughly for it I don't know that he'll ever do it to my face again. I can't stand bigots. I don't care if against race, creed, sex, or orientation...those people have no business in my life. He was NOT raised that way. Then again, he also borders on conspiracy theorist. I've been known to tell him to just make a tinfoil hat and get over it.
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SWOT: I of course do not know what happened to Pelzer and what not. And I do well know some kids get abused awfully. In fact countless children are killed by their parents. However some things Pelzer describes, if they really happened as he describes them, should had left him dead or at least severely health impaired especially without proper medical care. According to the book he was for example made to inhale that toxic gasses that they were used as biological weapon in wars before and killed thousands of soldiers. And he was made to sit in bathroom inhaling the fumes and he didn't end up with severe lung and breathing issues. Nor did he died for stabbing to stomach/heart even though he didn't receive medical care for it.

He was a young child when all this happened. Young children's memory works rather unique ways. Even if that is how he does remember it, what happened may have been slightly different.

I also find it rather peculiar how his case is stated to be third worst child abuse case in California. Who does this kind if ranking and on what grounds? Is there special government office that familiarises themselves with every child abuse case in California (and it is a big place, I bet they have tens if not hundreds child abuse cases a year that end up with a death of a child) and then ranks them as a worst, second worst, 33th worst and so on and after that compares them to all the cases in history? Somehow I doubt that and whole third worst case in California sounds more like a marketing statement than anything else.

I also have to say that while reading the book I did relate it to my own experiences of physical abuse as a child (nothing so grave as what he describes though I still needed medical attention because of it) and it felt odd how emotionally removed Pelzer seemed. He catalogues horrible incident after horrible incident by detail, but never much describes the feelings; fear, hope, making 'deals' with powers that be and all the ambivalence of those I can remember so clearly and also read in many survivor's stories. For me physical abuse was shorter period of time in hands of one of my step parents, so I got lucky and escaped when my mom got enough. I also understand that emotional distancing from actual happenings is not uncommon symptom in severe trauma disorders but if I remember correctly Pelzer at least says he isn't suffering such. Of course the book was also apparently heavily edited by his editor/wife so that could explain that too.

Severe abuse happens, and happens way too often. Still while reading emotional stories it is wise to keep some critical thinking there too. Not every abuse etc. allegation is true, not at least the way and time the victim describes them. And that doesn't even mean it would be a lie. It can be how the victim feels or remembers it even if it isn't an absolute truth.

I too believe that Pelzer was likely abused some way. But it may not be exactly how he wrote in the book.
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Oh, Lil. Nobody has the guts to say the N word in front of me no matter how angry they are. I'm not even talking about my family. I'm talking about anyone who knows me. LOL. I have black kids and you're talking about my babies.

Suzir, I"m sure some people are skeptical, but I do think most people believe David. And, as I said to Lil, if the only thing she did to David was to make him eat scraps of food alone and made his family refer to him as an "it" that is already major abuse. If you are abused, it really doesn't matter to the victim if they get so sensitive that they maybe overthink something. When you hear "stupid" "selifh" "lazy" "bad" in a mocking, humiliating tone over and over again, maybe you get overly sensitive to it as a c hild, but it still harms you and you continue to hear it in your head until you get the proper help. An interesting analogy would be dogs (I love animals nad have volunteered in our humane society). Many dogs who have been hit never get over a human putting a hand on their head...they jump or cower as if they are about to get whacked, even if it hasn't ever happened by that person or in years.

I bought everything my mother REPEATEDLY told me I was and she was not nice about the way she worded things. The only exception was the selfish part...I knew I wasn't, but it hurt more that she said I was. Later on she used things I had told her and smeared them to my sister and probably my brother. I have read a lot more abuse stories than David Pelzers. I am attracted to them partly to see how they heal from abuse that was both emotional and physical...many of them have very creative ways. Some do not heal. However, most of th e stories are similar to David Pelzer's. Many are even worse. And they all lived.And the ones who write their stories usually have satisfying endings.

Nobody is a perfect parent and I am not either. I have made mistakes. I do two things my mother never did. If I do something wrong, I ALWAYS apologize and take the full blame and make sure there is a hug and a kiss. Another thing I never did, even when I was angry (and I almost never raised my voice to my kids) is they never were called names. It was too ingrained in my brain about how horrible I was and how namecalling from a parent can make you think you are exactly what they call you. Thankfully, except for Goneboy (and you know that his history with the family did not start until late and he had attachment issues) my kids feel they had good childhoods. Bart thinks his childhood was great, even though he was in therapy and had behavior problems. I am grateful for that. The greatest gift you can give your kids are good childhoods. It feels great to feel loved by those who mean so much to you...your spouse and kids. And Bart and I have had our battles...we have loved one another though all of them and he was never called a nasty name once. Nor Princess during the drug days. Ah, such happy thoughts after discussing abuse!!!! When I want to cover up the abuse from FOO, I think about my real family and Jumper coming home this week!!!!!!!!! Yay!

Suzir, as always, I respect your thoughts and love hearing from you :). I think you made some excellent points and honestly you are very intelligent. Again, I have to marvel at how good you are with English.
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I wonder how many of us could write our life stories and have it 100% accurate? Even without abuse?

There are certain experiences - positive, negative or "normal" - that I can recount in vivid detail - and others who were there will agree with 99% of what I remember. For THOSE memories. Other experiences? I'm lucky if I remember 10%. I don't deny the memories of others who were there... what we did or didn't see or hear, when we became aware of the setting, how old we were, other similar things that happened before or after... Memory is not "written in stone". But I don't discount my own memory even when it is at odds with others. Perhaps I saw/felt/sensed something that they missed - something subtle that my brain tried to give meaning to after the fact.


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Insane, I think a lot of our memories are memories that were only between the abuser and us. I know my siblings did not h ear lots of the interactions between my mother and me. When a battle went on, yes, they heard. But they didn't hear the little, insidious abuse that went on all my life, especially after I left the house. Things that still bother me today. Nobody heard them but me:

"Oh, you didn't adopt kids because you care about them" with dripping, humiliating mockery in her voice. "You just want the MONEY they pay you for them." Nobody heard that but me and it was ridiculous because we got a subsidy for Sonic, but nobody else and we didn't have Sonic yet. But she could not think I did anything because I had a good heart. It had to be some other reason. Just one of a gazillion examples that nobody heard, but I heard.

I have so many examples that I COULD write a memoir and a memoir is from your own point of view. I understand, when I buy a memoir, that it is written about the author and what HER experience was. Many of the authors who write about their abuse have siblings who did not experience the same degree or any abuse and they don't speak. This is common. Dysfunctional families are not exactly loving nests where everyone gets along.

You read it and decide if you believe it. I tend to believe it because my own life with FOO was so horrible and I was the scapegoated one. Others who had lovely childhoods have a hard time believing the degree of abuse that these adults write about could have really happened. If my own mother hadn't played sick mind games with me and disliked me so much, I may not have believed it either. In fact, I doubt I'd be interested in reading about abuse books. Most of them are pretty depressing, although many have happy endings.

But, yeah, a memoir is your take on what happened to you. It has nothing to do with your siblings, your cousins, your friends, your Aunt Molly, your Cousin Bob or anybody except you. They don't have to agree.

All three of us were damaged by our upbringing, however. I won't bring up specific issues, but there are obvious ones in all three of us. And they were difficult challenges and issues. I'm just the one most open to admitting my own. So this forum is good for me.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
I speak from my own personal experience. I and my sisters were sexually and physically abused by our bio-father. I was 2 yeas old when he started and was 10 when it finally ended. He also abused many of our friends as he was in a profession that put him in contact with children. We did not find out about our friends until we were all adults.
My older sisters found the courage to tell our mother who thank God believed them and she divorced our bio-father.
We lived in a small town and this was not something that anyone was familiar with, it was 1968. Our bio-father swore he would never touch us again, what a lie but the judge believed him. He was very sneaky and very careful and continued to abuse me for a few more years, you see the courts gave him unsupervised visitation. I was still very young and he had assured me that this was how "daddy's" showed their daughters how much they loved them but that it was very special and private and it was a secret. When my mother would ask me how the visits went and did "daddy" behave I told her "yes" because I thought what was happening was normal. It wasn't until after a weekend visit with bio-father that my other sister told my mom that "daddy wants Tanya to sleep in his room now" I was never alone with my bio-father again.
That was the beginning of a long and painful journey.

I was lucky in that my mother re-married a wonderful man who was a wonderful father to me but I was damaged from what my bio-father did to me as were my sisters. It took a long time to work through it all but we all have managed to survive the abuse we endured.

I read A Child Called It many years ago and I could relate to so much. I don't feel the need to give specific details of how I was abused as there are many different ways to abuse a child. Abuse is abuse. I consider myself one of the lucky ones that was able to survive and go on to have a good life while so many end up as prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers themselves or all the above. Reading his book was very therapeutic for me and for that I am grateful that he shared his story.

As for members of the family denying any abuse happened, I too know what that is like. My grandmother, bio-fathers mother, whom I loved very much never believed me or my sisters. She would say things like "I know what you and your sisters say happened but I just don't believe it" and of course bio-father would never admit to his mother what he had done. I had the betrayal of my bio-father but also my grandmother. It's a different kind of pain, while she never hurt me physically the fact that she did not believe me hurt so deeply.

Abusers are very good at being sneaky and manipulation.

I have very vivid memories of what I endured. Over the years my sisters and I have discussed the abuse. My one sister has always been amazed at how well I remember things as she didn't. She repressed many of the memories but they have a way of resurfacing. A few years ago she called me to tell me that some of the memories started to come back, she shared with me what she was remembering and I was able to confirm them for her.

As for David Pelzer, I believe him as I know first hand how horrific abuse to a child can be.


Well-Known Member
Thank you, Tanya.
I am so sorry for what you went through. It seems all three of your were the targets.

Nothing is much more hurtful than people you love or once loved not believing you or calling your hideous experiences fiction, even if it's not sexual abuse. There are so many ways to be abused and it screws with your head if you don't get help. When I read my sister's post about how my words were mostly fiction, something snapped in me. I had always loved her dearly, but in that moment it was gone. And when I read that my brother also didn't believe me, well, we had not been connected for a long time so it mattered less. We had not had much of a relationship for a long time, but I had loved my sister to pieces, even with the often long cut offs, cops, and disagreements.

I do not expect my siblings to have my memories or perspective of growing up in our house and afterward because mother treated them as if they were worthwhile people. But I was pretty shocked to read that my own account of my experience was not believed. It's not like they didn't know what happened. I never want to see them again.

I will see them one last time and I hope it's not for ten years. I decided not to let them chase me from my father's funeral. I love him because, although he was not perfect in any way (nor was or am I), he did not treat me worse than he treated them. And that is precious to me. He is the only family member to think of me as equal tot hem, except for me (I happen to think I've made much better life choices than Sis and bro has just been alone all his life...I wouldn't want that life. I know he has other issues too; not close enough to have any handle on what they are). My family will go as my family. Probably Bart won't/can't come, but everyone else will stand together and I will be comforted and if they stare at me, I will stare back. With my family at my side. I have nothing to be ashamed of and I will not be alone. And I want to honor my father one day the way he wishes to be honored even if it's uncomfortable a bit for me. It's not about me.

Tanya, you are a strong, courageous woman. I did not go through what you did yet the constant verbal stuff and the slap from the grave from my mother hurt me so badly that I can't imagine what YOU and your sisters went through as far as pain. I admire how well you seem to have healed.

I never doubt it when anybody says he or s he was abused. I really think it's the very tiny minority who would like about something that awful. Tanya, I also have a very good long term memory. I wish I could forget. The funny thing is, I have always had a challenged short-term memory. But I can remember a lot farther back and with a lot more clarity than most people remember things in their childhoods.

Thank you again. You are another hero of mine now.
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Well-Known Member
The greatest gift you can give your kids are good childhoods. It feels great to feel loved by those who mean so much to you...your spouse and kids.

Again, I agree. I think that all of us here clearly tried so hard to give our children good childhoods. If we didn't love our children and want them happy, we wouldn't seek help.

You know I'm kind of at a loss...having never suffered any type of abuse as a child. My first marriage was the closest I came to such a thing. But, isn't it funny how there are people like you, and Tanya and SuZir and Copa, who all suffered your own kind of abuse, turned into decent people...while the kids we nurtured didn't necessarily do so? I know my son certainly has no reason to complain.

Again, I have to marvel at how good you are with English.

YES! I'd never, ever guess it wasn't her first language.

Tanya...and everyone else...You have my utmost admiration.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Thanks SWOT. I have survived a lot in my life starting with the abuse, then cancer, and having a Difficult Child. Through it all I have learned that life is short and anything can happen so I cherish each day I am given.
I know it's important to forgive those that have hurt me. The forgiveness does not mean that I have forgotten what they have done it simply means that I have released them from holding my emotions hostage. What happened to me as a child was wrong and ugly in ever way but I made a choice to not let it define me and forgiveness allows me to take my life back.

I am so happy that you have decided that when the time comes and like you said, hopefully 10 or more years down the road that you can go and honor your father and that your family will stand by your side. What a blessing that you have them.

I am so grateful for your friendship on this site.


Well-Known Member
Lil, thank you, sweet woman. But trust me, being even normal did not come easy. I never saw normal. My FOO was a loonybin. I worked very hard to be where I am and I had to decide I would never ever get involved with an abusive man after my first marriage. I'm not going to call my first husband abusive. He was just very socially clueless and said mean things, but not to be mean...not in the vicious way my mother did. Hard to explain. But he could not change and I had so I left him. I was determined to either find a good man with a sweet soul who I knew loved me or just date sometimes and not marry, although I desperately wanted more children. I did not stay with anyone for too long until I met my current.

Lil, you and I are very lucky. There are a lot of icky men out there. For the men, Jabber, I am quite sure there are a lot of icky women too, however YOU also got lucky when you met Lil :)

Back to being normal...that started slowly on a learning curb when I became active in Codapendent's Anonymous and that wasn't until my 30s. I was a confused mess until then. I didn't know who or what I was. I had been brought up with no rules and no social skills and a lot of distain. I didn't know how other people behaved. I was lucky I met one of my first very good forever friends when I was in my twenties because we would talk a lot and she helped me out in this area, even more than my psychiatrists. Did I say she was of two angels I've known?:angel3:Although I started out my adult life with almost no identity (it certainly was not with my FOO), I have a strong identity now and it feels very nice.