The main character and author of the story "A Child Called 'It,'" is Dave Pelzer, and other chief characters include his mother Catherine Roerva Pelzer, and his father Stephen Joseph Pelzer. Other characters include his brothers Ron, Russell and Stan; his school principal Mr. Hansen; and his teachers Miss Moss and Mr. Ziegler.
In the memoir "A Child Called 'It,'" Dave Pelzer explains that his mother was loving and kind until he was 4 years old, at which time she became depressed and began drinking excessively for some unexplained reason. Her abuse became more and more sadistic as time went by and continued until Dave was 12 years old. Her methods of abuse ranged from starvation and beatings to forcing Dave to drink ammonia. His brothers learned to hate him from their mother's example, and his father Stephen was often absent.
Although Stephen was passive about his wife's abusive behavior, he promised Dave that they would one day leave together. However, he eventually left on his own, leaving Dave with a feeling of betrayal and despair. Eventually, Dave's teachers caught on to the abuse, and he was taken from his mother and put into foster care at age 12. After growing up, marrying and becoming a father, Dave became the author of several successful memoirs and self-help books.