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Woman who was kidnapped for eight years opens up on how she survived in her kidnapper's basement

Woman who was kidnapped for eight years opens up on how she survived in her kidnapper's basement

Natascha Kampusch was kidnapped when she was just ten years old

Warning - This article contains topics some readers may find distressing

A woman managed to survive for eight years in her kidnapper's basement, and came out of the ordeal alive.

In 1998, Natascha Kampusch had been walking to school alone - which was the first time her mother had allowed her to do so - when she was ten years old.

Her parents' ongoing divorce had been taking a mental toll on her, and the 10-year-old even thought about throwing herself in front of a car as she walked along the streets of Vienna.

Natascha Kampusch was missing for eight years.
SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP via Getty Images

But things took a considerable turn for the worse when a white van pulled up alongside her. She was snatched directly from the street in broad daylight, and taken to the basement of her captor.

Wolfgang Přiklopil would hold her captive for 3,096 days before she was finally able to escape.

Kampusch knew that she would need to play along with him to be able to get through the ordeal. Eventually, she was able to gain his trust enough that he would even take her out in public.

Initially, Přiklopil was even treated as a suspect in the case. However, police dismissed him as a suspect.

The years saw Přiklopil forcing Kampusch to clean the house and beating her when she did something that upset him. Přiklopil also sexually abused Kampusch during her captivity, though she has never spoken at length about that.

She managed to stay alive by appeasing her captor. Over the years Přiklopil became more and more comfortable around his captive. He would observe her constantly.

Eventually Kampusch worked up the courage to confront him about the situation, risking being beaten for standing up to him.

The room in which she was held captive for eighteen years.
Police Handout via Getty Images

Kampusch said: “You have brought a situation upon us in which only one of us can make it through alive.

“I really am grateful to you for not killing me and for taking such good care of me. That is very nice of you. But you can’t force me to stay with you. I am my own person with my own needs. This situation must come to an end.”

Eventually, when she was 18 years old the opportunity to escape finally arrived.

In August 2006, Kampusch had been cleaning the car on the driveway when Přiklopil had to take a phone call. The noise of the vacuum meant that he went inside for a brief period time.

Kampusch saw her chance.

She snuck to the gate, which by a miracle was unlocked. Seizing the moment, she started to run.

Kampusch reportedly dashed to a neighbor's home and introduced herself. She was later reunited with her family when the police were contacted.

Finding his captive gone, Přiklopil confess to his friend, saying: "I am a kidnapper and a rapist," before committing suicide by lying down in front of a train.

Kampusch has gone on to become a talk show host in Austria and publish two books about her experiences. The first is about her captivity, the second about her recovery.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.

For US readers, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to

f you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact RAINN via its helpline on 800 656 HOPE (4673) or its online chat, available 24/7 seven days a week.

Featured Image Credit: HERBERT PFARRHOFER/AFP via Getty Images/YouTube/CNN

Topics: News, True crime, Crime, World News