Kampusch: 3 096 days of torture

2010-09-08 18:15
Vienna - An Austrian woman kidnapped at age 10 says she was repeatedly beaten, starved and forced to do housework half-naked during her 8 1/2 years at the mercy of a man who admired Hitler and considered himself an Egyptian god.

In a new book about her ordeal, Natascha Kampusch also describes how her abductor, Wolfgang Priklopil, shaved off all her hair and shackled her to him on his bed once she turned 14.

Priklopil snatched Kampusch off a Vienna street on her way to school in 1998 and held her prisoner in a dungeon under his suburban home until she fled in August 2006.

He committed suicide within hours of her escape. The case horrified Austrians and made headlines around the world.

In 3 096 Days, penned with the help of two authors, Kampusch describes Priklopil as a paranoid, unpredictable and cleanliness-obsessed man who systematically tormented her physically and verbally.

"In many respects, the kidnapper was a beast and more cruel than can possibly be depicted," Kampusch wrote, according to an English edition to be released on September 16 in Britain.

Psychological abuse

Over the years, he attacked her using not only his hands and feet but also a sack of cement, pruning shears and even a crowbar.

"Sometimes he beat me so long it felt like hours," Kampusch wrote.

Priklopil found other ways to humiliate her.

"In the house I always had to work half-naked, and in the garden I was principally not allowed to wear any knickers," Kampusch wrote. "It was one of the ways to keep me down."

He also deprived her of food, telling her she was fat and ugly.

"The kidnapper knew precisely which buttons he had to push to land blows to my self-esteem, and he pressed them mercilessly," wrote Kampusch, who weighed a mere 38kg at age 16.

Kampusch describes how, as a teenager, she spent nights in Priklopil's bed with her wrists tied to his.

"The man who beat me, locked me in the cellar and starved me, wanted to cuddle," she wrote.

Ideal woman

She also recalled the horror of having her hair shaved off because Priklopil considered every single strand a danger, to be potentially used by police to trace her.

"Not even the minutest hair was allowed to remain. Anywhere."

The now 22-year-old was later allowed to grow out her hair but had to die it "peroxide blond" to conform to her captor's image of the ideal woman: "obedient, hardworking, blond."

Kampusch describes how, in desperation, she tried to strangle herself several times using pieces of clothing and attempted to commit suicide by setting fire to paper and toilet rolls on a hotplate in her underground cell. At the last minute, her "will to survive" resurfaced.

But there were moments when Kampusch stood up to the man who once told her he was an Egyptian god from the science fiction series Stargate.

Not only did she refuse to call Priklopil "maestro" or "my lord", she also resisted kneeling in front of him. At 15, she said she even "punched" him in the stomach.

Although Kampusch wrote that she couldn't stand a chance against him, "fighting back became vital to my survival."

Kampusch attempts to explain why Priklopil kidnapped her, saying he wanted someone for whom he was "the most important person in the world".

"Today I believe that Wolfgang Priklopil, in committing a terrible crime, wanted to create nothing more than his own little perfect world with a person that could be there just for him," she wrote.

Kampusch will officially launch 3 096 Days at a book reading in the Austrian capital on Thursday.

English editions will also be available in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and India.

- AP
Read more on:    austria  |  abductions


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