An upcoming Lifetime movie called “Girl in the Basement” will have you feeling uneasy on the inside. There are seven children born into captivity with her after she was taken captive by her father for 24 years. The film chronicles the tragic storey of a lady who was held captive by her father for 24 years and raped seven times during that time. What could be worse? The events shown in the film are based on true events. On February 27, Elisabeth Rohm will direct a film about the ordeal of Elisabeth Fritzel, who was forced to live in the basement while her mother and sister lived upstairs, believing she had run away from home in search of a better life. The film will be released in theatres nationwide on February 27.
Her cell was in the basement of the boarding house where she had grown up in Lower Austria, and it lacked any windows or natural light. Father Josef Frtizl subjected the young woman to physical and verbal abuse, humiliation, and rape on numerous occasions. The “abominable events” she described in 2008 stunned millions of people, and her narrative prompted many to rethink the human ability for savagery and survival as a result of it.
How did Elisabeth Fritzl now end up in this situation?
On August 28, 1984, the then 18-year-old waitress Elisabeth was living with her mother Rosemarie and father Josef when he called her to the basement of their home to help him place a door. Josef, then a 49-year-old engineer and property developer, had spent years on a basement conversion project. Little did Elisabeth know that this was a trick to imprison her. As she was holding the door in place, Josef held an ether-soaked rag on the teenager’s face until she passed out. He then handcuffed her and locked her inside.
Her mother, Rosemarie, was then shown a handwritten letter from her daughter, postmarked from the town of Braunau in Upper Austria, saying that she had left her parents and the town and asked them not to look for her or she’d flee the country. The story was believable since Elisabeth had run away from home in January 1983 and gone into hiding in Vienna with a friend from work, following which she was found by police within three weeks and returned to her parents. This time too, a police report was filed and Elisabeth remained on the Interpol missing person’s list. It was believed that she had joined a religious sect, a story her father suggested to the authorities.
Where is Elisabeth Fritzl now?
Following the trial, Elisabeth was given a new name, and tight rules were put in place to keep her identity from being disclosed. According to the Mirror, she is now living with her six children in a house in a little hamlet in the Austrian countryside that cannot be named and is only referred to as ‘Village X’ by the country’s media. The children, who are now between the ages of 17 and 31, sleep in rooms with their doors permanently open and participate in weekly therapy sessions to help them overcome the traumas they experienced in the basement. Their two-story family home is under constant CCTV surveillance and is patrolled by security personnel, ensuring that any strangers who are spotted lurking around can be apprehended by police within minutes of their discovery.
According to reports, the locals of the small, close-knit community also assist in protecting the family. “There are only a few inhabitants in Village X, and they are all in with the police,” a photojournalist dispatched to the location recounted. In a short while, I was encircled by people who told me, “They don’t want to speak with you, they don’t want to see you – please leave.”
Elisabeth astonished many by overcoming her tragedy and finding happiness, just as she did by surviving against all odds, maintaining her sanity, and caring for her children under the most awful conditions. An owner of a nearby eatery stated that “the family is doing more than fine.” “They come to my venue on a regular basis, and we treat them just like any other guest.” “They are well-known across the village.” In the words of another resident, “Given all they have been through, they are extremely courteous, joyful, and smiling constantly.”
Almost exactly one year after her escape from prison, Elisabeth fell in love with Thomas Wagner, a bodyguard for the Austrian security firm A&T securities who had been assigned to safeguard her. In 2009, it was discovered that Thomas, who is 23 years younger than Elisabeth, had moved in with her and her family, and that the two had become friends. Psychiatric caregiver said that her romance with her partner helped her overcome the traumas of her past, causing her to drastically reduce the amount of post-traumatic stress disorder therapy she was receiving. “This is compelling evidence that love is the most powerful force on the planet,” the psychiatrist observed. It was in that cellar that she spent the best years of her life, and she is determined that every day of her remaining life would be filled with activity,” they continued.
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