Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex Slaves: The Psychology of Mastery

The Captive Freed

Not that she could have even known at that early stage, but Natascha's defense of Priklopil indicated that she had come to sympathize with him, and thus did not appreciate how his act had damaged her life. She had missed out on the love of her family and sharing with them the many mileposts of her life. But she also said: "I always had the thought: Surely I didn't come into the world so I could be locked up and my life completely ruined. I give up in despair about this unfairness. I always felt like a poor chicken in a henhouse. You saw my dungeon on television and in the media. Thus you know how small it was. It was a place to despair."

Natascha rejected the questions about what Priklopil might have done to her and asked to be left alone. "I feel good where I'm at now," she said. About her dungeon, which Priklopil helped her to decorate, she said, "It's my room, and not destined for the public to see." She expressed mourning over her captor's death, believing it had been "unnecessary." Her family, too, refrained from revealing any details. But when men grab young girls, there's generally a compelling reason, given the risk they take, and it's usually about access to sex whenever they want it.

Priklopil's apparent motive for taking Natascha, according to her, was that he did not wish to be alone, although he did live with his parents. The girl claimed that all she did, day in and day out, was "housework, reading, TV, talking, cooking. That was it, for years." While we may doubt her account, another kidnap victim said essentially the same thing.

Nobuyuki Sato
Nobuyuki Sato

Fusako was ten in 1990 when she turned up missing after attending a baseball game in Japan. It turned out that Nobuyuki Sato, 28 and mentally disturbed, had grabbed her. He kept her with him for nine years in an upper floor of his apartment, not far from a police station. His mother actually lived downstairs. Fusako did not set foot outside in all that time. Her captor punished her if she did not do as he asked, and he became violent with his mother if she attempted to go up. When the mother finally requested assistance from a social service agency, Sato made such a commotion that the police intervened. At that time, Fusako told them who she was. She was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress and an inability to adapt to normal life. Sato received a 14-year sentence.

Natascha is a little different. She seemed anything but a victim to those who had close contact. Alfred Worm, editor-in-chief of the Austrian magazine News, who conducted one of the only three print interviews she gave, stated that "she commands her advisors as if they were slaves." Indeed, she may have taken on her captor's orientation to demand and control. Only time will tell.

By October, Natascha had stated that she wanted ownership of her captor's home so that his mother could reside there and to prevent the room in which she was held from becoming a tourist attraction. By some estimates, despite the length of her captivity, she was apparently one of the more fortunate victims.

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