Natascha Kampusch tells of life 1 year after her escape from a tiny cellar

Natascha Kampusch, photo: CTK

It's one year since the young Austrian woman, Natascha Kampusch, escaped from a tiny cellar where she'd been held captive for 8 years. Her kidnapper, Wolfgang Priklopil, committed suicide shortly after her escape. The Kampusch story created headlines around the world and intense public interest in her story. This week she gave a rare television interview in which she talked about her attempts to regain a normal life.

Natascha Kampusch,  photo: CTK
The interview with Natascha Kampusch was in some ways similar to and in some ways different from the one she gave ORF television a year ago at the height of world media attention. But she understandably appeared more relaxed. Television audiences got to see her on the flight from Vienna to Barcelona, "doing" the sites of the city, guidebook in hand, taking driving lessons, learning archery as a form of therapy and so on. Things other young girls her age would be doing. The interview focussed on a variety of topics, including the strained relations between her estranged father and mother, her mother's new book Desperate Years, giving her side of the story, the way she felt today about the captor and tormenter, and the way she's portrayed in the media. When she was asked why she had voluntarily agreed to give another TV interview although she didn't necessarily have to, she gave the following response:

"Well, I do in fact feel the need to tell my story. And I'd like to express my views on certain issues and I feel I owe it to the people who donated money to me and to all the people who shared in my fate ... to somehow give them an account".

She was also asked about relations between her divorced parents, who are embroiled in a messy dispute over the tell-all book recently published by her mother. The father does not like the way he is portrayed as someone with a drinking problem and has threatened to take his ex-wife to court for slander. Natascha said in the interview she hoped reason would prevail. She also chided her father's naivety when dealing with the media. The way she is treated by or else her case is dealt with in the media seems to be a sore point. There are times when she wishes journalists would leave her alone and stop taking her picture all the time. A reference to a recent incident in which she was photographed with a male companion in a discotheque, only to read that she had found a boyfriend. The tabloid press has been especially hypocritical. The editorial writers cry she ought be left alone to get on with her life and at the front of the paper, there is rehash of the story with old photographs. The interview revealed that she still has some positive feelings about her captor. She commented: "All I can say is that, bit by bit, I feel more sorry for him." She said he was a "pour soul, lost and misguided" and that she had in part let him manipulate her. But that she was also able to manipulate him. Now, she added, she was trying to lead a "normal" life.

"I regularly try to make the best of a situation and to gain something at the end of the day - how should I say - from the most disadvantageous situation".

Finally, Natascha Kampusch said she wanted to be taken seriously and did not want events of her case to "be swept under the carpet".