The shame of the Kampusch case: the public and media


Natascha Kampusch was abducted by a stranger at the age of 10 on her way to school. She was held captive in an underground dungeon for eight years. When she escaped, her kidnapper committed suicide hours later. She has emerged a remarkable young woman: smart, articulate, strong, and making thoughtful choices about her life. She recently published a memoir of the experience, “3096 Days,” which is reportedly very good.

Yet she has been depicted in the Austrian media as “odd” or worse. In an interview on the BBC, journalist Jon Ronson talks about her cruel portrayal in the Austrian media.

He said, “Everybody wanted her to be this beautiful child from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale… speaking emotionally about her ordeal. In fact she did the opposite, she intellectualised it.” She has even received hate mail from the Austrian public, stating that she “must have liked it in the dungeon,” “being in the dungeon was good for her,” and “she should go back to the dungeon.

Is it not enough that Natasha suffered at the hands of her captor? I am in awe that she had the strength of character to survive. The fact that she has thought deeply about her experience shows how smart she is. But since she is female, this is not an appropriate response. I guess it’s #HFSF.

Susan, Orange County, California

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9 Responses to “The shame of the Kampusch case: the public and media”

  1. gloinson Says:

    Errrr. I find this posting kind of disgusting. You are using Natascha Kampusch, because she is female.

    But Natascha Kampusch doesn’t get abused because she is female. She gets abused because – as you quote – she has the nerve to intellectualize her ordeal. She speaks about being imprisoned not only physically but mentally. About her being unable to flee earlier. About her even eating at a public place and being unable to flee and nobody noticing her and her captor. About her asking for a good-night-kiss from her tormenter.

    And people can’t understand and won’t understand. They call it “Stockholm Syndrome” and want to be done with it. Nothing that could ever happen to them. Victims are to be pitied not learned from.
    On top of it people do not like the implication of her story: everybody looked away.

    What does that have to do with her being female? Nichts. Absolut nichts.

  2. skyhawkmkiv Says:

    I hate to say it, but I also think the tie to being HFSF is a bit fuzzy. Yes, the way she was treated was wrong, but I don’t see a real link to a case of being treated drastically different from a male that was held captive for that long.

  3. jesurgislac Says:

    Double mansplainer alert! Double mansplainer alert!

    (Seriously, guys, how many eighteen-year-old boys do you hear referred to as “Beautiful children” from a Grimms Fairy Tale? And how many 18-year-old boys are thought “odd” for being intellectual rather than emotional – for not being a “beautiful child”? But hey, I guess it’s just OFFF, lucky we have you guys here to explain it to us!)

    • gloinson Says:

      Please call me “strongvictimsplainer” if you really have to. But don’t claim the problems of strong victims for your cause, whatever it might be.

      You need examples of problems for strong victims among men? Google “catholic abuse” and start reading.

      • beso0014 Says:

        I have only heard one source of victim-blaming in the case of abusive priests, and that’s the Catholic Church itself. I also googled both “Catholic abuse” and “Catholic abuse victim blaming” and found “nichts” to support your statement. Way to steer the conversation toward men’s problems, though.

      • redreplicant Says:

        Do you think that anyone criticizes those male victims (at least in the actual media, not random people commenting online) for dealing with their abuse in a thoughtful and logical manner? I’ve kept up with that issue, and in fact they’re respected and valued for speaking up and being honest and direct. No one expects these folks to be fairy-tale children; they’re men, and they’ve been treated poorly, and that’s a crime.

        Unfortunately, the same degree of reasonableness does not appear to be extended to this poor young lady.

    • skyhawkmkiv Says:

      Actually, this would have been nice in the original post. That’s the reason for my first comment. Thank you.

  4. Sally Says:

    Exactly. If a man had suffered abuse and then had found a way to come to terms with it, by intellectualising his experience and describing it in academic terms, would he get hate mail, do you think? Would he be told that he had clearly enjoyed his abuse, do you suppose? Would he be regarded as unnatural or odd? No. Almost certainly he would not, because being ‘rational’ rather than ’emotional’ is what’s expected of men.

    Natasha Kampusch is being vilified because she is refusing to fit to the accepted ‘model’ of the female victim. And if that’s not sexist, I’m not sure what is.

    • beso0014 Says:

      Word. Telling a female abuse victim that “being in the dungeon was good for her” is misogynist in the most painfully obvious way possible.

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