Sunday, 20. April 2014
08. 06. 09. - 10:00
Austrian incest victim Elisabeth Fritzl has stopped her psychiatric therapy – with the approval of her doctors – because her love affair with her bodyguard has proved to be the best medicine of all.
Elisabeth, 43, fell for Thomas W., 14 years her junior, when he was assigned to guard her and the six children she bore by her rapist father shortly after she was freed from a secret dungeon where she was imprisoned for 24 years.
Now her doctors say their relationship has worked miracles on her shattered psyche. She has given up long sessions on the couch, aimed at neutralising the painful memories of the 3,000 rapes she endured during her incarceration.
Elisabeth was diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder following her release from the dungeon her 74-year-old father Josef carved out beneath the family home.
She bore seven children alone in the darkness, and watched one of them die because her gaoler would not get medical help for him. She suffered beatings, sexual perversions, plagues of rats, long periods without power, biting cold, stifling heat, near starvation and the constant fear that she and her secret family would die alone in their dungeon.
The PTSD she suffered would result in blackouts, nightmares during daylight hours, terrible flashbacks to the cellar and all its horrors.
But now her love affair – Thomas has moved into the house she shares with her six children in a small Austrian village – has brought about the kind of miracle cure usually only seen in Hollywood movies.
One of her psychiatric carers said: “This is vivid proof of the power of love being the strongest force in the world. With the approval of her doctors she has ceased psychiatric therapies while she gets on with her life – learning to drive, helping her children with their homework, making friends with people in her locality.
“She lost the best years of her life in that cellar; she is determined that every day remaining to her will be filled with activity.”
Thomas is the only consenting relationship Elisabeth has had with a man since her kidnap in 1984. Elisabeth was just 18 when she was drugged with ether by her convicted-rapist father and imprisoned in the clandestine warren he constructed beneath the family home in Amstetten, two hours from Vienna.
Freed by her father in April last year after her 19-year-old daughter Kerstin fell gravely ill in the cellar, her children are said to have “bonded well” with Thomas. Kerstin and her brother Stefan were two of the three cellar children who spent their entire lives underground. Three other children were taken out of the dungeon and raised by Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie.
Both Kerstin, 20, and Stefan, 19, still undergo many hours of therapy each week. They sleep in rooms where doors are permanently open and are encouraged by their carers to slowly and carefully talk about their experiences in the hope that by mentally revisiting the cellar they can slowly eliminate the traumas they suffered there.
Fritzl, sentenced to life imprisonment for his crimes in March this year, has tried to contact his wife and the six children he fathered with her, but they have refused to take his calls.
He still harbours a dream of writing a book about his perverted love for Elisabeth, the proceeds of which he says he will donate to her and his incest children.
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