Girl Speaks Out After Eight Years of Captivity

ByABC News
September 6, 2006, 4:12 PM

Sept. 6, 2006 — -- At first, she could have been mistaken for a young TV soap opera star -- or a singer -- promoting her latest show or album on Austrian TV.

Eighteen-year-old Natascha Kampusch wore a fashionable purple head wrap and matching blouse with sequins, and had had her face made up for the cameras. As she began to speak, she smiled and laughed.

But a few minutes into the interview, which was broadcast nationally in Austria on Wednesday, the tears came, her voice cracked, and the audience knew that the story she was telling slowly was one of absolute horror.

"When he first grabbed me, I was going to scream," she said. "I opened my mouth to scream but nothing happened. I could not scream."

Kampusch, who had long been assumed dead, stunned the world when it came to light that, on Aug. 23, she had escaped from a tiny underground cell after eight-and-a-half years of captivity in a windowless cell in the basement of her captor's home.

Now, often rubbing her hands together and blotting tears away with paper tissues as her story poured out, she seemed to need to tell as many people as she could reach about her years of hell.

"I suffered from claustrophobia and I thought I was going crazy in there," said Kampusch. "I was very distraught and very angry," she told the interviewer for Austria's ORF television. That seemed an understatement, considering what Kampusch had been through.

Early in her captivity, Kampusch said, she threw water bottles at the wall in frustration and despair. The wheezing of a ventilator that pumped air into her cell was "unbearable," Kampusch said in the interview -- a 40-minute prerecorded account that gave Austrians their first glimpse of the young woman whose nightmare entranced the nation.