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Is ‘Girl in the Basement’ Actually Based On Real-Life Events?

girl in the basement
Lifetime has been focusing a lot of attention on its Ripped From the Headlines series recently, and that trend isn't going away anytime soon. Girl in the Basement, their most recent film, is a chilling tale of a deranged father who imprisons his daughter in his Basement for a quarter-century.
Is Girl in the Basement an accurate tale, even though the events shown in Lifetime's films are frequently dramatized? And, assuming that's the case, what precisely is the story? Here's a list of everything we know so far.

The Fritzl case made headlines in 2008 when a woman called Elisabeth Fritzl informed Austrian police officials that her father, Josef Fritzl, had held her hostage for 24 years.

When she was held hostage in a hidden place in the Basement of their family house, Josef used to attack her, sexually abuse her, and even rape her on several occasions.

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What's There in the Movie?

Girl in the Basement is a Lifetime drama about Sara (Stefanie Scott), who is kidnapped and held hostage in her family's Basement by her father, Don (Judd Nelson).
Despite lying to his wife, Irene (Joely Fisher), and claiming Sara ran away, he tortures and sexually assaults her in the Basement for the next two decades.
Sara has multiple children along the road, which is a stumbling block for Don. To get over this, he gives their youngest child to Irene to raise with her, assuring her that Sara sent the child from wherever she fled away.
Sara eventually can flee, and she tells her experience to the press. The story ends with her family coming to terms with what Don had done behind her back over the years.
What's the most bizarre aspect of it all? The portrayal of Lifetime isn't that far off from what happened.

Is It Based on a Real-Life Story?

Fritzl enticed Elisabeth into the Basement of the family home on August 28, 1984, after she turned 18, by stating he needed help transporting a door. This was the final item that Fritzl required to shut the cell where Elisabeth was being held, hostage.

After holding the door in place as Fritzl fitted it into the frame, he put his daughter into the chamber while holding an ether-soaked cloth over her face until she was unconscious.

Rosemarie filed a missing person report after Elisabeth vanished. Fritzl turned over a letter to the police over a month later, the first of several that he had compelled Elisabeth to write while in custody.

According to the letter, Elisabeth was bored living with her family and staying with a friend, which was postmarked Braunau. She urged her parents not to hunt for her, or she would leave the country. Fritzl admitted to investigators that she had joined a religious cult.

Fritzl brought food and other supplies to Elisabeth in the concealed room virtually every day for the following 24 years, or at least three times a week. He acknowledged repeatedly rapping her after his arrest. During her imprisonment, Elisabeth gave birth to seven children.

One child died soon after delivery, while three others—Lisa, Monika, and Alexander—were taken from the cellar as newborns to live with Fritzl and his wife. They had been authorized as foster parents by local social services.

According to officials, Fritzl “very credibly” detailed how three of his baby grandsons were up in his doorway. Social workers came to see the family regularly.

Fritzl warned Elisabeth and the three remaining children (Kerstin, Stefan, and Felix) that they would be gassed if they tried to flee.

Investigators decided that the threat was a ruse to scare the victims since there was no gas supply in the Basement.

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After his arrest, he warned them that they would be electrocuted and killed if they tampered with the cellar door.

What After He Was Arrested?

Fritzl stated after his arrest that his actions toward his daughter were not rape but rather voluntary. Mayer transmitted excerpts from his client's meeting minutes to the Austrian weekly News for publication.

Fritzl said in his remarks that he “always knew what I was doing was not proper, that I must have been crazy to do such a thing, yet it became a routine occurrence to lead a second life in the basement of my house for the entire 24 years.”

“I am not the beast the media portray me out to be,” Fritzl said of his treatment of his family, which included his wife. He stated that he carried flowers for Elisabeth and books and toys for the children inside the “bunker,” as he described it and that he frequently watched films with the children and ate meals with Elisabeth and the children.

After Elisabeth “did not comply with any norms anymore” as a teenager, Fritzl planned to confine her. “That's why I had to do something; I had to establish a location where I could keep Elisabeth away from the outside world, if necessary by force.”

He said that the Nazi era's emphasis on discipline, which he lived through until age 10, shaped his ideas on decency and good behavior.

In an editorial, the top editors of News magazine predicted that Fritzl's comments would be the foundation for his lawyer's defense approach. Critics speculated that his remark was a ruse to prepare an insanity defense.

Fritzl initially regarded his mother as “the finest woman in the world” and “as tough as it was required” while reflecting on his youth. Later, he voiced his disapproval of his mother, claiming, “She used to thrash me and punch me until I was covered in blood on the floor.

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It made me feel wholly embarrassed and powerless. My mother was a servant who worked hard her entire life; I never had a kiss from her, nor was I hugged, despite my desire for it – I wanted her to be kind to me.”

Wrapping Up

Elisabeth first saw sunlight after being held hostage by her father for 24 years when she went to the hospital to see one of her children, who required immediate medical attention.

She was rescued by police officers, who immediately took her to the state care center. In a small hamlet in Northern Austria, Elisabeth received therapy.

Because of the accumulated trauma she has undergone for years, psychologists who assessed her recommended that she need lifetime counseling. Elisabeth was renamed and given a new identity.

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