ON THIS DAY: August 23

ON THIS DAY IN TEENAGE HISTORY (2006), eighteen-year-old Austrian Natascha Kampusch escaped from kidnapper Wolfgang Priklopil. Kampusch had originally been adducted at age 10 and spent most of her remaining childhood locked in a 50-square foot cellar prison. While cleaning the inside of Priklopil’s car on August 23, Kampusch heard a phone ring and her abductor answer it. While he was distracted, she made a dash for the home of a neighbor, who called the police. Priklopil, aware that police would be coming to arrest him, committed suicide by stepping in front of a train.

Kampusch described the horrors of living like a tortured animal in a memoir titled 3,096 Days that was published in 2010. A TIME magazine story from that year marveled how the kidnapping victim “emerged a remarkably confident and self-assured young woman.” Kampusch said she bore no ill will toward her kidnapper. “I forgave him instantly. Had I not forgiven him, I would have been filled with so much hatred and negative feelings that I couldn’t have survived it all.”

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