** spoiler alert ** Cycling to school one morning, in broad daylight on a normal residential street, Sabine Dardenne was kidnapped, imprisoned, raped and starved for 80 days. Several years later, this is her account of what happened, the lies her capturer told her, what she thought and how she behaved. If you're looking for prurient details, try a sensationalist newspaper report. What this book does is showcase not just how terrible the crimes were, but more exceptionally, the thought processes of the victim herself and how she was deceived.
Marc Dutroux managed to persuade her that the kidnapping was to punish her father, a former policeman, for something he had done to a criminal ringleader and that he refused to pay her ransom because it was too much and she had been badly behaved. What's more, Dutroux described himself as her saviour who was protecting her from the evil ringleader who would kill her if she tried to escape. Apart from the fact she was small and physically incapable of escaping, she was kept underfed and was under immense psychological pressure.
Luckily for her, she was eventually discovered because he had kidnapped another girl - supposedly to keep her company - and the hiding place was revealed during the search. Eventually it was revealed that he had kidnapped several other girls, all of whom had been imprisoned and murdered or left to die. Sabine probably survived because she was small and weak enough to appeal to Dutroux, strong enough to withstand the privations, old enough to cope physically with the abuse, but more importantly, mentally strong enough to not to just give up. Possibly the fact that she sometimes talked back to him made him think of her as a real person, not just another of his victims. Maybe that's what kept her alive so long.
After her ordeal, she refused psychological help. That may be one of the things that helped her not to define her entire life and live it in the role of a victim. Of course she bears the scars, but it seems to have made her stronger. The book was written about ten years later. I hope she still feels as strong as she did when it was published and is not haunted by those 80 days.