Girl in the Basement
Source: Lifetime

Spoiler Alert: Lifetime's 'Girl in the Basement' Is Based on a True Story

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Apr. 1 2021, Updated 11:34 a.m. ET

As of late, Lifetime has been putting a lot of focus on its Ripped From the Headlines series, and that momentum isn't stopping anytime soon. Their latest movie, Girl in the Basement, is a hair-raising tale of a diabolical father who imprisons his daughter in their basement for a quarter-century. 

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Although the events that happen within Lifetime's films are often somewhat dramatized, at its core, is Girl in the Basement a real story? And if so, what exactly is that story? Here's a breakdown of all the known details.

girl in basement real
Source: lifetime
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Despite television dramatization, the real story behind 'Girl in the Basement' is as chilling as can be.

Lifetime’s Girl in the Basement focuses on the tragic story of Sara (played by Stefanie Scott), who is taken captive in their family basement by her father, Don (Judd Nelson). Despite lying to his wife, Irene (Joely Fisher), and claiming that Sara ran away, he holds her captive in the basement for the next two decades, torturing and sexually assaulting her.

Sara gives birth to several children along the way, a snag for Don. To work through this, he takes their youngest up to Irene to raise together, convincing her that Sara sent the baby from wherever she ran off to. 

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girl in the basement lifetime
Source: Lifetime

Eventually, Sara is able to escape and she takes to the press with her story. The film closes on her family having to come to terms with what Don has covertly perpetrated over the years. The wild part of all of this? Lifetime's depiction isn't even that far off at all from what actually went down.

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The true story the movie is based on is just as twisted.

Based on the true story of Elisabeth Fritzl, Girl in the Basement offers a take on the young Austrian's tragic struggle to escape captivity. As reported by Oxygen, Elisabeth was held captive by her father from 1984 to 2008, after being drugged with ether and handcuffed in their basement. 

He forced the young girl to write a letter to her mother saying she ran away to cover her tracks. On top of it all, he proceeded to sexually assault her almost every day, which left her pregnant seven times. 

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Just as in the film rendition, Elisabeth's father attempted to raise the children upstairs with his wife, claiming their daughter had sent the babies to be cared for. Things remained like this for a while, until April 19, 2008. When Elisabeth's eldest child lost consciousness in the basement, she finally emerged to take her to the hospital. This public outing raised questions and soon enough the entire situation was brought to light.

Nowadays, Elisabeth has changed her name and relocated to an unidentified small town in Austria with her children, per Mirror. Overcoming the trauma those years brought on has understandably been a lot for her. Now, their new home is seemingly under security, and she has even reportedly moved on romantically with a longtime bodyguard.

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