• Sweden's news in English

Swede stays crazy for Norway’s mass killer

AFP/The Local · 19 Aug 2015, 08:50

Published: 19 Aug 2015 08:38 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Aug 2015 08:50 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

She calls him by his first name, sends him letters every week, promises to wait for him. It could be any love story but Victoria's heart belongs to a mass murderer: Anders Behring Breivik.

Breivik, like many other notorious killers, has his share of admirers, a phenomenon that can be accompanied by sexual attraction and in which case even has a term: hybristophilia.

"I really wouldn't want to live a life without him," says "Victoria", who does not want her real name published.

A young Swedish woman in her 20s, she comes off as distant and standoffish, ignoring her fresh cup of coffee in a Stockholm hotel lobby, but her voice cracks when she talks about her "dearest Anders".

From a small town in Sweden, she is doing everything she can to obtain an easing of Breivik's prison conditions: he has spent the past four years in isolation at a high-security penitentiary.

He is currently serving a 21-year sentence, which can be extended if he is still considered a danger to society.

Breivik killed 77 people on July 22nd, 2011, when he set off a bomb near the government offices in Oslo and then opened fire on a Labour youth summer camp on a small island just outside the capital.

For Victoria, Breivik's isolation amounts to "torture".

"I care even more about him now that he is in such a vulnerable situation,” she says.

Unemployed because of health issues, she writes to him to help boost his morale -- so far more than 150 letters -- or sends him small gifts, including a dark blue tie he occasionally wore during his trial.

In return she has received two letters from him -- the others having been blocked by prison officials tasked with censoring his mail.

Breivik used a specially made soft pen to write notes during his trial. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP/TT

It's not easy to define her relationship with Breivik, a man she has never met since all of her requests to visit him have been denied.

She describes him as both her "old friend" and a protective "brotherfigure", but admits that she finds him attractive and "there were romantic interests, at first, at least from my part."

She says their first contact dates back to 2007 when they met through an online game. He cut off ties with her two years later, most likely to concentrate on planning his attacks.

But in early 2012, Victoria reconnected with the man who by then had become the most hated person in Norway.

And she is not alone.

The weekly Morgenbladet reported last year that Breivik receives "at least” 800 letters a year, many of them from female admirers. During his 2012 trial, it emerged that a 16-year-old girl had asked him to marry her.

Hybristophilia is a term used by criminologists -- but not scientists -- to describe a sexual attraction to violent killers in prison, who often receive racy love letters or sexy undergarments from their fans.

Also known as the "Bonnie and Clyde syndrome", it has existed throughout time and across borders.

Josef Fritzl of Austria, who held his daughter captive and raped her repeatedly for 25 years, and American killer Charles Manson also have their own fan clubs.

Austrian rapist Josef Fritzl also has women writing to him. Photo: Robert Jaeger/TT

According to Sheila Isenberg, an American author who interviewed 30 women for her book "Women Who Love Men Who Kill", these admirers often have a history of sexual abuse.

"It's a chance for a woman to be in control (the man is behind bars for life and has no control over anything), when previously she had been abused by her father (or) other men," she explained in an interview with the AFP news agency.

"Also, it is romance with a capital R: exciting, thrilling, (a) never-ending roller coaster. Nothing humdrum or ordinary about these relationships."

There is, however, no scientific evidence to support the widespread belief that these women feel they are on a mission to help the killer get on the right track in life, said Amanda Vicary, an assistant professor of psychology at Wesleyan University in the United States.

"Some women tend to be drawn to famous men -- it's possible that the reason for some women's attraction to men who have done horrible things is not so much what they've done, but the fame they have received from their acts," she said.

Story continues below…

Victoria, meanwhile, says she is not a fame-seeker.

Her involvement with Breivik has already cost her her relationship with her sister, who, upon learning of her ties to him, told her: "You're dead to me."

And she has distanced herself from her friends.

She admits to "more or less" sharing Breivik's Islamophobic ideology, but says she is opposed to violence.

So how can she love a man who coldly gunned down dozens of terrified teenagers, some of whom begged him to spare their lives?

"I guess I had to separate Anders from Breivik really. I think of Anders as my old friend and Breivik as the person who did all those things."

The years go by, and yet, she refuses to give up on him.

"I miss him more and more every day. I guess my feelings have got a bit stronger.”

By Pierre-Henry Deshayes

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Swedish PM visits Iraq for talks on Isis
Stefan Löfven (left) and Haider al-Abadi (right). Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Stefan Löfven will discuss the offensive on Mosul with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Swedish photographer shot near Mosul
Hansen was being operated on in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday. Photo: Nora Lorek/ TT

Paul Hansen, a photographer working for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, has sustained light injuries after being hit by what appears to be a sniper while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Sweden wants emission- free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available