This Woman's Family Locked Her In A Bedroom For 25 Years, Leaving Her Emaciated And Insane
While tales of parents disapproving of who their children date are common, none compare to the woman whose mother imprisoned her for almost 25 years. In 1876, Madame Louise Monnier held her 25-year-old daughter, Blanche, captive. Mademoiselle Blanche Monnier was a young socialite from a prestigious family in Poitiers, France. Madame Monnier, with the aid of her son, confined Blanche to her room for planning to marry a poor attorney.
The Blanche Monnier abuse facts are nothing short of horrific. The lovesick woman's kin locked her away in a filthy, lightless room for 25 years, forcing the woman to survive off table scraps. While she wasn't physically beaten, the psychological torture slowly drove Blanche toward insanity. Her screams went unheard or ignored for over two decades. Authorities rescued her in 1901, but by then, the damage to Blanche Monnier's psyche was permanent.
Her Mother Locked Her Up And Told Neighbors She Was Insane
Blanche Monnier was a beautiful French socialite living in Poitiers, France, a mere 4 hours away from Paris. In 1876, when she was just 25 years old, she simply vanished from the public eye. Many found this strange - after all, society held her family in high regard, and she was looking for a potential suitor for marriage.
However, she didn't just disappear - her mother, Madame Louise Monnier, had imprisoned her. Allegedly, the neighbors knew of Blanche's imprisonment, as they often heard her screaming in her room. If anyone ever asked Madame Monnier what was going on, she claimed Blanche had gone insane. At the time, it was standard procedure to keep mentally ill family members under lock and key, so no one pressed the issue.
Blanche Lived Amongst Rats, Bugs, And Her Own Excrement
Madame Monnier did not simply keep Blanche out of the public eye; she padlocked Blanche in a dark room with sealed windows. Blanche had no interaction with any other people, save for her mother, brother, and an occasional servant who would throw her table scraps. The household kept Blanche naked and sparsely fed, and they did not permit her any sort of basic hygiene.
For half her life, Blanche laid in her bed, which is also where she ate, urinated, and defecated. She never bathed. Slowly, she became progressively more malnourished. Filth piled up around her, and this attracted an assortment of pests, including rats and bugs.
Blanche Went Insane While In CaptivityPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
25 years of solitary confinement would reduce anyone's mental capacity. When authorities rescued Blanche, they noted she was unable to speak properly and was completely delirious. The Poitier police interrogated Madame Monnier and her son, Marcel, who initially claimed Blanche was "foul, angry, overly excited, and full of rage," essentially justifying her extreme isolation.
When authorities took Blanche in, she didn’t exhibit any of those features - she was calm and happy when nurses gave her a bath. Eventually, after extended care, Blanche gained weight and could speak short phrases, but her imprisonment caused such deep trauma that she was unable to fully recover. She lived in a sanitarium in Blois, France, for 12 years until her death in 1913.
An Anonymous Letter To The Attorney General Was What Freed Her
In 1901, the Attorney General of France received an anonymous letter. The message detailed the fate of “a spinster” in the Monnier household whose family imprisoned her against her will.
Monsieur Attorney General: I have the honor to inform you of an exceptionally serious occurrence. I speak of a spinster who is locked up in Madame Monnier’s house, half starved, and living on a putrid litter for the past twenty-five years - in a word, in her own filth.
The letter prompted an investigation of the Monnier estate. At first, police were skeptical - the community regarded the well-respected Monniers as a pillar of virtue and service. Still, officers went to the Monnier household to see if the anonymous letter held water. Police were appalled when they found Blache's forced living conditions.
To this day, the identity of the letter’s writer remains anonymous. Some have theorized that it was Marcel Monnier - Blanche's brother - who wrote it, while others believe it was the partner of one of the family’s servants.
Rescuers Were So Repulsed By Blanche's Living Conditions They Could Barely Stay In The Room
When authorities searched the Monnier household and discovered the locked door which held Blanche, they had no idea the atrocity they were about to uncover. When police broke open the bedroom door, they were horrified:
We immediately gave the order to open the casement window. This was done with great difficulty, for the old dark-colored curtains fell down in a heavy shower of dust. To open the shutters, it was necessary to remove them from their right hinges. As soon as light entered the room, we noticed, in the back, lying on a bed, her head and body covered by a repulsively filthy blanket, a woman identified as Mademoiselle Blanche Monnier. The unfortunate woman was lying completely naked on a rotten straw mattress. All around her was formed a sort of crust made from excrement, fragments of meat, vegetables, fish, and rotten bread. We also saw oyster shells and bugs running across Mademoiselle Monnier’s bed. The air was so unbreathable, the odor given off by the room was so rank, that it was impossible for us to stay any longer to proceed with our investigation.
Police quickly covered the naked and frightened Blanche and transported her to a Paris hospital. At under 55 pounds, the delirious woman was barely alive. Because the windows to her room were sealed, Blanche had not been exposed to sunlight in decades and cowered when brought out into the sun. Investigators noted how Blanche had covered the walls in words and phrases related to her freedom.
She Was Kept Under Lock And Key Because Her Mother Disapproved Of Her Lover
The Monnier household only had Madame Monnier to direct it, as her husband died in 1879. This meant it was imperative for Blanche to find a suitor so that the family could continue to flourish. Eventually, Blanche did find someone - an older lawyer who lived close to her home.
Her mother vehemently disapproved of their union. The lawyer was far older and - more critically - far less successful than any of her other suitors. When Blanche declared she was going to elope, Madame Monnier gave her daughter an ultimatum. Blanche chose love, and her mother continued the imprisonment even after the lawyer died and was no longer a threat to the family's status.