Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping made headlines around the world. In 2002, the then fourteen-year-old was abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elizabeth was rescued nine months later. By 2010, her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, were found guilty of the abduction.
Now, 30-year-old Elizabeth Ann Smart-Gilmour is an American child safety activist. Her case has been turned into a book and a made-for-television movie. This week, Elizabeth participated in an online Q&A, answering questions about her abduction, her life now, and misconceptions about her case.
There are some misconceptions about Elizabeth's abduction she wants to make people aware of. "I couldn't just run away. I couldn’t just scream out. Everything I did, I did to survive," she says on the Reddit thread. "I never suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. I never identified with my captors or cared about them. Every decision was made with survival in mind."
The activist notes that she does not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, though she does have flashbacks of that horrific time. "Yes, there were lots of times I thought, 'This is, it I’m going to die,' whether it be directly at the hands of my captors or through consequences of their actions. It was hard to believe it was over until I was in my dad’s arms being hugged at the police station."
Steps for protecting your children.
As part of her role as a children's safety advocate, Elizabeth has shared three steps parents can take to help protect their children.
— Make sure your child knows that they are loved unconditionally, and make sure your child knows what the term "unconditionally" means.
— Make sure your child understands that no one has the right to hurt them or scare them in any way. It doesn’t matter who that person is — family, friend, religious leader, community leader — it doesn’t matter.
— Should anyone hurt your child or threaten them in any way, they need to tell you.
What her life is like today.
"The hardest part about rejoining society was realizing that I would never go back to being the old me," Elizabeth explains.
Finally, there are a few things Elizabeth, wife and mother of two, wants to tell the world that no one has asked. "My favorite movie is Eddie The Eagle, I can eat Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia by the pint, and my toughest boss is my two-year-old daughter."
We look forward to Elizabeth continuing to use her platform to help promote safety and security for children in America. She has clearly grown into one strong and amazing woman.
This post was written by Holly Royce. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.