We saw a glimpse of Elizabeth Smart and her story on the Lifetime special ‘Elizabeth Smart: Finding Justice,’ a companion documentary to go along with the movie ‘A Murder to Remember.’ But, more importantly, she captured our attention in the way she carried herself and spoke to Candra Torres, the survivor of Thomas Brown and a fellow kidnapping victim like her. Elizabeth’s story is heart-wrenching, yes, but it is also inspiring and heartwarming. Intrigued? Read on to find out what we mean.
Who Is Elizabeth Smart?
Born on November 3, 1987, Elizabeth Ann Smart is the daughter of Edward and Lois Smart. She was raised in a family that was a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with four brothers and one sister- her being the second eldest of them all. Unfortunately, the first time she gained public attention was when she was 14; after she was abducted at knife-point from her bedroom in her family’s house in the Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah.
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With the miraculous escape and recovery of Jayme Closs I want her to know that it is possible to be happy again. To go through everything she has gone through, and to have lost her parents on top of it all I hope she feels the love and support of the nation. I also hope that as time passes as she is questioned in the future by people who will never understand what it is like to be a captive and to be kidnapped she never questions herself. She made all the right decisions. I have often been asked in regards to my own story questions like, “why didn’t you run? Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you escape?” And I always felt highly defensive about those questions because whenever a person started with the words “why didn’t you…” it felt like they were saying “you should have…” I did everything I had to to survive, and I don’t regret any choice I made. I pray Jayme never feels those feelings or gets asked those kinds of questions, but if she does I hope she remembers she is a hero, she is strong, she did nothing wrong, she is a survivor, and I will be cheering her on every step she takes!!! I also hope that this is a reminder to everyone that there are still thousands of missing children who deserve the chance of life and none of us should ever stop looking!!!!#novictimblaming #survivor #hope #missingchild #neverstop
For the next 9 months, while her family and the authorities were looking for her, she was kept hidden, captive, by Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. Elizabeth was moved to several times to different areas over the months, but the one thing that remained constant was how she was treated. She was raped on a daily basis, left tied up, forced to drink alcohol and take drugs, all the while being starved to the point where she didn’t have enough energy for resistance. She was also repeatedly threatened with death as a reminder of what would happen to her if she attempted to escape.
Fortunately, she was rescued by police officers on March 12, 2003, on a public street in Sandy, Utah, 18 miles from her home, after witnesses recognized her companions as the abductors whom they had seen on TV. Her abduction and rescue were widely reported, and she even became the subject of a made-for-TV movie titled ‘The Elizabeth Smart Story,’ along with various other films and non-fiction books.
Where Is Elizabeth Smart Now?
After Elizabeth left the crutches of the monsters who held her captive and abused her for months, she started working as a child safety activist, a missing persons advocate, and a journalist. In 2006, she went before the United States Congress to support the AMBER Alert system (a child abduction alert system) and the sexual predator legislation. And, after that, she began working to make her story known so that other survivors would not feel so alone. In 2011, she established the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, with the aim of supporting the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and to educate the younger generation about violence and sex crimes. She and her foundation are now also working to fight against human trafficking.
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I’m so grateful for the opportunity to speak at the “crimes against women conference.” I never cease to be amazed by the dedication, drive, and humanity so many show towards to victims. That being said it is never easy coming forward, there will always be those who are insensitive or maybe don’t even believe you. I want to take this opportunity to tell you, you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be loved, and there is nothing anyone else can do to you that make you less of a person or decrease your value as a human being. It does not matter whether you are kidnapped from your bed in the middle of the night and raped or have been in a relationship and your partner raped you it is NEVER your fault, it is a crime, and you are not alone!!! Please don’t give up, peace, happiness, and healing are all possible. I don’t think there is anything more resilient than the human spirit, believe in yourself!!💜 #survivor #nevergiveup #miracleshappen #hope
Elizabeth has now become a journalist for ABC News and was even a correspondent for the true-crime show ‘Crime Watch Daily.’ Over the years, she has also written two books detailing her experiences: “My Story” (2013) and “Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up” (2018).
In 2011, Elizabeth moved from her hometown in Utah to Paris to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there. While serving in the Paris Mission, she met Matthew Gilmour, a Scotland native, and fell in love. A year later, on February 18, 2012, the couple tied the knot in a private ceremony in the Laie Hawaii Temple. Currently, the Gilmour’s are proud parents to 3 adorable children: Chloé (February 2015), James (April 2017), and Olivia (November 2018). Elizabeth has credited her religious beliefs in helping her heal.
Read More: Where Are Brian and Wanda Now?