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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Elizabeth Smart on her abduction: 'I never let it hold me back'


In June of 2002, then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her family's home in Salt Lake
n June of 2002, then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her family's home in Salt Lake City, Utah. In March of 2003 she was found alive, 18 miles away, with presumed kidnappers Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee. She was returned to her family. In the years that followed, Smart refused to discuss the specifics of her abduction with the press, even though her ordeal captivated the nation. However, in recent weeks she has begun to open up publicly, notably at a women's conference, "Overcoming the Unimaginable," sponsored by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now 21, an upbeat-looking and -sounding Smart spoke about how she's moved on from the incident, telling the audience in video shown this morning on the Today Show that "I have never let it hold me back, and I have gone on to do everything, so far, that I have wanted to do, and I think that's so important." She added, "We all have our trials, and we all experience hard times, but I don't think we should ever let it disable us from what we want to do."

Watch the "Today" show segment (after a 15-second ad):

Smart's recent willingness to speak out is a dramatic about-face. In 2006, when repeatedly pressed to discuss her ordeal during an interview with TV host Nancy Grace, Smart responded, "To be frankly honest, I really don't appreciate you bringing all of this up."

According to testimony Smart gave during a court proceeding, Brian David Mitchell entered her bedroom after she'd been put to bed by her parents. He held a knife to her throat and threatened to murder her family if she refused to quietly leave with him. Smart said that Mitchell then took her to a cabin in the nearby woods. Wanda Ileen Barzee was waiting there to prepare her for a marriage ceremony performed by Mitchell to make Smart his wife. Smart has said that she was repeatedly raped and assaulted during her captivity, which came to an end when a couple familiar with her case through "America's Most Wanted" spotted her traveling with Mitchell and Barzee and reported her whereabouts to local authorities.

Despite everything she went through, Smart says that her faith never wavered - instead it provided her with the strength to persist: "I know that we do have angels on the other side that we don't see. We're never truly left alone in our darkest hour." (Yahoo/AF)

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