Past victim of abduction Elizabeth Smart appeared on NBC’s TODAY to give advice to a California woman recently rescued from decade-long captivity. Smart was kidnapped at the age of 14 in 2002, sexually assaulted, and held captive for nine months. Elizabeth’s statement to the rescued woman, whose name has not yet been released, was to allow herself time to heal. Smart said in the interview:
“If you don’t feel like sharing your story yet, you don’t need to. We will still be here if, and when, you decide to share your story. Take all the time you need to find healing, to find happiness, to find that new normal in your life, to move forward. Take all the time you need.”
You can watch the entire interview with Elizabeth Smart here:
The California woman was abducted when she was 15 years old and forced to marry her kidnapper. She was recently reunited with her mother, who encouraged her daughter to go to the authorities about the crime. According to the Associated Press, Elizabeth Smart asked people not to question the woman’s decision not to escape sooner. Smart claims that people can not possible understand what victims like the woman from California are going through or the fear that they feel.
“It’s so easy for us to be curious and think, ‘Why didn’t you escape? Why didn’t you run away?’ but it’s really important that we don’t ask that question because all the survivor hears is, ‘You should have done something,’ and ‘It’s your fault you were gone so long,’ and that’s what they do not need to be hearing right now.”
Smart also added that the rescue of the woman should give the public hope that more victims will be found.
A 41-year-old man named Isidro Garcia was arrested and accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old girl by the Santa Ana Police Department.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Elizabeth Smart has her own foundation dedicated to stopping abductions and abuse called the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. Smart’s website has the following statement:
“Too many families experience the nightmare of having a child go missing. I know what it is like to be that child. I know what it is like to think that one false move may lead to not only your own death but the death of family members as well. Nobody can ever blame a child for their actions when they are being threatened, bullied, forced, or coerced into doing something unthinkable.”
Elizabeth Smart has opened up about her experience in the past and also written a book about her abduction entitled My Story.