Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour, a victim’s advocate and survivor of a high-profile kidnapping, spoke out during a conference Wednesday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. During the conference, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Smart encouraged police, health care, and social workers to keep up their fight against human trafficking.
According to an earlier report by The Inquisitr, Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour was kidnapped at the age of 14 in 2002. She was reportedly kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home and held captive and was sexually assaulted over a period of nine months. During the Sioux Falls conference, she credited the police, heath care, and social workers for her return home:
“Everything you’re doing makes a difference,” said Smart. “People like you brought me back.”
While she gave credit where credit was due, Smart continued on to say that in order to further the battle against human trafficking, people need to recognize that it is a major problem:
“What is human trafficking? That is slavery. Children being sold and traded for sex or whatever, that’s slavery and it’s everywhere whether you accept it or not,” Smart said.
Keloland TV noted that while human trafficking may still be grey area for some, there have been some major improvements in the services and advocacy groups for abduction and human trafficking survivors since Smart’s abduction. Smart also recognized this by saying that she is grateful that there are “so many people who are willing to listen” and who want to help make a difference.
The report continued on to say that Smart has seen the change in services since her kidnapping experience and that she “applauds the efforts of the Dakotas” for making an effort to help other victims in every step of their recovery:
“Once they’re rescued, it’s kind of like out of mind, out of sight. So, giving that extra care and making sure their needs are met, that they have a way to settle back into society, that’s huge.”
Near the end of Smart’s address at the Sioux Falls conference, she made a statement that many officials say is a sign for hope: “I certainly consider myself a survivor. I do not think of myself as a victim.”
Elizabeth Smart added that she knows many don’t understand the full extent of human trafficking, and that it is looked at as a tragic experience for not only the victim, but their friends and family as well. She wants everyone to know that happy endings can and do exist, and with the help of professionals and the community as a whole, more happy endings can become a reality.