Elizabeth Smart Says Her Mother’s Love Was Key To Survival

Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped at age 14 and held captive, chained and raped, for nine months before escaping, has dedicated her life to activism following her ordeal. In 2006, she spoke to Congress in support of sexual predator legislation and the AMBER Alert system, and spoke publicly after the signing of the Adam Walsh Act. In 2011, she created her own organization, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which focuses on the support of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and aims to educate children about violent and sexual crimes.

There is no doubt that Elizabeth Smart is a young woman who, after undergoing a terrifying ordeal, has channeled her horrific experience into a passion for helping and empowering children and women.

Smart spoke to a group of about 1,600 people Thursday, at the YWCA of Rochester’s 2014 Empowering Women Luncheon, about how she once felt worthless and how she managed to grow and climb out of her depression.

Smart recounted to her audience the words her mother told her upon her return.

“What these people have done to you is terrible and there aren’t words strong enough to describe how wicked and evil these people are,” Smart said her mother told her. “But the best punishment you could ever give them is to be happy. Move forward with your life and follow your dreams, do exactly what you want to do because by feeling sorry for yourself and by dwelling in the past… that’s only allowing these people to steal more of your life away from you and they don’t deserve a single second more.”

Elizabeth seems to have taken her mother’s words to heart. Although she has no problem freely speaking about the nine months she was forced to spend with her captors, David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, describing the repeated rapes, the withholding of food, the manipulation and other abuse, Smart makes it clear that those are not the things which define her life.

And during her speech on Thursday, Smart gave insight into how she, as a young, terrified girl, survived the ordeal that would have broken many.

“I remember just sitting down… I felt like what was the point in even trying any more… I should just give up because I was now worthless, I was chained up… and I remember my mom telling me that she would always love me, no matter what. I didn’t matter where I went or the people I hung out with or the choices I made, she would always love me. It doesn’t mean she would always agree with me or that my decisions would always make her happy but that she would always love me… I remember that giving me so much hope and deciding that was worth surviving for, that was worth living for. Maybe nobody else would ever accept me back or maybe nobody else would want anything to do with me ever again. But that was enough,” said Smart in her speech to the YWCA.

A mother’s love can certainly be a powerful thing, and Elizabeth Smart is proof of that.

[Image via ABC News]

Share this article: Elizabeth Smart Says Her Mother’s Love Was Key To Survival
More from Inquisitr