Elizabeth Smart Says Pornography Made Her Life In Captivity Worse

Elizabeth Smart, the young woman who was kidnapped at the age of 14 but was miraculously rescued nine months later, has released a video regarding pornography and how it affected her captivity, saying that it “made my living hell worse.” The video was made by the organization Fight the New Drug, an anti-porn non-profit group, and was posted on YouTube over the weekend.

In the video, which can be difficult to listen to given what Elizabeth Smart has gone through, she details the role pornography played during her nine horrific months in captivity. She begins with the story of how she was abducted, only referring to Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, the couple who kidnapped her, as her captors.

At one point in the video Ms. Smart says that every time she thought she had hit rock bottom, her captor would find a new way to make her hell worse. She describes a time when she was forced to drink alcohol to the point that she threw up and passed out. When she woke the next morning, she was still covered in vomit, and she thought that was the lowest she could get.

In a strong but emotional voice, Elizabeth Smart goes on to describe the first time her captor brought a pornographic magazine back to the tent and how excited he was about the contents. She describes it as “hardcore” and says that he would just sit and stare at it. The magazines and the images that Mitchell was staring at led him to rape Ms. Smart more than he already did.

Simply looking at the pornography wasn’t enough for her captor, neither was having sex with his wife, and she says that she believes the pornography led him to going out and kidnapping her. Ms. Smart does go on to say that she is not saying he would not have kidnapped her were it not for the pornography, but that it made her living hell worse.

Celebration for Elizabeth Smart
The video is not all pain and hurt. Elizabeth Smart reveals the piece of advice that her mother gave her the morning after she was rescued and she credits that advice for helping her become who she is today. Her mother told her that the best punishment she could ever give the people that kidnapped her was to be happy. Ms. Smart talks about how she’s gone on to become an advocate for abuse prevention and an advocate against pornography because she has witnessed first hand how damaging it is.

Elizabeth Smart became a household name when she was kidnapped out of her bed on June 5, 2002, at the age of 14, by Brian David Mitchell. She was taken to a remote area where Mitchell’s wife was waiting and was often chained to a tree. Mitchell and Barzee called themselves polygamists and said that Smart was now Mitchell’s wife. During her time in captivity she was sexually assaulted, forced to consume alcohol and marijuana and often starved, according to Biography. Her younger sister Mary Katherine was in the room when Smart was kidnapped, and she pretended to be asleep out of fear. Several months later she remembered that the kidnapper looked like a man that had done work on their home and told her parents. Police figured out who the man was and got his picture out to the media.

Ms. Smart was rescued on March 12, 2003, after spending nine months in captivity. An episode of America’s Most Wanted featured her story and a picture of Mitchell and a passerby recognized him and alerted authorities. Barzee pled guilty to assisting with the kidnapping and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Mitchell was sentenced to two life terms in prison for kidnapping and sexual assault.

Her story did not end with Mitchell and Barzee’s sentencing. Elizabeth Smart has gone on to be a strong advocate for children, she lobbies for legislation and heads up her own foundation. TheNew Yorker reports that Ms. Smart gives upwards of 80 speeches a year and delivers a strong message.

“Never be afraid to speak out. Never be afraid to live your life. Never let your past dictate your future.”

Elizabeth Smart married Matthew Gilmour, a native of Scotland, who she met while serving a mission in Paris, in 2012, and the couple welcomed their first child in 2015.

[Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]