Elizabeth Smart was at the center of a historic moment in U.S. television history when she managed to bring together six survivors of some of the country’s most famous kidnappings.
Smart was abducted herself, and was held captive for nine months when she was only 14 years old. She recently decided to join forces with other women who had been through the same or similar experience, so that they could offer their support and advice to teenager Jayme Closs. The 13-year-old famously escaped her abductor this January, after having been held against her will for 88 days by Jake Patterson, 21. Back in October, Patterson murdered the teen’s parents in the middle of the night. He then took her away from her Wisconsin home, only to hold her captive in a secluded cabin for nearly three months.
As reported by The Daily Mail, the best-selling author said in the trailer of her new Lifetime show, Smart Justice: The Jayme Closs Case, that as a fellow survivor, she understood what Closs was experiencing. Smart decided to help Closs “move forward” with her life.
“I remember hearing the news and thinking, ‘She did it! Another one of us got away,'” Smart said, adding that there are very few people who have been through the same experience, and that they needed to “stick together to help Jayme.”
“When I came home, my parents were waiting for me. But that didn’t happen for Jayme. Nothing prepares you for being kidnapped, and nothing prepares you for life after.”
All six women that united for the new show know exactly what it’s like to become famous for such a traumatic experience. Katie Beers was just 10 when she was kidnapped by a family friend in 1992, then held against her will in a coffin-sized underground bunker for over two weeks. Gina DeJesus was 14 years old when Ariel Castro abducted her and kept her locked in his Cleveland home for nine years. She was kept captive alongside Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry. They were rescued in 2013, when Berry managed to flee and ask for help.
Sarah Maynard shares a similar story to Jayme’s — she was 13 when she witnessed her mother and brother being brutally murdered. Maynard was then bound up in a basement dungeon for four days, during which time she was assaulted. Alicia Kozakiewicz was also kidnapped at the age of 13, by a 38-year-old online predator who sexually assaulted and tortured her in a basement dungeon for four days straight — live-streaming the whole thing on the internet.
Kara Robinson was abducted by a serial killer when she was 15, but she managed to escape in the middle of the night as he slept. The most recent survivor, Denise Huskins, was kidnapped and held for ransom for two days, during which time she was also sexually assaulted. On top of that traumatic experience, Denise also had to deal with the fact that police initially believed her case to be a hoax.
“You’ve heard the news reports about Jayme, but you’re going to hear it as you’ve never heard before. Through our eyes. For the first time ever, these amazing survivors are coming together. We want Jayme to know she is one of us,” Smart said of this newest effort.