Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Utah home in the summer of 2002 when she was 14 years old and held captive for nine grueling months, is chronicling her ordeal in a new Lifetime movie called “I Am Elizabeth Smart.”
Smart was mercilessly starved, drugged and raped by her captors. She is now talking about her nightmarish kidnapping ahead of the movie’s debut. In an interview with Fox News, she said she was initially unsure if she wanted to relive those traumatic events, but she ultimately came to the belief that it is important for the public to grasp what her experiences were like.
I’d come far enough in my healing that I felt like I could share some of the darkest, deepest details of what happened to me, in hopes that people watching will have a greater understanding for what it’s like to be raped, to be kidnapped, to go through something so traumatic that you never want to talk about it again, so … they can be compassionate [to other victims], that they can be understanding.
Smart — now 30, married and a mother to two small children — also recently completed a two-part special for A&E called “Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography.” She wants others to be exposed to how sexual violence impacts women and children, and how family and friends can support those who have been violated.
Smart also discussed her views on religion in the interview; she is a follower of the Mormon faith, but the husband and wife who abducted her were religious fanatics. She said she is “wary” of people who try to justify their actions in the name of religion
“I certainly have my guard put up. But for me, religion has always been something beautiful and something sacred, and something that I’ve always drawn a great deal of comfort from,” Smart said.
“Having my captors try to justify everything they did through religion, in my opinion — that’s just one of the grossest forms of abuse and manipulation a person can take,” she explained. “Because religion is supposed to be something that you find peace in, something that you find solace in, something that helps you keep going when all the odds seem stacked against you.”
Even while her captors misused their religion, Smart said her faith and her family pulled her through the ordeal.
“Shortly after being kidnapped and raped for the first time, I realized that my captors could take just about everything from me,” Smart said. “My family, my life — everything. But they couldn’t change the fact that my parents would always love me, my family would always love me. Maybe nobody else ever would, but my family would.”
You can see “I Am Elizabeth Smart” on Lifetime on Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. EST.