Elizabeth Smart’s life changed in 2002. While she was innocently minding her own business at her family’s Salt Lake City home in Utah, a kidnapper abducted her. And for the next nine months, she battled against her kidnappers in an effort not only to escape their clutches but to survive the ordeal intact. When this was all happening, Smart was just fourteen-years-old hardly old enough to face such a challenge.
But Smart lived up to her name. And not only did she survive the kidnapping, but she also came out of it stronger than before. Although she needed to go through a healing process, now, years later, she wants parents to beware of three things to watch for to keep their children safe.
On that horrible night in Salt Lake City when Smart was abducted, her sister, Mary Katherine, pretended to sleep when a strange man wandered into their shared bedroom. Mary could not do anything. The man wielded a knife and threatened Elizabeth with it. Mary had no choice but to watch in horror as the man guided Elizabeth out of the house and into the street. It would become the worst situation the Smart family could ever imagine.
Later, Mary Katherine was able to identify the man. He was not so strange after all. He had done some odd jobs for the family on the property. And soon his identity was made clear. He was Brian David Mitchell.
After Mitchell took Elizabeth from her bed at knifepoint, he kept it at her back while he urged her forward into the mountains. That was where Mitchell had established a campsite with his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.
For nine months, Mitchell abused the teenage Smart. He relentlessly came at her with horrible desires, all while his wife Barzee urged on his violent tendencies. Smart could only grit her teeth and look for a way to escape. She vowed to survive, and would not give into the horrors.
Smart’s case quickly became a national issue. To think that a teenage girl had been taken out of her bedroom to be used by a man living in a camp was unthinkable. She must be found, and she was featured on America’s Most Wanted. Once her case made the show, it was only a matter of time before America united to put a stop to Mitchell’s crimes.
A biker recognized Mitchell’s mug. And before long, investigators were able to get to the bottom of the kidnapping. And Elizabeth was saved.
Now Elizabeth Smart wants other parents to know a few things to help keep their children safe. It’s been sixteen years since the crime occurred, and Elizabeth has done her best to get on with her life. She’s a role model for us all.
Smart has found true love and become a mother of two. Mitchell and his crimes did not keep her down for long.
Smart now works as a child-safety advocate. She contributes to ABC News on occasion and now used her nightmarish experience as a tool to keep other children safer.
Smart offered the following advice to parents:
Make sure your child knows that they are loved unconditionally, and make sure your child knows what unconditionally means. Make sure your child understands that no one has the right to hurt them or scare them in any way. It doesn’t matter what that person may be: family, friend, religious leader, community leader, it doesn’t matter. Should anyone hurt your child or threaten them in any way, they need to tell you.
What do you think about her three tips?