Ep. 279 – Elizabeth Smart: How She Endured Tragedy, Survived and Created Her New Normal

Elizabeth smart

I was really nervous for this podcast.

Elizabeth Smart has been through so much trauma. And I’m sure everyone says that to her. Was she sick of hearing that after all these years?

I wanted to learn how she survived. The kidnapper came through her window, held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her. He said it was religion… God, that made him do it. But she saw through them and their evil.

Elizabeth said, “From a very early age, my parents said, ‘You’ll know a person by their actions. If they’re a good person, they’ll be doing good things. If they’re a bad person, they’ll be doing bad things.’ So despite the fact that my captors constantly said, ‘God has commanded us to do this. We don’t want to do this, but we have to,’ it was always pretty easy for me to separate what they said from actual faith because they were hurting me.” 

I asked her about escape… and how she rebuilt her life back. She was just fourteen when she was kidnapped.

Now she’s an advocate. She started by going to Washington with her dad. They spoke to congressmen about the “Amber Alert”  we all get on our phones when someone is kidnapped. Now she has a two-part movie series on A&E called “Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography” and a new movie coming out on Lifetime called “I Am Elizabeth Smart.” These movies help us discuss a terrible issue. 

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1 in every 4 women are sexually abused. And one in six men are sexually abused, too. “I can talk statistics,” she said. “But for me, personally, those numbers did not sink in until I started meeting them and they started coming forward and saying, ‘Elizabeth, I’ve never told anyone this before, but when I was your age…”

I think that’s what struck me the most about Elizabeth. Everyday she focused on the tiniest things to be grateful for. Even in the worst moments she never forgot that gratitude is often the key to meaning.  

This podcast is not about the horrific details of Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping. It’s about the endurance of a survivor.

This is her story.

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  • Terre Tulsiak

    Thank you for sharing stories like this, that some of your viewers and readers would not otherwise be exposed to at a level to interest them.

  • Lil Peck

    Great interview, James. Apparently, Elizabeth’s resiliency has its roots in the unconditional love she received from her parents. I am impressed by her willingness to be so frank and open about her experience. What an intelligent and well spoken young woman.