Fourteen years after she was kidnapped, sexually abused, and held in captivity for nine months, Elizabeth Smart is fighting to change the way we talk about sex, rape, and abstinence. We visited her in her Utah home to learn more about her advocacy.
"I didn't talk about being raped; I didn't talk about being sexually abused," says Elizabeth Smart, nestled into a large outdoor sofa on the sun-soaked patio of her spacious home in Park City, Utah. "It's hard to come forward. That's probably one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do: to say, 'I was raped.'"
It's been 14 years since Elizabeth Smart, then 14 years old, was kidnapped from the bedroom she shared with her younger sister in their childhood home, in the posh Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Fourteen years since she was awakened by a familiar-seeming stranger, with cold metal pressed to her neck and the following words: "I have a knife at your neck. Don't say a word. Get out of bed and come with me." Fourteen years since she was led away into the night, forced to hike miles up into the mountains behind her home, not to be seen again until just over nine months later, when an alert citizen recognized the face of her captor, Brian David Mitchell, from a recently aired segment of the television show America's Most Wanted and made the 911 call that would end her "nine months of hell."