Monday, October 12, 2009

Elizabeth Smart: A Woman To Look Up To

by Cassie Nelson

Everyone has someone they would want to meet given the chance. Usually it's a famous athlete, celebrity, or politician like the president of the United States. But I'd rather meet someone far stronger than athletes who are constantly battered during games; celebrities ducking omnipresent paparazzi, or a president constantly attacked by one side or the other for every decision he makes.

I would want to meet Elizabeth Smart, a woman who has endured more than most will in a lifetime. Six years after her rescue, Elizabeth holds her head high as she reveals details of her capture for the first time. She walks with poise; looking fearless and determined. She's determined not to let the horrors she endured during her captivity destroy her future. She's determined not to let the man responsible for those horrors avoid punishment. She's determined that her survival be an inspiration for women and girls similarly abducted and held, among them Jaycee Dugard.

Three years ago, Elizabeth’s abductor, Brian Mitchell, convinced a judge that he was not competent to stand trial. Last week, Elizabeth Smart testified in detail about Mitchell’s abuse and behavior during her captivity to prove he knew exactly what he was doing then and was manipulating the system now. I can’t imagine the courage it must have taken to publicly describe her experience, especially in front of her parents, who never pushed her for details. Knowing she would be confronting her abductor for the first time since her rescue on March 12, 2003, in Sandy, Utah, she did not hesitate.

Perhaps Elizabeth Smart is able to talk about her ordeal, rather than be consumed by it, because she maintained her inner dignity and belief in a better future through the worst of  her horror. Even when she was being raped as often as four times a day, Elizabeth never lost herself. She kept a diary, writing nice things about her captor in English, while scribbling her true feelings in French underneath. Not only did she refuse to give in to despair; she looked for a way to escape.
Mitchell had told her he would kill her if she tried to escape. She figured her best chance at rescue would be back in Utah and not in California, where he had taken her. Somehow, without making him suspicious, she convinced Mitchell to return to Salt Lake City. The plan worked, and she was spotted on a street outside of Salt Lake City.

Elizabeth was 14 years old when she was abducted. She is 21 now, officially an adult. Like other young  women her age, Elizabeth is preparing to begin an independent life. She plans to move to Paris soon for the 18-month mission served by many young members of the Mormon Church. The commitment to helping others sustained her through the aftermath of her abduction and now propels her forward. As Elizabeth said in an interview recently, “I want people to know that no matter what happens in their lives, there is nothing too difficult to get through.” 


Anonymous said...

The thing is, she said she convinced Mitchell to return to Utah, where she'd have a better chance at rescue, but then when confronted by her rescuers(the cops)in Utah she denied her identity for 45 minutes & reportedly told the cops "I know you think I'm that Elizabeth Smart girl who ran away but I'm not". Kind of shooting herself in the foot, isn't it? I've always believed her story, but she needs to explain things better & be consistent.

Patty said...

I can't even imagine the courage it must have taken for her to get up on the stand and tell her story.

And to you anonymous she was a child at the time. I don't think she needs to explain ANYTHING at all about how she reacted in her situation.

I am sure she was scared to death!

Anonymous said...

It is a very easy explanation. Until that monster was arrested she was still unsafe. They had previous interactions with police and they had always let them go.

Anonymous said...

It is a very easy explanation. Until that monster was arrested she was still unsafe. They had previous interactions with police and they had always let them go.

FleaStiff said...

He seemed to have had no difficulties in identifying who were drug sellers and who were policemen, yet the shrinks feel he has difficulty figuring out who is judge and who is a lawyer?

Ronni said...

Maybe Anonymous at 4:34 AM Oct 12 has never been in a situation that made him or her feel powerless. At 14, getting her abductor and rapist back to Utah was a brilliant feat, and just the phraseology of her denial is she gets her name out there, but puts it in the context of "ran away," and then denies it. Her (probably) listening abductor could not accuse her of having broken his "rules," but she got her name out there.

To question her actions at this point is ridiculous. She WAS rescued, due, in a great part, to her own efforts.

What are you thinking, Anonymous? That she WANTED to stay with Mitchell? She was 14, for heaven's sake! IMO, she acted with great aplomb.