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.
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.”