TODAY   |  October 04, 2013

Elizabeth Smart: I felt ‘broken beyond repair’

Ten years ago, Elizabeth Smart was rescued after a 9-month kidnapping ordeal during which she was chained in the woods and repeatedly raped by her captors. She tells NBC News special correspondent Meredith Vieira that the experience “shattered” her.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> smart's kidnapping ordeal captivated the country more than a decade ago and now she is opening up about the experience and just how she survived. her new book is called my story. meredith vieira talked to her exclusively. nice to see you.

>> you too, willie. elizabeth smart was 14 years old when she was taken at knife point from her bedroom in utah. her kidnapper forced her to climb up the mountainside behind her home for hours before leading her into a remote camp and tent. what happened next would shatter a young girl 's innocent world .

>> oh my gosh. this is it.

>> this is it.

>> what was here when you got here?

>> right where we're standing there were tarps laid out on the ground and then right here would have been where the tent was set up.

>> what was this place? elizabeth 's first chilling clue came from behind the trees.

>> and out of this area walked a woman. she had on long linen robes.

>> reporter: then the strange woman lead her into a tent ordering her to undress.

>> i'm begging and crying and just so scared.

>> reporter: elizabeth knew something awful was about to happen.

>> and then he came into the tent.

>> yes.

>> reporter: as elizabeth sobbed her kidnapper began performing some kind of marriage ceremony.

>> i remember thinking i know what comes after a wedding and that cannot happen to me. that cannot happen.

>> reporter: it didn't seem real. just a few hours earlier she had been home, safe in her bed. now, after a climb at knife point, she was trapped somewhere high on a mountain.

>> i remember him forcing me on to the ground, fighting the whole way. and when he was finished, he stood up and i was left alone feeling absolutely broken, absolutely shattered. i was broken beyond repair.

>> you were worthless.

>> i was going to be thrown away.

>> reporter: later he chained her to a tree like a wild animal . days, weeks, then months of abuse followed.

>> was there a point, elizabeth , where you shutdown your emotions.

>> there was a point that i stopped crying and it's not because i didn't feel pain anymore. not because i didn't feel sorrow. it was just to keep going. it was just to survive. to live.

>> reporter: she was only 14. but somehow, she summoned a remarkable determination to survive turning terror into triumph and even finding the courage to outwit her captors.

>> you learn to be maybe at the feet of those masters, devious.

>> it was a means to an end . i felt that that was my greatest chance i had at getting home, at being rescued.

>> and as you'll see in the special, she figured out the one way to outwit this man by appealing to his ego.

>> which struck watching her about her strength and poise, even as she returns to this place of horror. i know it was difficult for you to be up there. how does she keep it together.

>> once you go up there you see how remote it is and the underbrush is so thick. there's not a chance she could have escaped from that camp site but i was getting emotional. i said does this give you the creeps being back here? she said it doesn't because this place didn't hurt me, brian david mitchell hurt me. and i don't think she wants to show emotion -- particularly crying at this point because it was just -- it would make him feel that he still has some control over her. she never sheds a tear at all. the only time she gets agitated is if you ask her you had the opportunities to escape, why didn't you?

>> and you went up there and you now you understand why that wasn't a possibility.

>> totally understand. she say remarkable young woman .

>> great to see you. you can see elizabeth 's story here on nbc and elizabeth smart will be with us for a live interview on monday.