TODAY   |  October 07, 2013

Elizabeth Smart: You can ‘move forward’ after tragedy

Ten years ago Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bedroom and held captive for nine harrowing months. But on TODAY she says that even after being abused and raped, it’s possible to move forward and have a wonderful life.

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

>> it has been ten years since elizabeth smart was rescued. her story captured the country after she was abducted at the age of 14. she was held captive for nine months. since then she has become an advocate for kidnapping victims. she has never publicly spoking about the details about her abduction until now. she is breaking her silence in a book called my story. she is here this morning for an interview. good morning, it's so nice to meet you.

>> thank you.

>> this book is called my story. i thought it was apt because a lot of people may think they know what you went through but this is the first time you told it.

>> this is my story and i share as true to my story as i possibly can and i want to go into a lot of detail about it because i want other survivors out there to know that they're not alone. to know that these things, they do happen but that they can move forward. that they can be happy. that they can come back and have a wonderful life .

>> that's one of the things that's notable about this book. you don't dodge any of the ugly details. was it difficult though to relive it.

>> it was really interesting. i'm really glad i did it and, fortunately, i know my outcome. i know how happy i am right now. i have a wonderful life right now so going back and writing it, it was okay because i knew my ending and i knew how happy i am right now.

>> let's talk about the beginning. that night, you were asleep in your bed. you're 14 years old. it should be the safest place in the world. what do you remember?

>> it was the scariest moment of my life. as far as 14-year-olds go i probably was the naive side. i had lived a very sheltered life. so when i woke up in the middle of the night to see a strange man standing above my bed holding a knife at my neck. i couldn't believe it was real. i couldn't believe that this was happening to me. it was the scariest moment of my life.

>> he lead you out of the house. rugged terrain and there you were in captivity, in a camp, out in this desert area for several months. can you describe what life was like there?

>> it was really, really hard. i mean, every time i thought, oh my goodness i have hit rock bottom . life can't get any worse. i thought being forced to give up my pajamas that i had been kidnapped in and forced to wear a robe was as bad as it could get then as soon as we got to the robe wearing he'd say well you're going to go naked tomorrow. somehow every time it would get worse. when i thought it was bad enough that i had been forced to drink alcohol, he would force me to drink it so much that the next morning i'd wake up and my face and hair would be crusted to the ground in vomit. bad to worse every time.

>> horrifying for anyone. but you were 14 years old and a girl of deep religious faith . it's as though he took everything that mattered to you so deeply.

>> he did. at least he tried to.

>> he tried to.

>> he tried to.

>> well as we learn in the book he most certainly did not. i mentioned that it is very graphic and you talk about very openly being raped every single day. what does that do to a 14-year-old girl.

>> to me, that was the worst thing that could possibly have happened to me. i felt like death would have been better than being raped every single day. that was my perspective as a 14-year-old. now that i'm 25, i can look back and say, yeah, that's -- i can overcome that. i can get over that but at 14 i couldn't and it seemed like everything that my two captors did, they got away with and it seemed like i couldn't get away with anything. so it made me want to survive. it made me do whatever i had to to survive which was a lot of the time things i never wanted to do.

>> well, we're going to tell the story of how you were rescued and you had a lot to do with how that happened. elizabeth smart it's a pleasure to talk