TODAY   |  October 07, 2013

Elizabeth Smart: My mom raised me to always get back up

Elizabeth Smart recounts her harrowing abduction 10 years ago and her subsequent recovery, and tells Kathie Lee and Hoda that the thought of her family’s love kept her alive during captivity. Smart attributes her survival to their support, and compares the moment of being reunited to how she imagines heaven.

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

>>> we're back on this monday with more of "today" and story of resilience, courage and try triumph.

>> elizabeth smart , kidnapped from her own bedroom and captured nine months.

>> ten months later broken her silence about what happened during that terrifying ordeal. a new book called "my story." elizabeth , we're so glad you're with us, and so glad you're here to tell your tale, which we think is going to be really inspirational for so many other people who have maybe lost hope in their life. we won't go through the whole thing, because we don't have as much time as savannah had with you, but tell us why you wrote the book, first and foremost.

>> i do a lot of speaking. i just an incredible opportunity to go around the country and speak to a lot of different groups, and every time that i have spoken to different groups i have had at least, at the very least, one person that's come forward and said, i was raped, or i was kidnapped, or my parent tried to sell me to pay the mortgage.

>> started it all.

>> every time, and i -- i mean -- i hate hearing it, but when i decided, this is really a big reason why i wrote my book. i wanted to be able to reach out to these survivors and victims and let them know that they're not alone. let them know that they can move forward, and that they can be happy and that this moment in life doesn't have to define them.

>> this book has, there's so much devastating news in there to read, but one thing that struck me so much, three things were going on in your life for those nine months and it was hunger, boredom and rape. and for some reason to hear it boil eed down in a nutshell like that, it took my breath away over the course of that many months. what did you say in your own head, sort of, to make it through those difficult times?

>> well, the first moment i had been kidnapped after i was raped i felt shattered, broken, i felt like -- being dead would be better than being alive , but as i sat there thinking these things, i remembered how much my parents loved me, how much my mom and my dad and my brothers and my sister have always been there for me and i realized that that would never change. and that despite maybe nobody else ever liking me or wanting to be around me, they still would be. they would still be my family, and so it was really because of that realization, realizing they would change i was able to make the decision to survive no matter what.

>> didn't you worry that people would have forgot jn i can't only imagine being locked up a period of time, were you wondering, was someone stilling whoing for you?

>> it's only voices you heard were their vaseoices.

>> it was a long time, nine months. after helicopters disappeared and airplanes disappeared, after it just went silent. i thought that i was forgotten.

>> a point where you were almost -- someone walked up to you, a police officer , you had the veil on. you thought this might be your moment and you describe your heart pounding and you thought, he's going to see. he's going to know, and --

>> you'd been told not to speak at all.

>> yeah.

>> and that near miss, almost being rescued there, must have been just another devastating blow.

>> it was heartbreaking. it was just everything's hassing over again to be so close to being saved.

>> right.

>> so close to being rescued and watching him turn around and walk away . it was just like being kidnapped all over again.

>> i was very moved by the way you would describe how you would visualize your own mom, and how beautiful she is, and tell us about that. how that gave you strength?

>> well, my mom --

>> she is beautiful.

>> she is the most beautiful woman. i mean, i know everyone comes out, but it's wrong.

>> wrong on every level.

>> but i mean, she's always been there to pick me up when i fall down and, i mean -- she always likes asking elizabeth what do you do when a horse bucks you off? you get back on. that's just kind of how she raised me all through life. you don't stay down. you get back up. she's always been there for me.

>> tell us briefly about being reunited? i cannot imagine, their arms around you, what that must have felt like to finally be back to the family.

>> that's how i imagine heaven. i felt safe. i felt loved, like nobody in the world to hurt me in that moment.

>> and you're mered.

>> armarried.

>> what joy in your life. a beautiful young scottish man in your life. we're so happy for sweetheart.

>> and god bless you. you're an angel. so good to meet you.

>> elizabeth , thank you for coming to talk with us.