IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Elizabeth Smart on the one question that won't go away: 'Why didn't you run?'

Elizabeth Smart, who was repeatedly raped and assaulted after being kidnapped as a teen, said her instinct to survive prevented her from trying to escape.
/ Source: TODAY

Elizabeth Smart is out to set the record straight about why she didn't try to escape from her kidnappers in the hope that she can help other survivors facing questions about their time in captivity.

"Even more than just me, I wanted to be an answer for so many victims who are questioned, 'Why didn't you run, why didn't you say something, why didn't you speak out sooner?''' Smart told Megyn Kelly on TODAY Tuesday.

We apologize, this video has expired.

"It's not because any one of us enjoys being hurt. It's not because any one of us enjoys being raped or kidnapped. It's because we can. We do everything we can to survive, and there's reasons why we make those decisions," she told Kelly.

Smart's kidnapping is depicted in the new Lifetime movie "I Am Elizabeth Smart" premiering Saturday.

"I never had Stockholm syndrome,'' she says in the movie. "Just because I physically stopped resisting, doesn't mean I hated it any less. I wasn't sympathetic towards them. I despised them."

On June 5, 2002, Smart, who was 14 at the time, was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom at her family's home in Salt Lake City, Utah, by homeless street preacher Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.

For the next nine months, she was repeatedly raped and assaulted. On March 12, 2003, she was recognized while out with the two in Sandy, Utah, and rescued.

Her survival instinct played a role in why she didn't constantly resist or try to run.

"That's what I did, and I know across the board, whether it's sexual violence, kidnapping, domestic violence, that's why so many other survivors don't speak out, don't run, don't immediately raise the alarm,'' she said.

Smart, 30, is now a child safety activist and a married mother of two after dealing with the trauma of her kidnapping.

"I needed time to find my new normal because like it or not I could not go back to being the same person I was before I was kidnapped,'' she said.

In her 2013 book, "My Story," she returned to the scene of her captivity.

"Going back there didn't bother me because that place didn't hurt me, it was the people in it that hurt me,'' she told Kelly.

Mitchell is currently serving a life sentence, while Barzee is in the midst of a 15-year sentence in a federal prison. She is up for parole next year.

"I'm not allowing myself to worry about it right now because she's just up for parole, so we'll see what happens,'' Smart said. "If she gets out, then I'll cross that bridge."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.