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Elizabeth Smart opens up about finding strength after harrowing abduction

Abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart opened up more about the horrific experiences she endured during her nine months of hell in captivity and how her mom’s wise advice gave her the strength to move past them.

In a new video, Smart spoke about her captor, who she says had an unhealthy obsession with pornography and would rape her several times a day: “Every time I thought I’d hit rock bottom, my captor would find something new to make it worse,” said Smart.

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Though she experienced the abuses she describes in the video more than a decade ago, it’s still completely heartbreaking to hear Smart revisit those traumatic nine months. She calmly recalls the ways her captor forced her to look at porn with him and then abused her. “He would just sit and look at it and stare at it, and he would just talk about these women, and then when he was done, he would turn and look at me, and he would be like, ‘Now we’re going to do this,'” she said.

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Smart made headline news in 2002, when a bearded man wielding a knife entered her Salt Lake City bedroom and kidnapped her in the middle of the night. She was 14. The man, Brian David Mitchell, took Smart back to a campsite in the woods, where his wife, Wanda Barzee, was waiting for them. Mitchell told Smart that she was his new wife and abused her for months while family, friends and volunteers tirelessly searched the area for her.

Since her rescue in 2003, Smart has courageously worked to move past her traumatic experiences. She has a flourishing career as an ABC contributor, published author and activist working to protect children from predatory criminals.

Smart says that her mom’s advice days after she was rescued stuck with her, inspiring her to lead the full, happy life she has today.

“She said to me, ‘Elizabeth, what these people have done to you is so terrible, and you may never feel like restitution is made, but the best punishment that you could ever give them is to be happy.’ And that advice has helped make me who I am today.”

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