Abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart on trauma, life and parenting
Woman who survived kidnapping speaks out about the lessons learned and the advice she has for all parents
Elizabeth Smart stood tall and strong in front of a Boca Raton crowd Tuesday to support Place of Hope and to tell a story. Her story. One many of us remember. The story of her 2002 abduction. She was just 14 years old, asleep in her Utah home when captors took her from her bed at knifepoint and off to a mountainside campsite for 9 months.
She talked about family and faith and hope and had this to say to all parents:
"I think the number one thing any parent can do for their child is to love them unconditionally because from my perspective, I mean initially I forgot that when I was kidnapped and I felt like their love for me would change if they knew what had happened and it was only when I remembered and realized that it wouldn't change, that they would always love me no matter what that I was able to find the strength and the determination to survive, to do whatever it took to survive," Smart said.
Smart also explained the importance of open communication with our children. Her oldest child is in kindergarten.
"I want her to know that nobody has the right to hurt her or scare her or make her feel threatened in any way. I want her to know that I will always have her back, that I will always be her number one defender and that I will believe her and I'll be there for her," Smart said.
Smart has become an advocate for change related to child abduction. She founded the 'Elizabeth Smart Foundation', helps promote the National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, she has written inspiring books and speaks at events like the Angel Moms Brunch to benefit Place of Hope, a non-profit organization that supports area abused and neglected children, those homeless, in foster care, and young single moms with no place to go.
Smart says we are all survivors of something, and no matter the something, pain at the end of the day is still pain.
"Our stories, the details might be different. Pain at the end of the day is still pain. Whether it's losing a loved one to illness or being kidnapped, it still hurts. We each deserve finding happiness and peace in our lives. It's not traumatic for me anymore, my story. It's moments like today, a tent full of people who want to help these children that makes me keep on going," Smart said.
Smart added that support - even from an audience - is everything.
“When I’m standing up there telling the worst part of my life and being able to feel the support from the audience, and the hope, and feeling like they only want the best for me and that there’s relief and happiness that I survived... that’s what helps me think I can do this. I can share it,” Smart said.
If you would like to learn more about becoming an Angel Mom community Ambassador or supporting Place of Hope, contact the Place of Hope team at 561-483-0962.
For more on Place of Hope's film Invisible and the fight to end human trafficking, click here
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