Five Things You Didn’t Know About Elizabeth Smart

In June 2002, Elizabeth Smart disappeared from her own bedroom. On March 12, 2003, she was found just five miles from the house she grew up in. Almost immediately, her disappearance and rescue captured the world’s attention. Who took her and how? Where had she been? How had she survived?

Over the years, Elizabeth’s story has been told In countless magazine articles, made-for-TV movies, and even her own autobiography, ‘My Story.’ Now, 15 years later, A&E, with Elizabeth’s assistance, has released a special that gives the public even more insight into Elizabeth’s ordeal and how her life has changed today. On November 19, a movie about her experience entitled I Am Elizabeth Smart will premiere on Lifetime. (She’s a producer.) Thanks to these two projects, we know more about Elizabeth than ever before. To help you keep up, here are five things you didn’t know about Elizabeth Smart.

She has spoken out against certain Mormon beliefs.

Raised in a devout Mormon family, Elizabeth embarked on a mission trip to France in 2011 for the church. However, that hasn’t stopped her speaking out against the church’s promotion of virginity and its “crippling purity culture” that can have a devastating impact on victims of sexual assault. In a 2016 interview with Broadly, she reported that she had always promised to wait until marriage to have sex. Unfortunately, this wasn’t meant to be.

She stated, “Well, then I was kidnapped and I was raped, and one of the first thoughts I had was, ‘No one is ever going to want to marry me now: I’m worthless, I’m filthy, I’m dirty.”

She went on to say, “I think the power of faith is amazing, the hope and the healing that it can bring to people. But I also think there’s another side of it that could be very harmful, especially when of religions teach that sex is only meant for marriage … It’s so stressed that girls in particular tie their worth to their virginity, or, for lack of a better word, purity.”

She could hear people looking for her.

After being kidnapped by Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, Elizabeth was “sealed” to Brian in a mock wedding ceremony. Later, she was tethered to two trees in the canyons above her family’s home and told that she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape or call out for help. Over the next few days, she heard people calling her name, but said that she “paralyzed with fear and didn’t respond.”

To keep herself calm, she would keep a mental list of things she was thankful for.

It goes without saying that Elizabeth was subjected to unspeakable horrors while being held captive. In a recent interview published in US Weekly, she reported that she would keep a list of things she was thankful for in her head to help her stay calm and hopeful. Despite being held mostly outdoors, rain was one thing she was thankful for because it meant that she had something to drink.

She was almost rescued months earlier.

After several months, Mitchell would take Elizabeth to the local library. To disguise her appearance, she wore a veil over her head. However, on one occasion, a patron recognized her eyes and called the police. When Salt Lake City detective Jon Richey arrived, Mitchell told the detective that she could not remove the veil because it violated her religious beliefs. Elizabeth remained quiet. Richey had no choice but to walk away without learning who the girl was. Six months later, Elizabeth was rescued and Richey was left “traumatized” after learning that she was the girl in the library.

Today, she’s happy.

In 2012, Elizabeth married Matthew Gilmour, who she met during her mission trip to France. Today, the couple lives in Salt Lake City with their two daughters. Elizabeth often appears as a motivational speaker.

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