Elizabeth Smart shares story of survival

Published On: Oct 02 2012 03:14:17 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 02 2012 10:44:55 PM CDT
HOUSTON -

Ten years ago the world was introduced to Elizabeth Smart. 

"Up until that point in my life, I never thought anything like this would happen," said Elizabeth Smart. 

At 14, she was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in the middle of the night. 

"I was awoken by a voice with a knife lying across my neck. He said, 'I have a knife at your neck. Don't make a sound. Get up and come with me,'" said Smart. 

She said she did exactly what the man said. 

She recently shared her very personal story of abuse and survival at the Junior League of Houston for an event for ChildBuilders

She now speaks publicly, but she remained silent to the media until after Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee were tried and convicted. Smart never calls them by name. Instead, she calls them her captors. 

Her parents said they never asked their daughter about the details of the kidnapping. But they heard everything during the trial.

"Nobody knows it better than I do. I decide what to say and what not to say, so if there's something I don't feel comfortable sharing, then I don't share it," said Smart. 

It all started June 5, 2002. I actually covered the story as a reporter working in Salt Lake City. 

I interviewed her parents and friends. More than 2,000 people searched for her each day. Smart said she knew people were looking for her and one day heard someone calling her name. 

"I never knew how many people looked. And how many people prayed. I'm just always amazed," said Smart

Within the first few hours with Brian Mitchell, while walking in the mountains, she asked him to kill her near her home so her parents could find her body.

After living in a tent in the mountains for a few months, they eventually traveled by bus to California. But she convinced Mitchell to go back to Utah. She said it was her only hope of being rescued. 

"I lived a very quiet, normal life. That just goes to show it doesn't matter what your social status is. It doesn't matter how much your family makes, doesn't matter where you live. It doesn't matter. It can happen to you."

Smart said she has been sharing her story to help others from becoming victims.

"I have the opportunity to try and make a difference, trying to protect other children from what happened to me."

She testified against her captors, who are now in prison. She's an advocate for missing, murdered and abused children. 

Smart recently got married. The girl who was abused is now a strong 24-year-old woman who won't let her captors rule her life. 

"For whatever justice isn't made here on Earth, that God will take of in the next life. I don't need to worry about what happens here. That's how I'm able to move on. That 's how I can forgive and not have to think about him every day or have him in my life. This man had taken so much of my life already. The best punishment I could give him is to be happy.