On March 12, 2003, Elizabeth Smart, was rescued from captivity. Nine months earlier, at 14 years old, Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom at knifepoint in the middle of the night. In the months that followed, she was held captive at various campsites by her captors, a man named Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee; Smart was abused, raped, and went cold and hungry. The fact that Smart was ultimately rescued and returned to her family is miraculous. The fact that she’s now using her adult life to spread awareness about abuse, and do advocacy work on behalf of kidnapping survivors, is nothing short of inspiring.
Smart, who has various film projects set for release in November, including a Lifetime film about her capture and a two-part A&E documentary special, visited the AOL BUILD series to talk about her kidnapping, the cinematic stories being told about her capture, as well as her life today.
Smart is now married, and a mother of two — a role that naturally has caused her some anxiety, as she looks at her own children and remembers what happened to her as a child. She says that her experience has undoubtedly influenced the way she takes care of her own young children.
“It’s a constant battle,” Smart says. “On the one hand, I just want to wrap them up in bubble wrap and hide them away from the world and just stay with them all the time and never let anyone near them. But on the other side of things, I know that I need to allow them to experience life, so when they leave home (if that ever happens) that they will be able to handle what lies ahead of them; that they will be able to make decisions and choices and be prepared as adults. So I do realize that I need to let them experience life, but it is a constant battle, and I still don’t have the answer.”
All parents can relate to that mindset, and the constant desire to both protect and teach. But Smart has her traumatic past to balance as she thinks about the children she’s raising. “How do you do it?” she wonders about letting her children experience life while still protecting them. “I don’t know!” Like all other parents, she just does.