My story | Elizabeth Smart | TEDxUniversityofNevada
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My story | Elizabeth Smart | TEDxUniversityofNevada


Translator: Sue Kronenfeld
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney I don’t know anyone
who has a perfect life; nobody. And I know that every single one of us
have our own personal challenges, and trials and there are days
when we wish that we didn’t have to get out of bed. There are days when we wish we could pull
the covers back up and hibernate. But we all have a choice to make. We have the choice to stay in bed
and keep the covers pulled over us, or we have a choice to move forward. When I was 14 years old,
nothing special stood out about me. I was just average 14-year-old, getting ready to graduate
from junior high, very excited. I remember going to bed one night, in a room that I shared with my sister,
in a bed that I shared with my sister. I remember waking up to the voice,
a strange voice, saying “I have a knife at your neck;
don’t make a sound. Get up and come with me.” That started a nine-month-long nightmare. I remember this strange man taking me
way up into the mountains behind my home, all the while at knife-point. I mean, I remember being brought
so far up into the mountains. We crossed right over the top
of the mountain, and started down the other side. We were about a quarter
of the way down the other side when we came to a grove of trees,
and nothing stood out about it, nothing seemed special about it, but he directed me inside
this grove of trees, and I remember walking in, and I saw that part of the mountain
had been leveled out. There was a tent set up. There were tarps lying on the ground,
hanging up in the trees. I remember seeing a huge hole
in the ground behind the tent, where they had laid logs across the top,
and then thrown dirt up on top of it. But the most scary part
of this whole scene was the woman that emerged from the tent. She brought me in,
and she sat me down on a bucket, where she tried to sponge bathe me, and change me out of my pajamas
into strange robes. I grew up in being very, very shy
and very, very self-conscious, and that was just about
the most traumatic thing I had ever had happen to me. I remember begging and pleading with her
just to let me do it myself, that I wasn’t dirty, that I had
just showered the night before, and that I could change myself;
I didn’t need her help. Finally, after – I don’t know –
15 minutes, probably, of begging and crying,
she finally just passed me the robes. I wiggled them on,
she scooped up my pajamas, and she left me alone in the tent,
sitting on an upturned bucket. I remember sitting there and crying, and crying, and thinking
of what had happened to me. How had just yesterday I had been
at school with my friends, How had just yesterday I’d been at home, looking forward to graduating,
ready to go to high school. How had this happened? How had my world turned from day to night, and what had happened to my family? Had this man gone
through my house already, and murdered my family? What was going to happen to me? The only thoughts that I could think
of were going to happen to me, were: He’s going to rape me,
and then he’s going to kill me because nobody survives being kidnapped, nobody ever comes home. I have never seen a happily-ever-after
in a kidnapping story. Every story the news repeats,
it’s always the same. Maybe it’s days later, weeks later,
years later, a body is found, but that’s what happens. As I sat there crying,
I’m being so scared, I remember the tent door unzipping,
and in walked this man, and he had changed out of the dark clothes
he had kidnapped me in, into a robe, just like the one I had on, and he knelt down next to me,
and he started to speak. And at first, I was so caught up in my own worries and my own fears, and what had happened,
and what was going to happen, I couldn’t even begin to think
to listen to what he was saying. Finally, some part of me
pulled myself together long enough to hear him say the words
that I was now his wife, I was sealed to him, and that I was supposed
to perform all wifely duties. and it was time for us
to consummate our marriage. Now I grew up in a very traditional home. My family is very religious. I have been raised to believe that sexual relationships are to be within the boundaries of marriage, and that’s what I’d always believed. That’s what I’d always
intended on following. And so here this man was, telling me that I was supposed
to consummate our marriage, and I may have grown up
in a bit of a bubble. I mean I may not have been the most forward-thinking 14 year old
in the world at the time. Part of me wasn’t even sure I knew
what “consummate a marriage” meant. The other part of me
was praying and hoping that it wasn’t what I thought it was. I quickly found out exactly what it was. I remember begging
and pleading, and crying, and tried to come up
with every reason I possibly could to try to convince this man
to let me go, to not hurt me, to just release me back to my family. But nothing I said or did
made a difference. I will never forget. He pulled me off the bucket
where I’d been sitting, onto the ground, where he ripped off the robe
I’d been forced to put on, and he raped me on the floor of the tent. Then when he was finished,
he got up, and he left me alone. And I will never, ever forget
how I felt, how broken I felt, how I was beyond all help, all hope, that even if someone did find me,
what was the point? I was useless, I was disgusting. I wasn’t worth saving, at that point. I fell asleep thinking those thoughts, and when I woke up, there was this man,
kneeling over me again, and this time he had taken
a thick, metal cable, and had wrapped it around my ankle,
and bolted it into place, so I couldn’t run away. And that moment, I started thinking of all the children
whom I had seen on the news, whose stories always seemed
to end so tragically. And I couldn’t help but think:
They are the lucky ones. They are so lucky: I wish
I could be one of those children, because no one will ever hurt them again. no one will ever make them feel like they are worthless,
or that they’re unloved. No one can never do that to them again. I wish that was me. And that is a brief look
of what the next nine months were. Very early on, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to let
these two captors win. I wasn’t going to let them
take my life from me. I would do everything
I possibly could to survive, even if that meant outliving them, even if that meant
surviving for another 30 years, going through this kind
of abuse every day. Thank Heavens, it wasn’t 30 years;
it was only nine months later. I will never forget
the first time I saw my dad after the police had stopped
and picked me up. I will never forget feeling that,
no matter what lay in front of me, it was going to be okay, and that nobody
ever again would be able to make me hurt the way that two these people
had made me hurt the last nine months. Best feeling in the world,
knowing that someone loves you. The following day my mother
gave me a piece of advice, and I’d like to share it with you, because as I said,
we all have trials in life, we all have those times
when we don’t want get out of bed. My mom said to me, “Elizabeth, what this man
has done to you is terrible, and there are not words strong enough
to describe how wicked and evil he is. He has stolen nine months of your life
that you will never get back. The best punishment you
could ever give him is to be happy, is to move forward with your life,
because by feeling sorry for yourself and holding on the past, and dwelling
on what’s happened to you, that’s only allowing them
more control, more power, steal more of your life away from you. So don’t let that happen. Justice may or may not be served,
restitution may or may not be made, but don’t you dare give them
another second of your life. I have tried to follow that advice
every day since then, I am a long ways
from following it perfectly, but then again, what daughter is perfect
at following her mother’s advice? (Laughter) But I know that we all have a choice. I know that when we are faced
with trials, we have a choice. We can give in and surrender,
or we can fight and we can move forward. And as I’ve been able to go out
and share my story, and speak with different people,
I have learned so much. I have come to a point
in my life that I can say although I would never wish
it upon myself, and I certainly never would wish it
upon anyone else, I am grateful for what
has happened to me, because of what it’s taught me,
because of the perspective it’s given me, and the empathy I’ve felt
for other survivors. I am grateful that I can
make a difference. I’m grateful that I can speak out,
and especially for victims of sexual abuse who haven’t been able
to speak out for themselves yet. It issotraumatic, it is so scary,
coming forward and saying, “I was sexually abused; I was hurt. Someone stole something from me
that I’ll never get back.” But I have to tell you, it is so important to come forward and share your stories,
and speak out about it, even if it’s not to your community,
even if it’s not on a larger scale, but at least to law enforcement, so that we can stop
those people that are out there taking advantage of other people. It is so important. So I have to encourage
every single one of you. When you are faced with a trial,
don’t give up; don’t surrender. Move forward, because you never know what you’ll be able to do with it. You’ll never know the lives
you’ll be able to touch. I am so grateful to be here
with you all today. Thank you so much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “My story | Elizabeth Smart | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  1. This was very hard to watch…. I don't know what has happened to the people who did this to her, but I hope they are deceased. I hope the man was brutally tortured to death.

  2. Let’s have YouTube send a record of people who disliked this video to the FBI, as a paper trail of evidence, to be used against them for their past and future crimes.

  3. the stories was on the news but it was all lies, it to scared people to put RFID chip into kids and start when they are born!

  4. im like: omg, her makeup is so cute! her hair is so cute,,, ;0;

    jokes aside,, this is a nice ted talk. what a brave women 🙂

  5. How come children were getting abducted so easily decades ago. Did people in general had a lot more trust towards the community they lived in? Pretty sad how close she was yet it took so long.

  6. So sad. Yet, this is just 1 story. How many thousands, even millions of children possibly went through this same things elizabeth experienced.

  7. That mental freak not a man. Can not believe he still alive… Poor girl only reason she is alive because that creep was not done abusing her.

  8. What an amazing strong woman. I thank you for sharing your story to share others the understanding that you can move on from so much emotional pain. May God bless you and continue to guide you.

  9. I get to meet her next week in Barron,Wisconsin. I live there and get the chance to see her speak about the Jayme Closs case.

  10. When she said “I am grateful for what has happened to me, because of what it’s thought me” I don’t understand it. I would never want to go through what she has gone through to what Jaycee Lee went through just so I can have some life lessons. I know everyone has a different perspective but I will never understand why people say that.

  11. It is very disturbing that people so often say, with the best of intentions, that someone did not "deserve" the terrible thing that happened to him/her. What a person "deserves," especially when applied to victimization, is a misplaced judgement. If you apply a value judgement, apply it to the perpetrator's behavior.

  12. Thank you Elizabeth Smart. I can’t remember when I’ve been so moved in hearing someone speak of an ordeal. You are an inspiration, I am humbled by your strength.

  13. dishonest woman with creepy parents. why did she fail to identify herself repeatedly to law enforcement when asked? gone for 9 months? immediate actions after returning aren't congruent with recovering from claimed assault and trauma. sister says nothing for hours later? screen on her room window was cut and opened from the INSIDE? covering up for a unplanned pregnancy perhaps? how about the guy who was falsely accused and died in jail? very bizarre story and this woman liz smart is not telling the truth of the matter.

  14. She's amazing. The strength that she developed through those 9 months and since is incredible. Many survivors of abduction and abuse don't come back from the horrors they've experienced, but to see her go on and tell her story and raise awareness is truly amazing.

  15. Your speech motivated me to move on from my past thank you so much for being strong and letting us know it’s not too late to move on ❤️

  16. The way she made peace with what happened to her, with no professional help, years and years of therapy or even medications is almost unbelieveble!

  17. Let's just make a career and millions of dollars out of our misfortune. Give me a break. The story was inspirational and compelling the first time around. Now? It's old, tired, and clearly about fame and fortune. Please do the world a favor and take the treasure and finally move on, will you? I'm not trying to troll or be mean spirited, I'm just speaking a painful truth.

  18. A very brave young woman. A very moving & inspiring talk. It really made me stop & think what can i do to help this cause? Thank you for uploading this important talk.

  19. it’s so hard to move past these things. this is so brave of you and you deserve every ounce of respect.❤️

  20. I saw in a video that family guy made a joke about this story. I looked up some things about Elizabeth. I get the show is trying to be funny, but that’s just horrible.

  21. I have no words for your strength, beauty and grace. You deserve everything and more and I truly wish you all the happiness and love in the world <3

  22. I read your book in Portuguese here on the internet, I started to read by myself but I changed my mind because people need to hear about their courage and the way they deal with those horrible situations. You were wonderful and I learned a lot from you. Thanks.(Google translate.)

  23. Erica Pratt look her up. As great the media portray this young lady Elizabeth I will bet the whole farm that not a single one of you guys knows who Erica Pratt is.I'm not knocking Elizabeth for getting kidnap at all it can happen to anyone. Just look at what Erica Pratt did and you will see.

  24. This story is very inspirational, but i do have questions.

    How did you escape?

    What happened to the man?

    What happened to the woman in the tent?

    Why am i so scared this will happen to another soul?

    I admire you, you beat the kidnappers, you stayed strong, it was all you..

  25. Great respect for this brave young lady and her families…how powerful her words to encourage women who had the trauma experience

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