A Tale of Survival: Elizabeth Smart Shares Her Story

It's been ten years since Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Utah home; taken from her bedroom by a man who'd done work around her family's house.

Nine months later, authorities found Smart, and sent her kidnappers to prison.

Today, Smart addressed the annual Lakes Health Conference as the keynote speaker in Okoboji, Iowa.

"I heard the words, 'I have a knife at your neck, don't make a sound, get up and come with me.' I couldn't believe this was happening to me," said Smart.

The tenth anniversary of Elizabeth Smart's abduction was last week.

Smart was taken in the dead of night, in the comfort of her own home, while her parents and siblings slept soundly.

Her sister was awakened to the sound of Elizabeth's abductor, Brian David Mitchell. It was his voice that would later help Elizabeth's sister identify Mitchell.

"Honestly, sometimes it feels like it never even really happened," she said.

But it did, and after nine months in captivity, Elizabeth returned home. She recalls something her mom said that very day.

"She said, 'Elizabeth what this man has done to you is terrible, and there aren't words to describe how wicked and evil he is, He's taken nine months of your life that you will never get back, but the best punishment that YOU could ever give to him, is to be happy.'"

And ten years later, married with her new life in motion, Elizabeth is happy.

"Just because something has happened to you, doesn't mean that it's going to ruin the rest of your life, or control what you can do, or who you can become; you can do whatever you want to do, and become whatever you want to become, and that's hope," Smart said.

And although she chooses to put the past behind her, she uses the strength she gained from that horrific experience to help others.

"None of us are immune to problems, and so I share mine, in hopes that something I say can help someone else overcome what they're going through right now," she said.

She helps one speech at a time.

The theme of this year's Lakes Health Conference was "I will Survive."

Fittingly, Elizabeth was there to help area health professionals sharpen their "survival" skills, so that they can better understand people who have been traumatized, and help them more effectively.

If you wish to contact Heather Leigh, you can e-mail her at

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off