I am 10 years older than Elizabeth Smart, thus when she was kidnapped, I was a 24-year-old young wife and professional. At the time, I didn’t have a lot in common with her, save that we were both from tight-knit, religious families, but I followed her story with immense interest and empathy. I prayed that she would be found and returned home to her family alive.
Like the rest of America, when she actually was found and returned 9 months later, I was stunned and overjoyed. The details of her personal hell wouldn’t be revealed for a long time, but I knew in my heart that she had lived through something terrible. Years later, I read her book, which outlined her torment in great detail, how her captor made her his “wife” and raped her daily for nine long months, how she endured starvation and emotional and verbal abuse, how he constantly threatened to kill her family.
The fact that Elizabeth Smart has emerged from this to be a successful adult, wife, mother, and advocate for abused and abducted children is nothing short of a miracle. Over the years, she has spoken many times about her experiences, but this week, she released a new, very frank video for the anti-pornography group Fight the New Drug. As a woman and as a mother, Elizabeth’s testimony in this video made me cry big, angry, scared tears. It fired me up against pornography as few things have before.
In the video, Smart describes how her captor (she never refers to him by name, so I won’t either), got very “amped up” one day when he was in possession of a hardcore pornography magazine. She says he forced her to look at the images and then said, “Ok, now we’re going to do this.” And thus, her days of rape and torture became even worse. Because now her captor had new fuel for his predatory, abusive fire.