In 2002 a man abducted her from her bedroom, kidnapped her to the middle of nowhere in Utah and raped her repeatedly. She was just 14-years-old at the time. Now, Elizabeth Smart speaks and gives us an exclusive interview about her abduction and recovery.
Elizabeth Smart is now 25 years old -- but she was just 14 in 2002 when a man snatched her out of her bed in the middle of the night.
"Being let out of the house at knife point... I was scared for my life. I was scared for my family's life. Who knew if he had already been through my house?" Said Smart.
She told her story in front of hundreds at a "Healthy Woman" seminar in Greenville on Saturday. Smart says her captor, Brian Mitchell, hiked her towards a camp, where his wife gave her a sponge bath, followed by a marriage ceremony.
"All I could think to do was scream out, 'no!' Who did he think he was? When I screamed out 'no!' he looked at me and said, 'if you scream out loud like that againm, I will kill you.'" Said Smart. After that, she says the worst happened.
"He forced me off the bucket and onto the ground, where he ripped off the robe that I'd been forced to wear and he raped me... on the floor of the tent and then he got up and looked down at me and smiled, turned around and walked out of the tent zipping up the door behind him," Said Smart.
Smart tells us Mitchell used religion to justify his actions. And every day with him was a nightmare, but on March 12th, 2003, police rescued the 14-year-old. And when she was reunited with her family, she says it felt like one word: "heaven."
"Not living in a home, after not sleeping in my bed, after not being able to shower and not always having food and not being able to choose what I ate or what I did... I was given so much freedom back. And so much love back," Said Smart.
Since returned home, Smart has traveled the world telling her story, becoming an advocate for preventing crimes against children. And while it's been a unimaginable roller coaster, Elizabeth Smart says she's moved on with her life.
"If I thought about it and dwelled on it and thought about it every second of everyday of my life, yes... I would be miserable. But I don't have to. I mean, none of us have to dwell on what has happened to us. None of us have to dwell on the worst parts of our life," Said Smart.
So Smart is living her life to the fullest -- but she has a message for those kids going though similar experiences.
"By ignoring it, that's not going to make it go away. And by not speaking out about it, that person or whomever it is, they're just going to keep on doing what they're doing and that same hurt and pain that you feel... other people will feel, as well," Said Smart.
Smart is now married and tells us her husband is the love of her life. She says she couldn't be happier. Now, her goal is to motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children's safety.