Elizabeth Smart, Amanda Berry share kidnapping-survival stories

March 1, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah kidnapping survivor and victims’ advocate Elizabeth Smart interviewed a kindred spirit in her job as a correspondent for “Crime Watch Daily.”

Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City bedroom in June of 2002 at age 14, spoke with Amanda Berry, kidnapped in Cleveland at age 16 just a month after Smart’s March 2003 recovery. The video is now online and can be seen on the player above.

“There are so many days that I just felt like, ‘This is never going to end,'” Smart told Berry in the “Crime Watch Daily” interview. “Did you ever feel like that?”

“Oh, gosh, there was plenty of days where I felt like not going on,” Amanda Berry said.

Smart is now 29 and married to a man she met when both were missionaries in Paris for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a teen, she was held and abused by her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, for nine months before she was recognized and freed.

Berry, now 30, was held in a basement with fellow victims Gina DeJesus, taken at age 14, and Michelle Knight, taken at 21. All three were held as sex slaves by bus driver Ariel Castro and were kept chained in his basement. Berry had a daughter by Castro on Christmas in 2006. The baby was delivered in a plastic swimming pool.

Berry escaped and alerted police after a decade in captivity. Castro committed suicide in prison a month after being given a life sentence for his crimes.

Berry talked about how much it meant to see her family on television, calling for her safe return.

“Without seeing them, I don’t know how long I actually could have went on, you know, not knowing if they were not looking for me.”

“That was exactly how it was for my family,” Smart said.

“It was sad, because, like, they were crying,” Berry said.

Smart said her family was advised to keep hopes low.

“My parents were told that if I was not found in the next 48 hours, ‘… the chances are that she’s dead.'”

Berry talked about trying to keep hope alive during captivity.

“I’ve learned on my own that if you don’t stay positive, there’s nothing but sadness,” she said. “There was plenty of days I felt like not going on, where I’m like, ‘Why? Why should I go on?'”

Smart shared her own memories.

“I feel like I could sum up my days in three words,” she said, “boredom, abuse and rape. And that was my life. And there were so many times that I just felt, ‘This is never going to end.'”

Their captors made both victims believe that their families would be in grave danger if they managed to find the girls. Berry also feared for the safety of her daughter.

“To this day, I think I’m still not really comfortable going out,” Berry said, then asked Smart if she was still afraid.

“I don’t really think I have fears from it, but I think that I am very cautious, and when I don’t feel safe, I remove myself from that situation,” Smart said.

Berry’s mother died without learning of her daughter’s fate. Seeing a bit of her late mother in her daughter has helped, Berry said.

“I really feel like she’s an angel from my mom, she’s blessed me in so many ways that I probably can’t even explain,” Berry said. “… How has motherhood changed you?”

Smart also has a daughter, and another child on the way.

“From the moment she was born, I felt like my heart just relocated into my throat, and I don’t think it’s ever moved,” Smart said of her child.

Like Smart, Berry has found work that allows her to help other victims, she said. Berry works as a crime reporter with WJW Fox 8 in Cleveland.

“For me, its really personal,” she said of her work, adding that she would like kidnapping victims to know ” … they are not alone, and there is someone out there looking for them, and not to give up hope.”

Smart, whose emotions rose to the surface several times as she spoke with Berry, is shown in the “Crime Watch Daily” video giving a hug to her interview subject.

“You’re just my hero,” she told Berry.

Elizabeth Smart (left) interviewed Amanda Berry in Cleveland for a segment of “Crime Watch Daily.” Image: YouTube/Crime Watch Daily


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