PARK CITY, Utah, Nov. 30, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Elizabeth Smart revealed Sunday her parents only heard the extent of her abuse a full decade after her kidnapping, in court.
In 2002, Brian David Mitchell snatched the then 14-year-old Smart out of her bed in Salt Lake City. Mitchell and Wanda Barzee held the teen captive for nine months, and she was raped repeatedly.
Smart, 33, said in an Instagram post on Sunday that she never had a sit-down “tell all” talk with her parents, Ed and Lois Smart, about the abuse she suffered during her kidnapping.
“I saw a question from my post the other day asking when did I tell my family what happened,” Smart’s post says. “The truth is I never sat them all down and had a ‘tell all’ experience with them. Honestly when I got home I didn’t want anyone to know what had happened I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was brought to an advocacy center where I had to disclose much of what happened to two professionals and they in turn relayed much of what happened to my parents. But I don’t think my parents ever heard in detail what happened from my own lips until my court appearance almost a decade later.”
Smart writes that victims of abuse have a right to be believed.
“I have so many thoughts and feelings on this topic, first and foremost I never want anyone to compare their experiences to me, we are all different and unique and we can never accurately compare our experiences to someone else’s,” her post says.
“I also want to point out my case was highly publicized, everyone already knew crimes were committed against me. So it didn’t take me coming forward and disclosing the extent of my abuse to multiple people before my captors were taken into custody. Nor did I have people doubt me.”
Smart now runs a foundation dedicated to “ending the victimization and exploitation of sexual assault through prevention, recovery, and advocacy,” according to the foundation’s website. The foundation encourages individuals to use the hashtag #Ibelieveyou, in order to change the narrative for survivors of sexual violence.
“For these and many other reasons I want victims to know that #Ibelieveyou and I hope that as all of us move forward when we come across victims and survivors our first reaction is to believe them!” her Instagram post says. “Should we have friends or family disclose to us just listen, they don’t owe us answers to our questions or curiosities. Love them, support them, and be their friend.”
Mitchell, now 67, was convicted in 2010 of aggravated kidnapping and illegally transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes. He is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Arizona.
Barzee, now 75, pleaded guilty in 2009 to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor in connection with Smart’s abduction. Barzee was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in federal prison, and was released in September 2018.
Smart lives in Park City with her husband and their three young children; two girls and a boy.
She and her husband met while each served a France-Paris mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Smart has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her work as a special correspondent on “Crime Watch Daily.”