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Elizabeth Smart Empowers Victims to Define Their Lives

elizabeth smartElizabeth Smart celebrated yesterday when her kidnapper Brian David Mitchell was found “guilty.” But the actions of Elizabeth Smart empowered victims all over America.  The brave young woman has faced her attacker in court and Elizabeth has fought for victim’s rights, and even contributed to a pamphlet for other victims of sexual violence and kidnapping,  “You Are Not Alone”.

Eight years after Brian David Mitchell kidnapped Elizabeth and subjected to daily horrors, a Salt Lake City jury found Mitchell “guilty.” In those eight years, Since her abduction, Elizabeth has graduated high school, studied at Brigham Young University and is currently on an LDS missionary in Paris, France. In a statement to the media yesterday, Elizabeth Smart told reporters, “I am so thrilled to stand before the people of America today and give hope to other victims who have not spoken out about what’s happened to them.”

Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping and the horrible nine months of captivity with Mitchell could have totally ruined her life. But Elizabeth chose to define her life after her ordeal.

Advocates for survivors of sexual violence say that Elizabeth’s actions and the way in which she confronted Brian David Mitchell in the media spotlight will help empower other victims of sexual violence. In an interview with the Salt Lake City Tribune, the director of a local rape recovery center weighs in about the Elizabeth Smart case:

“There is such shame associated with sexual violence, and to have it being talked about so openly and publicly is almost a relief to some,” said Heather Stringfellow, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City. “[Smart] held [Mitchell] accountable, and that’s a very powerful message.”

Watch the clip of Elizabeth Smart and her family talking to reporters after the verdict below but first read this excerpt written by this amazing young woman from the U.S. Department of Justice pamphlet, “You’re Not Alone.”

“I made a conscious decision that my abductors had already taken away nine months of my life, and I certainly was not going to give them any more time than that. We all have so much to live for. It is not worth living in the past. Each of us has so much potential in this world. I find it hard to believe that one experience can hold us back from being the individuals we want to be and stop us from doing the things we want to do. I know this can be a struggle for many kids who experience what we did. Hang on. Keep moving forward. Take one step at a time. It will get easier.”

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