Over 15 years ago, a 14-year-old girl was kidnapped by an armed attacker and held against her will for nine months. That girl has grown into a woman whose story has inspired many. You may be asking yourself, what is Elizabeth Smart up to in 2017? 15 years after her abduction, she’s still finding new ways to share her story and help others in the process.
It all started back on June 2, 2002, when Smart was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home by a man who would later be identified as Brian David Mitchell. Over the nine months that would follow, she was held captive by Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee and assaulted, tortured, and raped. She was eventually found and rescued by police only miles away from her home in Sandy, Utah, on March 12, 2003, per CNN. She was then finally reunited with her parents and family. Mitchell and Barzee were sentenced to prison.
Despite enduring this traumatic experience at such a young age, it has never stopped Smart from living her life, or trying to help others. Since 2003, she’s shared her story in numerous forms, including television interviews, a TED Talk, books (My Story and Bringing Elizabeth Home), and a foundation to help other girls. In addition to her advocacy work, she's built a wonderful life for herself. According to People magazine, she married her husband Matthew Gilmour in 2012. In February of 2015, she gave birth to a daughter, Chloe, and later gave birth to a son in April of this year.
Since then, her attention has been aimed at a pair of projects with A&E and Lifetime. The first to premiere is a two-part series, on A&E Nov. 12 and 13, called Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography. According to Broadway World, the TV event will consist of two 90 minute installments appearing on back-to-back evenings. On the show, she’s set to explain her story in her own words, providing previously untold details about her experience. She will also be sharing her perspective on the events now that she’s a mother and advocate.
Her second project, I Am Elizabeth Smart, will premiere shortly after on Nov. 18 on Lifetime. The made-for-TV movie will depict Smart’s kidnapping, her subsequent time held hostage, and, of course, her rescue. According to the Daily Mail, besides being a producer on the film, Smart will also serve as the narrator.
Smart naturally has mixed feelings about the projects. She expressed her complicated feelings at a panel for A&E Networks at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, per Variety. “I will say that [it] is the best and worst movie I’ve ever seen,” she said. “It was so well done. It was accurate, but at the same time, part of me will be happy if I never have to see it again. I’m very proud of it, but I hate it at the same time.”
Looking beyond her most recent projects, she plans on continuing to use her experience to help others. Per Amazon, there's another book on the horizon for March 27, 2018. Smart's new book is titled, Where There's Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up. While heavily inspired by her experience being kidnapped, this book aims to empower, “those who have experienced trauma to reclaim their lives and [move] forward with hope,” according to the synopsis on her website.
Clearly, Smart has an unstoppable spirit, and she will continue to make the best of her trauma, never letting her captors win.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.