The Mystery of Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart is making the rounds, flogging her new book My Story (written with Congressman Chris Stewart). Smart is, of course, the beautiful Mormon girl who in 2002 at 14 years old was abducted for nine months by evil lunatic Brian David Mitchell and his wife. Then, miraculously, she was found and reunited with her family. Today, she’s married and says she “couldn’t be happier.” She does good work fighting human trafficking and speaking to sexual abuse survivors.


I’ve always been kind of fascinated with Smart (I’ll read the book and get back to you on it if it’s any good). Her kidnappers dragged her around the country, chaining her up like an animal and raping her daily. And the two questions everyone always asks her are 1) why didn’t you run/call for help and 2) how come you’re not, like, bats**t crazy?

The first question doesn’t mean much to me. Fourteen-year-old-girl, threatened, brutalized, terrified: in the movies, she’d have run away. Real life, not so much. I think anyone with half an imagination can figure that one out.

But that second question — that haunts me. It really does. Nine months of trauma, raped every day, mentally tortured by these demonic lowlifes with their threats and their sick religious delusions. Hell, I know women who’ve been assaulted once and have never gotten over it. I know people whose whole lives are defined by the cruel things that were done to them. I myself just have to hear Smart’s story and I start having angry fantasies about what I’d like to do to Mitchell (hint: it involves a ball-peen hammer and pliers). So how does she, who actually went through this stuff…  how does she live her life without being consumed by rage every day all the time?

She gives answers in her interviews. Her mom told her that being happy was the best revenge. She plays the harp. She rides horses. She has a great family. A great community. She believes in God. She doesn’t dwell in the past.


I believe all that — I truly do — but somehow it doesn’t answer the question, does it? Not fully. Not for me anyway.  I look at Elizabeth Smart and I wonder about what she’s got inside her, that thing that Mitchell couldn’t touch, couldn’t break. Was she born with that?  Or did her parents give it to her? Can it be isolated, taught, shared, cultivated?

In our whiny, victocratic, nurse-your-wounds, therapy-and-drug laden culture, this poised young woman gives you faith there really is a better way. Whatever is in her, it’s an amazing thing, that’s for sure. I just wish I knew what it was!


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