Overcoming Adversity: The Elizabeth Smart Story
The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. At the tender age of 14, just before celebrating her middle school graduation, Elizabeth went to sleep in her family home just as she had always done. Awakened hours later to a knife held roughly against her throat, she was taken from her home and family and held captive for nine long months. In this captivating message, Elizabeth shares her incredible story of perseverance in the face of unimaginable adversity. Her speech not only tells her personal story, but also discusses topics such as overcoming extreme adversity, the importance and process of recovery, and not allowing your past to dictate your life's future. Elizabeth knows that there is nothing more important than having hope in a difficult situation. Having lived through an extreme circumstance as a young teenager, Elizabeth gives great insight and hope to all.
The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003 after being held prisoner for 9 grueling months.
Through this traumatic experience Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation. Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which lead to conviction.
The Founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, Elizabeth has also helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.
Elizabeth has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times bestselling book, My Story. In addition, she and other abduction survivors worked with the Department of Justice to create a survivors guide, entitled, “You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment.” This guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences not to give up but to know that there is hope for a rewarding life.
Elizabeth’s abduction and recovery continues to motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children’s safety. She emphasizes vigilance by "every day" people and the belief that hope always exist to find every missing child.
Elizabeth’s example is a daily demonstration that there really is life after a tragic event. Smart attended Brigham Young University, studying music as a harp performance major. She married her husband Matthew in 2012.