Note to Readers €¢ Readers should be aware that Elizabeth Smart’s testimony contains graphic depictions of sexual abuse.
Elizabeth Smart on Monday gave an unflinching account of herself as a 14-year-old girl who, after being kidnapped and raped, quickly arrived at a decision that ensured her survival.
Now 23, Elizabeth testified that within hours of being abducted from her bed on June 5, 2002, Brian David Mitchell marched her at knife-point to a mountain campsite above her Salt Lake City home, consummated a hasty “marriage” ceremony, tethered her like an animal between two trees, and promised several times to kill her and her family if she tried to escape.
Despite the threats, Elizabeth said she initially decided to try and flee.
The rape had left Elizabeth bleeding and feeling desolate. No matter what, she said, she didn’t want to spend another day as a “plural wife” to the 48-year-old homeless street preacher and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.
“I felt like because [of] what he had done to me that I was marked, that I wasn’t clean, wasn’t pure, wasn’t worth the same,” Elizabeth testified. “I felt like another person would never love me. Yeah, I felt like I could take the risk of being killed and try to escape.”
But then, Elizabeth said, she thought of her family and realized they would always love her — no matter what Mitchell did.
At that moment, Elizabeth abandoned any thought of escape and formed a strategy that would see her safely reunited with her parents and five siblings nine months later.
“No matter what it took, I would live,” Smart testified. “I would survive and do everything he told me to do to keep my life and my family’s life intact.”
She said she decided to reduce the “danger and threat” as much as possible. That included mimicking the self-proclaimed prophet’s belief that he was called by God to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
But when the devout Mormon girl — who had never even dated a boy — made that pact with herself, she had no idea of the horrors yet to come.
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