When Smart was 14 years-old, she was abducted from her home by religious fanatic Brian Mitchell, who raped, abused and drugged by until she was rescued nine months later. Now, the harrowing tale of Smart’s kidnapping will air on Lifetime as I Am Elizabeth Smart debuts on Saturday, with Smart, 29, narrating the TV movie.
When E! News’ Kristin Dos Santos sat down with Smart, along with Alana Boden who plays her, at the 2017 Summer TCA Press Tour, the American child safety activist spoke about why she was willing to relive the memories of her abduction for the movie.
“I have met so many survivors and I’ve worked with so many victims and I’ve heard so many other people’s stories,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached after I’ve given a speech or something and somebody’s come up to me and said, ‘I’ve never told anyone this before but when I was 14 I was raped’ or ‘when I was 12 my dad sold me to pay the mortgage on the house.’ I have had so many people come up to me and disclose their abuse that’s happened to them and they’ve never told anyone.”
“They shouldn’t have to keep it a secret, they shouldn’t have to hold it inside. Everyone deserves to be happy,” Smart said. “No one deserves to be hurt in the way that I was hurt, the way that so many survivors and other victims are being hurt. No one has the right to do that to them. So I want them to know that they’re not alone.”
To hear more from Elizabeth Smart about helping other victims and survivors of abuse by sharing her story, and her message to victims, watch our interview with her above.
Smart married Matthew Gilmour in Hawaii in 2012, and the couple has two children together, with Smart sharing the first photo of their second child in April 2017.
2017 marks the 15th anniversary of Smart’s abduction.