I have been reading the transcripts from the on-going trial of Elizabeth Smart (it has been taking place this week). I continue to be amazed with this girl. While most of us are upset that it has taken EIGHT years for this man to finally get an official sentence for the heinous crimes he committed, the young woman it all happened to can be seen with the most beautiful smile on her face any time a camera captures her photo.
Elizabeth was born on November 3, 1987. I was born on November 2, 1986. I am only one year older than she is and while I wasn't of a complete mind to grasp what was happening to her at the time, I do remember how much news coverage there was on the entire situation. I knew what was going on.
And now, reading the full account from her mouth of what she had to go through and how she endured has really hit me hard. What stands out to me while reading her entire story is how her testimony of the Gospel helped her survive. I have read a lot of disrespectful comments from people who believe that because she was raised as a devout Mormon, that it was easy for her to be brainwashed and taken by a man claiming to be a prophet. But I urge those people to read her very plain and strong testimony that the opposite is the reality. Because she was raised as a devout Mormon, she already had a testimony of who Heavenly Father really is and what His work is really all about. She found it obvious that this man, Brian David Mitchell, was a fraud and a liar. He was most certainly not of God. She went along with the captivity not because of brainwashing, but because a very intimidating and creepy man continuously threatened that if she were to run away, he would have her and her family killed. She spoke of the moment when she realized running away was not the best solution:
Viti: Ms. Smart, you were explaining to me before the break, that first morning you were in that tent alone ... you decided you were going to run away before you were tethered, correct?
Viti: Can you explain what you were thinking when you made that decision?
Smart: I didn’t want to spend another day with him. I never wanted to see him again, but I also — like I had seen what he had done to me so far, had seen how he had taken me from my bed, the place I thought was safest in the whole world, from in the bed next to my sister. He succeeded in taking me up to this camp, threatened me, tethered me between two trees like an animal. And at that point, I felt like it didn’t matter. I felt like because what he had done to me that I was marked, that I wasn’t clean, wasn’t pure, wasn’t worth the same. My self-worth, my personal value, was just dropped. I felt like another person would never love me, felt like I could take the risk of being killed and try to escape.
Viti: Did there come a time, Ms. Smart, shortly after you thought this that your thinking had changed?
Viti: Would you tell that to the jury, please?
Smart: A little bit after the shock of everything that had happened, I started to think about my family, my parents, what my life had been before. It didn’t matter what happened to me, my parents would always love me, no matter what he did to me. That couldn’t be changed, that I still was a person of worth. ... No matter what it took, I would live. I would survive and do everything he told me to do to keep my life and my family’s life intact.
Viti: Were you concerned about your family’s safety at that point?
Viti: How would you have felt if you did anything to cause harm to them?
Smart: I would have felt it was my fault. I would have felt terrible. I would have felt like I had a burden the size of a mountain to carry around with me the rest of my life.
I was happy to read a fairly weak attempt on the defense attorney's part of cross examination. I realize that their fight now is to prove that these two were psychologically "compromised" when this all happened and they weren't fully responsible for their actions. I pray the jury doesn't fall for that. Smart's detailed account of what happened makes it obvious that this man and woman may have crazy ideals, but they should be held 100% accountable for what they did to a 14 year-old girl for nine months.
As many of you may know, Elizabeth Smart is now living in Paris, France to serve a full-time mission for the Mormon Church. She is a supreme example of not living in fear and not dwelling on the past, no matter how horrible it was. And now, how do I end this post?
Smart's testimony within her testimony:
Viti: During your nine months of observations of the defendant did you have an opinion as to whether he was hypocritical?
Viti: And what was your opinion?
Smart: That he was very hypocritical.
Viti: What do you base that on?
Smart: Well, nine months of living with him and seeing him proclaim that he was God’s servant and he had been called to do God’s work and everything that he did to me and to my family is something I know God would never tell someone to do. God would never tell someone to kidnap a young girl from her family’s home in the middle of the night from her bed that she shared with her sister, from her sister’s side and give her no free agency and continue to rape her and sexually abuse her and give her no free agency to choose what she did. I know that God loves each of his children and that we have our free agency and that’s why we are here. It is for us to choose what we do in our lives, and I never had that free agency in those nine months I was with him. I know he was not called of God because God would never do something like that.