Elizabeth Smart – I’m just saying.

I think what Elizabeth Smart went through is remarkable and that she is alive is a miracle. I wish her so much love, happiness and peace. While I have some choice words for those around her (Mrs. Smart invited her daughter’s kidnapper into their lives when she saw him, homeless, at a supermarket – nah, I shouldn’t judge. I’ll shut up.), I am impressed with the woman she has become and the advocate she surely is.

I happened to be getting my nails done and picked up the latest issue of “People” to read the cover story on Ms. Smart and her recovery in the last five years. I don’t have a copy and I don’t have the quotes, so you’re getting the paraphrased version of two very incendiary paragraphs.

Ed Smart, her father, says in the interview that Elizabeth has not had any formal therapy. It is well known that she was sexually, physically and mentally abused during her captivity by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. He goes on to say that when she talks about “it”, she confides in her “parents and grandparents”, but that he and her mother have each heard “different things” and that’s okay with them; that she’ll share what she wants to. Really? What about when the trial finally comes up and she has to testify? What will happen then? Do parents have the duty to see that their children heal in a more therapeutic framework?

I think she has handled this with tremendous grace and I agree with her that this should not define her. Bad shit happens to people all the time and one cannot dwell. However, by not seeking professional help, I feel that this young woman, (like many survivors of crime) will have it come back and haunt her one day. She was only 15 at the time of her abduction, after all. I pushed my brutal attack away after it i decided to “move on”…it got me nothing but PTSD and a life of less promise for not having dealt, saying “I am totally fine!”.

Sometimes, victims and survivors need to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their own healing. No one can hand it to us. What do you all think? Should she seek help just to sort it out? Will the inevitable prep for trial bring it all crashing down? In Eastern philosophy and medicine, we learn that things “get worse before we feel better”. Walking through the fire is sometimes necessary to build your house again.

Thoughts on Elizabeth Smart’s unorthodox recovery? I’d love to hear from a therapist/social worker/psychotherapist/etc. And all of you!


  1. themommykelly says

    Hmm. I’m just wondering if maybe her parents or grandparents got some help to help her. In any case, I think that in a situation like Elizabeth’s a professional should be involved.Yes, our loved ones can help us through many of the tragic events of our lives and help us well at that. But only a professional can provide a victim with the strategies and techniques necessary to leave the past in the past and employ our bitter experiences to enrich our lives in the present.

  2. TMK:Very well put. I agree 100%.As an aside, Ed Smart mentions in the article that he offered to get her professional help, she said “no” and that was the end of that. I believe their strong faith certainly helps them along, but I also believe one’s faith cannot be a subsitute for the professional ability to provide such strategies and techniques to build a life based on the promise of the future. Thanks, TMK!

  3. Liz, funny you mention this because the first thing I thought of when I read that article was, I can’t wait to see what Liz says about this one!I wish Ms. Smart well, but I think it’s a little bizarre she didn’t have any therapy and her parents were just like ok, sure. I’m all for faith- I belong to one of the largest Catholic Church Social groups in Manhattan and I don’t know what I’d do without my friends and my faith. But- I still have PTSD and anorexia. I still need my shrink, my nutritionist, and my Kolonopin because I often can’t sleep at night.I hope her progress continues to go smoothly, but I don’t think some kind of therapy would hurt.Michele

  4. Liz,Hmm. Tough one. I can very much understand why Elizabeth would turn down therapy. I’m sure she felt that she just didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about it, either. Thinking about it is hard enough, but telling other people about what happened to you – well, you know. There are no words to describe the way you feel. Mostly like you’ve never wanted to throw up more in your life.However, with time, I realized that talking is the only thing that helps. Keeping it inside destroys you. The first urge is to stay silent. But the key is to ignore that and talk anyway. So do I think her parents should have made her go to therapy? Well, part of me wants to say yes, the other part wants to say no. I don’t think she should be made to talk about it till she’s ready. But she won’t get better until she does.Dah! Clearly I don’t have any idea.xo,E

  5. Anonymous says

    I read in Ed & Lois Smart’s book “Bringing Elizabeth Home” that Elizabeth had been in therapy. Someone is in denial here.

  6. I agree with all of the comments here. I think Elizabeth should do what is right for her at this point, but once again, experience seems to point to a professional as the answer. After all, she was in captivity for a long, long time.Anon – I liked your comment and I wish I had the actual quotes – I will try to uncover them. That is so very very interesting. I think we all agree that we want Ms. Smart to continue on her road to wellness. I don’t want to read her autobiography in 20 years denial and it damn near killed her.

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