PHOENIX -- Elizabeth Smart's story captivated the nation -- a young girl, snatched from her bedroom and held for nine months before being rescued. Smart was in the Valley Tuesday for an event, and during her visit, she spoke exclusively to our Carey Peña.
"Is there a day when you don't think about what happened? Nine months you were held in captivity you suffered atrocities that most of us just can't comprehend," Peña began.
"Yeah; I have normal days," Smart replied. "I go grocery shopping, do my laundry, take my dogs for a walk."
Elizabeth Smart never asked to be famous. At age 14, she was kidnapped from her bedroom.
Her kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, saw himself as a religious prophet and -- in his warped mind -- took her to be his second wife in a polygamous marriage. With a knife to her throat, he forced her to a remote camp on a mountain near Salt Lake City.
"I remember while I was held, I didn't know how long it was going to be for," Smart says. "I didn't know how long it would be for. I remember thinking I might be with them until they die and that could be 30-plus years and I remember thinking that sounds like an eternity."
"Would you have ever thought that 12 years down the road you would be out here telling your story, that you would be such a strong advocate?" Peña asked.
"No," says Smart. "I never would have thought that I would be doing this."
What she is doing is telling her story. We sat down exclusively with her today to talk about what has become more than just a mission statement - it's a mission. And while Elizabeth Smart may be a soft-spoken young woman, make no mistake. She is as strong as they come.
"I think I got to a point where I decided I wanted to survive, that it didn't matter what happened. If it meant I would survive, I would do whatever it took," she says. "And so I think a part of my mind shut down because my sole focus was just on surviving."
"No matter what someone else does to you, take advantage of you, hurting you, whatever it is; that cannot cheapen you; that cannot lessen you. You are still special, you are still valuable, you are no less of a person because of what happened to you," says Smart.
Elizabeth Smart was in the Valley to speak at Florence Crittendon's "Teaming Up for Girls" luncheon. That's an organization that helps young girls break the cycle of violence and abuse. She is now married, has a foundation, and travels the U.S. speaking about empowerment.
The man who kidnapped her, Brian David Mitchell, is serving a life sentence without parole in Tucson.