On June 5, 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom in her parents' Salt Lake City home by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell, thus beginning a 280-day ordeal of rape, drugging, starvation and bizarre religious rituals that ended the following March with her self-enabled rescue.
The story got considerable media coverage, and now it's explored in two programs airing this month.
In the two-part documentary "Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography," airing Sunday and Monday, Nov. 12 and 13, on A&E Network, the now 29-year-old Smart provides previously untold details and new information on her nine-month nightmare and the perspective she's gained as a result. And Saturday Nov. 18, on Lifetime, the two-hour made-for-TV movie "I Am Elizabeth Smart" dramatizes her ordeal, with Alana Boden playing Smart and Skeet Ulrich and Deirdre Lovejoy as her captors, Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.
"It's funny because, when I got home, I think I swore up and down that I was never going to write a book, I was never going to do a movie. I wanted it all to disappear. I wanted it all to go away, and honestly, I think that's a pretty natural response," Smart told a recent gathering of journalists in Beverly Hills, Calif. "And for years, I felt that way, but little by little, I started to become more involved in advocacy. And I started meeting more survivors and meeting other people who had gone through similar things.
"And as I got older ... I became more involved, until eventually it's kind of my world now, I realized that I have an opportunity. I have a unique opportunity to share my story because there are so many other survivors out there who struggle every day because they feel like they are alone. They feel like nobody possibly understands what they are going through. ..."
"Nobody deserves to be hurt," she continues. "And so ... I feel like I do need to share my story for that very reason."
In the telepic, Smart (who served as a producer on both films) is held captive in the Utah wilderness and ranted at by her captors that it was divine will that she be taken from her family. Despite that, she says she managed to keep a healthy attitude about her faith thanks to her upbringing.
"I grew up in a conservative Christian home," she explains. "And having had 14 years of a wonderful family, of coming from a very secure background, having been taught (by) my parents from as far back as I can remember, to all of a sudden being taken, being told that God commanded them to hurt me, God had been commanded to do all these terrible things to me, that was just sort of night and day for me.
"So it never changed my view on God because the 14 years prior to that, I'd always been told, 'You'll know a person by their actions. No matter what they say, if they're a good person, they'll be doing good things.'
"And these people weren't good," she continues. "They were hurting me. So clearly they weren't people of God."
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"Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography"
Airs at 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Nov. 12 and 13, on A&E Network
"I Am Elizabeth Smart"
Airs at 7 p.m. Saturday Nov. 18, on Lifetime