PROVO — Elizabeth Smart spoke in Brigham Young University’s de Jong Concert Hall on Wednesday night as part of the university-sponsored “Voices of Courage” campaign.
Smart’s address, which aligned with the campaign’s themes of abuse prevention and violence reduction, focused on exercising faith and relying on Heavenly Father during difficult times.
Smart explained how, through her travels and interactions with people over the past decade, she has seen the struggles of others.
“We all have problems. I’ve never met anyone with a perfect life,” Smart said. “At some point in each of our lives, we’re going to come up against a trial.”
Using the story of her 2002 abduction, Smart spoke about choices and enduring when things become unimaginably difficult.
Explaining in detail the first few days of her life in captivity, Smart recalled feelings of helplessness and worthlessness as she was repeatedly raped and abused.
“I will never forget how broken and shattered and filthy I felt,” Smart said. “I remember feeling so low in that moment. It didn’t matter anymore what happened to me because I was so beyond the point of help; so beyond the point of value and worth and it just didn’t matter anymore.”
After a period of time spent feeling low and abandoned, Smart began to reflect on things her mother had taught her earlier in life. These principles of eternal love are a large part of the reason Smart chose to endure when the days seemed impossible.
“I realized that these people who kidnapped me, they could take everything away. They could steal my childhood or they could take my life or they could change my name and they could do whatever they wanted to me, but there are a couple things they could never take away from me,” Smart said. “They could never take away the fact that I am one of Heavenly Father’s daughters and he loves me, and they could not take away that fact that I am also my mother’s daughter and that she will always love me.”
It was in the moment that followed that Smart made what she called the most important decision she could have possibly made during her nine months in captivity:
“I decided that I would do whatever it took ... if it meant that I would one day get home to my family," she said.
During times where she felt powerless against her abductors, Smart described instances of kneeling down and praying. She encouraged her audience to do the same, emphasizing that no matter what life may bring, each person still has worth and value.
After her remarks, Smart met with audience members to take photos and sign copies of her book, “My Story.”