The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Smart was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003 after being held prisoner for nine grueling months.

Marking the 15th anniversary of Smart’s harrowing childhood abduction, A E and Lifetime will premiere a cross-network event that allows Smart to tell her story in her own words. A E’s Biography special “Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography” premieres in two 90-minute installments on Sunday, November 12 and Monday, November 13 at 9PM ET/PT. The intimate special allows Smart to explain her story in her own words and provides previously untold details about her infamous abduction. Lifetime’s Original Movie “I Am Elizabeth Smart” starring Skeet Ulrich (Riverdale, Jericho), Deirdre Lovejoy (The Blacklist, The Wire) and Alana Boden (Ride) premieres Saturday, November 18 at 8PM ET/PT. Elizabeth serves as a producer and on-screen narrator in order to explore how she survived and confront the truths and misconceptions about her captivity.

The Elizabeth Smart Foundation was created by the Smart family to provide a place of hope, action, education, safety and prevention for children and their families wherever they may be, who may find themselves in similar situations as the Smarts, or who want to help others to avoid, recover, and ultimately thrive after they’ve been traumatized, violated, or hurt in any way. For more information visit their site:

Elizabeth’s story is also a New York Times Best Seller “My Story” available via her site


Comments: 4582 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

Chtorrr9350 karma

What would you most like to tell us that no one has asked?

RealElizabethSmart18521 karma

My favorite movie is Eddie The Eagle. I can eat Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia by the pint, and my toughest boss is my two year old daughter.

blabla16087318 karma

Did you ever have any contact with Nancy Grace after the garbage she tried to pull with you? BTW, I don't think you could've handled that any better.

RealElizabethSmart6700 karma

Thank you, and no.

milabrown6302 karma

I am a survivor of human trafficking, which actually started around the time you had went missing. When you were found I remember it giving me hope and something to keep working toward because it reminded me that there are people out there who care. What was the hardest thing you faced in terms of speaking out and becoming an advocate? I still have so much guilt tied to my experience and I'm 30 now and while I've worked through so much of that, I can't seem to fully accept that it was something that happened to me, not something that I did. If there was one main thing that you wanted to tell a survivor about speaking out, what would it be?

RealElizabethSmart9396 karma

The hardest thing about speaking out and becoming an advocate was the fear of having everyone know what happened to me. The one thing I would tell a survivor about speaking out is no matter what people’s reactions are, you deserve happiness, you deserve love, you deserve support and you deserve to know that you are worthwhile.

Rusty-Shackleford4904 karma

In your opinion as a children's advocate, what are some practical, commonsense steps parents can take to help their children avoid abuse? (And I guess I mean abuse in a general way, anything from extreme bullying to abduction.)

RealElizabethSmart25158 karma

  1. Make sure your child knows that they are loved unconditionally, and make sure your child knows what unconditionally means.
  2. Make sure that your child understands that no one has the right to hurt them or scare them in any way. It doesn’t matter what that person may be: family, friend, religious leader, community leader, it doesn’t matter.
  3. Should anyone hurt your child or threaten them in anyway, they need to tell you.

TooShiftyForYou4483 karma

What misconceptions about your abduction would you like to make people more aware of?

RealElizabethSmart13701 karma

I couldn’t just runaway. I couldn’t just scream out. Everything I did, I did to survive. I never suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. I never identified with my captors or cared about them. Every decision was made with survival in mind.

TecumsehSherman4250 karma

Is there anything you noticed in your captor, whether it be a certain look or manner of speech that would serve as a red flag for you if seen/ heard from another person?

Or, rather, can you sense if someone you encounter is capable of such a thing?

RealElizabethSmart11671 karma

There are things that make me wary, one of them being when someone uses religion excessively to justify what they’ve done or are going to do.

UrMomsHairCurler3005 karma

What was it like trying to re-join society? Do/did people always want to ask details or have they generally been respectful?

RealElizabethSmart5943 karma

People have almost always been very respectful. The hardest part about rejoining society was realizing that I would never go back to being the old me.

suaveitguy2646 karma

Did you suffer from PTSD? How was the treatment, how long was that road?

RealElizabethSmart4985 karma

I feel extremely blessed in that I have not suffered from PTSD. I have had flashbacks, I now have aversions to things that didn’t bother me before, but that’s it.

making_mischief2135 karma

Were there moments when you thought "this is it"? Conversely, were there moments when you thought "this will all be over soon"?

RealElizabethSmart4226 karma

Yes, there were lots of times I thought, this is it I’m going to die wether if it was directly at the hands of my captors or through consequences of their actions. It was hard to believe it was over until I was in my dad’s arms being hugged at the police station.

RealElizabethSmart2105 karma

Thank you for all of your questions. If I missed your questions I still might answer them on my the special Elizabeth Smart: Questions Answered on A&E on November 20th.

JustNursingAround1724 karma

In 2003 you were known as the girl who was kidnapped, today I think your advocacy work is defining you - in 40 years, when the public hears 'Elizabeth Smart' what do you want them to think of first? Or do desire a life outside the spotlight, where people don't recognize your name?

RealElizabethSmart2846 karma

I’d be lying if I said anonymity wasn’t tempting, but I want to continue advocating until change happens. It would also be nice to be known as a wife, a mother, a friend.

nine_t_nine1401 karma

First want to say I'm so impressed by all your incredible advocacy work, and how you've given other survivors of sexual assault such strength.

My question is, how have your experiences and your abduction influenced how you raise your own children? Would you say you're overly safety conscious or cautious?

Thank you for doing this AMA, you're such an inspiration!

RealElizabethSmart2463 karma

It’s a constant struggle between being overprotected vs. wanting to let my children experience life so they’re prepared for the future. Fortunately, both of my children are young so I control most of their activities but as they get older I think that it will be a constant battle between letting them experience life on their own terms and wanting to protect.


The most obvious question is "how are you doing?" and also what type of therapy has helped the most?

RealElizabethSmart2203 karma

I’m great.

You have to find what’s right for you in therapy. There’s no formula for everyone. For me, my family was huge. I found my music extremely therapeutic. I have always found horseback riding and being in nature therapeutic.

TheAbleLife1219 karma

I hope no one misreads this and thinks it is a negative comment, but I was curious in the age of social media with your specific situation how do you deal with chuckleheads trying to get noticed at your expense either by harassing you or just posting flat out lies about you or your situation that thrust you into the media spotlight? Also, how do you handle (mentally and emotionally) any fake news stories written about you?

RealElizabethSmart3057 karma

The answer to both those questions is the same. I used to read every article and every comment posted about those articles and it made me feel terrible. My older brother one day said, “Elizabeth who cares what these people think? Who cares what these people say? Stop reading them.” So, I stopped reading them.

grrrrlpower1119 karma

How did you meet your husband? How has he been involved with your advocacy work?

RealElizabethSmart2158 karma

We were both serving missions in France for our church and that’s where we met. He supports me so that I can do my advocacy work because it can be emotionally taxing.

Kierlikepierorbeer1022 karma

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for opening yourself up to us in this manner. I've held you in my thoughts and heart for years, just wishing you the best.

I'm just wondering, in general, how did your friends treat you after your return home? Have you stayed in contact with any of your friends from before your abduction, and were you able to find support in your friends upon return?

RealElizabethSmart2129 karma

Yes, I still have many friends from before I was abducted, and it was awkward maybe the first two seconds I was home and then things just picked up where we had left off.

LlLlTH1003 karma

Is there anything "in the moment" that you did that you specifically think saved your life until the police came?

RealElizabethSmart2205 karma

There were a lot of things. Every decision I made was with survival being the end goal. Specifically, learning their tactics and eventually using those tactics against them.

suaveitguy950 karma

What's your opinion of journalists after your personal experience? Was there any good for you that came from them and their reports, did you see some/many as exploitative?

RealElizabethSmart1595 karma

I think the media is like a double edge sword it has huge power for good but at the same time it can come at a cost. For me the majority of my experiences have always added to the greater good there are a few exceptions, however.

PerilousAll766 karma

I understand that you came from a religious background, and your captors justified their actions with a very sick and twisted version of religious belief. Do you feel a lot of echos of that or have trouble moving back to and reconciling your own faith?

RealElizabethSmart1744 karma

No, my faith helped me survive what I did, but when people justify everything they do through religion it makes me wary.

Demderdemden648 karma

When did you realise how big your story had become in the media? What was it like dealing with that in addition to the traumatic experience?

RealElizabethSmart1097 karma

I’m still amazed at how big my story was and the interest people still have in it. Having everyone know who I was was probably the hardest part about coming back.

Neandertholocaust638 karma

Many religions teach from a young age that sex is to be saved for marriage, and that no one will want you if you've already had sex (a church teacher of mine used an analogy about nobody wanting chewed gum.)

Do you think the way this is taught can enable sexual abuse because victims don't want anyone to know they're "used"? How do you think this (admittedly difficult) subject should be taught to young people?

RealElizabethSmart2759 karma

I think it’s fine if it’s your belief to teach to wait to have sex until marriage; however I think it is imperative that no analogy like ‘chewed up gum’ be used, because no matter what your sexual orientation, preference, or when to have it is, it will not detract from your worth as a human being. So, yes, change needs to happen in the way it is taught.

pfeifits619 karma

How do we change the mentality and social norms that make survivors of sexual abuse feel worthless?

RealElizabethSmart1362 karma

Sexual abuse is so prevalent today chances are it’s not just one person you know that’s experienced sexual abuse, but many people that you know that have experienced it. We need to be able to address these issues openly, talk about them regularly, and be supportive when survivors do come forward.

whateverbuddy585 karma

What are your most useful anti-abduction tips?

RealElizabethSmart1756 karma

Practice screaming, encourage your kids to fight back, there is a place and a time when it’s not only acceptable it’s encouraged. An organization that I work closely with is Rad Kids it’s all about prevention education and you can learn more about them at

friendofsmellytapir585 karma

Did your Mormon faith have an effect on how you were able to make it through your experience? Is your faith any different now having gone through what you did?

RealElizabethSmart1109 karma

Yes. My faith period played a big part on how I survived. Yes, my faith has changed. I’ve gotten older it’s widen, it’s expanded. it’s grown since I was a 14 year old girl.

RealElizabethSmart2 karma

Yes. My faith period played a big part on how I survived. Yes, my faith has changed. I’ve gotten older it’s widen, it’s expanded. it’s grown since I was a 14 year old girl.

CoolHandJake1536 karma

Has your abduction created any challenges for you as a wife and a mother?

RealElizabethSmart1454 karma

Well, my husband doesn’t like being called Mr. Smart, but other than that no, or that I’ve yet to experience.

ClearCounter471 karma

Did you see the Dave Chappelle bit on you during one of his specials? How did you feel about it, if so?

RealElizabethSmart753 karma

If it’s the one I think it is, when I watched I felt bad. But now I could care less.

AngriestManinWestTX456 karma

What is your favorite hobby?

RealElizabethSmart1323 karma

These days my hobbies are my kids, but I like to listen to audible when I have a chance and the Great British Bake Off.

lievein370 karma

Do you still play the harp?

RealElizabethSmart1688 karma

Well, my sister-in-law just got married in Scotland and I played ‘can’t help falling in love’ as she walked down the aisle.

suaveitguy392 karma

Do you think social media is a net good for the world?

RealElizabethSmart826 karma

I’m still debating that. It could be, but I’m not convinced yet.

TheGreatKadinko337 karma

Do you like hamburgers? In your opinion, which chain burger is best?

RealElizabethSmart1037 karma

Love hamburgers. I’m going to say In-and-Out is the best.

iamwithithere337 karma

How is it being a reporter for Crime Watch Daily? Do you like that type of work considering your past?

RealElizabethSmart740 karma

I like doing Crime Watch Daily, because it feels like I’m able to help someone share their story without re-victimizing them because I’ve been in their same shoes.

TheKlic303 karma

Obvious question is obvious, but I don't see anyone else having asked it yet.

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or a dozen duck sized horses?

RealElizabethSmart731 karma

A dozen duck sized horses, think how cute they’d be.

shouldbeworking23253 karma

On a lighter note, what's your favorite movie?

RealElizabethSmart1003 karma

The BBC Pride and Prejudice, the six hour one.

yellowsubmarinr250 karma

Do you often get recognized when you're out and about? How do people react?

Thanks for hosting the AMA!!

RealElizabethSmart595 karma

Yes, I get recognized all the time. Especially when I have no makeup on and greasy hair. But people are always very kind and just want to express well wishes and gratitude, but it should be expressing my gratitude to them.

FuckingPotzer231 karma

Who's your favorite Spice Girl?

RealElizabethSmart719 karma

Posh, because who doesn't love David Beckham?

anonymousish_af229 karma

What advice would you give to recently returned American hostage Caitlan Coleman for moving forwards in her life now?

RealElizabethSmart1134 karma

I have the same advice for all survivors no matter what their story is. That is the same advice that my mom gave to me: What has happened is terrible, there are no words to describe how wicked and evil they are, they have stolen 9 months of your life that you will never get back. But the best punishment you could give them is to be happy. By feeing sorry for yourself and reliving it is only allowing them to steal more of your life away from you. Obviously, the advice is tailored to your own specific circumstance. I don’t think this means you’ll never have a bad day again, or never struggle or feel frustration or anger. I think it just means have your end goal always be happiness.

ShySportyGal215 karma

Elizabeth, having read your book I first have to say how inspirational you are. To overcome what happened to you and to not look back is just amazing to me. I think you're an amazing role model for women everywhere.

I struggle with depression & anxiety and haven't been able to find the right career for myself yet despite being well-educated. I know one of the things you say is not to let the past define you, but I seem to have so much trouble letting go of my past experiences and dwell on what people must think of me. What is the key to moving forward from the past and letting it not burden you?

RealElizabethSmart363 karma

I think it’s building a relationship with yourself, being comfortable with who you are and liking who you are.

Relshuq198 karma

Are you an avid user of reddit? If so, how long have you been among us?

RealElizabethSmart434 karma

No, this is my first time.

aventeren196 karma

You can take 4 trips. Money and time don't really matter--but you have to go only to do the following: 1. Adventure 2. Culture 3. Relaxation 4. Adventure + Culture + Relaxation

Where do you go and why?

RealElizabethSmart374 karma

My husband just asked me the same question. 1. Alaska for adventure, 2. India for culture 3. Toss up between Bali and Tahiti for relaxation, 4. You tell me where I can get Adventure + Culture + Relaxation.

Icussr107 karma

How do you feel about the #MeToo campaign? Does it feel hollow to you? #MeToo is vague, but your story is so completely out there. Do you think people should all put their stories out there? Do you think that someone else could have spoken up about your abductors and saved you that 9 months?

RealElizabethSmart402 karma

I think the #MeToo campaign is great. I think it’s bringing attention to the issues of sexual violence. At the very least it’s getting people to talk about a topic that is so easily swept under the rug.
I think it’s important to share your story so that everyone understands that these aren’t just isolated incidents. They don’t just happen in dark alleyways or in the woods late at night. It can happen to anyone anywhere. At the same time I think it’s important to be sensitive to where you’re at as a person and if you don’t feel comfortable sharing far and wide you don’t need to Take care of yourself first. I never really thought about someone speaking up about my captors before. Maybe someone could’ve, but at the same time my captors were going to do what they were going to do. They were extremely manipulative and knew how to prey on people’s fears and emotions.

suaveitguy103 karma

Have you stayed connected to SLC? Is it better than Scotland?

RealElizabethSmart243 karma

I still live close to Salt Lake. I still love it. Scotland is very beautiful, too, it just rains all the time.