Photo: Jon Hewett / WWJ

Elizabeth Smart Shares Story At Oakland University

Smart didn't always want to share her story.

March 21, 2019 - 8:54 pm

ROCHESTER, Mich. (WWJ) -- Elizabeth Smart's story drew national headlines back in 2002 when she was taken at knifepoint from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the age of 14 and held prisoner for nine months.

Since the kidnapping, Smart has opened up about her time in captivity by writing a book, and now by traveling the country and speaking to crowds. But it wasn't always that way.

Smart was at Oakland University Thursday night to share her story, telling WWJ's Jon Hewett afterwards that she really had no plans to share her story, but as years went by, and she started to share it, the response she received led her to open up even more.

"I was so shocked at everyone’s response to everything," Smart said. "I met with so many victims who were just so thankful that they knew they were no longer alone. That kind of pushed me to keep speaking.”

Now she’s a sought-after speaker, as evidence by her visit to Oakland on Thursday. She’s also a best-selling author and an advocate for protecting children, including being involved in the national AMBER Alert program and sex offender registry.

In her best-selling book, "My Story," Smart reveals details about several near escapes and the sexual abuse and torture she endured.

"I didn’t want to talk about things, I didn’t want people to know what happened," Smart said. "Then during the trial, so much came out that I had never planned on talking about with anyone, but it came out like a list of facts, bullet points, and I remember thinking, 'well, if it’s going to come out, then I want it to come out on my own terms.'"