Elizabeth Smart Confronts Kidnapper, Inspires Countless Others

Julie Ryan Evans

Brian David Mitchell
Brian David Mitchell
It has been nearly nine years since Brian David Mitchell kidnapped Elizabeth Smart from her bed and held her captive for nine months during which he raped and tortured her. At last, today, justice was served ... at least as far as our legal system can serve it.

Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison -- the maximum sentence allowed under the law. Perhaps even more significantly, however, Smart, 23, finally addressed Mitchell and told him how he had affected her life.

While the words likely meant little to him, as he reportedly sat singing "Oh Come Emmanuel" during her statement, they certainly will mean much to the thousands of other children who have been and will be abused, kidnapped, and raped. Because Smart's words weren't ones of anger and vengeance as to what he had done to ruin her life, but rather ones of resilience.

She's a true testament to the amazing ability of the human spirit to overcome someone and something this horrific. She told Mitchell:

I don't have much to say to you. I know that you know what you did was wrong ... You did it with full knowledge. But I want you to know that I have a wonderful life.

What a perfect message to send to someone who tried so hard to take a wonderful life away from her: He didn't win.

She also told him he would have to answer to a higher power. "I hope you're ready when that day comes."

She has suffered plenty without a doubt. As she said during the trial, "I felt that because of what he had done to me, I was marked. I wasn't the same. My personal value had dropped. I was nothing. Another person could never love me."

But she has worked, and will likely continue to work for the rest of her life, to not let it dictate the course of her life, to not let such evil ruin her ... as it easily could have. Today she told reporters that she's going to dedicate her life to child advocacy.

I think one of the biggest ways to overcome any trial in life, to heal from any kind of experience, is by helping those around you, because by lifting those around you up, you end up lifting yourself up as well.

I can't think of anyone better to make an impact in this area and in the lives of so many. She is truly, as Oprah says, "turning her wounds into wisdom" and teaching all of us by her example along the way.

What do you think of Elizabeth Smart's words to Brian David Mitchell?

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