Elizabeth Smart, the Salt Lake City teen whose kidnapping captured national attention in 2002 and 2003, is now 25, married, and traveling widely as a public speaker and advocacy worker. It has now been more than a decade since she was returned home after a nine-month ordeal.
But she's spent much of the past year reliving that trauma for the sake of a new memoir, which is out today from St. Martin's Press.
According to an Associated Press report, the 308-page book contains details of the most sordid aspects of Smart's kidnapping, during which time she was repeatedly raped by her street preacher kidnapper:
Between the heartbreak of missed chances, Smart writes, she was treated as a sex object by Brian David Mitchell and as a slave by his wife, Wanda Barzee. She says they denied her food and water for days at a time. [ . . . ]
Smart says she doesn't care to understand Mitchell, yet her book opens a window on his personality. He was a downtown Salt Lake City fixture in a robe and sandals who first laid a crooked eye on Smart when her mother offered the man $5 and work at the family home.
As well as the dramatic near-rescues that filled her months in captivity:
Against that backdrop, the book chronicles a series of near-rescues, notably by a homicide detective who questioned Mitchell at a library in downtown Salt Lake City. From under a table, Barzee clamped "iron" fingers into Smart's thigh. Smart, disguised in a dirty robe and face veil, remained silent as she remembered the couple's repeated threats to kill her family if she tried to save herself.
Though Smart says the point isn't to make anyone feel bad for her: "I want people to know that I'm happy in my life right now," she said in an interview, adding that she hopes the book will be of use to fellow kidnapping victims. Fittingly, her foundation aims to do just that, and her story shows that it is possible for such a terrifying trauma to have a happy ending.