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  • I don't know anyone who has a perfect life; nobody.

  • And I know that every single one of us have our own personal challenges,

  • and trials and there are days when we wish

  • that we didn't have to get out of bed.

  • There are days when we wish we could pull the covers back up and hibernate.

  • But we all have a choice to make.

  • We have the choice to stay in bed and keep the covers pulled over us,

  • or we have a choice to move forward.

  • When I was 14 years old, nothing special stood out about me.

  • I was just average 14-year-old,

  • getting ready to graduate from junior high, very excited.

  • I remember going to bed one night,

  • in a room that I shared with my sister, in a bed that I shared with my sister.

  • I remember waking up to the voice, a strange voice, saying

  • "I have a knife at your neck; don't make a sound.

  • Get up and come with me."

  • That started a nine-month-long nightmare.

  • I remember this strange man taking me way up into the mountains behind my home,

  • all the while at knife-point.

  • I mean, I remember being brought so far up into the mountains.

  • We crossed right over the top of the mountain,

  • and started down the other side.

  • We were about a quarter of the way down the other side

  • when we came to a grove of trees, and nothing stood out about it,

  • nothing seemed special about it,

  • but he directed me inside this grove of trees,

  • and I remember walking in,

  • and I saw that part of the mountain had been leveled out.

  • There was a tent set up.

  • There were tarps lying on the ground, hanging up in the trees.

  • I remember seeing a huge hole in the ground behind the tent,

  • where they had laid logs across the top, and then thrown dirt up on top of it.

  • But the most scary part of this whole scene

  • was the woman that emerged from the tent.

  • She brought me in, and she sat me down on a bucket,

  • where she tried to sponge bathe me,

  • and change me out of my pajamas into strange robes.

  • I grew up in being very, very shy and very, very self-conscious,

  • and that was just about the most traumatic thing

  • I had ever had happen to me.

  • I remember begging and pleading with her just to let me do it myself,

  • that I wasn't dirty, that I had just showered the night before,

  • and that I could change myself; I didn't need her help.

  • Finally, after - I don't know - 15 minutes, probably,

  • of begging and crying, she finally just passed me the robes.

  • I wiggled them on, she scooped up my pajamas,

  • and she left me alone in the tent, sitting on an upturned bucket.

  • I remember sitting there and crying,

  • and crying, and thinking of what had happened to me.

  • How had just yesterday I had been at school with my friends,

  • How had just yesterday I'd been at home,

  • looking forward to graduating, ready to go to high school.

  • How had this happened?

  • How had my world turned from day to night,

  • and what had happened to my family?

  • Had this man gone through my house already,

  • and murdered my family?

  • What was going to happen to me?

  • The only thoughts that I could think of were going to happen to me, were:

  • He's going to rape me, and then he's going to kill me

  • because nobody survives being kidnapped,

  • nobody ever comes home.

  • I have never seen a happily-ever-after in a kidnapping story.

  • Every story the news repeats, it's always the same.

  • Maybe it's days later, weeks later, years later, a body is found,

  • but that's what happens.

  • As I sat there crying, I'm being so scared,

  • I remember the tent door unzipping, and in walked this man,

  • and he had changed out of the dark clothes he had kidnapped me in,

  • into a robe, just like the one I had on,

  • and he knelt down next to me, and he started to speak.

  • And at first, I was so caught up

  • in my own worries and my own fears,

  • and what had happened, and what was going to happen,

  • I couldn't even begin to think to listen to what he was saying.

  • Finally, some part of me pulled myself together long enough

  • to hear him say the words that I was now his wife,

  • I was sealed to him,

  • and that I was supposed to perform all wifely duties.

  • and it was time for us to consummate our marriage.

  • Now I grew up in a very traditional home.

  • My family is very religious.

  • I have been raised to believe

  • that sexual relationships are to be

  • within the boundaries of marriage,

  • and that's what I'd always believed.

  • That's what I'd always intended on following.

  • And so here this man was, telling me

  • that I was supposed to consummate our marriage,

  • and I may have grown up in a bit of a bubble.

  • I mean I may not have been

  • the most forward-thinking 14 year old in the world at the time.

  • Part of me wasn't even sure I knew what "consummate a marriage" meant.

  • The other part of me was praying and hoping

  • that it wasn't what I thought it was.

  • I quickly found out exactly what it was.

  • I remember begging and pleading, and crying,

  • and tried to come up with every reason I possibly could

  • to try to convince this man to let me go, to not hurt me,

  • to just release me back to my family.

  • But nothing I said or did made a difference.

  • I will never forget.

  • He pulled me off the bucket where I'd been sitting, onto the ground,

  • where he ripped off the robe I'd been forced to put on,

  • and he raped me on the floor of the tent.

  • Then when he was finished, he got up, and he left me alone.

  • And I will never, ever forget how I felt, how broken I felt,

  • how I was beyond all help, all hope,

  • that even if someone did find me, what was the point?

  • I was useless, I was disgusting.

  • I wasn't worth saving, at that point.

  • I fell asleep thinking those thoughts,

  • and when I woke up, there was this man, kneeling over me again,

  • and this time he had taken a thick, metal cable,

  • and had wrapped it around my ankle, and bolted it into place,

  • so I couldn't run away.

  • And that moment, I started thinking

  • of all the children whom I had seen on the news,

  • whose stories always seemed to end so tragically.

  • And I couldn't help but think: They are the lucky ones.

  • They are so lucky: I wish I could be one of those children,

  • because no one will ever hurt them again.

  • no one will ever make them feel

  • like they are worthless, or that they're unloved.

  • No one can never do that to them again.

  • I wish that was me.

  • And that is a brief look of what the next nine months were.

  • Very early on, I made the decision

  • that I wasn't going to let these two captors win.

  • I wasn't going to let them take my life from me.

  • I would do everything I possibly could to survive,

  • even if that meant outliving them,

  • even if that meant surviving for another 30 years,

  • going through this kind of abuse every day.

  • Thank Heavens, it wasn't 30 years; it was only nine months later.

  • I will never forget the first time I saw my dad

  • after the police had stopped and picked me up.

  • I will never forget feeling that, no matter what lay in front of me,

  • it was going to be okay, and that nobody ever again would be able to make me hurt

  • the way that two these people had made me hurt the last nine months.

  • Best feeling in the world, knowing that someone loves you.

  • The following day my mother gave me a piece of advice,

  • and I'd like to share it with you,

  • because as I said, we all have trials in life,

  • we all have those times when we don't want get out of bed.

  • My mom said to me,

  • "Elizabeth, what this man has done to you is terrible,

  • and there are not words strong enough to describe how wicked and evil he is.

  • He has stolen nine months of your life that you will never get back.

  • The best punishment you could ever give him is to be happy,

  • is to move forward with your life, because by feeling sorry for yourself

  • and holding on the past, and dwelling on what's happened to you,

  • that's only allowing them more control, more power,

  • steal more of your life away from you.

  • So don't let that happen.

  • Justice may or may not be served, restitution may or may not be made,

  • but don't you dare give them another second of your life.

  • I have tried to follow that advice every day since then,

  • I am a long ways from following it perfectly,

  • but then again, what daughter is perfect at following her mother's advice?

  • (Laughter)

  • But I know that we all have a choice.

  • I know that when we are faced with trials, we have a choice.

  • We can give in and surrender, or we can fight and we can move forward.

  • And as I've been able to go out and share my story,

  • and speak with different people, I have learned so much.

  • I have come to a point in my life that I can say

  • although I would never wish it upon myself,

  • and I certainly never would wish it upon anyone else,

  • I am grateful for what has happened to me,

  • because of what it's taught me, because of the perspective it's given me,

  • and the empathy I've felt for other survivors.

  • I am grateful that I can make a difference.

  • I'm grateful that I can speak out, and especially for victims of sexual abuse

  • who haven't been able to speak out for themselves yet.

  • It is so traumatic, it is so scary, coming forward and saying,

  • "I was sexually abused; I was hurt.

  • Someone stole something from me that I'll never get back."

  • But I have to tell you, it is so important

  • to come forward and share your stories, and speak out about it,

  • even if it's not to your community, even if it's not on a larger scale,

  • but at least to law enforcement,

  • so that we can stop those people that are out there

  • taking advantage of other people.

  • It is so important.

  • So I have to encourage every single one of you.

  • When you are faced with a trial, don't give up; don't surrender.

  • Move forward, because you never know

  • what you'll be able to do with it.

  • You'll never know the lives you'll be able to touch.

  • I am so grateful to be here with you all today.

  • Thank you so much.

  • (Applause)

I don't know anyone who has a perfect life; nobody.

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A2 UK tent consummate wasn hurt grateful marriage

【TEDx】My story | Elizabeth Smart | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  • 1978 109
    Yun Ting posted on 2017/02/06
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