Elizabeth Smart marks 20 years since rescue: ‘I didn’t know if I would survive’

Elizabeth Smart marks 20 years since rescue: ‘I didn’t know if I would survive’

Elizabeth Smart is reflecting on one of the most harrowing moments of her life.

The child safety activist and author shared a message about the love she’s received over the last two decades after she was rescued from her abductor. Smart was just 14 years old when she was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City bedroom in the middle of the night on June 5, 2002.

It would be nine months of being abused and fearing for her life before she was rescued.

“Yesterday was my 20 year rescue anniversary. I was able to celebrate by relaxing at home and spending time with my little family,” she wrote on March 13 on her Instagram. “Thank you so much for all the kind messages I received, the many prayers I’ve been the recipient of over the years, and all the love I’ve been shown.”

“I’ll never be able to express my full gratitude enough. It is fair to say I could have never imagined my life turning out the way it has,” she continued. “20 years ago when I was kidnapped I didn’t know if I would survive, each day was a question right up until I was rescued. Once I was rescued it was a rollercoaster of emotion and honestly felt like we were all stepping into the unknown.”

Smart, 35, added that while “it was difficult and often overwhelming,” looking back, she is grateful for her experiences and the path that it has led her down.

“Meeting my husband, having children, learning a whole new level of empathy and compassion, meeting the most amazing and dedicated individuals, and being able to devote my life to a cause that I feel so passionate about and feeling like I’m contributing to the betterment of humanity is more than I could ask for,” she wrote, before thanking her supporters.

Since being rescued, Smart has become an advocate for sexual assault prevention and recovery. She also wrote a book about her harrowing experience, "My Story," which was released in 2013.

In February 2012, she married husband Matthew Gilmour. They are parents to three children, Chloe, James and Olivia.

Smart previously opened up about one day sharing her traumatizing story with her kids and how she doesn’t want to “hide” her past.

“With all my children, really, I certainly never want to hide what happened in the past, because every single one of us has a past,” Smart told E! News in 2021. “Every single one of us has had something happen in our lives. It’s unrealistic to think that we will all just have a perfect life. We will all face hardships and struggles, in whatever form that may be, and so I have begun to speak to (Chloe) as she asked questions.”

“But with that being said, it’s not all at once,” she added. “And it’s age-appropriate, to the best of my ability.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com