By all accounts, Elizabeth Smart has come into her own since the horrifying story of her kidnapping at age 14 first made headlines a decade ago on Tuesday.
Testifying at the 2010 trial of her captor, Smart bravely revealed the details of her sexual assault and her decision to survive during the nine months she spent in captivity with Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee. The ordeal included a journey to California and back to Utah before her 2003 rescue.
Smart’s father, Ed Smart, said his family will mark the painful anniversary with gratitude to those who helped bring his daughter home.
“We will forever be indebted to the Montoyas and the Dickersons,” Ed Smart said, referring to Rudy and Nancy Montoya and Alvin and Anita Dickerson, who called police after spotting Mitchell, Barzee and Elizabeth Smart at a bus stop.
Ed Smart said the family also will be thinking of law enforcement officers “who helped try to find her. It was just an immense effort, and we are very, very grateful to them for all that they did.
“We’ll never be able to repay the wonderful outpouring of love and help that we had in that nine-month period.”
In the years since she was reunited with her family, Smart has become increasingly visible as an advocate for crime victims.
Below are 10 key moments in her story:
June 5, 2002 • Brian David Mitchell abducts Smart from her bedroom at knifepoint with the goal of making her a plural wife. Smart’s younger sister, Mary Katherine, witnesses the crime and later helps lead police to her sister’s abductor.
March 12, 2003 • Following nine months with captors Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileeen Barzee, Smart is rescued. Bystanders call police when they spot her on a Sandy street in the company of Mitchell and Barzee.
March 8, 2006 • Smart and her parents make an appearance to Congress to lobby for a new law creating a national sex offender registry.
May 2008 • Smart shares her story in a booklet titled You’re Not Alone, which is published by the U.S. Department of Justice and given to survivors of abduction. She writes in one passage, “I made a conscious decision that my abductors had already taken away nine months of my life, and I certainly was not going to give them any more time than that.”
October 2009 • Taking the witness stand during Mitchell’s trial, Elizabeth tells the world the extent of what she had to endure in captivity and how she decided she would survive. Her chief concern was to protect her family members from Mitchell.
Dec. 10, 2010 • Jurors convict Mitchell of Smart’s abduction. Smart stands on the courthouse steps claiming her victory in court on behalf of all victims of sexual violence and abuse. Mitchell is later ordered to serve life in federal prison.
March 2011 • Smart earns an award from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation that came with a $50,000 check she uses to start The Elizabeth Smart Foundation, aimed at protecting children from abuse. The foundation will focus on prevention, education and promoting radKIDS [Resisting Aggression Defensively] — a program teaching children about calling 911 and making defensive moves against attackers.
July 2011 • Signing on as an ABC news contributor, Smart cements her decision to remain in the public spotlight.
2010-2011 • Smart serves a mission in France for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Feb. 18, 2012 • Smart marries Matthew Gilmour at the LDS Laie Hawaii Temple.