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Elizabeth Smart shares details of kidnapping in new memoir

  • In this March 12, 2003, file photo, Elizabeth Smart is rushed into an unmarked van from the Salt Lake City Police department and taken to her home, in Salt Lake City. More than a decade after her kidnapping and rescue grabbed national headlines, Elizabeth Smart is publishing a memoir of her ordeal. The 308 page book, titled "My Story," is being released by St. Martin's Press on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Francisco Kjolseth, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Minutes after 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her bedroom in the dead of night, a police cruiser idled by along a neighborhood street as she was forced to the ground at knifepoint. "Move and I will kill you!" her captor hissed.

It was one of several fleeting times Smart watched a rescue slip away during her nine-month ordeal, she recounts in "My Story," a 308-page book being released by St. Martin's Press on Monday.

She writes that she was so terrified of the street preacher who kidnapped her that when she was rescued by police in a Salt Lake City suburb in March 2003, she only reluctantly identified herself.

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.

A U.S. attorney called it one of the worst kidnapping crimes of the century. Smart, a quiet, devout Mormon who played the harp and loved horses, vanished without a trace from her home high above Salt Lake City.

Smart, now 25, is married, living in Park City, finishing a music degree at Brigham Young University and traveling across the country giving speeches and doing advocacy work. She created the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to bring awareness to predatory crimes against children. For her, the book was another way to help bring nine months of brutality to a close.

"I want people to know that I'm happy in my life right now," Smart told The Associated Press. "I also, even more so, want to reach out to people who might not be in a good situation. Maybe they're in a situation that was similar to the one that I was in."

Smart said she hopes the book, which The AP received in advance of its release from the publisher, will help other victims know that it's possible to be happy and move forward with their lives and will shed some light on what was going through her head during what she called "nine months of hell."

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