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Elizabeth Smart Opens Up on Triggers for Painful Memories: 'I'll See Something ... and It'll Take Me Back'

People logo People 6 days ago Steve Helling

By all accounts, Elizabeth Smart is doing remarkably well.

The 30-year-old is living a normal life — something that she never dreamed possible after she was kidnapped from her bedroom late one summer’s night in 2002 and brutalized by her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, for nine months before being rescued.

Smart got married five and a half years ago. She lives in lives in Park City, Utah, with her husband, Matthew Gilmour, and her two children, Chloe, 2, and 8-month-old James.

But Smart still has moments where she remembers the trauma she endured as a teenager.

On Monday, she spoke with Access Hollywood’s Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover to promote her upcoming television projects — I Am Elizabeth Smart, a movie that premieres Nov. 19 at 8/7c on Lifetime, and the second half of her two-part documentary special, Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography, which airs tonight at 9 p.m. on A&E.

During the interview, she spoke about various triggers that bring the horrific memories back to the surface.

CLEVELAND KIDNAPPING SURVIVORS: <p>Between August 2002 and April 2004, three young women — Amanda Berry, then 17, Michelle Knight (who has since changed her name to Lily Rose Lee), then 21 and Gina DeJesus, then 14 — went missing in Cleveland. They were kidnapped by Ariel Castro, who kept them captive in his Cleveland house for ten years. All three women were raped and abused throughout their captivity, which lasted nearly a decade. Berry gave birth to a daughter, and Lee said she was impregnated five times, but miscarried each one after being beaten by Castro. In 2013, Berry escaped after getting a neighbor's attention, and called the police, who came to the house and found Lee and DeJesus. Castro was later sentenced to 1,000 years in prison, and committed suicide within the first month by hanging himself in his prison cell. Today, all three are reunited with their families. Lee wrote a book, and is publishing another next year. Berry advocates for finding missing people and hosts a daily news segment on Cleveland's Fox 8. "I hope we get [the faces of] missing people out there and get people looking at them a second time, a third time, and looking at their name," Berry told PEOPLE. "It’s kind of the small things that makes a big difference."</p> How Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and Others Survived Their Headline-Making Abductions “I have been so blessed,” she says. “I have been so lucky. I have not struggled with PTSD. I mean there are moments where I’ll see something or maybe I’ll smell something and it’ll take me back.”

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“One time I was visiting my grandma and she had a book of Russian art on her table,” Smart continues. “I was flipping through it looking at it and there’s a picture of Rasputin in there, and I saw a picture of him and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. That looks just like Brian Mitchell.'”

Despite the traumatic memories, Smart says that she’ll tell her children about her ordeal when they get older. “I’m certainly not going to hide it from them,” she says. “Already, I struggle with not wanting to be so overprotective, but protect them enough. Finding that balance, that’s hard.”

“I talk to my daughter all the time and say, ‘nobody has the right to hurt you, or scare you, or make you feel afraid,” she says. “And if anyone ever should, you need to tell me.” Elizabeth Smart in a green shirt © Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images


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