Heartbreaking. Elizabeth Smart revealed she was sexually assaulted on a flight in summer 2019. “I’ve always felt safe on an airplane, I’ve never been worried or felt threatened on an airplane until now,” Smart, 32, recalled to Gayle King during a Thursday, February 6, interview on CBS This Morning.
“I woke up because I felt someone’s hand rubbing in between my legs on my inner-thigh … I was shocked,” she continued. “The last time someone touched me without my say so was when I was kidnapped.”
Smart was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 when she was just 14 years old. She was held captive for nine months by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee and was raped and tortured while in captivity. She was rescued on March 12, 2003, and returned home, and now advocates for women’s self-defense.
But even she struggled when she was assaulted again. “I froze. I didn’t know what to do,” she told King, 65. “And I speak to other women about this. I say, ‘It’s OK to say no. It’s OK to take care of yourself and be safe.'”
Smart explained that she “jerked awake” when she was assaulted on the flight and expected the man to stop, apologize and give her reasoning for what he was doing — but he did not. She said she reported the incident to the airline — Delta — “after the fact,” and that they’ve been apologetic and helpful. “It’s not Delta’s fault,” she noted. “It was this man. This man made a decision.”
Smart ultimately followed up with the FBI, and Delta supported her in whatever action she wanted to take against her assailant. “I don’t want him to be preying on other girls,” she said. The investigation is ongoing.
The activist created a self-defense class for women and girls called Smart Defense after the incident. Her mother, Lois Smart, spoke with King during the interview and was clearly extremely proud of her daughter. “She’s a strong woman who survived hardships,” she said. “To look at her now, you would never know she went through anything.”
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