Elizabeth Smart was just 14 years old when she was kidnapped from her room in 2002. Though she faced horrendous conditions and was repeatedly sexually abused by her attackers, nine months after she was first taken, she was miraculously found and freed.
The now 30-year-old was heavily involved in the making of her Lifetime movie, I Am Elizabeth Smart, but it didn’t make seeing the final product any easier. “I had been over the script probably about 100 times… then I narrate a lot of it, so I had seen a lot of the different pieces, and then finally watching the whole thing come together in one format, it was terrifying,” Elizabeth, who served as the narrator and a producer on the film, explained to E! News. “I’m pretty proud of it and I’ve watched it and, no offense to Alana [Boden, who played Smart in the film], she was great, but I never want to watch it again,” she said of the movie. “That’s how good it was.”
Elizabeth revealed that she relived the emotions she’s tried so hard to forget — alone. Her family — including her husband of over five years, Matthew Gilmour, and their two children, 2-year-old Chloe and 8-month-old James — were not present when she viewed the film. “My husband was downstairs watching the kids and trying to put my daughter to bed, and I was just upstairs in our bedroom and I was watching it,” she said. “And I kept thinking, ‘I don’t have to watch this right now! I don’t want to watch this! I’m just going to put it away, I can come back after I’ve had a breather.'” She continued, “Then I said, ‘No, I have to watch it. I have to know how it turns out’…just because it was so accurate. It was terrifying and so intense and part of me was like I don’t know if I want to feel all of these emotions again.”
Since her kidnapping, Elizabeth has worked as an advocate and just recently opened up to People about feeling suicidal following the first time she was raped. “For me, because I grew up in a very conservative Christian neighborhood, the first time I was raped I remember feeling devastated,” she said in September. “I felt like it would be better to be dead than to continue living being a rape victim, being a rape survivor. I felt in that moment if there had been an easy way out, I probably would have taken it.”
These days, however, she’s grateful, despite her past. She told People, “Today, I’m so grateful for the small things. My children have brought so much happiness and joy. To me, they’re the very definition of love. I wake up every morning and I feel like a very lucky and blessed woman,” she said.
Watch the video below for advice Elizabeth has for parents to keep their children safe.