‘How you cope with trauma and live without fear.’ Elizabeth Smart to speak to ISU about trauma

Caitlin Yamada

As a child, many are told to be aware of their surroundings and to not talk to strangers.

The phrase “stranger danger” is engraved in children’ minds. Some parents and grandparents were allowed to explore the neighborhood when they were children, as long as they were home before the street lights turned on.

In 2014, 466,949 entries were made by law enforcement agencies into the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person File, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Of the children who are kidnapped, about 3 percent are abducted by non-family members, and only around 100 are kidnapped each year “in the stereotypical stranger abductions,” according to the Polly Klass Foundation.

Jaycee Dugard, Colleen Stan and Elizabeth Smart fell into this 3 percent. These three names littered the newspaper stands. All of these people were abducted by a stranger and kept in captivity.

Elizabeth Smart will speak to Iowa State about how she dealt with her trauma and moved on with her life at 7 p.m. Friday in Stephens Auditorium. Smart was abducted at the age of 14 from her home at knifepoint and was held in captivity by a self-proclaimed prophet named Emmanuel (Brian David Mitchell) and his wife Wanda Barzee.

Smart was moved between California and Utah, was forced to wear a headscarf and veil over her face when in public and, for a period of time, was shackled to a tree with a metal cable.

Smart was rescued nine months later and now she travels around the country to “educate, inspire and foster change,” according to the Lectures Program.

The Iowa State Lectures Program reached out to Smart after the death of Celia Barquín Arozamena.

“[Students] were concerned about their safety and about violence and started to ask questions about ‘how do we go on from here,’ ‘what do I need to do’ and we were looking for a way to bring resources together and also a positive event,” said Amanda Knief, director of the Lectures Program.

The Lectures Program had been discussing bringing Smart to Iowa State but decided to reach out to Smart’s representatives due to this event.

The representatives told the program Smart would be available in two weeks. It lined up perfectly. There was no football game and Stephens Auditorium was available.

“The committee on lectures said go for it,” Knief said.

After her experiences, Smart wrote a book titled “My Story” In which she speaks about her experiences. This book inspired the Lifetime Original movie “I Am Elizabeth Smart.”

Smart’s most recent book, “Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward and Never Giving Up,” talks about her experiences dealing with trauma after her abduction and sexual assault.

“Over and over, Elizabeth is asked the same question: How do you find the hope to go on?,” according to Macmillan, the publisher of the book.

Throughout the book, Smart speaks about the experiences she endured and how she dealt with the trauma.

“She also calls upon others who have dealt with adversity — victims of violence, disease, war and loss — to explore the pathways toward hope,” according to Macmillan.

The Lectures Program asked Smart to speak about the content of her recent book.

“It would have been very easy for her and very easy for any person who has been exposed to violence or know somebody, with both Celia and Mollie [Tibbetts], feeling very vulnerable,” Knief said.

The Lectures Program started to organize the lecture and a resource fair made up of self defense resources, mental and physical health, counseling, Iowa State Police and other people who can provide students with information.

“Hearing a positive message from someone who has gone through the unimaginable and how you accept that there are things you can’t change and how to still live your life to the fullest extent possible,” Knief said. “Yes bad things happen but the only thing we can control is how we react to that.”

Since her abduction, Smart started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and has traveled the world to share her story, got married and became a mother.

“There are two types of survivors: the ones who did not die, and the ones who live,” said Diane Von Furstenberg in Smart’s book “Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up.” “There will be those who will always remember and be the victim, and ones who just won’t. You have to go on, you have to learn, and you have to heal.”

The event is free but there is limited priority seating in the front for the first 500 students. Iowa State students can show their ISU Card for limited first-floor seating until 6:30 p.m.