Elizabeth Smart: Abstinence-Only Education Kept Me From Running Away

Speaking at a forum on human trafficking at Johns Hopkins University, kidnapping and rape survivor Elizabeth Smart offered personal insight into why someone in an ordeal similar to the one she endured would have a hard time running away from their captor.

Smart was abducted from her home by Brian David Mitchell when she was 14 years old and held as a sex slave for nine months until she was spotted walking down the street with Mitchell and safely rescued.

At the forum, Smart talked about her upbringing in a Mormon home and her sexual education at the hands of a school teacher who emphasized abstinence-only as a means of contraception, comparing premarital sex to chewing gum.

"I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away,'" Smart told the crowd, recalling how her own rape made her feel "so dirty and so filthy."

She went on:

And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value. Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.

Since being recovered in March, 2003, Smart has worked hard to put her life back together, eventually marrying and starting a foundation dedicated to educating children about sex crimes.

The Elizabeth Smart Foundation teaches children that "you will always have value and nothing can change that," she said.

[photo via Getty]