Elizabeth Smart says porn overtook her captor

Written by: 
Danna Osumo

Elizabeth Smart spoke for the first time about the role pornography played in her abduction in a new advocacy video posted on CNN.

"He would just sit and look at it and stare at it, and he would just talk about these women, and then when he was done, he would turn and look at me, and he would be like, 'Now we're going to do this,'" Smart said referring to Brian Mitchell, who kidnapped Smart in 2002.

In the five-minute video, Smart said, "Looking at pornography wasn't enough for him. Having sex with his wife after looking at pornography wasn't enough for him," she said. "He just always wanted more… I witnessed first-hand how damaging it is.”

Shem Woo, a biology freshman from Singapore, said pornography is so prevalent and everyone has been exposed to it in one form or another. “Even if you try to avoid it, it will find you,” said Woo. “It is so destructive because online you can watch it a click away, but in real life, it’s not. You can’t just click and find a girl.”

He said he is grateful for people like Smart who take a strong stand against pornography and help others see the consequences of a “simple decision to be involved in pornography.”

According to CNN, Mitchell kidnapped 14-year old Smart from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, and chained her to a crude campsite in the mountains a few miles from her family’s home. Mitchell raped Smart over and over again for the next nine months while her family frantically searched for her, till she was found on a street in Sandy, Utah in 2003.

Smart said Mitchell regularly looked at pornography, which "just led to him raping me more." The now 28-year-old woman says in the new video suggested that porn drove Mitchell to steal and violate her.

Princess Donato, an exercise and sports science senior from Qatar, said she has seen pornography destroy families and one's ability to identify lust from love. “I think all of us at some point in our lives will be tempted and Satan wants us to be curious and think it’s an artwork or appreciation for the human body, but it just leads us to so many mistakes and heartaches,” said Donato.

Donato added how it was important to realize we cannot be completely shielded from pornography because of technology and social media. “But we need to have courage to stop. We need to know what to do when we deal with it,” said Donato.

Sharing how pornography made her “living hell worse,” Smart talked about a specific experience with Mitchell, whom Smart does not name but instead refers to 8as her “captor.”

"My captor was really excited and really kind of amped up about something, and he said, 'Oh, you know, I have something and I'm going to show it to you, and you have to look at it,'" Smart said. Mitchell then pulled out a "magazine full of hard-core pornography," she said. "It just led to him raping me more, more than he already did — which was a lot.”

Maryann Phillips, a sophomore studying education from Washington, said she felt sad to see how pornography caused Smart a lot of pain. “It’s a big problem even in church, because it’s so addictive and we should stay away from it,” said Phillips. “It will be hard because it is in music videos, lyrics, movies and everywhere, but we have leaders, friends and family to help.”

Smart, a devout Mormon, is now an advocate for child safety as the director of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. The video, posted to YouTube, was produced by Fight the New Drug, an anti-porn non-profit group.

Date Published: 
Friday, September 9, 2016
Last Edited: 
Friday, September 9, 2016