BALTIMORE - Rescued kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart said Wednesday she understands why some human trafficking victims don't run.
Smart said she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn't run "because of that alone."
Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared 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.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value," Smart said. "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."
The Salt Lake City woman was kidnapped at age 14 from her bedroom. She was freed nine months later when she was found walking with her captor on a suburban street in March 2003. The Associated Press doesn't usually publish the names of accusers or victims in sexual-assault cases unless they agree to be named or identify themselves publicly, as Smart has done.
Since her rescue, Smart has started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which works to protect and educate children about violent and sexual crimes.
Smart says children should be educated that "you will always have value and nothing can change that."