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March 14, 2003 00:29
Like most Americans, I recognized the the girl's name when they mentioned on the radio that she was found. I remember vaguely what she looked like, even though it had probably been months since I saw a picture or heard anything about it. Yet as time went on, despite daily press conferences, I had no further exposure to the case until Tuesday afternoon. The whole world, not to mention the family, has rejoiced, and I'm sure everyone is chafing at the bit to find out what happened. Why was she kidnapped, where was she held, what happened to her? And then the more pressing questions come in. Why didn't she try to escape? Why didn't she scream? Why did her parents invite the kidnapper to their home. Why did the police stall on releasing the composite sketch of the person who turned out to be the kidnapper.
And now I read all over the place, endless speculation of asinine proportions. Things just "don't add up". She must have run away, or wanted to be kidnapped, or her parents conspired in some way to make this happen. People have called them creepy because they made the horrible faux pas of trying to give some aid to those who are more in need. Sure, they made some stupid mistakes. But if any good has come of this, they've realizes the error of their ways. The bubble they live in has burst, and despite how they choose to help people in the future, they will take their actions more responsibly. And if others in the same position learn from the Smart's mistakes, they can prevent future problems of a similar nature.
Over the next few weeks, we're going to all get a crash course on various psychological conditions while under duress. I've never suffered through anything that she went through. However, I've been in a situation where I was brainwashed. If you listen to somebody tell you something often enough, and don't expose yourself to alternate views, and don't question obvious flaws in judgement, you start to believe these things yourself. My will to do ANYTHING about it was completely sapped. And I was an adult at the time. And I didn't go through anything even remotely as bad as this poor girl has. That girl was frightened out of her mind. She didn't want to be with her captors, but she didn't know how to run away. She didn't know how to escape, and even when questioned by the police, where all she had to say is "I am Elizabeth Smart" to end the nightmare, she couldn't do it. Those monsters had convinced her that the world she used to know was gone forever. She had nowhere else to go. And until she was back in the arms of her father did she realize that she no longer had anything to fear.
Look at those pictures. The picture of her walking out to the car. The picture of her with her father and sister. That girl is HAPPY. That is NOT someone who just spent the last 9 months enjoying herself. She is not suffering from being yanked away from her "new family". That girl is back where she wants to be. If she had the capability to escape, be it mentally or physically, she would have. She is the victim here. You can point fingers at everyone else if you want, but she is blameless in all of this, and these sick insinuations that this psychological nightmare is something she wanted will not assist in her recovery. Certainly there will be emotional trauma. There will be lots of counseling. She's behind on school. But she will recover, and judging by what I've seen so far, she'll recover pretty quickly. LET HER. The media needs to back off. She's home, we're all happy. In the weeks to come, we will learn a lot about this, probably more than we want to know.
If and when she wants to come forward and discuss anything with the public, that will be up to her. In time details will come out. There will be charges filed, there will be trials. This will all go public, and we'll all learn everything we want to know. Until then, just be happy she's home and try not to invent conspiracies that have no merit.