Elizabeth Smart Does Not Belong at Penn State Conference On Sexual Abuse

(Reuters) – “Penn State will host a conference on child sexual abuse featuring abuse survivors Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart in the wake of the child molestation scandal that rocked the university and its esteemed football program.

The two-day event in October will bring together some of the top U.S. experts on child sexual abuse, prevention and treatment to help educate the public about the problem, according to a statement from the university.

Leonard, a famed American boxer, will give a keynote speech, and kidnap survivor Smart will be the final speaker at the conference. Both suffered sexual abuse as children.”

I find it very disappointing for Penn State to choose Elizabeth Smart to be a part of this. Or did her father persuade them to get her involved?

Either way, society does not need to hear the feelgood version of what happens to the child after they are no longer being sexually abused by an adult. I know that many of my readers disagree with me about my stance on Ms. Smart, and that’s okay. We do not all have to agree, but as you know, I always speak my mind and if something needs saying, I say it.

Elizabeth Smart and her family are the feelgood version of child rape and child torture because they are the picture-perfect family with perfect smiles. They go to church and behave sociably. They play musical instruments, are educated, and well dressed. Then Elizabeth is kidnapped at knife-point from her bed, raped hundreds of times, tied to a tree, forced to watch vulgar sex acts between her captors, and kept from her seemingly perfect family for nine months.

Elizabeth was told by her mother not to give her kidnappers and rapist one more day of her life, and told to ‘move on.’ That advice was what fit well with their outwardly perfect family, but it does not fit in with reality.

With her mother’s advice in tow, Elizabeth now gives public speeches to other survivors of rape and abuse, and she does so in her perfect outfit with her perfect smile while saying with a hint of smugness, “I never went through any PTSD symptoms.” 1

So Americans clap their hands and practically bend down to worship her because she has given them what they wanted –the feelgood solution to healing from severe rape and trauma.

Elizabeth tells her audiences that she “talked to her parents,” and sometimes uses “retail therapy.”

Most children, who are being sexually abused, are victims of someone known and trusted, usually a family member. It is more often than not, a parent who has sexually molested, raped and traumatized their own child.

Incest victims are rarely able to go to their parents for council, and take it from someone who got into serious credit card debt at one time….. “retail therapy” doesn’t do shit except bring on guilt and self-punishment down the line.

Elizabeth Smart seems to have the financial means to support this form of self-help, but most victims of child sexual abuse do not have the financial resources to go spend a bunch of money on meaningless “things.”

The male victims of Jerry Sandusky were victimized in a completely different way than Elizabeth Smart, and most victims of child sexual abuse are not kidnapped and raped by strangers.

The experiences of Elizabeth Smart are completely different than those of Jerry Sandusky and incest victims. Elizabeth Smart’s case is statistically rare, and if one is truthful, her experience is quite different from those who suffered the same kind of abuse –kidnapping, and repeated rapes by strangers. In every case I know of, those victims were not able to utilize the 72-hour recovery therapy that Elizabeth Smart seems to have embraced.

Most of the victims in those famous cases are still suffering in many ways to this day, and they might not admit it openly for social reasons, but I bet that Elizabeth Smart’s words of advice make them feel unworthy, or like, “what’s wrong with me?”

In addition, Ms. Smart was not repeatedly raped by a woman. Unless she is not being completely honest with the American public, she was only made to engage in sex with her male captor. Same-sex child sexual abuse is on an entirely different level. Those boys, who were groomed, and then orally raped and sodomized by Jerry Sandusky have experienced a form of abuse that is different on so many levels.

I just hope Elizabeth Smart doesn’t tell the audience at Penn State that victims of severe trauma and child rape (especially incest victims and victims of same-sex sexual abuse) that they can “let it go, move on with your life” because, if she does, she has the ability to make the men who were raped and betrayed, very angry inside. They will be angry with Elizabeth, and angry at themselves for not feeling adequate enough to heal themselves.

Only survivors of sexual abuse, who are honest with themselves, can help others. In my opinion, Elizabeth Smart is repressing her true emotionally traumatizing experience, she is denying the fact that she might have felt good in engaging in sex with her male captor (even rape victims can feel pleasure while being raped), or she is catering to her family’s need to have her in the spotlight, and to look perfect and to be perfect for the family image. Or she also does it for apple pie Americans to embrace the lie……the lie that severe child sexual abuse, death threats, and rape ‘don’t really harm the child.’

“It’s hard, and the PTSD, the nightmare and the flashbacks and everything, it was really a life sentence,” Alicia said. “He might have been sentenced to 19 years, but for me and for all other survivors, it’s a lifetime.” ~Alicia Kozakiewicz


Alicia was kidnapped, tortured and raped for 96 hours……96 hours.

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, tortured and raped for 6,480 hours.

Alicia is much more in tune with the realities of the effects of trauma, sexual abuse and rape.

“I am so grateful to find your blog today. E. Smart was in Baltimore a couple of days speaking to a packed audience. In an interview afterward, she was all over the place in her answers to the interviewer’s questions. At one point she said she thought it was okay if a victim chose to take a day here and there to cry but not to make it a way of life. She mentioned “retail therapy” as one of the possible ways to help victims ease the pain.I must admit that her her demeanor sent a chill through me. She came off as cold, insincere and self-serving.

Someone mentioned the gist of Smart’s “move on with life” message to me two days ago. As someone who has been in treatment for PTSD and DID for the past 7 years, hearing this felt like an assault. For me, one of the most trying aspects of living as a survivor of childhood abuse is the constant SELF-INFLICTED abuse for spending the time, energy and money on endless therapy. So when someone makes a dismissive remark like this, it just intensifies the already-constant sense of self-shame.

When I told my therapist about how ashamed I felt upon hearing, once again, that trauma survivors should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, he basically told me much of what is written on this blog. But reading it from other survivors like Althea has made all the difference in the world to me. Thank you.” ~ A survivor

I think the choice of Penn State using Elizabeth Smart speaks volumes. Penn State would love nothing better than to have Americans “move on. Don’t allow what happened here to affect your view of our University”….”What happened to those boys really wasn’t that bad. They will be just fine.”


1. The Oprah Show

Article source: chicagotribune

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25 Responses to Elizabeth Smart Does Not Belong at Penn State Conference On Sexual Abuse

  1. B says:

    —From the blog: “I know that many of my readers disagree with me about my stance on Ms. Smart, and that’s okay. We do not all have to agree, ” —-

    Ironically, I disagree with many of your other views but I think you’re spot on in regard to Elizabeth Smart. I don’t know if it’s denial, if she’s just a statistical outlier who happened to deal with the aftermath of her experience much differently than most, or if something else is going on, but she is not in any way representative of all or even most victims.

    In my opinion it’s entirely unfair to abuse/assault victims to hold her up as a benchmark for how they should be dealing with their experience(s). It’s almost difficult for me to make this comment because I do think at times there’s too much emphasis placed on the past, and I worry that in some cases well-meaning people are creating an atmosphere of perpetual victimhood which is just as unhealthy and unproductive as denying the abuse. But there must be a balance.

    I don’t begrudge Ms. Smart’s quick recovery (assuming that’s actually what happened), and of course she has every right to speak about her own experiences. But unless she were to actually get a formal education in the subject and go through proper vetting, she has no business acting as an adviser to other victims of abuse/violent crime on how to move forward.

    Thanks for the opportunity to pitch in my $0.02. : )

    • Alethea says:

      Dear “B,”

      You summed my point up very well.

      As far as perpetual “victimhood” goes… don’t get victimhood mixed up with the power of the subconscious mind. To the subconscious mind, there is no past, present, or future. Until the SC mind is healed, the abuse is still happening in the SC mind. People deny and laugh at the SC mind to their own detriment.

      I am curious what you disagree with me about on my Blog.

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. J P says:

    I think you are very sore for it shows in writing this. It is possible that people react differently to similar situations. I come from a dark place but never have had it affect me greatly. I live with the physical scars and minor handycaps on my body every day because of what has been done to me but I have never felt I was a victim. I can’t look in the mirror without seeing the result of what has happened but I never shy away from the mirror. Oh in the begining I would only make short glances at myself but now I can look at myself all day long. I have never had PTSD. I think, in my opinion, it has to do with our mindset as we are being hurt. I have to this day never thought of myself as a victim but as “me”. There will always be things that happen that I have no control over. They are not me but only events in life to me. So, you are angry that not everyone reacts the way you think they should. You should not be. You should let people be themselves. If you don’t think ES is typical, then say so, but don’t poo poo her. That shows bitterness.

    • Alethea says:

      Dear JP,

      Quite ridiculous and hypocritical of you to call me angry and bitter merely because I have not “reacted” towards Elizabeth Smart as you think I “should.”

      I am neither angry, nor bitter. Oftentimes, the truth comes off as bitter to those who don’t like it.

      You have made a very ignorant remark regarding PTSD. If a three year-old child is traumatized with a knife and death threats, is locked in closets and struck in the head by her parents, and choked….she will most likely experience PTSD symptoms as an adult. If a child is raped at age seven, on a cold bathroom floor, she will most likely experience PTSD symptoms. This is how trauma affects the human mind; it has nothing to do with the child’s “mindset,” nor the adult’s for that matter.

      These things happened to me, and I blocked them out for decades. When I began having PTSD symptoms and numerous other psychological and physical symptoms from incest and trauma, it was not a choice, nor did it have to do with my mindset. You are ignorant in your opinion on this matter.

  3. kaye says:

    I don’t like the insistence that E is faking and will crack. I think it’s entirely possible that things are just as she says. As someone who cries under stress, I find it incredible that she could be in denial so deeply/faking it so convincingly that she doesn’t crack and cry when she is asked very tough questions and when she talks about things that touch directly on her ordeal. I absolutely think it is possible that she was moved on completely from this. As she says, it’s a part of her biography but it doesn’t control her. I certainly hope this is the case.

    I also think it’s possible that some element in this is her saving her family. They hired the crazy guy to work on their roof and he’s the one who abducted her. Now the mom tells her not to let it hold her back, to get past it … things would certainly be harder on her parents if this destroyed her life. That could be playing a role in her remarkable recovery.

    In the absence of evidence for #2, I will take her at her word and believe her when she says that #1 is the case. Like I said above, I certainly hope that’s true.

    I personally would be very angry if I described my emotional response to some huge event in my past and people refused to believe me and said I was lying, faking, in denial, etc. [& this would apply whether they said I was exaggerating the effect or minimizing the effect. Take me at my word, damn it!]

    I haven’t watched any other E videos, so I haven’t seen her talk at length. It’s possible that the things she is saying show a lack of concern for other survivors of assault. None of the quotes I’ve read indicate that. Telling her story honestly, in her own words, should not be interpreted as an attack by people whose experience doesn’t match hers.

    As far as her demeanor goes … I agree that it seems odd. I don’t know how to describe it. But she might just not be a natural interview subject. I know that when I’m filmed my voice goes monotone and I seem quite stiff and unnatural, even when I’m talking about a subject I love.

    Final point: I have a lot of serious Christian friends. I don’t share their faith. I believe that although they’re good friends, underneath everything they think I need God in my life and they believe that if I had God in my life all my problems would go away. It is entirely possible–maybe even probable–that E believes this about other assault survivors. iow, that they would find the peace she has found if they shared her faith. It’s also possible that she believes her testimony will help other survivors of terrible events to find their way to her faith, and that this is the “reason” it happened to her. iow, that she is an important part of God’s plan–the girl who’s strong enough, and who he gifted with a loving enough family, that she can fly past it and be an example to others.

    Like I said, I don’t share that faith.

    Them’s my thoughts. Take care.

    • Alethea says:

      Hi Kaye,

      You wrote, “I have a lot of serious Christian friends. I don’t share their faith. I believe that although they’re good friends, underneath everything they think I need God in my life and they believe that if I had God in my life all my problems would go away. It is entirely possible–maybe even probable–that E believes this about other assault survivors.”

      If Elizabeth Smart feels that other assault survivors having God in their life would make all their problems go away, then how arrogant of her, and how ridiculous. Having God, loving God, living with God in a person’s heart does not have anything to do with how trauma, stress, and abuse affects the human mind.

      “…that they would find the peace she has found if they shared her faith. It’s also possible that she believes her testimony will help other survivors of terrible events to find their way to her faith, and that this is the “reason” it happened to her.”

      If this is what she thinks, then she is a little nutty.

  4. little nel says:

    Those boys were already broken, unlike Elizabeth. They were fatherless, unlike Elizabeth. They were underprivileged, unlike Elizabeth. They were groomed, unlike Elizabeth. They are not celebrities, unlike Elizabeth. They were abused by a famous football coach at Penn State, unlike Elizabeth.

    All of them, including Elizabeth were raped by a man who thought that he was a god.

    Is this about image and damage control or about real compassion for those victims?

    • Alethea says:

      Since Jerry Sandusky did not use religion in his sexual abuse, and because of all the dissimilarities in the cases of E. Smart and Jerry Sandusky that are listed by Little Nel, I will say with certainty that it is about damage control and image.

  5. Cathy says:

    I agree with your comments about Elizabeth Smart 100%, Alethea. When I have watched Elizabeth Smart interviewed on television, it was very obvious to me that she is in complete denial. So sad what happened to this young girl, but she is not experiencing real emotions, not yet. I don’t think she is properly sensitized emotionally and therefore not qualified to speak at that conference.

    I’ve seen a few tv interviews with other survivors, and felt like there was something wrong with me. When I saw Jaycee Dugaard interviewed, it seemed like she was getting on with her life and wondered what was wrong with me. She did not show much anger at that time and I thought to myself, at least she is getting on with her life.

    I didn’t feel the proper anger for most of my life, so I know where Elizabeth Smart is at. I should have been angry at my entire family and god for letting the abuse happen to me. Because I was brought up to be “christian” and stuff feelings and forgive (nevermind if the perps don’t ask for forgiveness, that does not matter). Pretending everything is OK when it isn’t actually makes things worse and may create DID.

    Her denial will take its toll her life, that I know for sure. It may come out sideways, or she may just live a life that is a fairy tale and never really feel her real self. Life cannot be real for anyone when we are not.

    • Alethea says:

      Hi Cathy. I got a very different feeling about Jaycee. When I watched her being interviewed with Diane Sawyer, Jaycee was still in pain and clearly had a long way to go. The fact that Jaycee has also stayed very private and has been spending a lot of time in therapy in her seclusion, shows that she is working on herself, and far from healed.

      God is love, joy, beauty, peace –The Divine Intelligence that gives us breath and life. With that love, we received free will. If we were not given free will, then we would all be robots. I would rather live in a world where I have the right to choose and to think for myself, even if that means a world of crimes against children, and suffering….. I do not want to be a robot, or be forced to love God like a robot.

      Your righteous anger belongs on your parents. They are the hypocrites. They were presented with free will and they chose to abuse that gift by abusing you.

      Human beings have forgotten who we truly are, and we are trying to find our way back to our Divine nature, and to our Creator. But man’s will to choose evil keeps getting in the way. God (The Divine Intelligence) wants us to love God because we choose to, not because we are forced to.

      Love, never forces anyone.


    • little nel says:

      Hi Cathy,

      I agree about your thoughts on Elizabeth Smart. It will all come home to roost some day, maybe when she has a daughter who turns 14 or when she turns “40 something” herself.

      I was NOT brought up to be “Christian.” My mother professed New Age doctrine, reincarnation, Edgar Cayce, and psychic powers, (She had her number listed on the psychic hotline) and the same ideas that you describe in your home went on in our home. Stuff feelings, forgive, pretend everything is OK, when it isn’t…etc. Image is everything.

      Our issues are not about using “pious cover ups” to hide the abuse. It’s our awareness of the personal betrayals. We have real guilt and pain that was put onto us by “perps” who masquerade as “trustworthy” adults who would never hurt a child.

  6. Lynda Cress says:

    Ok I am probably about to make both sides mad. Please forgive me. I am a incest/rape/ domestic abuse survivor. I will spend the rest of my life putting me back togeather. Her day is coming we all have been or headed there. The day we could not deal with it any longer, on our own and came unglued. Instead of being angry at her, have compassion for her. We know and understand what she doesn’t, yet. She is as much a captive, and being abused as she ever was. Don’t blame her, because that is the only face or voice that they could easily get ahold of and parade. How many of us are there/ Untold millions. We all have our stories, men, women, children.. all of us with the same pain and agony, yet every story different.There enough of us in all walks of life, that could our stories for a thousand years, and never repeat.I believe we need to band togeather, support and cover each other, not shred each other. Thank you. Rest gently please. dusty

    • Alethea says:

      Dear Lynda,

      Instead of apologizing for having an opinion, just be true to yourself. So what if you make someone angry? Express yourself in spite of what others might do, think, or feel.

      You say not to shred one another, and to support one another, but I am supporting those abuse survivors who will be in that audience, and those who won’t be in the audience but who will have someone there who will listen to Elizabeth Smart’s feelgood version of healing from serious trauma.

      I support those who cannot speak for themselves, or who are too afraid to do so. I support those who will listen to her and know that something is not right about her advice but who will feel scared to speak up or too intimidated to dare go against such a well-known, nice looking young lady who has been through trauma.

      Elizabeth Smart has made a choice to make public speeches and to “be a voice” for other victims. She has a lot of responsibility in that choice, and it can affect many many people. I am a survivor of severe child sexual abuse and trauma, and she has negatively affected me with her public words. I am not the only one who feels this way. I have a right to express what her public persona and advice can do to survivors.

  7. little nel says:

    “It is quite possible that her faith in God does help her cope”

    Elizabeth claims to be “healed” by God, so she has no scars, wounds or other evidence of trauma, physically, emotionally or spritiually.

    “Cope” is for the those who do not have a God that heals like that. People who cope have defense tactics that they rely on for protection. People who “cope” never let their guard down, they are always vigilante and aware of danger.

    I “coped” for years until I got tired of being “on alert” for problems that might harm me.

  8. little nel says:

    I have to say this Alethea, Elizabeth Smart and her brand of “perfection” that makes her the “appointed one” and model of “sexual abuse/rape miracle healing”, turns my stomach.

    Most of us don’t have a press agent parent that “air brushes” all our public appearances in the media and screens our calls in an effort to enhance our perfection.

    Get real, Elizabeth. You are so “heavenly minded” that you are no good at “earthly problems.”

    • Alethea says:

      Yes Little Nel. Not too many people, who have been so traumatized and raped, have all the advantages of the Smart family.

  9. little nel says:

    Great post, Alethea!

    I used to wonder why I did not get a “miracle healing” like some others did.

    Wasn’t I good enough for God? Wasn’t I pretty enough? Wasn’t I smart enough?

    Is perfection a requirement for recovery and healing from God? so therapy is not needed?

    I’m sorry Elizabeth Smart, but you and your family are just too perfect to be true.

    Those of us with flaws and flawed parents will opt for retail therapy and believe that God will bless us for it, even though we aren’t “picture perfect” like you.

    • Alethea says:

      Yes, too perfect is the key issue here. It is like her family would only accept the perfect image of her recovery, and nothing more. It had to be a miraculous recovery, or it would be unacceptable.

  10. DJuana Flowers says:

    It is quite possible that her faith in God does help her cope. Those of us who share that faith, recognize how often good comes out of a horrible situation. That Said, my instinct says that she will, and may be now, suffering more than we can know. If she isn’t, I do not begrudge her that blessing.
    I am much more troubled by that message…Good grief, I am 56 years old and this very day asked my self why I haven’t been able to accomplish as much as my siblings, who were also abused. Why am I so flawed? …..I hope that the other speakers at the Penn State function are able to counter her demeanor with the true and long lasting effects of abuse. …retail therapy? Are you shi–ing me?

    • Alethea says:

      Yes, but DJuana, the thing about that is many victims wonder, “Was I not praying right?” “Does God love Elizabeth more than me?” “Why was my faith not good enough, even though I prayed every day, and kept my faith in Jesus even though I was dying inside?”

      What about the countless other victims who loved God in spite of their suffering? Are they not also worthy of this miracle healing?

      “Why am I so flawed?” You ask. That is the question that often derives from Elizabeth’s outward demeanor of this so-called miraculous healing. The other God-loving, God-trusting victims also ask, “why am I so flawed?”

      They are not flawed. You are not flawed. You are a child of God and it is possible that your struggles have been given to you so that you might one day find an incredible spiritual awareness. Often, those who suffer tremendously are people who end up doing more for others, than those who have not suffered greatly.

      • little nel says:

        “What about the countless other victims who loved God in spite of their suffering?”

        The fingers are pointing at me. I loved God and wondered why I didn’t get a miracle healing for the trauma.

        I am not flawed or lacking in faith, so much that a “miracle” is out of the question for me. God had other plans for me. Divine Providence is at work in my life today so that I can do more for others who suffer.

        It was God’s great plan to give me wisdom, understanding, and compassion to replace my suffering. A “miracle healing” would have enabled me to remain ignorant of the truth.

        In my case, suffering was the perfect tool that allowed God to reveal himself in an incredible spiritual awareness that has given me a new life and renewed strength.

    • Shana Dines says:

      yeah retail therapy sounds real healthy, I do believe she will eventually crack and have to deal with it. I am a Christian too but I don’t believe that keeps us from having to deal with the pain. Just my opinion. I feel really bad for her, but mostly for the people that think that they are bad or not as strong as her because they aren’t over it.

      • Alethea says:

        “I feel really bad for her, but mostly for the people that think that they are bad or not as strong as her because they aren’t over it.”

        I too feel very sorry for those who feel ‘not good enough’ or like they are ‘doing it wrong.’ This is why I speak up about her.

  11. Shana Dines says:

    You sure said it well. Yes I do believe Penn State would love it if it were that simple and that Elizabeth Smart could just make them zip it up( no pun intended) and shutup and move on. It wasn’t that bad. There is something really creepy about her robotic performance. I think that she actually seems to believe her own lies right now, I think it may be partially because of her creepy religious upbringing, forgive and forget and let go and try to impress everyone with what a great Christian you are. I do believe that she will eventually crack.

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