WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: The teen, who was abducted and subjected to abuse for nine months, says she wants parents across the world to tell their children three important things.
Elizabeth Smart was snatched from the bedroom she shared with her nine-year-old sister Mary Katherine in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 5 2002, and taken to a camp in the woods by her captors Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee.
For months, the young teenager was raped and drugged while her captors forced her to drink alcohol and watch pornography, reports The Mirror.
Elizabeth was routinely left tethered to a tree without any food between extended periods of horrific abuse.
The now 30-year-old participated in a Reddit forum titled Ask Me Anything.
One of the top questions read: “In your opinion as a children’s advocate, what are some practical, commonsense steps parents can take to help their children avoid abuse? (And I guess I mean abuse in a general way, anything from extreme bullying to abduction.)”
Elizabeth replied with three clear points:
1. Make sure your child knows that they are loved unconditionally, and make sure your child knows what unconditionally means.
2. Make sure that your child understands that no one has the right to hurt them or scare them in any way. It doesn’t matter what that person may be: family, friend, religious leader, community leader, it doesn’t matter.
3.Should anyone hurt your child or threaten them in anyway, they need to tell you.
She later added, “Practice screaming, encourage your kids to fight back, there is a place and a time when it’s not only acceptable it’s encouraged.”
The statistics for child sexual abuse will shock you
Every two hours in Australia, a child is sexually harmed, according to child protection advocacy group Bravehearts.
1 in 5 children in Australia will be sexually harmed in some way by their 18th birthday. That’s 59,000 Australian children each year.
Tips for Parents
Based on Bravehearts’ Ditto Keep safe Adventure program, the 5 basic principles we need to teach our children (remember: it’s never too early to sow the seeds of personal safety) are:
1) To trust their feelings and to distinguish between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ feelings
2) To say ‘no’ to adults if they feel unsafe and unsure
3) That they own their own bodies
4) That nothing is so yucky that they can’t tell someone about it
5) That if they feel unsafe or unsure to run and tell someone they trust.
We are all responsible to help change this statistic!
Lilly Lyons defied the odds to become a teenage crusader against sexual violence. She is encouraging others to share their stories of sexual assault. Read her story HERE.
If you need support please know you can always contact someone.
Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800
Parent Line – 1300 30 1300
Lifeline – 13 11 14
1800 Respect (Family Violence and Sexual Assault Line) – 1800 737 732