March 15, 2019 10:37 PM
Jayme Closs did everything right. She escaped, she survived and she won.
That powerful message came from Elizabeth Smart at a gathering inside the Barron County High School gym Friday night.
"I want you to understand what it's like to be in a victim's shoes," Smart said.
About 1,000 people listened intently as Smart retraced in harrowing detail how she was abducted from her home in the middle of the night, sexually abused, deprived of food and water day after day for nine months, until she was rescued from her captors. Smart triumphed over her tragedy and now works as an author, child safety advocate, inspirational speaker and started The Smart Foundation to advocate for other survivors.
Smart emphasized she knew when she returned home, the unconditional love of her family would be waiting. She commended the crowd for caring about Jayme and showing it by being there.
Smart also said when interacting with Jayme in the future to avoid one important question.
"They shouldn't start with a question 'why didn't you.' All the victim hears is 'you should have.'"
"Also, give Jayme space and time to heal. Don't remind her of what happened," Smart said. "Because although terrible things happened to her, she is not damaged."
Smart encouraged members of the community to let Jayme have a normal school experience and friendships.
Smart spoke for 30 minutes and was ready to take questions from residents.
"It's so easy to caught up in thinking the world is a terrible place, but I just spoke to 1,000 people who care about the community and care about Jayme and that is inspiring," Smart said as she was leaving Barron County.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald also let the community know that victim advocates were on hand as well if someone there struggling needed assistance.
Updated: March 15, 2019 10:37 PM
Created: March 15, 2019 10:20 PM
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