Elizabeth Smart knows what Jaycee Dugard – the 29-year-old woman who surfaced after being abducted 18 years ago by a sex offender – is going through.
“I would tell her to just relax and enjoy your family and spend some time reconnecting,” Smart, 21, told Anderson Cooper on AC 360 Thursday.
Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002 and held captive for almost a year, says one of the best things Dugard can do is to move forward and “not [let] this horrible event take over and consume the rest of your life.”
“I would just encourage her to find different passions in life and continually push forward and learn more and reach more for them,” says Smart, who has written a pamphlet to help other victims, “and not to look behind, because there’s a lot out there.”
Dugard was reunited with her family Thursday. Her abductor enslaved her in a cluster of sheds in a “hidden backyard within a backyard,” raped her and had two children with her before he was arrested this week, police revealed at a news conference Thursday.
As for how she managed to put her ordeal behind her, Smart says, “I just don’t talk about it all the time with everybody and so I would think maybe [Dugard] feels the same way and if she chooses to never say anything about it, I think it should always be her decision and there are a lot of people out here that love her and support her in what she decides to do.”