Elizabeth Smart Opens Up on Triggers for Painful Memories: 'I'll See Something ... and It'll Take Me Back'

More than 15 years after she was kidnapped, Elizabeth Smart still faces traumatic memories of her ordeal

By all accounts, Elizabeth Smart is doing remarkably well.

The 30-year-old is living a normal life — something that she never dreamed possible after she was kidnapped from her bedroom late one summer’s night in 2002 and brutalized by her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, for nine months before being rescued.

Smart got married five and a half years ago. She lives in lives in Park City, Utah, with her husband, Matthew Gilmour, and her two children, Chloe, 2, and 8-month-old James.

But Smart still has moments where she remembers the trauma she endured as a teenager.

On Monday, she spoke with Access Hollywood’s Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover to promote her upcoming television projects — I Am Elizabeth Smart, a movie that premieres Nov. 19 at 8/7c on Lifetime, and the second half of her two-part documentary special, Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography, which airs tonight at 9 p.m. on A&E.

During the interview, she spoke about various triggers that bring the horrific memories back to the surface.

“I have been so blessed,” she says. “I have been so lucky. I have not struggled with PTSD. I mean there are moments where I’ll see something or maybe I’ll smell something and it’ll take me back.”

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“One time I was visiting my grandma and she had a book of Russian art on her table,” Smart continues. “I was flipping through it looking at it and there’s a picture of Rasputin in there, and I saw a picture of him and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. That looks just like Brian Mitchell.'”

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Despite the traumatic memories, Smart says that she’ll tell her children about her ordeal when they get older. “I’m certainly not going to hide it from them,” she says. “Already, I struggle with not wanting to be so overprotective, but protect them enough. Finding that balance, that’s hard.”

“I talk to my daughter all the time and say, ‘nobody has the right to hurt you, or scare you, or make you feel afraid,” she says. “And if anyone ever should, you need to tell me.”

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