Elizabeth Smart’s Message to Rescued Women: Don’t Blame Yourself

Amanda Marie Berry (left) and Georgina Lynn Dejesus with Elizabeth Smart

Reuters/Landov; inset: Gary Gershoff/WireImage)

updated 05/07/2013 AT 1:50 PM ET

originally published 05/07/2013 AT 1:45 PM ET

Very few people can truly understand what the three women rescued from years in captivity can be feeling today – and what they may face in the years to come.

Elizabeth Smart is one of them, and she has a message.

“First of all, I’d make sure these young women know that nothing that happened to them is their fault,” Smart tells PEOPLE. “They still have the same worth. They’re still valuable. They haven’t lost any of their worth to what’s happened.”

Smart was kidnapped from her home at age 14 in 2002 and forced to be a sex slave for nine months. She’s now a newlywed and advocate for missing children.

“They can still do whatever they want in life,” Smart says. “They should never feel like they can’t do something because of what’s happened to them. There is still so much more to life than what happened to them the last 10 years. They have so many years to go forward and be happy, I’d encourage them to not feel restricted.”


From Our Partners