Elizabeth Smart speaks in Barron County
BARRON COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Two months after Closs escaped her captor, one of the few people in the world who can relate to the experience visited Jayme's hometown.
Elizabeth Smart dominated headlines in 2002 and 2003 when she was kidnapped as a teenager. Now 31, she's dedicated her life to advocating for children and sexual assault survivors. She spoke to Jayme Closs's family and neighbors about coping with the ordeal that's become a part of the fabric of their community.
Barron welcomed Elizabeth Smart like one of their own.
"I have been so inspired the last few days that I've been here, being able to meet with you and speak with you," said Smart.
In a packed gym, Smart told her story of abduction and survival.
"It was the most terrifying experience of my entire life," said Smart. "It just brought a whole new meaning to terror. It brought a whole new meaning to what nightmares are made of."
Raped, chained up, and threatened during her 9 months in captivity, Smart became a guide to the audience. She showed them how to manage their emotions and how to relate to Jayme.
"It's really important at this point that Jayme is given a chance to just be a normal teenager and to continue her life going forward just the way Elizabeth said she did with her life," said Dale Hanson, a Barron resident.
Smart said that Jayme is an inspiration to her, something she has in common with so many.
"This community has changed but in a great way. Obviously the 88 days was rough on a lot of us but this community has grown from that and become stronger," said Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.
Smart used her own experience to advise Barron on how to treat Jayme. She said it's okay to smile but don't stare. If they want to talk, write a letter. Give Jayme space. And allow life to go on.
"Something Smart said that made an impression on me is when talking to a victim, don't ask why didn't you? Because they'll hear it as you should have. And I just thought that was insightful, great advice," said Sheriff Fitzgerald.