Sep 11, 2008

Elizabeth Smart - Commentary after Oprah

Yesterday I watched Oprah. She interviewed Elizabeth Smart who is moving on with her life. It is apparent she has not processed her past trauma and may be in denial. However, she is a child. She will be able to choose to enter therapy at some point in her life. I was appalled after the show when the majority of comments posted about the interview harshly criticized and blamed the victim for her own abduction.

Why didn't she scream? Why didn't she run away? Her parents should make her go to therapy. This is how we treat VICTIMS of abuse. The type of abuse endured by Elizabeth Smart is incomprehensible to anyone who has never been forced into the fight, flight, or freeze level of terror. The brain's survival mechanisms take over. Rational thinking may not be accessible. None of know she wouldn't have been killed if she had screamed. Her abuser threatened her with her own death and the death of her parents if she screamed.

If someone criticizing has never had a gun held to their head or a knife held to their throat or been in a situation where you believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person in control would take your life, then there is no right to criticize.

The young woman grew up in a loving family and was returned to a loving family. Some commenters pointed to the family's religion for preventing Elizabeth from getting therapy. Who are we to criticize her religious upbringing? Elizabeth stated it was her devotion to family and religion that got her through her time in captivity.

Returning to the world after being captive and constantly in fear for your life is a dramatic transition. It appeared to me that Elizabeth Smart did very well. She is moving on and appears secure and happy. It is highly likely she will need therapy to have healthy future intimate relationships at the very least.

We should applaud her bravery. Why does this nation insist on oppressing the victim? It tells me that even if everyone had access and was able to learn about dissociation, there are still those who would think somehow a young child was at fault for his or her own abuse. This kind of thinking is so beyond my realm of reasoning. I have to believe the good guys out there want to know the truth and would be outraged if they fully understand the ramifications of what I present in these blogs.

The child is never to blame for his or her own abuse. Never. It is the overpowering adult figure making the choice. What a sad commentary on our nation.

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