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Elizabeth Smart celebrates 20-year anniversary of rescue from kidnappers

March 12, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Elizabeth Smart’s rescue, an uplifting conclusion to the most-followed child abduction case in United States history. In 2002, at age 14, Smart was kidnapped from her home and held captive for nine months. During her captivity, she endured daily sexual assault, starvation and abuse at the hands of her kidnappers. Thanks to public awareness surrounding her disappearance, and a watchful community in her hometown of Salt Lake City, Smart was identified by a bystander and able to return home.

In the 20 years since her kidnapping, Smart has used her experience for good. She began the Elizabeth Smart Foundation in 2011 to bring hope and end the victimization of sexual assault and abuse through education, healing, and advocacy. In 2022, Smart announced that her foundation was becoming a part of the Malouf Foundation™, a Utah-based 501(c)3 public charity founded by Sam and Kacie Malouf in 2016 that focuses on confronting child sexual exploitation.

The organizations focus on educating people with free resources to answer two questions Smart often receives: how to identify victims in communities and how or when to discuss personal safety with children. Two nationally available free resources are the OnWatch™ training, an online, survivor-led hour-long training designed to teach users how to recognize and report sex trafficking in their communities; and Raise, a digital app that helps parents approach tech safety with their kids, including issues like inappropriate content, cyberbullying and online predators.

Smart said, “It’s been 20 years, and I am deeply grateful for my life. It’s because of the people who searched for me, prayed for me, and cared about me, that I get to do what I love. Thank you.”

In her future, Smart plans to keep shedding light on those who need it. She said, “I’m going to continue dedicating the next 20 years, and hopefully more, advocating for the children who are still missing and fighting for victims and survivors everywhere.”

To learn more, or to donate to the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, visit The OnWatch™ training is available at, and the Raise app is available in the App Store or Google Play.

Interviews may be granted upon request through [email protected]

If you or a loved one has been affected by sexual violence, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, is available at 800.656.HOPE or via live chat at

About the Elizabeth Smart Foundation

The Elizabeth Smart Foundation was founded in 2011 by kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart. Smart was abducted in 2002, after which she endured nine grueling months of daily sexual assault and abuse by her captors. In 2022, ESF and the Malouf Foundation joined forces. The mission of ESF is to bring hope and end the victimization and exploitation of sexual assault through education, healing, and advocacy. For more information or to make a donation, visit

SOURCE Elizabeth Smart Foundation