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Elizabeth Smart details her kidnapping and near rescues (+video)

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped at age 14. Elizabeth Smart recounts her nine-month ordeal in "My Story," a 308-page book released Monday by St. Martin's Press.

By Michelle L. Price and Paul FoyAssociated Press / October 8, 2013

Elizabeth Smart at an interview in Park City, Utah. More than a decade after her kidnapping and rescue, Smart is publishing a memoir titled "My Story."

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

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Salt Lake City

Minutes after 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her bedroom in the dead of night, a police cruiser idled by along a neighborhood street as she was forced to the ground at knifepoint. "Move and I will kill you!" her captor hissed.

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It was one of several fleeting times Smart watched a rescue slip away during her nine-month ordeal, she recounts in "My Story," a 308-page book released Monday by St. Martin's Press.

She writes that she was so terrified of the street preacher who kidnapped her that when she was rescued by police in a Salt Lake City suburb in March 2003, she only reluctantly identified herself.

Between the heartbreak of missed chances, Smart writes, she was treated as a sex object by Brian David Mitchell and as a slave by his wife, Wanda Barzee. She says they denied her food and water for days at a time.

A U.S. attorney called it one of the kidnapping crimes of the century. Smart, a quiet, devout Mormon who played the harp and loved horses, vanished without a trace from her home high above Salt Lake City.

Smart, now 25, is married, living in Park City, finishing a music degree at Brigham Young University and traveling across the U.S. giving speeches and doing advocacy work. She created the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to bring awareness to predatory crimes against children. For her, the book was another way to help bring nine months of brutality to a close.

"I want people to know that I'm happy in my life right now," Smart told The Associated Press. "I also, even more so, want to reach out to people who might not be in a good situation. Maybe they're in a situation that was similar to the one that I was in."

Smart said she hopes the book, which The AP received in advance of its release from the publisher, will help other victims know that it's possible to be happy and move forward with their lives and will shed some light on what was going through her head during what she called "nine months of hell."

Her account was written with help from Chris Stewart, a Utah congressman who has authored books with religious and patriotic themes.

Smart says she doesn't care to understand Mitchell, yet her book opens a window on his personality. He was a downtown Salt Lake City fixture in a robe and sandals who first laid a crooked eye on Smart when her mother offered the man $5 and work at the family home.

At that moment, he resolved to take her as the second of a hoped-for five wives, he later told Smart.

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