KIDNAP survivor Elizabeth Smart has revealed she panics if her own children wander out of her sight, even at their home.
Elizabeth, who was abducted at knifepoint from her bed aged 14, held against her will and raped daily for nine months, told how that "scariest pandemic" facing the US is not COVID-19 but kidnap and sex trafficking – with one child going missing every minute.
Now happily married to husband Matthew Gilmour and a mom to three children – Chloe, James and Olivia – she told how her terrifying experience has made her very protective of her own kids' safety.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, she said: "A child goes missing once a minute.
"That's a pretty scary number. You want to talk about pandemics? I’m all for masks and social distancing, and taking precautions as far as COVID-19 goes.
"A real pandemic is child abduction, is human trafficking, is sexual slavery, is sexual violence, that’s an even scarier pandemic."
She added: “Truthfully, I do get a little bit paranoid. Probably not a little bit, probably a lot.
"So if I’m outside and working in the yard and my daughter walks around the side of the house and I can’t see her, I generally start to panic and I’m calling after her and I’m running around the house to find her.
“Probably every day she has gone, just to the side of our house, to play with our dogs, which is a pretty safe area…but at the same time, I was kidnapped out of my bed. You think that is a pretty safe area."
The mother-of-three says that she takes the security of herself and her family seriously and they have a security system and dogs, a well as choosing a home close to the local chief of police.
Elizabeth is currently fronting a Lifetime show about the abduction of another kidnap victim Candra Torres, who was held captive by Thomas Brown after he killed her husband and dog.
Brown, who could be released from jail, abducted Candra then aged just 16, sexually attacked her and held her against her will for three days in Mount Hood, Oregon, in July 1976.
Elizabeth branded Brown a “monster” who is a “threat to society.”
“Candra knew this man, this monster, shot her husband and he shot her dog. She absolutely knew he was capable of murder," she said.
"How many times would he have been able to murder her in the time he had captivity over her? Countless.
"Yet she did everything she had to do to survive. And she came out of the other side. To me that is an incredible show of strength and resilience and inner power."
When she and her tormentor emerged from the woods three days after Julio was killed, Browne had convinced her to lie to the police for him and say Julio's death was an accident.
It took several days for her to tell police that he'd not only murdered her husband but also held her against her will and sexually attacked her.
“He talked to her about how he had studied mind control and then he proceeded to use mind control on her.
"So, he just….manipulated her to the utmost.
"Her story really sheds a lot of light on Stockholm Syndrome… it’s a survival mechanism, it’s a defense mechanism that just kicks in.
"For some people it’s a conscious decision and for others, it just kicks in.
"And you do what you have to do to survive."
Elizabeth herself was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom her family's house in Salt Lake City, Utah, tied up, and threatened with death if she attempted to escape by Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee.
Smart says she was devastated when Barzee was released from jail in 2018 – but refuses to live in fear.
“I was really upset. Honestly, it came as a shock to me that she could get out after everything that she did.”
"She and my other captor, Brian Mitchell, they stole nine months of my life. Every second of my life for nine months, they took that away from me and I’ll never get that nine months back. I wish I could.
“I know that she’s out there and I certainly take precautions. But at the same time, I cannot live my life in fear and worry that I’m going to run into her. I can’t afford to lose that time that I could otherwise be spending with my children.”
The upcoming episode of Elizabeth Smart: Finding Justice will air on Sunday August 2 at 10pm on Lifetime.
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