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Elizabeth Smart Says Sherri Papini ‘Will Have to Create a New Normal’

Sage wisdom. Elizabeth Smart, who made headlines after she was kidnapped and held hostage for nine months back in 2002, has some words of advice for Sherri Papini, the mother of two who was recently abducted while out for a jog in November.

“I would suggest to Sherri to focus on herself, focus on her family, focus on healing,” the 29-year-old advocate said in an ABC News interview set to air Friday, December 2. “You never go back to normal. You have to find a new normal.”

Elizabeth Smart Sherri Papini
Elizabeth Smart

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Papini, 34, was out on a jog near her home in Redding, California, November 2 when she was reportedly abducted and kept in captivity for 22 days. She was found Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day, chained and beaten on the side of a highway.

Investigators are launching an extensive investigation into Papini’s disappearance and trying to piece together the series of events that took place between her abduction and release.

“It’s really important for people to realize that when a victim comes back, whatever they did, they did to survive,” Smart told ABC News, adding that for her, she focused on her loved ones to stay strong through the terrifying ordeal.

Sherri Papini
Sherri Papini

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“I found my one thing that I could hold onto no matter what that my captors couldn’t take away or change, was my family,” she said. “And I imagine the same would be true for Sherri. I would imagine that she held onto them. She survived for them.”

Smart was just 14 when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home and held captive by a man named Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee. During that time, Smart was raped multiple times a day and threatened with death if she tried to escape.

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She was finally found and rescued in March 2003 after months of nationwide searches, and now works as a contributor for ABC News and an advocate against child sexual abuse. Smart married Matthew Gilmour in February 2012, and the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Chloe, in February 2015.

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