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True Crime Week, Theme Week
True Crime Survivors, Elizabeth Smart

Taylor Hill/Getty Images

If you listen to any true crime podcast, you know that a child kidnapping at the hands of the stranger is one of the rarest of crimes.

That said, these abductions do happen. The outcome is often tragic, but there are a handful of occasions in which the kidnapping victims survive. 

Take Elizabeth Smart: She was abducted from her family's home in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002 at the age of 14. Nine months later, she was miraculously rescued alive by police officers.

Smart endured horrific physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her captor. She credits her family and strong Mormon faith for helping her to survive.

In a 2013 interview with NPR, Smart recalled a conversation she had with her mother shortly after she was rescued: "My mom said to me, "Elizabeth, what this man has done to you, it's terrible, there aren't words strong enough to describe how wicked and evil he is. He has stolen nine months of your life from you that you will never get back. But the best punishment you could ever give him is to be happy, is to move forward with your life and to do exactly what you want to do..." she said. "The best thing you can do is move forward because by feeling sorry for yourself and holding on to what's happened, that's only allowing him more power and more control over your life, and he doesn't deserve another second. So be happy."

Smart has done just that; she got married to Matthew Gilmour in 2012 and welcomed a baby girl named Chloe in 2015. She is an author and activist.

Check out our gallery of kidnapping survivors