DVF Award winner Elizabeth Smart said today her religion helped her survive her terrifying months-long abduction from her Salt Lake City home when she was 14 and spoke about how she plans to help young girls avoid the violence she faced.
"I was raised in a wonderful family, I was raised in the Mormon faith, which taught me from a very young age that I was a daughter of God," she said. "There was this man there [Smart's abductor, Brian David Mitchell] tellng me that I had been predestined to be here, that he was called a god, that it was right... I knew that it was wrong because I knew that a loving god would never do that to me," she said.
The Elizabeth Smart Foundation teaches kids to resist aggression through self-defense. "It gives you an awareness that you can fight back with anything, whether it's the back of your head, your teeth or your nails. It's wonderful," she said.
Good Morning America anchor Juju Chang asked Smart how she had found the courage to testify against her captor Mitchell.
"It was someting that needed to be done. It's been eight years and it was just something that had to be done so i made the decision and I did it," she said.
Earlier in the panel, Girls Leadership Institute founder Rachel Simmons talked about how raising strong girls means, in part, battling against a mainstream media that tells girls to primarily value how they look. She joked that lip gloss is a "gateway drug" for pre-teens, who are increasingly feeling the need to wear makeup. Anita L. DeFrantz, who heads up the LA84 Foundation, talked about the power of sports to build strong girls.