Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, both held hostage and sexually assaulted in two of the nation’s most famous missing children’s cases, are becoming victims advocates by taking their stories to the media in the next few days.
Smart, who at 14 years old was kidnapped and held captive by homeless “street pastor” Brian Mitchell, has taken a job as an ABC news contributor. Her first broadcast assignment will be within the next two weeks, according to ABC. She will not be appearing on the 2-hour special the network is doing on Dugard.
ABC News' Diane Sawyer’s interview with Dugard airs this Sunday night at 9 p.m. EST. It will be Dugard’s first interview about her 18-year ordeal as a hostage to Nancy and Phillip Garrido. She was kidnapped while walking to school at the age of 11. Dugard was repeatedly raped during the 18 years, and gave birth to two daughters, now ages 13 and 17.
Smart and Dugard are putting a face on the growing problem of child abduction at a time when nearly 2,200 children are reported missing each day, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Tragically, children are abused not just in missing persons cases, but overall 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before adulthood, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported.
In a preview of Sunday’s show, Sawyer told Good Morning America that Dugard has come away from her time in captivity with what appears to be a healthy outlook.
“She looks with unflinching clarity at what was done to her. The handcuffs, the sexual abuse – she talks about it, she tells about it,” Sawyer said about the interview. "But at the end of the day she says, ‘He's not going to own me. I will stare it down and I will not be afraid.'”
Dugard's memoir, A Stolen Life, is planned for release on July 12. This week’s People magazine features excerpts and photos from the book.
“Now I can walk in the room and see my mom,” Dugard told Sawyer, according to ABC. “Wow. I can decide to jump in the car and go to the beach with the girls.”
Smart, 23, is currently a music student at Brigham Young University. ABC said it will honor her educational commitment while using her as a contributor, available in all areas of the company’s news division.
"She'll help our viewers better understand missing person stories from someone with the perspective to know what a family experiences when a loved one goes missing," said ABC spokeswoman Julie Townshend.
Smart is not new to the media spotlight. She and her family appeared on Dateline NBC and was interviewed by Katie Couric as well as The Oprah Winfrey Show. In addition to a book written about her experience, CBS produced a TV movie, “The Elizabeth Smart Story.”