Wisconsin 13-year-old Jayme Closs was found alive last week, nearly three months since she went missing following the deaths of her parents on Oct. 15, 2018. Now, she’s getting some words of wisdom from a woman who survived a similar ordeal, Elizabeth Smart. Smart was abducted in June 2002 when she was 14, and was rescued nine months later. Today, the 31-year-old Smart is a child safety advocate.
“Right now at this point in time, I feel that it’s very, very vital for her to build those relationships with her family because, unfortunately, her family was brutally torn apart,” Smart said on ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday. “So this is a very important time to try to rebuild, to come together again and to start afresh, to try to create a new normal because, unfortunately, there is no going back to the old normal. There’s only a new normal.”
Smart acknowledged how difficult this could be, and that Closs should be given “as much time and space as she needs because she’s just been through the most traumatic experience anyone in their life could experience.”
“It’s gonna take time,” Smart continued, referring to how Closs will adjust to life, after going through a kidnapping and the alleged murders of her parents. “And if she doesn’t want to talk then I think that’s her complete prerogative.”
Smart added that after she was saved, she was ashamed of what had happened to her, saying, “I didn’t want people to know what I had been through.”
It is possible to move forward, Smart said, drawing on her personal experience as someone who has successfully created an identity beyond what she went through as a child.
“It’s so easy to feel that ‘this is going to define me,'” Smart recognized, but gave assurance to Closs by saying, “I want her to know that this doesn’t have to be that.”
Smart also noted how Closs showed that she has strength in her, as she was the one who saved herself from her captor, identified by authorities as 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson, who is due in court Monday afternoon.
Jeanne Nutter, the woman who was approached by Closs and then brought her to safety, said in an interview with the Law & Crime Network, “The real hero is not me, it’s Jayme, who was able to leave the house and find me on the road.”
[Image via ABC screengrab]