Elizabeth Smart: Jayme Closs is an "extraordinary survivor"

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BARRON, Wis. (WEAU) -- More than two months after Barron teen Jayme Closs escaped her alleged captor, a woman who understands Closs’ ordeal shared her story Friday night in Barron.

“I never wanted to forget who I was, I never wanted to forget where it came from,” says Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted around the same age as Jayme.

"I want you to understand what it's like being in the victim's shoes,” says Smart to community members who attended her presentation in Jayme’s hometown.

“I was a very similar age to Jayme when I was kidnapped and it was the most terrifying experience of my entire life,” she adds.

Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was held captive for nine months.

“I was taken up into the mountains behind my home, where my captors told me I was now going to be his wife; I was going to be their slave," she says.

Attending the “Moving Forward with Elizabeth Smart” event, was a pair of mothers and their daughters from Menomonie.

“It's such a blessing that she was found, and it's really a miracle,” says Carrie Cook.

The group called the event another step in bringing the community together.

“You know it was awesome to have Elizabeth come to Barron, Wisconsin and really help the community and talk to them about how to move through the process,” says Angie Skillings.

“I could have never imagined going through that kind of thing,” says 14-year-old Quincy Cook.

As Smart recalled walking into the grocery store to find her face on magazines, and what it felt like to google herself, she had a message to the community and beyond: it’s okay.

During the presentation Friday, Smart told community members that it’s okay to begin returning to normal, and to take down ‘Welcome Home Jayme’ signs.

Smart says not all victims become survivors, but Jayme is an extraordinary survivor.

She adds that Jayme has the power to move forward, and reclaim the life she deserves.