Children’s right activist Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped and held for nine months as a teenager, is a survivor in the truest sense of the world. After the 13 siblings who were freed on Monday from alleged torture and imprisonment in their parents’ home, Smart sent a message of support.
“I would want them to know that they survived, they did it, and that life is not as dark and terrible as it has been,” Smart told ABC News. “That there is happiness in the future, and that they can go on to have wonderful lives.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Riverside County police in California got involved Monday after a 17-year-old girl reportedly escaped from her family’s home and called for help. The teen told officers that she and her 12 siblings were held captive in the squalid home belonging to David Allen Turpin, 47, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, in Perris.
“Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that 7 of them were actually adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29,” the police said.
The Turpin parents were arrested on multiple charges including torture and child endangerment. They’re both being held on $9 million bail each. The so-called “monster parents” are expected to be arraigned on Thursday.
Although any one of the older children could have possibly escaped from their alleged parental tormentors, Elizabeth Smart explained to ABC that their particular situation made it more than difficult to do.
“When you’re in a situation where you’re being highly manipulated, where you’re being tortured … it isn’t just as easy as jumping in the car and driving away,” Smart said. “Speaking as one who has been physically chained up, and as one who has also been held by chains of manipulations and threats, I will tell you … the chains of manipulation and threats are so much stronger than actual physical chains.”
The tireless advocate wants the Turpin siblings to know that, “it’s not what happens to you that defines who you are.”
“It may shape you, it certainly will mold you, it might absolutely affect the direction of your life, but that does not have to define you,” Smart added.
“You can still move forward; what ultimately defines you are the choices that you make.”
[Feature Photo: Elizabeth Smart via AP/Richard Shotwell/Invision]