Kidnap survivors Elizabeth Smart and Michelle Knight voice support for escaped California woman

Survivors ridiculed those questioning why woman didn't escape sooner

Published 23 May 2014  |  
(Photo: KOMUNews)
Utah kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart who was abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002

Kidnap survivors Elizabeth Smart and Michelle Knight are speaking out in support of the California woman who escaped captivity after ten years.

"It hits really close to home," Knight told CNN. "I want to let her know that I care; I understand."

Knight was one of three Cleveland women to escape a decade-long captivity last year.

Smart was kidnapped in 2002 at the age of 14, and escaped after nine months.

"I'm hoping the very best for her and just very, very happy to hear some good news," Smart told the Associated Press.

An unidentified female, kidnapped at the age of 15, went to police on Monday to report that she was kidnapped ten years ago. Her captor, Isidro Garcia, has been arrested on charges of forcible rape, lewd acts with a minor, and kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. If convicted of three crimes, he faces a life sentence.

Garcia, 41, married the kidnapped woman and had a daughter with her. Some are questioning the validity of the allegations against what they thought was a loving, family man.

"He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants," next-door neighbor Maria Sanchez told the Associated Press.

"She had plenty of time to actually escape so it's hard to believe this is really going on because she had a lot of free time," another neighbor told CNN.

Smart and Knight said that no one can criticize the escaped woman without knowing what was going on inside that household.

"Unless you were walking in her shoes, you have no reason to talk, none at all," Knight said on CNN today.

"Just because you're not chained up and you're not locked in the basement doesn't mean you ain't trapped.

"I know exactly what it feels like to be trapped in your own mind, your emotional mind, and told you can't do anything about it, nobody will care about what you say."

Garcia allegedly told the woman that if she tried to escape or told anyone about the kidnapping, her Mexican immigrant family would be deported. Smart said that threatening to harm someone's family can be a powerful threat.

"As a survivor who has been chained up in physical chains and also had the chains of threats held over me, I can tell you firsthand that threat is so much stronger than physical chains," she told CNN.

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