Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Elizabeth Smart speaks publicly as a voice for victims

Last week, the public heard the voice of Elizabeth Smart for the first time. She spoke to reporters after the guilty verdict in the case of the man who abducted and raped her daily when she was just 14 years old, holding her for nine months. And the special meaning of being able to speak to a wider audience was not lost on the 23-year-old, who said:
I'm so thrilled to stand before the people of America today and give hope to other victims, who have not spoken out about their crimes, about what's happened to them...We can speak out, and we will be heard.
The guilty verdict was credited in large part to Smart's willingness to take the stand and testify in court, a highly specialized form of public speech, and a high-pressure situation. There's no video of her testimony, but the Salt Lake Tribune produced its own transcript of Elizabeth Smart's testimony so you can read her spoken words, which contain a great deal of graphic language and description.

Her story's being told as one of redemption, and as an empowering example to others who've been abused. Her father told CNN Elizabeth is thinking of a career as a prosecutor -- certainly one that will involve speaking--so she can help other victims. The difficulty of telling her story, and the high contrasts between her long periods of silence, her testimony and last week's public statements, make this young woman already experienced in some of public speaking's greatest challenges.  The NBC News video above gives you a taste of her poise and confident style.  What are your reactions? Share them in the comments

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