Video: Elizabeth Smart’s reassuring message to rape victims

May 16, 2013

How shame-based teachings on sex can hurt victims of sexual assault
Take some time to view this Fox45 (Baltimore) video of a 13-minute talk presented by Elizabeth Smart at Johns Hopkins University during a forum on human trafficking. Elizabeth was a junior high school student in 2002 when she was kidnapped from her home at knifepoint. Part of what she says in this video has opened a new discussion about shame-based religious teachings on the value of virginity and “purity” that are being presented in abstinence-only sex ed classes. In recounting her own experience, Elizabeth Smart speaks out about the devastating effect such approaches can have on rape victims.  See also “Shame-based education: We can do better” by Kristen Howerton and “Sexual purity is like good candy still in its wrapper.” by Melanie Springer Mock.

Related: Elizabeth Smart’s story is especially relevant in view of recent news about the ordeal of the three women who were kidnapped, repeatedly raped, and imprisoned in their abductor’s home in Cleveland for the past ten years. In this one-minute video on the USA Today website, Elizabeth Smart has some wise and heartfelt advice for these women.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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