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Elizabeth Smart Felt Like “Chewed Up Piece Of Gum” After Rapes

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“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value. Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value. … [Kids should know] you will always have value and nothing can change that.”

– Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped at 14, held captive and raped for nine months, spoke recently at Johns Hopkins University on a forum about human trafficking. Here she is explaining why she didn’t run after her captor raped her, which he did daily during her entire ordeal. As the now-25-year-old told Johns Hopkins, she was raised in a religious family and had learned from abstinence-only education that a person whose virginity has been ‘sullied’ is worthless. Her mention of chewing gum is not random: A popular teaching in abstinence-only education, “the gum game,” is to compare people to chewing gum: a person who has had multiple partners is just like dirty, grimy gum that’s been chewed over and over again by multiple people. It’s a way of teaching children to feel ashamed and guilty about sex. And while positing sex before marriage as “slutty” could mess up anyone, for rape victims like Elizabeth Smart, it’s enough to make someone feel like worthless trash. [Christian Science Monitor] [Photo: Getty]

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