Kidnapping survivor and child safety activist Elizabeth Smart has revealed she was assaulted on a plane last year and the ordeal inspired to her launch a specialized self defense class for women.
Smart fell asleep on a flight home to Salt Lake City when she was woken up by the man seated next to her, she said in a Thursday interview on CBS This Morning.
"I felt someone's hand rubbing in between my legs on my inner thigh," she said.
The incident brought back horrible memories from when she was abducted from her home at the age of 14 in 2002.
"I was shocked. The last time someone touched me without my say so was when I was kidnapped and I froze," Smart said.
Smart said the harrowing experience motivated her to launch a self defense class for women and girls called "Smart Defense."
"We are trying to train them to give themselves an opportunity to get away," she said.
Recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows that reports of sexual assaults on planes are on the rise. In 2019, 119 cases were reported, up from 84 the year before, according to a Freedom of Information Act request. Thirty-eight cases were reported in 2014.
Smart said that Delta Airlines, along with the FBI, are investigating her case. Delta said in a statement they took the matter seriously and are cooperating with Smart as the matter is investigated.