The 13 siblings who were found malnourished and held captive in their California home over the weekend received a message of hope from Elizabeth Smart. As People reported, Smart said that the children can go on to live happy lives despite the hardships they've endured.
“I would want them to know that they survived, they did it," Smart told ABC News. "That there is happiness in the future and that they can go on to have wonderful lives.”
The Perris, California family was discovered on Sunday when the 17-year-old daughter escaped and called 911. She reported alleged abuse, and the parents, 49-year-old Louise Turpin and 57-year-old David Turpin, were arrested on Monday. They have been arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. It is unclear at this time if they have attorneys who can speak on their behalf.
Riverside County Sheriff's Department's investigation “revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.”
All 13 victims are currently being treated in a hospital for severe malnutrition. A hospital official told People that the seven adult children are doing well. According to The Washington Post, authorities do not believe that there was sexual abuse, but the investigation is ongoing.
Captain Greg Fellows of the Riverside County Sheriff's Departent said, “We do need to acknowledge the courage of the young girl who escaped from that residence to bring attention so they could get the help that they so needed."
Smart was kidnapped at the age of 14 and held captive by her abductors for nine months. She was eventually found, and she has since gone on become an advocate for victims of abuse.
"Life is not as dark and as terrible as it has been,” she shared with ABC News.
She continued, "It’s not what happens to you that defines who you are. It may shape you, it certainly will mold you, it might absolutely affect the direction of your life, but that does not have to define you. You can still move forward. What ultimately defines you are the choices that you make.”
[Photo: Getty Images, Facebook]