Elizabeth Smart has taken a painful part of her past and is empowering herself and others.
1011 now is reporting that Smart is traveling across the country, telling her story in support of her new memoirs, Elizabeth Smart: My Story.
In it, she outlines what happened to her and the abuse that she endured from her abductor. Smart says it is important for her to share her story to help others who may have experienced abuse themselves.
She says at nearly every speech she gives she has someone come up to her that tells her they now feel more comfortable telling their story because Elizabeth told hers. Smart feels being abducted many years ago has affected her life, but she doesn't feel like that experience has held her back.
"If anything it gives me a platform to speak off of and it gives me experience so when I do go out and speak I mean I know what I'm speaking about. Nobody is going to tell me I'm wrong because I've been there, and I know what it's like."
She says no matter where we are in life or who we are, we all have problems and face challenges.
"If you decide you know what this has happened to me and it's terrible and it's horrible and yes it's apart of my life but I'm not going to hold me back and I'm not going to let it define me," said Smart.
Time Warner Cable News recalls that in June 2002, the then-14-year-old Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom in her family's Salt Lake City Home. She was held captive for nine grueling months by a couple who threatened to kill her and her family if she escaped. Police returned Elizabeth safely to her family in March 2003.
Smart, now 26, travels the country sharing her story with communities and organizations.
"So many people searched for me, so many people prayed for me and followed by story and I am so grateful that," Smart said on Thursday. "It's made such a huge difference knowing there are so many people who cared for me and loved me and wanted my safe return, not only my safe return but they wanted to see me happy again and they wanted to see me move forward in my life so that's been such a huge blessing."
Smart may not have lived the same life as many of the women who seek services and shelter at the YWCA, but the strength she exhibited during her time in captivity is something others can learn from, and no matter how bad things may be today, being alive is wonderful.
Smart said, "For as much evil and wickedness and bad things you see on the news all the time, there are that many good people out there and there are that many more people who want to make a difference and who want to see you happy and who want to help, so never give up."
[Image courtesy of Online Athens]