By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA - Just over a decade ago, Elizabeth Smart was the naive and frightened 14-year-old who was snatched from her Salt Lake City bedroom.
But Tuesday, Smart is a happily-married activist, spreading her message across the country.
"I thought about it and thought about it and then it hit me like a ton of bricks, duh Elizabeth, you have this huge story and you could have such an influence to reach out to so many children and so many people," Smart says.
Smart brought her story to Columbus for the Pastoral Institute's ninth annual Women Helping Women Luncheon.
"No matter what it is you face, whether it's abduction and kidnapping, whether it's family problems, health problems, financial problems, whatever you're facing, there is always hope," Smart says.
After abducting Smart at knife point in 2002, self-proclaimed prophet Brian David Mitchell took her to live with the mountains with his wife for nine months. He called smart his second wife and repeatedly raped her.
Smart told the audience today she, "felt like my soul had been shattered. How could anybody love me again?"
But the now 25-year-old says it was the hope of seeing her family again that fueled her will to survive.
"The belief that my family will always stay together, even if one of us dies they will still be apart of our family. That was very comforting to me because throughout my kidnapping I didn't know if I would see my family again," Smart says.
Since the return to her family and conviction of her abductors, Smart says she has chosen to move on and be happy.
Two years ago she founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and works actively with radKIDS.
"One of the best resources we can give our children to avoid bullying and to avoid kidnapping is education," Smart says.
Smart's foundation is also working closely with the Internet Crime Task Force to help victims of child pornography.
WLTZ NBC 38
6140 Buena Vista Rd, Columbus, GA 31907, 706-561-3838
GA News Hotline: 706-507-6397
AL News Hotline: email@example.com