COLUMBIA, Mo. - Nearly 12 years ago, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped out of her bedroom and held captive for nine months, enduring numerous rapes and other abuse.
Friday night, she shared that experience to teach others prevention at the University of Missouri in hopes they won't go through the same ordeal.
Smart spoke about how important it is to talk about issues like rape and kidnapping to possibly come up with a plan of action to prevent them.
Her ability to overcome a terrible situation and come out on top, helping others, is exactly why Delta Gamma chose her to speak to the campus.
"We believe the experience she's been through is something young women need to hear -- the story that bad things can happen and you make good things out of the bad things," Delta Gamma Fraternity President Laurie Roselle said.
But for Smart, talking to others is just her way of showing her gratefulness she survived the abduction.
"Where much is given, much is expected and I've been given the ultimate miracle -- I survived. I'm alive and I'm here today. So many children don't come back. So many children don't survive," Smart said. "So I need to speak out so that what happened to me doesn't happen to anyone else."
She's used her experience to start her own foundation to prevent predatory crimes. You can learn more about it here: http://elizabethsmartfoundation.org/.
When she's not working on that, she's at the Capital in Salt Lake City where she's working for two new bills -- one for prevention education in schools and one for police to collect suspects' DNA upon arrest.
She also helps with R.A.D. Kids. R.A.D. stands for resisting aggression defensively. There, she teaches kids to fight back and speak up for themselves if they're uncomfortable.
Smart said she has moved on thanks to her mom's advice from her childhood.
"I knew that I could allow these two people who've stolen nine months away from me to continue to keep my happiness, or I can move forward and find things that make me happy," Smart said.
She also had a special message for the families of Markell Beasley and Hailey Owens, two Missouri children recently kidnapped and killed.
"I'm sick, I feel terrible. I hate hearing about kidnappings especially when they end this way," Smart said. "I would tell the families they are in my thoughts and prayers."
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