Elizabeth Smart, the survivor of one of the most followed child abduction cases, recently spoke out about her courageous story.
"In the initial days and in the initial weeks and months, I knew that there were searches being put on for me," she said at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania last week.
Smart was 14 when she was kidnapped from her Utah home and held captive for nine months.
Her story captured the attention of the world.
"I never knew the extent or the magnitude of how far and how big my story had gone," she said.
Smart is grateful for those who prayed for her safe return.
Today, she's using her story to help others.
"I have a nonprofit that I run and those are the cornerstones that it's built on: prevention, education and building community awareness and helping people to understand what it's like to be a survivor," she said.
She's hopeful her platform can help to change the conversation towards compassion and understanding.
"We all have our stories and we all have our struggles. No one should ever feel embarrassed for asking for help even if you feel like what you went through is maybe not as severe as what someone else went through," she said.
Smart's message is one of faith and hope. She wants people to know they are stronger than they think, and there's nothing anyone can do to take away their value.
"If something bad has happened to you, it doesn't make you any less worthy of finding that happiness in your life. It's real and you deserve it. So, don't give up. Keep going," she said.