LAFAYETTE PARISH, LA (KPLC) - The story of her abduction from her family's Utah home in 2002 rocked the nation. Now, Elizabeth Smart is using that experience to help other victims of sexual abuse.
Smart was in Lafayette on Thursday night, speaking at an event hosted by the Hearts of Hope organization, a group geared toward being a support service for the sexually abused.
Smart was just 14 years old when Brian Mitchell broke into her home and kidnapped her at knifepoint from her room while her little sister lay awake watching the entire thing.
She was abused and raped for nine months before being rescued by police.
Smart said now, it's her mission to share hope and optimism to others.
"Whether it's something like dealing with a rape or something that's family, something that's work, financial, illness, whatever it is ... we all … we all face things in life and we all have our hard times. I think it's so important for people to realize, there is so much more to life than our problems. That we can overcome them and we can move forward and we can go on to make a difference and contribute to our community," she said.
That's exactly what Smart is doing. She is now 25 years old, a student at Brigham Young University and is happily married.