AMES – Author and advocate Elizabeth Smart brought her message of empowerment to Iowa State University on Friday evening.
Elizabeth Smart has transformed from victim to advocate. In 2002, 14-year-old Smart was abducted from her home and spend nine months in captivity. Her kidnapping gained national attention, becoming one of the most-followed abduction cases in history.
Smart’s message was extremely powerful following the murders of Mollie Tibbetts and Celia Barquin Arozamena. Officials at Iowa State say Smart was scheduled to speak later in the school year, but after the recent murders she wanted to come earlier.
“I don’t think you should have to live in fear,” said Smart. “I don’t think you should have to be worried about going out for a run, or going out to the golf course or worry about going to a party. I don’t think you should have to live in fear.”
In the years following her rescue, Smart has traveled the country to educate, inspire and advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and legislation.
She created the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to help prevent crimes against children and she has worked with the Department of Justice to create a survivors’ guide for children who have endured similar experiences.
“It doesn’t have to define you. It doesn’t have to be who you are the rest of your life,” said Smart.
Smart chronicled her experiences in her book, “My Story.” Her most recent book, “Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up,” offers a powerful message of hope and discusses what it takes to overcome trauma.
Her message “From Adversity to Empowerment,” was held at Stephens Auditorium on the ISU campus. The event was free and open to the public. A safety awareness resource fair preceded Smart’s lecture, and a book signing followed the lecture in the Celebrity Cafe on the lower level of Stephens.