Elizabeth Smart speaks in Pasco and advocates for child safety - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Elizabeth Smart speaks in Pasco and advocates for child safety

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PASCO, Wash.-- Her story is one of hope and perseverance and Monday, Elizabeth Smart shared her story with more than one thousand people at the Women Helping Women Fund luncheon in Pasco.

Elizabeth Smart is an inspiration to many, as someone who endured a traumatic experience and turned it into a positive cause to help others.

She spoke openly Monday about what happened to her and is urging others to speak out to make a difference.

"A lot of times you feel like you've come so far that you don't want to dig up the past but sometimes digging up the past and making sure people know that it is a problem is more important than letting it lie dormant," Smart said.

Elizabeth Smart has changed her story from a kidnapped child, to a woman standing up for a cause. She's turned her traumatic experience into a message of hope and advocacy.

"When I hear of another child being abducted I feel like there could've been something we could've done. We could've, instead of telling the children don't cross the street without looking, don't talk to strangers, don't get in the car, instead of telling them what not to do, maybe we should start telling them what to do," Smart said.

She wants to educate kids that if someone is trying to hurt them or take them away, then they should fight back and do whatever it takes to stop it.

Her work to encourage others to rise above abuse and trauma is paying off and reaching a younger generation.

Catherine Jacobs, a 16-year-old Tri-Cities Prep student, volunteered to work at the event. She said Smart's message has taught her a lot.

"They can learn and know how to protect themselves. And know that they don't have to stay, be crippled by an event like that. They can build off of that like Elizabeth has. They can make something out of it by educating other people and helping a cause," Jacobs said.

People often wonder why bad things happen to good people. Elizabeth doesn't have the answer, but she's given others the strength to move beyond the pain that holds them back.

"We can always handle more than we think we can. We just have to start going through it first," Smart said.

Smart said there is a sexual predator in every square mile of America and she will continue to work to keep others safe from them. She is working with organizations and politicians to spread child education safety.

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