HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WZZM) -- It's been called one of the kidnapping crimes of the century: Elizabeth Smart's nine months in captivity in 2002. Thursday, Smart was at the Pinnacle Center in Ottawa County, detailing her experience of being held captive and sexually abused.
WZZM 13 talked with her about the kidnapping in Nigeria and sex trafficking in Michigan.
Elizabeth Smart calls it her new-normal -- big crowds, bright lights, and a powerful message for sexual abuse victims: "Deciding that you're not going to allow this to destroy the rest of your life."
Some might say she made a 'Smart choice' about taking a stand after a conversation with her father.
"Dad what should I do? And he's like, 'Well you could start by telling your story, speaking out.' And I thought, 'Who in the world would want to listen to me?'"
It turns out the world wants to hear her story. She was kidnapped from her bed at knife-point and held captive for nine months. Now she's living proof that sexual abuse victims don't have to deal with it alone.
"I wasn't going to allow my captors to steal any more of my life away from me."
Smart's also thinking about 275 girls half a world away, who were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by terrorists.
"It just makes me sick that there are people out there that can do that, but I think that's why it is so important that this receive as much media attention," says Smart.
WZZM 13 also asked Smart about her reaction to Michigan's crackdown on sex trafficking.
"So many people don't realize there are more women and children in slavery today than there ever have been in the history of the world," she said.
Only about one in five sexual abuse victims comes forward, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department. Detectives are hopeful that anyone listening to Elizabeth Smart will now have the courage to speak up.
"There is the possibility to survive and still have a successful life," says Detective Michael Tamminga with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.
"They are in no way any less of a person," says Smart.
In 2011, Smart's captor was sentenced to life in prison for the crime. His wife is serving 15 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping.