Elizabeth Smart speaks in Pasco

<p>Elizabeth Smart</p>

Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart, the woman who was kidnapped for nine months from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, spoke to more than 1,000 people in Pasco today about her journey to freedom.

Smart says she is grateful she was kidnapped, because it has given her the opportunity to stand up and raise awareness for child safety.

This afternoon, she spoke with Mid-Columbia residents at the Women Helping Women Benefit Luncheon at the TRAC.

Smart was kidnapped in 2002, when a man came into her house, put a knife to her neck and told her to leave with him.

She escaped nine months later, when police found her and her kidnappers walking in Salt Lake City.

Smart says she wants families to know that there is always hope, even in bad situations, and children should not be afraid to stand up against those who may be hurting them.

"If they ever feel uncomfortable, or scared, or they're being bullied, or someone's going to hurt them, they need to know that it's ok to fight back. I hope my kids, if anyone ever comes up to them and tries to hurt them, I hope they hit them as hard as they can. I hope they kick them where it counts. I hope they just scratch their eyes out. That's what I would want my children to know" says Smart.

Smart started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which is a non-profit organization aimed at preventing crimes against children, and providing motivation and encouragement to children who have survived abduction.

Smart says it is important for parents to let their children know that they are loved.

She says knowing that her family loved her unconditionally helped her get through the nine months she was kidnapped.

Smart says for every square mile in America, there is a sexual predator.

She says the first step toward stopping crimes against children is by talking about it within your own family.