She was the teenager whose 2002 kidnapping captivated the nation. Then just 14 years old, Elizabeth Smart was a little girl who was snatched from her parents' home, her picture a fixture on newscasts well after her rescue nine months later.
Now 25 years old, Smart was in Houston Thursday night, a sharply dressed, married woman comfortable enough to joke with reporters before speaking at an event for Tomball Hospital.
"If you don't have a question tha'ts okay too," she said.
Her appearance took place days after three women escaped from their kidnapper in Ohio.
If you didn't know Smart's name, didn't know her story, it would be hard to believe she is the same person whose picture flashed on television screens all those years ago.
When asked what advice she would give the women in Ohio, she offered the same words her mother gave her shortly after her rescue.
"She told me, ‘this man's taken so much of my life away that I shouldn't give him another second," Smart said. "By living and by being happy, that's the best punishment I could ever give him. I would also share if they didn't want to share their story, they don't have to. They don't need to share details. It's enough for everybody to know that they were kidnapped and horrible things happened."
Smart also talked about the psychology of abuse in general, not just by kidnappers, attackers, or others trying to control their victims with weapons or physical abuse. She said abuse involving threats are just as, if not more, dangerous.
"I've experienced both being held captive by words and being held captive by chains," she said. "And words are definitely stronger."