At the age of 15, she was torn away from her family when a man kidnapped her from her room but Elizabeth Smart was determined to survive and she did.
She shared her story Wednesday at the YWCA of Greater Flint's 15th annual Circle of Women event.
"I want everyone to know no matter what happens to you, you can move forward again you can be happy again and whatever has transpired doesn't need to define who you are," said Elizabeth.
Nearly 500 people attended Wednesday's luncheon.
The event raised money for the YWCA which funds programs empowering women and providing hope in a city known for its violence.
"I want to get us off the list of being the most dangerous place for women to live," said YWCA CEO, Harmony Langford.
Elizabeth recently released a book titled "My Story" where she details her kidnapping and eventual rescue.