DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In 2002 she was a teenager, kidnapped from her home and held for nine months. Today Elizabeth Smart spent the day in Dallas speaking at a Crimes Against Children Conference.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a man and his wife kidnapped Smart from her Salt Lake City home. Now the 23-year-old is stressing to investigators the need to never give up on finding a missing child.

Smart sat down with CBS 11’s Robbie Owens and talked more about her mission.

“I’m trying to not hold on to the past,” she said while talking about her new passion of working with victims of child sex crimes.

Smart draws on her personal experience to relate to young victims. At the age of 14 she was kidnapped from her bedroom by a self-professed street preacher.

“A would-be marriage to a man older than my father, raped daily, waking up to a metal cable bolted around my ankle eliminated any chance of escape,” she recalled.

Even now, Smart says hearing news reports of other missing children give her pause. “I always pray for the same outcome I had. It’s still heartbreaking.”

After years of counseling and recovery Smart has become a sought-after speaker and contributor on the issue of missing and abducted children.

She created the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to help protect children. Smart also works with a program called radKIDS that provides safety education for children.

In spite of all she’s endured, Smart says she would tell other young people to be aware of danger but refuse to live in fear.