2017 Gala with Elizabeth Smart


“To me, my room was the safest place on earth”, recalls the guest speaker at our 2017 Gala, Elizabeth Smart, the girl America searched for at age 14 when she was abducted from her own home, her own bed.

The ballroom of Lexington’s Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa was crowded with 500 people who gathered to dine, chat, and give whilst sharing in a memorable night that focused on Refuge for Women’s mission to help victims of sexual trafficking and exploitation, victims like Elizabeth Smart. All 500 guests paused after dessert to hear Elizabeth’s story. Silent from all directions, a pin drop could be heard.  

Elizabeth explains that she’d recently watched a scary movie and was having your average nightmares. As she processed through those few moments between deep sleep and waking up, she tells what it was like to realize she wasn’t in a nightmare. “The next thing I remember hearing was a man’s voice, I thought it was part of the dream. I could feel something cold and sharp on my neck. I didn't feel like I had a choice, there was nothing I could do. I remember being terrified.” She looked at her sister in the bed next to her, and wondered what this strange man would do to her if Elizabeth said no. So she got up.

Thus began the tale of her real life nightmare.

As she concluded her 45-minute retelling of her nine month slavery, she ended with what her mother told her the morning after her rescue, “Elizabeth, what these people have done to you is terrible. There are no words for what they did to you. The best punishment you could give them is to be happy. By dwelling on the past, that's only allowing them to steal more of life from you. They don't deserve a single second longer.”

Thank you to Elizabeth, for your inspiring story of hopelessness and triumph. Thank you, to all 500 guests, for your support and participation in a special night.

Didn’t get to attend the Gala?

Access Interview with Elizabeth Smart

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