The following is excerpted from a report from ABC News. To read the full report, click here

Children’s rights activist Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted and held captive for nine months as a teenager, sent a message to the 13 siblings who were freed on Sunday from alleged torture and captivity in their parents’ California home, saying she wants them to know that “life is not as dark and as terrible as it has been.”

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The 13 siblings, ages 2 to 29, were rescued from their parent’s home in Perris, California, by local law enforcement after a 17-year-old girl apparently escaped and called 911, saying her 12 brothers and sisters were still being held captive at the home, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Smart told ABC News that she would caution the public from immediately questioning why some of the siblings, especially the older ones, did not attempt to escape from the home earlier.

“Speaking as one who has been physically chained up, and as one who has also been held by chains of manipulations and threats, I will tell you … the chains of manipulation and threats are so much stronger than actual physical chains,”

Watch the ABC News interview with Elizabeth Smart below: 

To read the full report, click here