Kidnap victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were rescued from an Ohio house of horrors in May and now the Cleveland women are speaking out and thanking their supporters in a new YouTube video.
Each woman appears separately, offering her own message of gratitude. It is the first time any of the victims have spoken out since their release from Ariel Castro’s home.
Knight, who was taken at 21 and rescued at 32, read a statement, saying, "I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and my head held high. I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don't want to be consumed by hatred."
Berry, sporting glasses and an eyebrow piercing, said, "I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and friends. It has been unbelievable."
[Photo: Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight / Credit: Splash News]
Amanda continued. "I am getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely.”
Berry, now 27, was 16 when she disappeared, and also gave birth to Castro’s daughter while in captivity. The girl is now 6.
DeJesus offered a brief “thank you” to everyone for their support. Gina was kidnapped at 14 and is now 23. She was reportedly best friends with her alleged perpetrator’s daughter before she disappeared.
[Photo: Ariel Castro / Credit: Getty Images]
Castro plead not guilty to charges of rape and kidnapping. His trial begins Aug. 5.
The women miraculously escaped nearly a decade of imprisonment in May when Berry found a door unlocked and desperately screamed for help. She managed to wave down a neighbor who helped her break down the door and call 911.