Nightly News   |  July 09, 2013

Cleveland kidnap victims speak out in show of strength

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight released a video on YouTube Tuesday thanking their supporters and displaying  remarkable resilience after surviving the horrific  ordeal of being  held against their will for so many years. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> those three young women held for a decade in a house in cleveland, ohio have broken their silence, two months since they were freed. they have made public video statements in which they talk about their brand new lives and the support they've received since their release. our report tonight from our national correspondent kate snow .

>> reporter: we've known them only vaguely, the thumbs up from gina dejesus, the single photo of amanda berry, she was a 16-year-old girl when she was taken in 2003 . she's now a 27-year-old mother.

>> i want everyone to know how happy i am to be home with my family, my friends. it's unbelievable. i want to thank everyone who's helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. everyone who's been supportive. it's been a blessing to have some an outpouring of love and kindness.

>> reporter: michelle knight, kidnapped when she was 21 read from a carefully prepared message.

>> i want everyone to know i'm doing just fine.

>> reporter: her lawyers said her manner of speech was just nerves and had nothing to do with her time in captivity. none of the women mentioned ariel castro by name. but michelle referenced the decade she spent inside this house.

>> i may have been through hell and back, but i am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face, and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground.

>> reporter: gina dejesus went missing at age 14. appearing with her parents, these were her only words.

>> i would say thank you for the support.

>> reporter: cleveland city councilman matt zone told us last month, that gina is staying with family. and has the shih tsu puppy she bonded with in captivity.

>> she wants to go back to school, the simple things you and i take for granted.

>> reporter: clevelanders have been good at giving the women space to heal.

>> i'm getting stronger each day, and having my privacy has helped immensely.

>> i will not let the situation define who i am. i will define the situation.

>> reporter: one doctor who's treated other kidnapping survivors says making the video itself was probably therapeutic.

>> being able to retell the story says i'm a survivor, i'm still here. it's also sending the message, not only to the public but to the perpetrator to say, you didn't damage me much you didn't ruin my spirit. we are still alive.

>> we have been hurt by people, but we need to rely on god as being the judge. god has a plan for all of us. thank you for all your prayers. i'm looking forward to my brand new life. thank you.

>> reporter: the women also wanted this video out now so that the paparazzi would be less likely to hound them to get that first video. in the meantime, ariel castro's trial is scheduled for august. he's pled not guilty on hundreds of charges with more charges expects perhaps this week. prosecutors are meeting this week to discuss whether to pursue the death penalty.