Nightly News | August 22, 2013
>>> we are hearing more tonight from hannah anderson, the 16-year-old held hostage in the idaho wilderness for nearly a week by a family friend. she spoke out exclusively to nbc news and tonight a lot of people are reacting to her story. nbc's kate snow has our report from san diego tonight.
>> it's kind of hard, but i'm hanging in there.
>> reporter: it's been less than three weeks since hannah anderson was abducted by family friend james di naimaggio.
>> this gentleman that was a friend of ours for a long time has taken everything.
>> reporter: hannah had no idea there was an amber alert across the west.
>> i love her dearly.
>> reporter: she didn't know dimaggio had killed her mother and 8-year-old brother ethan.
>> i had a really big heart and --
>> reporter: the family had clearly trusted the man they called uncle jim at his burned-out home, letters were found.
>> the letters were from like a year ago when me and my mom weren't getting along very well. me and him would talk about how to deal with it.
>> reporter: dimaggio would often give hannah rides to and from activities. that, she explains, is why the two exchanged 13 text messages on the day of her kidnapping.
>> he was picking me up from cheer camp and he didn't know the address.
>> reporter: but after picking her up, he drove her to this remote part of idaho where a group of horseback riders saw the odd couple and alerted authorities.
>> i don't know if we saved her life. i know we set the stage for somebody else to save her life.
>> i'd like to say thank you because, without them, i probably wouldn't be here right now.
>> reporter: within days, hannah appeared at a car wash fund-raiser for her family, posted photos and messages online.
>> it just helps me grieve, like post pictures and to show how i'm feeling and i'm a teenager. i'm going to go on it.
>> reporter: but that opened her up to judgment from complete strangers.
>> i didn't know people could be so cruel. they don't really know the story so they kind of have their own opinion on what they hear.
>> reporter: even today while some offered prayers after seeing hannah on the "today" show, many were except skeptic skeptical.
>> she says her mother raised her to be strong.
>> if i can get through this, i'm sure i can get through a lot more.
>> reporter: when we asked what she's learned, she hints at pain and regret.
>> to just not hold a grudge because you never know when someone can be gone.
>> reporter: hannah says she's getting ready to go back to high school the day after labor day . it will be overwhelming, she says, because so many people now know her story and are so vocally critical of her. but she says her friends have her back, and, lester, one thing she emphasized is she does not want anyone to see her as a victim but as a survivor.