Hannah Anderson Interview: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim (Video)

Thursday, 22 Aug 2013 02:46 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Hannah Anderson, the California teen who was abducted by family friend James DiMaggio earlier this month and rescued six days later in the Idaho wilderness, gave her first television interview Thursday, saying she doesn’t consider herself a "victim," but a "survivor."

"In the beginning I was a victim but now, knowing everyone out there is helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead," she told NBC's "Today." "My mom raised me to be strong."

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DiMaggio, 40, reportedly tortured and killed Anderson's mother, Christina, and her 8-year-old brother Ethan at his San Diego home before setting it on fire and fleeing with the girl Aug. 4.

After a multi-state search that stretched to almost a week, authorities tipped off by a retired sheriff and three others on horseback found DiMaggio and Anderson deep in Idaho's backcountry. DiMaggio was killed in a shootout with police, and Anderson was brought home to San Diego.

Since Anderson's return home, the case has gotten even more convoluted after new details emerged about the relationship between DiMaggio and the teenager. Some reports claimed Anderson told friends DiMaggio said he had a crush on her, and records show the two exchanged 13 calls or text messages the day of the abduction. The girl told NBC that they were texting about directions because he was supposed to pick her up from cheerleading camp that day.

Police search warrants revealed handwritten letters from Anderson at DiMaggio's home, and he mysteriously left the girl's paternal grandmother more than $112,000 from a life insurance policy. The teen told NBC that the letters were a year old and involved advice about her rocky relationship with her mother.

"[The letters] weren’t anything bad, they were just to help me through tough times," Anderson said.

Anderson's behavior also concerned some. Just a few days after returning home, the teen reportedly went on social media site Ask.fm and fielded hundreds of questions from anonymous users.

Did you want to go with him?

"No, not at all."

Are you happy DiMaggio was killed rather than arrested and sentenced to life in prison?

"He deserved what he got."

Why didn’t you run away from him?

"He would have killed me," she wrote.

The newest twist involves DiMaggio's sister Lora, who wants DNA samples from Anderson and her brother Ethan to see if DiMaggio is one or both of the children's biological father.

"We are going to be requesting from the Anderson family that we try to get DNA samples from Hannah. And if they have anything left from Ethan, that we get a DNA sample," DiMaggio's family spokesman, Andrew Spanswick, told CNN affiliate KGTV. "There has been a lot of rumors that Jim might be the father of either or both children."

The Anderson family has denied the claim that DiMaggio fathered Hannah or Ethan.

"Brett and Tina Anderson did not meet Mr. DiMaggio until the sixth month of Tina's pregnancy with Hannah," a family representative said in a statement. "Brett Anderson's DNA was used to identify the body of his dead son Ethan Anderson."

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Related stories:

James DiMaggio Called Hannah Anderson 13 Times Before Abduction: Report

Letters From Hannah Anderson Discovered at Dead Abductor's House

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