Tags: cleveland | kidnap | victims | speak | out

Cleveland Kidnap Victims Speak Out for First Time

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 10:04 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The three Cleveland women held captive and sexually abused by Ariel Castro for a decade said in a YouTube video posted early Tuesday morning that they went through "hell and back" but were determined to get on with their lives.

Speaking out for the first time about their ordeal, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight thanked the public for their support and for understanding their need for privacy to adjust to life after captivity.

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Story continues below video.

"I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family," said Berry, who escaped on May 6 from the Cleveland house where she and DeJesus and Knight had been held. "I'm getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely."

Knight said, "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 with my feet firmly on the ground."

"With that being said, we need to take a leap of faith and know God is in control," she added. "God has a plan for all of us. The plan that he gave me is to help others who have been in the same situation I have been in."

Knight also said she is looking forward to her "brand new life."

DeJesus' mother also appears in the video, thanking the public for donations of more than  $1 million from around the world.

"I would like, personally, to thank the Courage Fund, everybody in general, and also my community, my neighbors," Nancy Ruiz said.

"Parents that do have loved ones missing, please, do me a big favor: Count on your neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask for help," she said.

The women were kidnapped between 2002 and 2004 at the ages of 14, 16, and 20. Castro, a 52-year-old former bus driver, faces 329 charges including kidnapping and rape. He fathered a child with Berry and is accused of starving and punching Knight, causing her to miscarry.

His trial is tentatively set for Aug. 5.

He was arrested on May 6, shortly after Berry broke through a door at the home owned by Castro and yelled to neighbors for help.

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