Three women who were kidnapped as teenagers and held captive in a Cleveland home spoke out on a video published on YouTube on Monday evening, thanking the public for donations and support in getting their lives back together.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight spoke individually in the three-and-a-half-minute video released by Hennes Paynter Communications, a crisis management firm based out of Cleveland.
Each of the women thanked all the people who supported them throughout the aftermath of their ordeal, especially their family and friends.
After thanking the public for the support, Berry requested, “I ask that people continue to respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life.”
DeJesus, along with her parents, Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz, thanked the public for its donations to a fund established to help the women. Ruiz also encouraged others who have somebody in their life missing, “Count on your neighbors. Don’t be afraid for their help, because help is available.”
Knight spoke last in the video, assuring everyone that she is doing fine.
“I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with the smile on my face and with my head held high and with my feet firmly on the ground,” Knight said, reading from a statement. “I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don’t want to be consumed by hatred.”
Ariel Castro, the man who allegedly kidnapped and held the women captive, is current facing trial, pleading not guilty to a 329-count indictment, which includes counts for rape, murder, assault and kidnapping.
Watch the video of their statements above.