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The women held captive for nearly a decade in Cleveland by Ariel Castro have come forward and spoke for the first time Tuesday.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight released a video early Tuesday morning to say thank you.
Amanda Berry was the first to talk, expressing her gratefulness for her freedom and the support for her family.
“I wanna thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal,” said Berry. “Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing.”
The video image of Amanda Berry matches the courage she showed when she escaped Castro’s home, running to a neighbor’s house to call 911.
The women did not give any details of their ordeal or mention Ariel Castro by name.
Gina DeJesus, with her mother and father beside her, expressed her thanks.
“I would say thank you for the support,” said DeJesus.
Perhaps the most powerful words came from Michelle Knight, the oldest of the survivors. She endured painful beatings at the hands of Castro but says her spirit is unbroken.
“I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and my head held high,” said Knight. “I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation.”