Women freed from captivity release video of thanks

Three women held against their will for a decade locked in Cleveland, Ohio, have posted a video on YouTube to offer thanks for the support they have received as they try to rebuild their lives.

Women freed from captivity release video of thanks

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight appeared separately in the video, with Berry and Knight each making a brief statement, while DeJesus answered questions from someone off camera, followed by her father, Felix DeJesus, and then her mother, Nancy Ruiz.

Berry appeared calm and happy in the video, which was filmed on Jul 2. She smiled frequently, as she offered thanks not only for those who have helped her, but to those who have respected the three women’s request for privacy.

“First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family, my friends,” she says.

“It’s been unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness. I am getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely.”

In response to a question of what she wants to say, DeJesus briefly said she would like to say thank you.

Ruiz reflected on the love and support of neighbours, such as those who played a role in helping the women finally escape their captivity.

“Parents in general that do have a loved one missing, please do me one big favour,” said Ruiz.

“Count on your neighbours. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help because help is available.”

Knight, who appears last, expressed confidence for the future and spoke about how her faith in God has helped her.

“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 held high and my feet firmly on the ground,” she says.

“Walking hand-in-hand with my best friend, I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation.”

Kathy Joseph, an attorney for Knight, said in a statement about the video that the three young women wanted to “say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world.” “People are recognising them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages,” Joseph said. “It was their decision to relay their thanks in this way to all of the many people who have offered support to them, for which they are extremely grateful.”

James Wooley, attorney for Berry and DeJesus, said the release of the video does not mean that the three women will begin making public appearances or granting interviews any time soon.

Ariel Castro, 52, the man accused of keeping the women inside his home, has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping and rape.

Castro, a former school bus driver, is also accused of the aggravated murder of a foetus for allegedly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating, a charge that could carry the death penalty.

He allegedly snatched Berry, DeJesus, and Knight between 2002 and 2004 and imprisoned them, sometimes with chains.

They were freed on May 6 when Berry cried out for help from behind a closed screen door, getting the attention of neighbours.

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