The three victims of Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro have produced a video thanking their family and friends for supporting them and giving them hope to face their new life of freedom.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Amanda Berry, Gina de Jesus, and Michelle Knight, who endured 10 long years of captivity and abuse inside Castro’s Cleveland home each give a personal statement of thanks for the many heartfelt expressions of concern the country has shown them since their daring escape two months ago.
Berry, who was the first to escape with the six year-old daughter she had with Castro, describes her newfound freedom as “unbelievable.”
“I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal,” she says. “Everyone who has been there supportive and it has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness.”
Gina de Jesus also thanked everyone. Her parents, who never stopped searching for her since she disappeared on April 2, 2004, extended their gratitude for all the help and support they received over the years.
Gina’s father, Felix de Jesus, thanked his family “for having so much passion and the strength to go along with us” as they relentlessly pursued any tip that might lead them to their beloved daughter.
Nancy, Ruiz, Gina’s mother, spoke to parents who have a missing loved one. “Please do me one big favor,” she says. “Count on your neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help because help is available.”
The most expressive of all was Michelle Knight, who went missing on August 22, 2002 at the age of 21. Developmentally disabled, Michelle bore the brunt of Castro’s abuse, suffering repeated beatings and five miscarriages that were the result of his abuse.
“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,” she says.
” . . . I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don’t want to be consumed by hatred.”
She speaks of her faith in God and her confidence that even in the darkest times, “we need to take a leap of faith and know that God is in control.”
Castro is currently facing 329 charges, including kidnapping, rape, and murder in connection with the miscarriages he caused.