Three women who were held captive inside a Cleveland house for a decade are determined to be victims no longer, as they send a YouTube message of thanks to supporters.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight appeared in the video posted by the public relations firm that now represents the young women.
“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,” Knight says. “Walking hand in hand with my best friend, I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation.”
A fund for the women has received more than received $1 million from about 9,000 donars.
Former bus driver Ariel Castro has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment alleging he kidnapped the women off the streets between 2002 and 2004 and held them captive in his home.
Castro fathered a 6-year-old daughter with Berry and is accused of starving and punching Knight, causing her to miscarry.
He was arrested May 6, shortly after Berry broke through a door at the home and yelled to neighbors for help.
By LINDA THOMAS