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WNN Breaking

Arial Castro house in Cleveland, Ohio (USA)

Ariel Castro house where Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight were trapped for over a combined number of years that equals almost a decade. Image: DEN/SPLASH

(WNN) Cleveland, Ohio, UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: In a combined public statement of public gratefulness Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michell Knight used Youtube to thank everyone who have continued to offer them support and strength since their forced captivity ordeal. This act of thanks is the first time any of the women have spoken publicly since their rescue last May.

Conveying pure and clear thanks through her message, Amanda Berry shared how she is feeling stronger each day. She also outlined how maintaining her personal privacy has helped her ‘immensely’.

“First and foremost I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and my friends. It’s been unbelievable,” Amanda Berry said. “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,” she continued.

“I ask that everyone continue to respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life,” added Berry.

Gina DeJesus also thanked those who gave financial support to her and her family following her ordeal as she joined her parents in thanking the work of the Courage Fund for their help.

“Parents that do have a loved one that is missing, please do me one big favor, count on your neighbors,” said Nancy Ruiz, Gina’s mother. “Don’t be afraid to ask for the help; because help is available,” she continued.

“Thank you everyone for your love, support and donations which help me build a new life,” said Michell Knight who was 21-years-old when she was abducted. “I just want everyone to know I’m doing just fine. 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 my feet firmly on the ground. Walking hand-in-hand with my best friend I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation.”

Defining her experience in terms of her belief in God, spiritual luck and transformation, Knight shares that she knows her ordeal is now leading her in the direction of helping others who have suffered similar situations.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were rescued from the home of Ariel Castro in what Cleveland police have outlined was an environment of forced sexual captivity which began with abduction of Michelle Knight in August 22, 2002, of Amanda Berry in April 21, 2003 and of Gina DeJesus in April 2, 2004. On May 6, 2013 Berry, DeJesus and Knight, along with Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, were rescued after a neighbor walking by the house heard Berry yelling for help from inside the home. Both Berry and Knight were abducted as teenagers to the home of Castro almost exactly one year apart during what Castro described as separate deceptive rides he gave to both Knight and DeJesus as he told each of them he was taking them home.

Facing charges under June 7, 2013 indictment hearing as a “sexually violent predator” with 329 counts made against him in the case, former 52-year-old school bus driver Ariel Castro is now facing 139 separate counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping with a sexual motivation, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools in the case of abduction. Castro also faces charges of aggravated murder in what authorities have outlined as “purposely causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy.”

At his indictment hearing in June Castro continued to plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges made against him in his arrest 3 days following the discovery and release of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, from their captivity.

The case against Ariel Castro is expected to be in court in August this summer as Berry, DeJesus and Knight work to build new lives.

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Abduction survivors Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight say thank you to the people of Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and across the world, who have offered support to them and their families following their May 6, 2013 rescue. To show deep thanks they wanted to put their own voices and faces into a heartfelt and personal public message through this video. Even with this public video the Berry, DeJesus and Knight continue to need privacy from the press and the public. This video was filmed on July 2, 2013 at the law offices of Jones Day in Cleveland, Ohio. The male off-camera voice heard in the video is that of Howard Fencl (pronounced FEHN-sill), vice president of Hennes Paynter Communications. The attorneys, public relations firm, social media strategist and videographer involved in the production of this video are all working pro-bono on behalf of the Berry, DeJesus and Knight. For information about the Cleveland Courage Fund, established to help Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry, as well as Amanda’s daughter, move toward a new life please visit www.clevelandcouragefund.org.

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©2013 WNN – Women News Network
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