On Monday, the three women who were held captive in Cleveland, OH, for a decade posted an emotional video on YouTube to thank their supporters. Amanda Berry, who was abducted at age 16 in 2003, opened the video with a heartfelt message. "It has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness." Berry reportedly has a 6-year-old daughter, who was born while she was in captivity, and she shared how happy she is to be home with her family and friends.
Gina DeJesus, who was 14 when she was kidnapped in 2004, was joined on camera by her parents. They thanked those who have donated to the Cleveland Courage Fund, which raised more than a million dollars to support the three women. DeJesus's mother also reached out to parents in similar situations, saying, "Please do me one big favor — count on your neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask for their help because help is available."
Closing out the video is Michelle Knight, who was abducted in 2002 at age 21. She says, "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 . . . God has a plan for all of us. The plan he gave me is for me to help others that have been in the same situations I have been in — to know that there is someone out there to lean on and talk to."
Ariel Castro has pleaded not guilty to 329 counts after prosecutors say the women were beaten, raped, and starved for a decade until they were freed from his home in May. After the women were freed, Jaycee Dugard, who was abducted at age 11 and held captive for 18 years, expressed her support for the brave women: "These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world. This isn't who they are. It is only what happened to them. The human spirit is incredibly resilient."