US & Canada

Cleveland kidnaps: Women thank public for support

Media captionAmanda Berry spoke briefly, along with Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight

Three women allegedly held captive for about a decade by a man in Cleveland, Ohio, have broken their silence to thank the public for its support.

In a YouTube video, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight said they were trying to rebuild their lives.

One of the women said she had been to hell and back, but did not want to be bitter.

Former school bus driver Ariel Castro faces 329 counts of rape, kidnapping and other charges.

The three-minute video was posted on YouTube at midnight on Monday by a public relations firm.

The three women each spoke briefly to thank members of the public for their donations to a fund to help them.

Ms Berry, 27, who prosecutors say gave birth to a daughter by Mr Castro during her time in captivity, smiled as she said in the video: "I am getting stronger each day, and having my privacy has helped immensely.

"I ask that everyone continues to respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life."

Ms Knight, 32, also smiled as she said she was building a "brand new life".

"I may have been through hell and back," she read from a prepared statement, "but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and my head held high.

"I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don't want to be consumed by hatred."

Mr Castro is accused of making Ms Knight pregnant, then starving and punching her to cause her to miscarry.

The third woman, Ms DeJesus, 23, spoke simply to thank people for their support. She was accompanied by her parents, who did the same.

The women were freed in May from Mr Castro's home, where they were allegedly held following their separate abductions aged 14, 16 and 20 between 2002-04.