Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, all with proud smiles on their faces, speak briefly, but sincerely about the support they’ve received in the form of both donations and privacy.

“I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and my head held high,” Ms Knight 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.”

Former bus driver Ariel Castro, 52, is charged with kidnapping the women off the streets between 2002 and 2004 and holding them captive in his two-story home.

He has pleaded not guilty to 329 charges, including 139 counts of rape, and aggravated murder over the death of an unborn child.

Ms DeJesus was 14 when she disappeared in 2004, Ms Berry, 16, and Ms Knight, 20.  

The three women, along with Ms Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro, were rescued in May when Ms Berry broke through a door at the home and yelled to neighbours for help.

Ms Berry, now 27, was reportedly forced to give birth to her daughter Jocelyn in an inflatable children’s paddling pool.

“I’m getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely,” Ms Berry said in the three-minute, 30-second video uploaded to YouTube last night by the Hennes Paynter Communications public relations agency on the women’s behalf with the cooperation of their lawyer.

Kathy Joseph, Ms Knight’s attorney, said in a statement that the three women wanted to “say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world, now that two months have passed”.

Ms Joseph said the women are being recognized in public and “decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages”.

“I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and my friends,” Ms Berry says earnestly in the video. “It’s been unbelievable.”

Video via ITN / YouTube
Image via Getty