TODAY

TODAY   |  July 09, 2013

Cleveland kidnapping victims speak in video

For the first time since they were rescued from a home in Cleveland, the three kidnapping victims who were kept captive for a decade are speaking out in a YouTube video. NBC’s Jeff Rossen reports and Clint Van Zandt discusses the video.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> first chance for a lot of us to hear from amanda berry, gina dejesus and amanda knight.

>> they wanted to thank people for their support and their prayers.

>> we'll turn to jeff rossen with more on the story. good morning to you.

>> this is big because the women remained in private since their dramatic escape. this was a big sur prize overnight when amanda , gina and michelle posted that video on youtube. we're told it wasn't a pr firm or lawyer telling them to do it. it was the women themselves that wanted to make this video. here it is. for the first time, the cleveland three with a message for you.

>> first and foremost, i want everyone to know how happy i am to be home with my family and my friends. it has been unbelievable.

>> going public for the first time and looking great, just girls when they were kidnapped. now, young women , taking the power back. first on the video, amanda berry. she gave birth while in captivity. that girl is now six years old. ariel castro , her accused abductor is the father.

>> i want to thank everyone that 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 out pouring of love and kindness. i'm getting stronger each day and having my privacy helped immensely.

>> reporter: it is a heart felt thank you. a love letter to everyone that supported them. that's gina dejesus sitting next to her parents. she said very little. her spokesman asking questions off camera.

>> gina , if you could say something to each and every person out there that contributed money to your fund to help you, what would you say to them?

>> i would say thank you for support.

>> reporter: and of course, there's michelle knight. prosecutors say ariel castro got her pregnant and then forced her to miscarry.

>> thank you everyone for your love, support and donations which help me build a brand new life. 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.

>> reporter: each woman appears separately in the video shot july 2nd at a law office in cleveland .

>> i don't want to be consumed by hatred. with that being said, we need to take a leap of faith and know that god is in control.

>> reporter: as the girls speak out, ariel castro remains locked up. now charged with hundreds of counts including kidnapping, rape and murder. but this video isn't about him. not a single mention of castro or the house where prosecutors say he tortured him.

>> i ask that everyone continue to respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life .

>> they are so brave. that video maybe our only glimpse of the women for awhile. their spokesman saying overnight they have a deep desire for privacy and don't want to discuss their ordeal with the media or anyone else for the foreseeable future. the big question now, will there be a trial and will the women testify? ariel castro 's trial date is set for next month in cleveland but the defense team maybe interested in a plea deal and the women 's lawyers want this process to be quick and get justice.

>>> jeff rossen , thank you so much.

>> let's turn to clint, a nbc news analyst and former fbi profiler. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> i wonder your first impressions in terms of either the women 's message or their presentation. how they seem to you.

>> well, both i think. number one, this is a real testament to the human spirit . it's only been two months since the women were released. they walked through hell for an entire decade and yet, at least on camera they have been able to bounce back physically, psychologically. on one of the women , we know she has some hearing problems, prehappens related to a beating she underwent by her kidnapper. for any of us going through tough times, we look at these women . we have to say, if they can make it, i can make it.

>> this appears to be something they wanted to do. this is not something anyone put them up to. what do you think it says about their recovery that they want to in some sense face the world and say, hey, i'm a survivor.

>> they need to say that and realize what they're doing is replacing memories right now. they're taking ten years worth of terrible, horrible memories and start replacing them with good memories so everything they do, everything positive they do, that takes the place, perhaps, of one of the over 3,000 negative days where they underwent alleged torture and were held as kidnap victims.

>> they're asking for their privacy. at the same time, now their faces will be known where ever they go in their communities. do you worry about that?

>> in a way you do. their faces are now going to be plastered over the tabloids and things like this. people will recognize them. but you have to hope that just like you and me, you would see them on the street, you would want to give them their peace, their space and probably want to write a check. there's been over $1 million contributed to help these women bounce back. they're getting counseling, people are working with their families. but again, they have ten years of bad time they have to put behind them but they each have a bright future . we just hope that is really what holds out for them.

>> saying thank you was a big part of their objective for sure. clint, thank you for your perspective. we appreciate