Hennes Paynter Communications via TODAY

TODAY   |  July 10, 2013

Experts: Video empowers former Cleveland captives

The first public video appearance released by the three women held captive in Cleveland for a decade has gone viral, and experts are saying it’s a way of telling the perpetrator “you didn’t ruin my spirit” and could change the way trauma survivors communicate. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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>> now to the video released by the cleveland kidnapping victims giving the world a chance to see and hear from them for the first time. nbc's kate snow has more on why the women decided to open up now. kate, good morning.

>> good morning. that video has been viewed more than a quarter million times on nbc news.com. it went vital on youtube and was trending all day tuesday on twitter. it was the women's idea to speak out after nine weeks and by going public so soon they may also be changing the way survivors choose to communicate.

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

>> reporter: the video was is shot last week in a law office . every detail managed and carefully scripted.

>> but i am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face.

>> i think the advantage of it is that you get to control the message. you get to put out what you want to say first.

>> reporter: crisis communication strategist dan hill says releasing their own video meant the women could shape the way their story is told.

>> this video focuses almost entirely on positive things. they didn't dive deep into what they went through, the ordeal, the trauma.

>> reporter: a new type of message for a 24/7 media world. think of elizabeth smart , silent for seven months before speaking to katie couric on date line. jaycee due guard it was almost two years.

>> there's going to be more for people to step out and speak up earlier in situations.

>> reporter: for mental health experts that raises the question, how soon is too soon.

>> i have to say that part of me wonder what is the motivation is. a lot of times we see women that come out of these situations don't feel comfortable speaking until much later but at the same time i wonder if there a benefit to these women choosing to speak out at this time.

>> reporter: the doctor says it's all about empowerment and sending a strong message.

>> being able to retell the story says i'm a survivor and i'm still here and it's also sending the message to the public but the perpetrator to say you didn't damage me or ruin my spirit. i'm still alive.

>> reporter: by saying they still want their privacy they're setting clear boun drdaries. what they have done is feed the media beast. now there's less pressure to get the first shot of them and maybe people will back off and they'll be able to continue their recovery.

>> i hope so. they get the peace they deserve. thank you very much.