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New overnight: 3 Ohio women in kidnapping case speak out

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CLEVELAND, O.H. -

Three women rescued after nearly a decade in captivity have quietly started their lives over, away from the public, taking time to get used to their freedom.  Now they're breaking their silence to say thank you.

We know their faces, their names, and for two months we've known them as kidnap victims.  Now the women held captive for nearly a decade have come forward as survivors.

"First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and my friends," said Amanda Berry.

Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight released a video early Tuesday morning to say thank you.

Amanda Berry was the first to talk, expressing her gratefulness for her freedom and the support for her family.  "I wanna thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal, everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing," she said.

This image of a confident Amanda Berry matches the courage she showed when she escaped Ariel Castro's home, running to a neighbor's house to call 911.

The women did not give any details of their ordeal or mention Ariel Castro by name.

Gina Dejesus with her mother and father beside her, and a shy smile, expressed her thanks.  "I would say 'thank you' for the support."

Her mother took the opportunity to thank her community for their help and give this advice.  "Count on your neighbors, don't be afraid to ask for their help, because help is available," said Nancy Ruiz.

Perhaps the most powerful words came from Michelle Knight, the oldest of the survivors.  She endured painful beatings at the hands of Ariel Castro, but says her spirit is unbroken. 

"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," Knight said.  "I will not let the situation define who I am I will define the situation."

The video was shot last week at a law firm in Cleveland. 

The Cleveland Courage Fund was established to help Michelle Knight, Gina Dejesus, Amanda Berry and Berry's daughter.  As of July 2, more than one million dollars has been donated to the fund.

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