It has been less than two weeks since 16-year-old Hannah Anderson was reunited with her father after experiencing a harrowing ordeal at the hands of James DiMaggio. The teen broke her silence with a national television interview and provided new details about her life before and after the kidnapping.
Anderson has been criticized for having a close relationship with family friend James DiMaggio. Police released information that the two had exchanged phone calls, texts, and letters, and today Anderson set the record straight about those conversations.
"The phone calls weren't phone calls; they were texts because he was picking me up from cheer camp and didn't know the address… so he knew where to come get me," Anderson said in a personal interview for the "Today" show. "In the letters… they were from a year ago when my mom and I weren't getting along well and I wrote him to explain how I felt. They weren't bad but to help me get through."
The teen also offered an explanation as to why people are challenging the fact that she was a victim in this ordeal and not an accomplice, as has been suggested by some.
"They don't really know the story so they have their own opinion on what they hear," she explained. Anderson then tried to speak about her 8-year-old brother, Ethan, who was murdered by DiMaggio, along with her mother Christina. "He had a really big heart…" Anderson said before being overcome with emotion. "She (mom Christina) was strong-hearted and very tough; she knew how to handle things. In the beginning I was a victim, but now knowing everyone out there is helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead. My mom raised me to be strong."
"I didn't really know what it [an Amber Alert] was, but it helped people find me. I'd like to say thank you. I wanted to thank the horsemen and the Amber Alert and the sheriff and the FBI with everyone who put in the time to find me… and my dad and my friends and family," Anderson added.
She has a new attitude and is determined to get her own life back; Anderson offered this advice to fellow teens and anyone affected by crime.
"You are who you are and you shouldn't let people change that; other people's opinions shouldn't matter," the 16-year-old noted.
She is looking forward to getting back to school and a normal routine but this weekend, the young girl will have to bury her mother and brother.
Watch part of the interview HERE: