In her first public interview since being kidnapped by a family friend earlier this month, Hannah Anderson said on the Today show Thursday that she doesn't view herself as a victim.
"In the beginning, I was a victim," the 16-year-old said. "But now knowing everyone out there's helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead. My mom raised me to be strong."
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Anderson was abducted by a family friend, James DiMaggio, in San Diego on Aug. 4. The bodies of Anderson's mother and 8-year-old brother were later found at DiMaggio's home, which he had burned to the ground. Authorities claim DiMaggio tortured and killed them.
Prior to the kidnapping, Anderson and DiMaggio, whom she referred to as "Uncle Jim" had exchanged letters in which she told him about her strained relationship with her mother, she said on Today. The day Anderson was kidnapped, she and DiMaggio, 40, exchanged a series of text messages, which she says were because he needed directions to pick her up from a cheerleading camp.
"He didn't know the address or where I was, so I had to tell him the address and tell him that I was going to be in the gym and not in front of the school, just so he knew where to come get me," Anderson explained.
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The two were also spotted together in DiMaggio's car the night before Anderson was kidnapped.
DiMaggio left a life insurance policy that named Hannah and her grandmother as the beneficiary. DiMaggio's family suspects he may have been the father of Hannah and her brother.
Anderson was rescued in Idaho after horseback riders spotted her and DiMaggio and notified the FBI. DiMaggio was killed in a shootout with authorities.
Watch video of Anderson's interview below:
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