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Hannah Anderson Reacts To Public Criticism: 'I Didn't Know People Could Be So Cruel'
In her first public interview since her kidnapping ordeal, Hannah Anderson reacted to public criticism and explained details some people found suspicious, including why she wrote letters to James Lee DiMaggio and texted him on the day he kidnapped her.
Anderson spoke to NBC's Today in an interview aired this morning. She said the 13 calls between her and DiMaggio on the day of her abduction were actually texts. She was simply telling him where to pick her up at cheerleading camp, she explained.
"He didn't know the address or ... like, where I was," Hannah said. "So I had to tell him the address and tell him that I was gonna be in the gym and not in front of the school. Just so he knew where to come get me."
She also explained the letters sheriffs found at DiMaggio's home, which had some people speculating there was more to her relationship with the longtime family friend than she had let on. Hannah said the letters were written last year when she and her mother, Christina, weren't getting along.
"Me and him would talk about how to deal with it," she said. "And I'd tell him how I felt about it. And he helped me through it. They weren't anything bad. They're just to help me through tough times."
She has faced criticism for getting online so quickly after her rescue
"I connect to [friends] through Facebook, and Instagram is — it just helps me grieve, like, post pictures and to show how I'm feeling. And I'm a teenager. I'm gonna go on it."
"A lot of my friends have my back," she added. Of the people who have questioned her behavior or made personal attacks, she told Today, "I didn't know people could be so cruel."
During the interview, Hannah wiped away tears when talking about her brother, Ethan, who, along with her mother, was found dead in DiMaggio's home. She hadn't learned of their deaths until after she'd been rescued. "He had a really big heart," she said of her eight-year-old little brother.
She said she also hadn't know she was the subject of a nationwide search and had never heard of an Amber Alert. She thanked the police, FBI and everyone else who aided in her rescue.
"I know it helped people find me," she said. "And it made them, like, realize that it's hard to find people out there. But with everyone's support, it can help a lot."
Hannah had a special thanks for the horseback riders in Idaho who alerted authorities after spotting her with DiMaggio, "I'd like to say thank you because without them I'd probably never be here right now."
During the interview, Hannah said she'd like to become a firefighter in San Diego and help people herself.
She credited her mother for being "strong-hearted," and teaching her to be strong herself.
"You are who you are," she said. "And you shouldn't let people change that. And you have your own opinion on yourself, and other people's opinion shouldn't matter."
She wouldn't yet talk about the details of the kidnapping itself, saying, "This was a hard time," she said. "And there's gonna be harder times in life. But if I could get through this, I'm sure I can get through a lot more."
Although Hannah has made a few public appearances at fundraisers, her family has asked for privacy. The funeral of her mother and brother are planned for this weekend.
Hannah Anderson Did Not Conspire With Her Kidnapper, Sheriff Says
Investigators Find Letters From Hannah Anderson, More Creepy Evidence At Kidnapping Suspect's California Home
16-Year-Old Kidnapping Victim Answered Questions About Her Ordeal Online
California Kidnapper Killed In Idaho, His 16-Year-Old Victim Is Safe
Amber Alert Kidnapping Suspect Reportedly Had A 'Crush' On 16-Year-Old