The teenager is preparing for the funerals of her mother and brother
Hannah Anderson spoke out for the first time since her San Diego abduction on the "Today" show Thursday morning.
There has been intense media scrutiny regarding Anderson's decision to speak out so publicly, so soon. Anderson participated in an ask.fm chat mere days after her release. The teenager addressed her reasoning — as well as her critics — on the NBC morning show, saying, "They don't really know the story, so they kind of have their own opinion on what they hear."
"You are who you are and you shouldn't let people change that," Anderson said. "You have your own opinion on yourself and other people's opinions shouldn't matter."
The 16-year-old wanted to use the forum to thank her supporters and those who led to her rescue, as well as clear up a few details regarding her communication with the man she knew as "Uncle Jim."
Anderson explained that her reported 13 phone communications on the day of her abduction with James DiMaggio were simply because the eventual kidnapper was picking her up from cheerleading camp and he didn't know where to go.
Letters between Anderson and DiMaggio were found at the kidnapper's burned-down house. But Anderson said they "weren't anything bad," but were just to help her "through tough times" during a rocky period with her mother — whom DiMaggio ultimately killed along with Anderson's brother.
When conversation turned to her late brother, Anderson struggled through tears.
"He had a really big heart," she said.
The kidnapping victim had never heard of an "Amber Alert" before her own rescue, but she is now very grateful to the system, she said. Though in the end, it was a chance encounter with four horsemen who eventually brought the FBI to the scene, saving Anderson and killing DiMaggio.
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