Abby Hernandez Speaks With 20/20

Kidnapping victim Abby Hernandez speaks with 20/20 in an exclusive interview aired Friday September 7th. ~ Photo Courtesy of ABC

CONWAY, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire teenager who was abducted, imprisoned and sexually assaulted nearly five years ago said her ordeal made her stronger.

Abby Hernandez spoke to ABC’s “20/20” in an interview that aired Friday night. She was kidnapped as she walked home from school in Conway in October 2013 and mysteriously returned home nine months later. Nathaniel Kibby, of Gorham, was arrested a week after letting her go. He later pleaded guilty to kidnapping, rape and other charges and was sentenced to 45 to 90 years in prison.

In the interview, Hernandez said she accepted a ride from Kibby and asked him to drop her off at a restaurant, but she knew she was in danger when he said he needed to stop at Home Depot. When she unbuckled her seatbelt, Kibby pulled out a gun.

“He said, ‘Now I can blow your (expletive) brains out, I can slit your (expletive) throat right open,” she said.

Hernandez, who turned 15 a week after her abduction, was held in a storage trailer in Kibby’s yard. She described how Kibby gagged and blindfolded her, forced her to wear a shock collar and made her call him “master.” When she tried to send a hidden message in a letter she sent to her family a month into her captivity, he held a stun gun to her feet to punish her, she said. But she said she never gave up hope.

“Even when you feel like you lost everything, hope is something nobody can take away from you,” she said. “You can’t lose hope. It’s all you have. It’s almost like breathing or drinking water. It’s something you need to have.”

Hernandez said she is enjoying her new life and career as a hair stylist.

“Freedom really is a beautiful thing,” she said. “It’s bliss. It’s the best thing in the world.”

Asked if her horrific experience has made her stronger or more fragile, she said, “I think it’s made me stronger, definitely.”

You can watch the full interview by going to abc.go.com