Therapist: Knox Faces Slow Road to Recovery

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The young American woman accused of murdering her British roommate headed home to the U.S. on Tuesday after an Italian appeals court threw out an earlier conviction.

Two years ago, Amanda Knox received a 26-year prison sentence for the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher.

Knox expressed her gratitude to those who supported her during her four years behind bars.

"Those who wrote, those who defended me, those who were close, those who prayed for me. I love you, Amanda," the 24-year-old wrote in a letter to the Italy-U.S. Foundation, a group that has supported her cause.

Knox collapsed in tears Monday after the verdict overturning her 2009 conviction was read. Knox's co-defendant, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, was also cleared of the 2007 killing.

"We are thankful that Amanda's nightmare is over," Knox's sister, Deanna, said. "She has suffered for four years for a crime that she did not commit."

Knox told the jury considering her appeal that she had nothing to do with the killing.

She and Kercher shared an apartment when they were students in Perugia.  Kercher was found murdered in her bedroom.

"I've lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way possible," Knox said prior to Monday's ruling. "I'm paying with my life for things that I didn't do."

Her family says that it's not until she is home that she will begin to cope with her freedom.

"The first thing that I think really needs to take place is really kind of figuring out what these four years have done to her emotionally, where's the trauma going to slide in and so forth," her father, Curt Knox, said. "That's the part I'm worried about."

Family therapist Terry Real said Knox's transition back to normalcy will be a gradual process.

"She's going to have to slowly adjust," Real predicted. "She will probably have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares. She'll be jumpy."

"This is the time for her friends to pull around her -- certainly for her family to pull around her to give her lots of TLC, lots of time, lots of patience, and lots of love," she said.

Knox's parents are asking that their daughter be given privacy.

"She does not want to face media and even, even the thought of a lot of well-wishers at one point in time is overwhelming to her," her mom, Edda Mellas, said.

Recovering from her four-year ordeal will not be easy for the 24-year-old. But, for now, perhaps it's enough that she is going home, away from the prospect of decades in prison and back to the arms of her family.

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