One Year Later: Michelle Knight talks about life with Ariel Castro
(CNN) — Michelle Knight remembers exactly how Ariel Castro lured her into his home.
“In the car, he said that he had puppies,” she said in part one of a three-part interview with CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that aired Monday night.
“So I was like, OK, I could take one home to my son because, unfortunately, his dog has passed away.
“So, we get in the backyard, and I really didn’t think nothing of it until, you know, we got into the house fully — that’s when it dawned on me that this was a mistake to get in his car,” said Knight, almost a year to the day after her rescue.
Castro tricked Knight, who was 21 when she was reported missing, into his vehicle from a Family Dollar store in Cleveland in 2002, promising to give her a ride. She endured more than a decade of torture, rape, starvation and beatings, held captive inside his Cleveland home.
Knight was Castro’s first victim, but she wasn’t the only one.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were also abducted and held by Castro for some 10 years. They were rescued after Berry and her daughter managed to escape on May 6, 2013, and call police.
In August, Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years after he pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping. He committed suicide in his prison cell in September.
Knight spoke about feeling powerless and the abuse she endured.
“I end up being trapped in a small room, small pink room, that’s where he proceeded to tie me up like a fish and put me on the wall,” she said.
Knight continued: “What happens is hard at first. You don’t really want to adapt to it. You don’t want to comply. You don’t want to do anything at first.
“But then you find yourself saying, why not? I’m here, just let him get it over with. So you slowly end up saying, ‘OK, whatever, just do it, go.'”
‘Screamed until I had no voice’
Knight has written a book about her experience because she wants to help people know they can survive anything, she said.
When asked whether there were times she thought she might not survive, Knight said there were moments.
“But overall I always thought that I could make it through because I made it through so much in my life — so much pain, so much torture. So, I was like already prepared for it,” she said.
Knight suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse from a young age. At 17, she got pregnant.
She describes giving birth as the happiest moment of her life.
“I had somebody to finally love me back — as much as I loved that baby,” she said, smiling for one of the few times during the interview.
Thoughts of her son and his smile sustained her during her captivity — even at its worst.
Knight recalled a day she “screamed until I had no voice. Still, nobody heard it. And when he hears you scream, he just shoves a sock or a cloth down your throat until you choke on it.”
Castro told her he never planned to let her go.
“He said you don’t have a family that cares about you. If I kill you right now, nobody would even care,” Knight said.
‘The future is bright’
For months, Castro kept Knight in the basement — sitting on the ground, chained to a pole, gagged with a sock and a motorcycle helmet on her head.
He eventually moved her upstairs where she was kept chained and often naked to a wall in a boarded-up bedroom. Her only connection with the outside world was an old radio and sometimes a small TV.
Nearly eight months after she was kidnapped, Knight saw on TV that Berry was missing and immediately suspected Castro.
DeJesus was abducted approximately a year later, in 2004.
To mark the anniversary of their freedom, both Berry and DeJesus have released statements, thanking supporters and expressing hope for the future.
“This past year has been amazing, full of healing and hope,” said DeJesus. “I have also been enjoying new experiences, such as learning how to use new technology and how to drive.”
“So much has happened this past year,” Berry said. “I have grown. I am strong. And I have so much to live for, to look forward to. The future is bright.”
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