Michelle Knight, one of the three Cleveland women kidnapped and held captive by Ariel Castro, says she has been able to forgive her captor and find peace in her life.
“At first I hated him,” Michelle, who was initially kidnapped in 2002 when she was 21 years old, said during a recent interview. “But I went through therapy and realized it hadn’t been his fault. He had a disease.”
Michelle and the two other victims — Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus — were rescued on May 6, 2013, when Amanda and her six-year-old daughter were able to break free and contact the police. But it wasn’t until a year-and-a-half after esaping that Michelle had a breakthrough.
“I was able to say his name, Ariel Castro. I was able to forgive him.” she told radio personality Mark Nolan at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School, revealing that she used to refer to him as "that dude."
Michelle, who now goes by Lilly, spoke of how Castro lured her into his home with the promise of a puppy, saying, “As I was going up the steps, I couldn’t hear a puppy. There was no puppy.” She added that she knew she was in trouble once he closed the door behind her inside the house.
“He said he was only going to keep me a little while as a friend,” she revealed. “I knew he was lying, but what could I do?”
She also offered her advice to victims of abuse, telling them to speak up abut their ordeal. Many of the nearly 300 people who came to see her told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that she’s “an inspiration” to them.
“I’m a strong and powerful woman. I say what I mean and I don’t take any crap from anybody,” Lilly said. “The situation [Castro] put me in didn’t define me. I choose to live a meaningful life.”