She lived through hell after being captured, imprisoned and raped in the ‘Cleveland House Of Horrors, but now survivor Michelle Knight says she has ‘found joy in her life.’ She says she’s been able to find love and get her life back!
“I went through something so traumatic, and went without a lot of things – daylight, food, water, clothes – just being able to have the simple joys of life, being able to have that back was such a tremendous joy to me,” Michelle Knight, 37, who has since changed her name to Lilly Rose Lee, said when speaking to TODAY’s Megyn Kelly. Michelle was the first of Ariel Castro’s victims, captured in 2002 and held captive in the “Cleveland House Of Horrors” for 11 years along with two other women, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus. The three escaped in 2013. “The first time I was actually able to sit outside, feel the sun, it was so warm, so bright. It was like God was shining a big light on me.”
Michelle, who details her road back to a normal life in her second memoir, Life After Darkness, has also revealed that a main source of her happiness comes from her husband, Miguel. “I got some really good news for you,” she told Dr. Phil earlier in April. “I’m married.” In fact, Miguel and Michelle were married on the second anniversary of the day she was rescued, May 6, 2015. “We met through mutual friends on Facebook. We started talking for a year before I actually got married to him. We had a spiritual connection, versus the physical,” Michelle said. “Ever since then, everything has since been amazing.
“Two weeks prior to me actually talking to him, I asked if he wanted to read my [first memoir, Finding Me] He simply told me, ‘I want to know you for who you are, not what you went through.’ And that just blew my mind. It made me feel so happy that there was one person in the world that didn’t want to know me for what happened to me.”
Though Michelle says she no longer has nightmares about Ariel Castro — who killed himself shortly after being sentenced to 1,000 years in prison after pleading guilty to 937 counts of rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder – the shadow off her time in the “Cleveland House Of Horrors” still lingers. “I do have triggers,” Michelle said when talking to NBC News. “Certain smells. Light fixtures with chain pulls.” In addition to the smell of Tommy Hilfiger and Old Spice colognes, which Castro would douse himself in, Michelle says she can’t handle the smell of bacon grease. “One of the meals he made for us was hot dogs, rice and eggs, all cooked in bacon grease and all served together in a bowl,” she added. “I get a nauseous feeling when I smell that.”
However, she continues to works on her recovery – and her happiness. She doesn’t watch TV and avoids the news, focusing on watching family movies instead. “I have found joy in my life,” Michelle told Megyn. Castro once said that “happiness was not for me and that it would never happen to me,” Michelle said. “But now I have a chance to make my own destiny.”