Oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
Crime News Breaking News

'He Doesn't Define Me,' Michelle Knight Speaks Out About 11 Years As Notorious Rapist Ariel Castro's Captive

Michelle Knight was kidnapped by Ariel Castro when she was 21, and would endure his torture and abuse for 11 years. Friday night she speaks in a new ABC special.

By Gina Tron

One of the three women held captive for years by rapist Ariel Castro is speaking out about her ordeal.

Michelle Knight was abducted by Castro in 2002, when she was just 21. She then spent the next 11 years being raped and tortured in his Cleveland home, along with fellow abductees Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. 

All three were rescued in 2013 after Berry made contact with neighbors, who were able to rescue her and the daughter that she bore while in captivity. From there, police were called and the other two women were rescued. Castro pleaded guilty the same year and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He later killed himself behind bars, WBNS reports

On an ABC “20/20” event called "Trapped," set to air Friday, Knight shares how she overcame the horrific experience.

“You can overcome all obstacles that stand in your way,” she says in the interview. “Don't let the darkness control your light in your life.”

Michelle Knight Ap

Knight details how she was abducted on her way to a child custody hearing. Her son had been placed by the state in foster care at the time. One of her friend’s fathers, Castro, offered to help. 

Of course, he didn’t help. Instead of driving her to family court, he drove her to his house, which would become Knight’s torture chamber for the next decade and a year.

“He said, ‘You're not gonna leave for a long time.’ And then he starts undressing himself,” she recalls. “I dropped to the floor begging him to let me go. Begging him, saying, ‘I need to get to my son. This can't happen.’”

“He ripped up my son's picture right in front of me — the only picture I had — and said, ‘You will never see him,’’ she says on the special. 

She was then bound with an extension cord and raped multiple times a day for years to come.

When Knight was finally rescued, she was bleeding and her body was resistant to antibiotics. She was told by doctors she only two days to live. Yet, she says, she still continued to sing and dance.

“I was trying to make the best of the life that I had left,” she says. “They put me on 14 different medications before I was actually better.”

Miraculously, she survived and continues to thrive.

“I chose to forgive [Castro], because I didn't want the emotional chain of that situation,” Knight says. “I didn't want it to hold me back or control my life anymore, so I had to break free.”

She even gave a powerful impact statement at Castro's 2013 sentencing.

“I had to show him that he no longer has control over me,” Knight says on “20/20.” “That he doesn't define who I am. I define who I am by everything I do in life.”

She also speaks about the hardships she had already endured before her abduction.

Knight’s twin brother said they grew up in an abusive home, a WOIO article from 2013 states. 

“We didn't have a couch to sit on. We didn't have a stove,” Knight says in the upcoming special. “Just to give us a hot warm meal, I had to cook on a space heater. It takes four hours for a hot dog to cook.”

Eventually, at age 14, she ran away from home and became homeless.

“I didn't really know where my next meal was going to come from or what was gonna happen next,” she says. “I lived in a garbage can. I took a blanket from somebody's back porch. Cuddled up with it. […] There was a bridge, where I can hear cars going past. The vibrations just, you know, helped me be calm.”

The ABC event airs on Friday at 9 pm EST on ABC.

Read more about: