Michelle Knight made an emotional return to the syndicated Dr. Phil show on Wednesday.
The Cleveland survivor said the horrific memories of being held captive and brutalized by Ariel Castro don’t fade with time.
“No, they never go away,” Michelle Knight told Dr. Phil McGraw.
“They stay there, but you know you’re able to live your life.”
Michelle Knight shared many painful and disturbing memories during a highly rated two-part interview aired on Phil McGraw’s daytime talk show in November. A year after escaping Ariel Castro’s Seymour Avenue home, she reunited with Phil McGraw, this time in front of a studio audience.
Airing a day after the publication of her memoir, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed, this was her fourth national television appearance in four days.
Michelle Knight was interviewed by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie Sunday night for the lead story on Dateline. She again spoke to Guthrie Monday morning, this time for a segment of NBC’s Today show. That night, she was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Writing the book was “a healing experience” Michelle Knight told Phil McGraw on Wednesday’s episode of Dr. Phil.
“It helped me go through all the emotions that I couldn’t do on my own,” said Michelle Knight, who has changed her name to Lilian Rose Lee.
Phil McGraw introduced Michelle Knight as “an inspiring young woman” and “one of my favorite people that I admire so much.”
“One year after being rescued, Michelle is stronger, happier and finally free,” he told his audience.
When asked what she hoped people would take away from her book, Michelle Knight replied: “I want them to know that everybody survives in their own personal way.”
Michelle Knight was the first of three Cleveland women abducted by Castro. She disappeared in August 2002. She was 21 at the time.
Throughout the interview, Michelle Knight refused to refer to Ariel Castro by name. She called him “the Dude”.
She told Phil McGraw that Ariel Castro would rape her as many as “six, seven times a day.” There were five pregnancies.
What did Ariel Castro do when he learned she was pregnant?
“Beat me, starve me, push me down stairs, punch me, jump on my stomach,” Michelle Knight said. The torture continued until the baby was aborted.
Michelle Knight also recalled Castro looking at a news report about murdered 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, saying “he wished he got to her first”.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escaped from the Seymour Avenue home on May 6, 2013. Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 criminal counts that included kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder. As part of a plea bargain, Ariel Castro was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 1,000 years, without the chance of parole.
Ariel Castro was found dead on September 3, hanging by a bedsheet in his cell at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, south of Columbus.
Unlike Berry and DeJesus, who returned to loving families, Michelle Knight spent time at a hospice facility.
“I felt really alone, that nobody really understood,” she said.
Phil McGraw wanted to know if Michelle Knight had any desire to reunite with her family.
“No,” she said.
“I feel that if I do, they’re going to treat me the same way they did before.”
Ariel Castro kept Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus imprisoned in the same room. Phil McGraw asked if she talks to Gina DeJesus.
“Well, it’s just like they all say: relationships with friends come and go,” Michelle Knight said.
“She was there for a little while, and now she’s doing her own thing. I still care and I still love her, and she could always reach me anytime.”
Phil McGraw asked Michelle Knight how did it go when she was reunited with Berry and DeJesus in February when Gov. John Kasich presented them Ohio Courage medals.
“Awkward because we haven’t talked for a real long time and the relationship with us started to go downhill,” she said.
Michelle Knight spoke about her decision not to fight for custody of her son, Joey. He was adopted during her 11 years of captivity, and she thinks he’s with loving parents.
“All I want is the best for him,” she said.
At the end of the episode, Phil McGraw presented Michelle Knight with a Dr. Phil Foundation check for $431,630.
The program included scenes shot in Michelle Knight’s Cleveland apartment, where she keeps a Christmas tree up year round.
“It feels like I’m free,” she said.
“I don’t feel like I’m trapped in a cage.”
Dr. Phil also presented Michelle Knight to culinary school and on a shopping trip to Macy’s.
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