Michelle Knight, Ohio Kidnapping Survivor Finds Comfort In Her Rescue Dogs

After a decade in horrendous captivity, she uses her freedom to help those in need – including her five dogs

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

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Credit: People Magazine

Between 2002 and 2004, in Tremont, Cleveland, three young women vanished off the streets and were not seen again until May 6, 2013. The kidnappings and subsequent torture, abuse, and captivity scarred the lives of Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry, and Michelle Knight. Knight, now known as Lily Rose Lee, was the first to be taken, when on her way to a court hearing for the custody of her 2-year-old son under the guise of seeing a puppy.

During the eleven years that followed, Michelle was beaten almost daily, sexually assaulted, and chained in her room with only a bucket to relieve herself. In the first year, she was not permitted a shower, was given a puppy which her captor killed after an attempt to escape, and witnessed her captor kidnap two more teenage girls to be a part of his “family”.

During their time there, Michelle was pregnant around five times and with each pregnancy, her captor starved her and beat her until her baby was aborted. Amanda Berry, however, was allowed to stay pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. The baby girl became the captor’s fourth victim and lived in this captivity until she was six years old.

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Credit: CNN

Then, on May 6, 2013, while the captor was out, Amanda Berry was able to get the attention of neighbors by waving her arm out of the crack of a storm door.

The girls were finally free after a decade of captivity. After immediate hospital treatment, the girls returned to their families. Knight, however, did not. During her absence, the police wrote off her disappearance as a runaway and did little investigation. Her family also made little attempt to find her. Her captor reminded her of this often.

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Credit: CNN

At the trial, Michelle spoke directly to her captor. Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus a thousand years. He committed suicide after only one month in prison.

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

Now, Lily Rose Lee lives in complete freedom and has coped with her traumatic experience by getting tattoos, song writing, art, and travelling around the world speaking about her experience to help those in need of healing.

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

Her first priority was to find her son. But during her captivity, his foster family adopted him and after she was freed, both she and his foster parents agreed that her reappearance would disrupt his life.

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Credit: CNN

During the demolition of the captivity house and on the anniversaries of her freedom, Michelle visits the house and hands out balloons. The balloons represent all the others still missing.

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

4 and a half years later, Lily has made tremendous progress. Most of her body is covered in tattoos representing the children she lost in captivity and her growth as a person. She has written a best seller Finding Me and has appeared on many talk shows.

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

Lily has also made her own family by rescuing and adopting animals. She now has five dogs – Rascal, Peanut, Faith, Cupid, and Madison. (Pictured: Peanut and Madison)

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

Faith is the English Bulldog of the family.

But dogs are not the only pets in her life. She has three Bearded Dragons, three Hermit Crabs, two Guinea Pigs, snakes, frogs, turtles, and a gecko.

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

Cupid would rather be the present than wrap the presents!

On her website, Lily writes about pet parenting and says, “To me, it is important to treat animals with all of the love and respect you would treat a human. You are all they have and they deserve all of the love and care in the world.”

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

Due to the abuse she suffered, she is unable to bear children. But, she is open to adopting children who need a home. For now, she has her hands full with all these pets!

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Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee

She rescues animals who face harsh situations because she knows that they need love. She says, “I really understand how these animals feel, they just want to love and be loved. I used to get really upset about all of the animals in the world that I won’t be able to save, but now I realize that even though I can’t save every animal, I can try the best I can.”

Lily Rose Lee aka Michelle Knight

Credit: Facebook / Lily Rose Lee aka Michelle Knight

This tiny woman (only 4’7!) has overcome adversities a lot of us can barely imagine enduring. She inspires many and continues to heal and use her freedom to be the voice of the missing and the abused.