Chained, Tortured and Starved: The First Cleveland Kidnapping Victim Reveals All

November 6, 2013
Dr. Phil continues his exclusive interview with Michelle Knight, the first of the three Cleveland kidnapping victims to break her silence. Ariel Castro’s first and self-professed “most-hated” victim reveals never-before-heard details about how she survived in the house, and the day she says she was forced to "prepare" a room for Castro's third victim. Hear about the remarkable bond that developed between the young women, and how they protected each other. She also recounts the day of her dramatic rescue. Don’t miss this emotional conclusion! This program contains strong sexual content. Viewer discretion advised.






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Michelle KnightAriel CastroEvidence of torture

A Decade of Terror

For more than a decade, Michelle Knight and two young women were held captive and endured unthinkable torture at the hands of Ariel Castro. As Castro's first victim, Michelle says her life was like a living hell, as she says she was the most-hated person in the house.

One year into Michelle's captivity, a second victim was abducted and brought to the house by Castro, and about a year later, a third victim followed. Shortly after the second victim arrived, Michelle says the violence against her escalated.

Although Michelle was chained up, she could reach a TV, and often watched the local news. She recalls listening to the second victim's mother searching for her daughter. “I felt so bad. I cried all that night, because I wanted to help her, but there was no way I could help myself,” she says.

Michelle describes how Castro would torment her about her family. “It was just extremely painful to have somebody come in your room, day after day, telling you your family doesn’t care about you.”


Statement from Michelle's mother: "Michelle, my daughter, has been the victim of long-term, and profound and unspeakable torture. Her point of view has been altered by that monster and what he did to her. What I have heard that she said about me breaks my heart. That is because what she now believes, while not true, increases her pain. I love my daughter. I always have and always will. I pray that someday she will heal enough to know that again."


The Third Victim

On April 2, 2004, two years after Michelle was kidnapped and one year after the second victim was abducted, a third young woman was abducted. “He told me he was bringing somebody in the house, and he told me to be very quiet,” Michelle recalls. “All I heard was fighting in the basement. I could hear things crashing, and I could hear somebody screaming, ‘Get off of me!’” She says she knew what was happening to the young woman, because she suffered through the same thing.

Michelle says Castro forced her to "prepare" the third victim's room. “I didn’t want to prepare that room,” she says. “I had to help him drill holes in a wall to put the chains through, to hook us together.”

“He was forcing you to prepare a new torture chamber for a new victim?” Dr. Phil asks.

Michelle confirms.

Learn why Michelle says she was the most-hated of the three victims.

Michelle says that she often jumped in front of the third victim to prevent her from being abused. “I would start taking the abuse for her,” she says. “I know how it feels to be hurt, and I didn’t want her to go through that.”

Protecting Each Other

Michelle says she and the third victim developed a bond and took care of each other. She shares how she protected her friend, and how the young woman saved her life.

Michelle describes the second time she became pregnant. “He kept on repeatedly punching me in the stomach.”

Michelle says she almost died one night, when Castro made her eat two sandwiches with mustard — which she is allergic to — and that the third victim took care of her. “I begged her to let me die, and she wouldn’t do it,” she says.

“It sounds like you and [the third victim] kept each other alive, protected each other,” Dr. Phil says.

Michelle describes how Castro played mind games with her. And, hear what happened when the young women were allowed to go into the backyard.


The Night Castro Threatened Michelle's Life

Michelle recalls the night in 2006, when Castro threatened her life if she did not deliver the second victim's baby alive.

. “I knew that if I didn’t get her to breathe, that he would kill me, right then and there.”

“You were pregnant five times. He brutalized you, attacked you and caused you to miscarry five times. But, yet, [the second victim] got pregnant and had the baby,” Dr. Phil points out. “Why was it OK for her to get pregnant and deliver a baby, but it was not OK for you to get pregnant and deliver a baby?”

“I didn’t understand why. I just thought, maybe, it was because he didn’t want a girl like me to have a kid,” she says.

The Day They Were Rescued

Michelle shares what happened the day the three women were rescued from captivity on May 6, 2013.

“After 11 years, days and nights, and freezing, and torture and rape, a police officer is standing in the hallway,” Dr. Phil says.

“I started this by thinking that I was sitting down with a brave and courageous young woman, and after spending these few days with you here, I now know that brave and courageous are not big enough words to describe you,” Dr. Phil tells Michelle. “It’s been my honor, and it’s been my pleasure to get to meet you and sit here and talk to you. I’m just really glad I got to know you.”