Michelle Knight – one of three women who survived a decade-long and torturous imprisonment by Ariel Castro – has five flowers down her left arm: “Every rose is for every abortion that I had in the house,” she said in a Newsweek cover story.
“I couldn’t emphasize enough how much pain it was,” said Knight, who according to Newsweek legally changed her name to Lillian Rose Lee. “And how every day was pure torture: what he did, how he did it or where he did it.”
(Whenever Knight would fall pregnant, Castro would force her to abort her pregnancies by assaulting her.)
Knight’s tattoos are evidence of her incredible survival. In addition to five roses, Knight’s tattoos include a brown teddy bear with red hearts, which she drew during her captivity; a baby with the phrase “too beautiful for this Earth”; and a face the length of her lower calf, made of clock pieces, butterfly’s wings and bone.
She explained: “[The calf] tattoo represents my life from the past and my life in the future. It says, ‘My heart is not chained to my situation.’ ”
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In July 2013, Castro pleaded guilty to 937 criminal counts, including rape and kidnapping. Knight, alongside Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, had escaped his house in May of that year. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years, but killed himself one month into his sentence.
Berry and DeJesus released their own book and discussed their story of survival with PEOPLE about earlier this year.
Knight said in May that she was finally “looking forward to happiness, a future, a life I never had. And for two years of my life I was finally able to live.”
Since she escaped Castro’s home, Knight has become an advocate for abuse victims, according to Newsweek. In May, she debuted an original song, titled “Survivor.”
“I want people to know that I m not just a story they threw on TV,” she told Newsweek. “I’m a person that has real feelings that wants to be heard and wants their story to be out there.”