Michelle Knight's suffering and bravery as she speaks out in her first interview stuns Clevelanders

CLEVELAND - Cleveland-area residents reacted to Michelle Knight's first interview since she escaped from Ariel Castro's home, where she was held in captivity for 11 years.

"Oh my God," said Rosemarie Houlehan at the Diner on Clifton in Lakewood. "I'm just dumbfounded."

"She's a brave little girl, and she told the story so bravely," said Sharon Strack, Houlehan's daughter. "I can't believe how she had the courage to do that."

Part one of Knight's interview with TV personality and psychologist Dr. Phil aired Tuesday. Part two aired Wednesday.

Convicted rapist and kidnapper Ariel Castro kidnapped Knight in August of 2002 when she was 20 years old. She said Castro lured her to his home on the promise of a puppy inside.

"There's one thing that stuck with me," said Perry Derosos, owner of the Diner on Clifton. "The dirty sock, sticking it in her mouth and taping her mouth shut."

In her interview, Knight described to Dr. Phil how Castro put a "dirty nasty sock" in her mouth so she couldn't move the duct tape over her lips.  

"You know he made her wear a helmet for the first three weeks," said Elsa Haggerty who was eating lunch at the Diner on Clifton. "She wouldn't fall asleep. She'd just pass out."

As part of the brutal abuse that Knight endured, she talked about a helmet that Castro put over her face in such a way that she couldn't breathe.

"How could that go on for so long," questioned Derosos. "How could someone be in a house like that boarded up, and it just seems unimaginable."

Knight said she persevered through years of abuse and captivity with thoughts of her son and their love for one another.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts and was sentenced to life in prison in August. A month later, he was found dead in his cell.

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