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Michelle Knight, Ariel Castro Victim, Changes Name for 'New Beginning'

Image: Michelle Knight, Ariel Castro Victim, Changes Name for 'New Beginning'

By Ken Mandel   |   Friday, 02 May 2014 02:18 PM

Michelle Knight, one of the three Cleveland women kidnapped and tortured for more than 10 years by Ariel Castro, has changed her name to Lillian Rose Lee.

Lee will go by "Lily."

It’s “my favorite flower,” she told People magazine, and it symbolizes renewal.

Lee was ready for a fresh start.

"I felt like every brand new start needs new beginnings," Lee told "The Today Show" Friday morning.

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Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Lee were freed from Castro’s Cleveland, Ohio, house on May 6 after being held captive for 11 years. Lee's book about the ordeal, "Finding Me," was published on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the trio being freed.

"Sometimes in life, you have a dark past that makes you who you are, but it doesn't define who you are," Lee told "Today." "It just makes you stronger."

Amid years of abuse, Castro impregnated Lee and then atrociously beat her until she miscarried.

Lee opened up to Dr. Phil in November about the ordeal.

"I was tied up like a fish," she said, "an ornament on the wall."

Dr. Phil told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that he was impressed by Lee's determination to survive Castro's abuse.

"It's astounding to me that she had the strength that she did," he told "Anderson Cooper 360." "Now think about this. He chained her to this pole around her neck, put a motorcycle helmet (on her head), strapped it tight, closed the visor and leaves her there for days and days at the time.

Castro, a former bus driver, pleaded guilty last July and was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in jail without the possibility of parole on Aug. 1, 2013. A little more than a month later, he was found hanged in his cell.
 
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Lee said she now finds comfort in life's simpler pleasures.

"I don't take things for granted anymore, not even the little things like looking out a window," Lee told People. "I went through years of torture, and now I'm back. I'm free to fly."

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