Michelle Knight’s life before she was abducted for 11 years in Cleveland: Part 1

Before Knight became the first of three girls abducted by Ariel Castro, she says she had a traumatic childhood, adding that she ran away for a time and later had a child.
7:41 | 01/04/20

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Transcript for Michelle Knight’s life before she was abducted for 11 years in Cleveland: Part 1
I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for ten years. And I'm -- I'm here. I'm free now. Amanda berry is abducted the day before her 17th birthday. Amanda told the police, I ain't just the only one. It's some more girls up in that house. Gina Dejesus returns here, she is indeed home. Gina Dejesus was walking home from school, and that was the last time that she was ever seen. Michelle knight was never on our radar at all. Police arrested who owns the home is -- Their abductor it turns out was a deranged school bus driver, Ariel Castro. Throughout their captivity these women held on to one thing, one thing that kept them going, and that was that their families would not give up on them. And ten years later it was that faith that finally brought them home. Now we want the world to know. We survived. We love life. We were stronger than Ariel Castro. Reporter: Could you have imagined that you would be sitting here and saying that knowing all the things that you've gone through in your life? Oh, my gosh, not really. I didn't know I was gonna actually make it. Cleveland was your typical American industrial city. It was struggling to find itself in a new economy. Well, it struggles from the bad image from the mistake on the lake. There's a lot of poverty in the city. A lot of heart. You see people on their porches and kids playing in the street. The west side middle to lower class folks working at the factories, in the mills, were raising their families. Hard working people, decent, do the right thing, help you if they can. From a law enforcement perspective, it's never a dull moment. Always something. There were drugs, robberies, shootings, gang activity. Very inner city. But at the same time it was full of great families. It was full of hope. Growing up in Cleveland, I love the area. It was very beautiful, but I hated my home life. Michelle had a terrible childhood. For a time, her family lived in the car, they were itinerant. Big house, but with very little in it. Like, we didn't have a couch to sit on. We didn't have a stove. Just to give us a hot, warm meal I had to cook on a space heater. It takes four hours for a hot dog to cook. Did you feel like you had to be protective of your siblings? Yes. And almost kind of like raise your siblings in a way? I basically was their mom. She is a very good loving sister. She has always been there to help us. That's just the truth. In a really weird twist of fate we had interviewed Michelle for a story that she helped deliver a baby. This is seven pounds, six ounce Marcus Anthony knight. First, she let off a big scream, ow! And then, here comes the water, and then here comes, gotta go get somebody. Cause there wasn't no stopping that baby coming out. Tell me about your childhood. I had a lot of things that went on in my life that was very traumatic. Like sexual abuse, emotional abuse. You name it, I went through it. She felt neglected. A male relative sexually abused her and when you think, she was 12, 13, 14 years old, it's just nightmarish. I got to the point where I was done with the abuse. I just needed a new outlook out of life. So the first thing I said, "I'm more safer on the streets than I am living in my own home." So I basically ran away. Ran away at that tender age. It was pretty cold during that time. I didn't really know where my next meal was going to come from or what was going to happen next. What did this 14-year-old child do? She slept under a park bench. Then her home was a trash bin. I lived in a garbage can. I took a blanket from somebody's back porch. Cuddled up with it. It was very cozy. She's 4'2", so she could crawl into the garbage bin and not be seen and protected from the elements. There was a bridge where I can hear cars going past. The vibrations just, you know, helped me be calm. My god is awesome Come on, somebody lift your voice. Awesome When you were homeless, there was a Baptist church. Yes, I end up going there just because I heard beautiful music. And I was a little bit embarrassed because I didn't smell too pretty. I was, like, very dirty and I stood in the back and singing along with every hymn that they were singing. What was one of your favorite hymn songs? Oh, my gosh. "God is in my heart and in my soul and he will never disappear." You needed to hold on to that, didn't you? Yes. Early morning, the hungry and homeless feeding is about to do its thing. They would have a meal service every day at 2:00. So I would go for lunch to the church. Unfortunately, one of my family members had recognized me and called my dad. Her father came and picked her up, and then she went back to high school. Oh, my, it was horrible. Going to school I was always bullied. Just got shoved into lockers, got shoved downstairs, got told I was ugly, that I was unimportant, that I didn't belong. Did you have anybody you could reach out to? It was very hard to make friends. I was that girl that sit in the back of the class, the outcast. She was approached by a older boy at school. He kind of charmed her, eventually they started having sex, and she realized she was I wanted to be the best mom. I wanted to be better than my mom. What were those early years like for you and your son Joey? It was difficult because I didn't have very much money. She goes to look for a job to better her life and leaves her child in the hands of her mother. Her mother's boyfriend was drunk and he grabbed Joey by the leg and fractured his knee. Michelle took Joey to the hospital and social services put Joey in foster care. In her efforts to try to get her child back, she was on her way to a case management meeting. Michelle was lost. So she walked over to a family dollar store to ask the clerk where this address was. Ariel Castro was there. Overheard her and said, "I know where that is, and I'll take you." You thought you could be okay with him. Yeah, little did I know that it was gonna be a bad trip.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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