Ariel Castro used the promise of a puppy to lure Michelle Knight into the Cleveland home where he held her hostage for 11 years.
"He tells me, 'Just come in for a little while. The puppies are upstairs. You can take one home to your son,'" Knight said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on the syndicated "Dr. Phil" talk show.
But she soon realized there were no puppies inside Castro's home. And it wasn't long, Knight said, before he trapped her in an upstairs room and tied her up with an extension cord. From there, he took her down into the basement about 24 hours later, she said.
It was the beginning of more than a decade of torture, rape, starvation and beatings for Knight. The hope of seeing her son again, she said, inspired her fight to survive.
"I want my son to know me as a victor, not a victim," Knight told host Dr. Phil McGraw. "And I wanted him to know that I survived, loving him. His love got me through."
Castro lured Knight into his vehicle from a Family Dollar store in Cleveland in 2002, promising to give her a ride. She was the first of three women he would capture and imprison in his home for about a decade. They were freed in May after one of the women, Amanda Berry, called out to neighbors for help.
In August, Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years after he pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping. He committed suicide in his prison cell in September.
Knight, Berry and the third woman, Gina DeJesus, have since been trying to readjust to life as free women. Knight, whose disappearance generated the least public notice of the three, has been the most outspoken.
"After 11 years, I am finally being heard, and it's liberating," she said in a powerful statement at Castro's sentencing, describing the abuse she endured.
Her interview with "Dr. Phil," which began airing Tuesday and is set to continue Wednesday, provides a detailed glimpse into some of the horrors she suffered and her struggle to survive.
"How she continued to put one foot in front of the other during these 11 years is just very humbling. I mean, I said to her during the interview, 'Michelle, I will never complain about another thing the rest of my life,'" McGraw told CNN's AC 360. "When you realize what she went through, it makes everything else seem so trivial."
'It's God's will if you die'
Knight said she remembered the warning, the one Castro delivered while wrapping a chain around her neck and shackling her to a metal pole in the basement of his Cleveland home.
"Now, if I do it too tight and you don't make it, that means you wasn't meant to stay here. That means God wanted to take you," Castro said, according to Knight.
Knight told McGraw she sometimes spent days in the basement, chained to the pole, unable to lie down and with a motorcycle helmet over her head. The helmet made it hard to breathe, she said, "and later on I didn't remember a thing 'cause I had passed out."
A photograph of the pole showed white paint had been scraped away.
"That's where I tried to get out," Knight said. "And I couldn't pull the pole down because I wasn't strong enough."
Knight told McGraw that she didn't always fight back, though, at least not at first.
She said she was in shock after being taken and all she could do was cry and beg him to let her go back to her son.
Several attempts to escape were met with harsh punishment, she said.
"He took a pipe and he held it ... over my head, and he said, 'If you scream, I'll ram this down your throat and I'll kill you,'" Knight recalled, describing what she said was Castro's response after she used a pair of pliers and a wire cutter to remove a chain around her neck. "So I didn't scream. I didn't make a noise. I just laid there."
Knight, 32, was 21 years old when she was reported missing in 2002.
Castro, she said, would tell her of his plans to abduct other women and also implied he'd done it before.
She said he showed her an area in the basement where it said, "Rest in Peace."