Lillian Rose Lee, who was kidnapped at age 21 and held captive in her abductor’s house for more than 11 years, will speak at a Cayman Islands Crisis Centre fundraiser on Friday.
Ms. Lee, formerly known as Michelle Knight, will share the story of how she healed and rebuilt her life after the harrowing ordeal.
The fundraiser luncheon is at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Ms. Lee told the Cayman Compass she hopes those who attend will “take away the strength and courage to never give up hope.”
“No matter how hard [a] time they are going through, they can pick themselves up and live their life,” she said.
Ms. Lee is one of three women held captive by Ariel Castro in his house in Cleveland, Ohio, after he kidnapped them between 2002 and 2004. Their story made international headlines after Amanda Berry escaped on May 6, 2013 and went to the police, who then rescued Ms. Lee and Gina DeJesus.
Castro was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the chance of parole. One month into his sentence, he hung himself in his prison cell.
Since her rescue, Ms. Lee has become an advocate for victims of violence and abuse.
“For me personally, helping others gives me the strength I need to continue to heal,” she told the Compass. “Going through a situation like I did, I want to show others how hope, courage and strength can get them through hard times. I want to teach them that no matter what has happened to them, they can’t let it define who they are.”
She said those who are in an abusive or violent situation should “never give up hope.”
“There comes a point of time when we need to take control of our lives. If we let it go too long, we are just prolonging our pain,” Ms. Lee said. “There are resources out there that can help you. Contact a church, a hospital or other resources, like the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.”
Tickets are still available for Friday’s event, which will help the Crisis Centre become accessible to more people by creating a drop-in facility that is separate from the shelter.
“These events are important because they shed a spotlight on a huge local issue: domestic violence and abuse issues faced by victims and their families in the Cayman Islands,” said event organizer Paola Juarez. “By attending, you get to listen to Lillian, hear her firsthand account of the courage, strength and hope that’s made her one of the most inspirational women of our time.
“[Her] message is one of healing, surviving and even thriving. She is a true inspiration and beacon of hope to all of those who have experienced sexual violence.”
The event includes a three-course meal and a glass of wine. Individual tickets are $150; a table of 10 is $1,350. For tickets, contact Ms. Juarez at [email protected] or 321-1552.