CLEVELAND (WJW) – It has been ten years since Michelle Knight was released from more than a decade in captivity, and she says she’s in “a good place.”

“At first I didn’t think I’d ever be at this place of peace, but I’ve found I let God guide by hand and my heart,” she said.  “If I’m patient enough, it will come.”

Now known as Lily Rose Lee, her new name represents her new life. “It’s pieces of my life put into my name,” she said.  “Lillian means ‘peace at heart.’ Rose is my friend’s mother who took care of me when I was little, and Lee is my son’s middle name.”

Happily married now for eight years, Lee says she and her husband are like “peas and carrots,” and together they care for more than 30 animals in their home.

About a year ago, Lee founded “Unleashed Animal Rescue,” a non-profit that takes in abandoned and surrendered rescue animals.

“I have a wide range of different animals from ponies to ducks to chickens.  I also have birds,” she said. “I have chameleons, frogs as well. I also have tortoises.”

All kept in her home, Lee spends her days feeding and caring for the animals, in hopes they’ll eventually be well enough to be adopted.

“I fully believe with every fiber of my being that God put me on this earth to connect humans and animals in a special way,” she said.  “Just to give them hope and the strength to move forward in their life so they can have a better life.”

She admits animals are her therapy. “It makes it worthwhile.  At the end of the day, just to say, ‘I’m helping you and you’re helping me’ and we both have this second chance at life.”

With a gentle touch and warm smile, Lee shares a special connection with each rescue animal she meets. Many are abused and abandoned, Lee says she understands them on a level others can’t. “Ever since I was a little girl and holding that first [injured] squirrel, and saying ‘you know what? You’ll be ok. I’m going to take care of you until you’re able to go to your tree and be free.”

A self-proclaimed “natural born nurturer,” Lee says she’s most happy surrounded by nature. “When I wake up at four in the morning, I have my coffee and sit outside for a brief minute before I start my day,” she said. “I watch the birds and the deer and the cows and everything that’s around me. I’m just at peace with everything I see.”

It’s those “little things” Lee appreciates most. “I was taken away from a lot of things where I couldn’t see the outside. I couldn’t breathe the fresh air. I couldn’t see the flowers. Those are the things I treasure in life. Little blessings each day.”

Lee says this is the happiest she’s ever been, and she wishes she could go back and give herself advice. “There’s life after darkness.  You can surpass anything that’s ever happened to you in your life if you put your mind to it. It took me a long time to believe in myself to get me to this point,” she said with a smile.  “I also want people to know they’re the hero of their own story. I had to learn that the hard way.”

If you’d like to support “Unleashed Animal Rescue,” Lee is holding a fundraiser in conjunction with her ten years of freedom.

Click here to buy tickets to “Tragedy to Triumph: An Evening with Michelle Knight.”