Rhonda Knight is seen Monday with a copy of her book 'The Blessed Survivor' at the Canton Twp. apartments where she was attacked. (Bryan Mitchell / Special to The Detroit News)
When Rhonda Knight ended her relationship with Charles Blue, they remained friends. She implored him to overcome his battle with suicidal thoughts and drug addiction.
When Knight decided she needed to distance herself from Blue, he grew bitter.
Then, in June 2007, the bitterness erupted into an attempt to kill her in his Canton Township apartment. It was a wonder, a police sergeant said, she “was able to make it out alive.”
Knight, 53,and now living in Georgia, shares her ordeal in a story that will be featured tonight on the Discovery Channel’s new, true-crime series “Surviving Evil.” The episode, “Good Deeds Gone Bad,” airs at 10 p.m.
“My story is helping someone,” she said, convinced it is her fate to have lived to tell her story of survival and healing. She is sharing her story, she said, “to help anyone who has been through any life struggle.”
The act of reliving traumatic events can be therapeutic, helping victims shed the shame and secrecy that can accompany abuse, said Desiree Herrick, associate director at First Step, which provides services and advocacy for victims of domestic and sexual assault.
“Taking back that voice and dispelling the level of secrecy that’s there is a critical side to telling your story,” Herrick said. “It eliminates that shame or guilt many survivors report.”
Knight, then living in West Bloomfield and a single mother of five girls, met Blue in early 2005 when she, her daughter and her mother visited a fast food restaurant where Blue worked. After hearing Knight say she thought Blue was cute, her daughter got his number and passed it on to her mother.
The two dated briefly. Knight said Blue struggled with suicidal thoughts and drug use. She tried to encourage him to get help, she said.
Things were going well for Knight, who owned a mortgage company and had plans to go into business with two partners. That meant removing the impediments to a happier, healthier life. That meant distancing herself from Blue.
“The only negative was him,” she said. “He was negative about life. Woe is me, I hate my job… He had a hard time accepting me ending our friendship.”
On June 10, 2007, Blue convinced Knight, then 46, to visit his Canton Township apartment. He said that he wanted to prove he was drug free. After Knight took Blue, then 38, to the store for a drug test they headed back to his apartment. It was there the punches to the face began.
“He told me he was going to cut my throat and cut his throat,” she said. “It was the most terrifying thing to be a part of.”
As Knight cowered between the wall and the bed, Blue continued to punch her. He then pulled out a knife.
“He was yelling,” she said. “He was so angry, taking all that anger out on my face.”
He then stabbed her in the eye.
“I said, ‘You stabbed me in the eye,’ ” she said. “He said, ‘I don’t care. I’m trying to kill you.’ ”
The blade wouldn’t penetrate her neck. He grabbed another knife. Suddenly, he stopped.
“He said, ‘I can’t believe I’m stopping. For one moment you look like your mother. Your mom is one of the nicest and kindest people I know. Because you look like her, I can’t kill you,’ ” she recalled.
Blue raped her instead.
She convinced Blue to let her get medical attention. Instead, she drove to the police, who arrested Blue at his apartment. Blue was sentenced in October 2007 to a minimum of 15 years in prison at Alger Correctional Facility in Munising. His earliest release date is 2022.
Knight said it took months for her physical scars to heal. Emotionally, it has taken years. She moved in with her sister and mother and began to write her story, “The Blessed Survivor,” and speak publicly.
Knight said she’s nervous when she thinks about Blue’s possible release in 2022.
“I truly believe it’s more important for me to do the things I believe my life was spared for to make a difference for all these people,” she said. “That supersedes my uncomfortableness or anxiety.”